Do we wonder what the dates are? These wrinkly, dry little fruits pack a nutritional punch and a satisfying sweetness while being versatile enough to include in any meal throughout the day.
These dry fruits should be a pantry staple for all vegans with a sweet tooth. These little nuggets of nature’s candy can satisfy a craving without deciphering the mysterious language of the candy bars and sweet snack food wrappers to determine if the treatment is vegan and has any nutritional value. They contain soluble and insoluble fiber, potassium, and iron.
Selection and storage:
Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree, a native of the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East that can also be found in parts of California and Arizona. They have long been a staple of the Middle Eastern diet, especially for travelers, as dates have a low moisture content and keep well long after they are picked. There are wide varieties of dates in varying degrees of size, sweetness, and moistness. Large, soft Medjool ones are available in the fall and are ideal for snacking or stuffing. Deglet Noor dates, the most common variety in the United States, are available year-round in the produce section of supermarkets. Packaged ones are available pitted, unpitted, or chopped. They will keep for up to a year well wrapped in the refrigerator.
To make slicing and chopping dates easier, chill them first. The colder they are, the easier they are to slice. Date purée, a simple blend of dates that water, can be substituted for some sugar in baked goods to add richness, moistness, and fiber. It can also be used as a filling bar cookie.
Add chopped dates to granola, oatmeal, and quick slices of bread like classic date-nut bread. Try making a sweet side dish by adding chopped ones, dried cranberries, almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little curry powder to cooked couscous or quinoa. They often get paired with salty foods like bacon and cheese for appetizers. For a vegan sweet and salty combo, stuff dates with peanut butter, toasted pecans, or walnuts and sprinkle with coarse salt.