Are you new to a refined sugar free lifestyle but still want to enjoy sweet treats? Dates are my go-to sugar-free sweetener! They allow me to still be able to enjoy some of my favorite foods while maintaining a low sugar lifestyle. Dates are very versatile and provide a lot of added health benefits.
Sugar Free Snacks: Dates and Health Benefits
Dates are a good source of antioxidants. Because of their antioxidant properties, they help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in our bodies. They contain a wide variety of nutrients to include vitamins B, K, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Dates are also a good source of fiber, which is beneficial for gut health and helps to prevent insulin spikes.
Date Types To Use and How To Select Them
There are a numerous amount of different types of dates. Medjool dates are one of the most commonly grown. They are larger, softer and are one of the more flavorful versions. You can easily find these in grocery stores and are usually located with the fresh fruits and vegetables. All of these reasons combined make Medjool dates my preferred date of choice.
Softer dates are sweeter and easier to blend. If you have the option to pick out your dates (some grocery stores such as Whole Foods allow you to hand pick your dates) or if the container is clear, pick moist dates (yes, I said moist and I will probably say it a few more times ?). If your dates are not moist or become dry over time you can soak them in water overnight or for a faster method simply soak them in hot water for 10-20 min. I don’t personally recommend soaking dates for snacking purposes (fresh, soft dates are best for this), however this method is perfectly fine for smoothies and baking.
How I Use Dates For Sugar Free Goodness!
I am an avid runner and never enjoyed fueling my longer runs with energy gels or chews. I much prefer the more natural fuel of dates (and pickle juice!!) to take along with me. Dates are considered a low glycemic food. This means the release of glucose into the body will be slower which is better for sustaining energy levels during those long runs.
Dates and peanut butter are the new PB&J! Yes, simply cut lengthwise one side of the date, remove the seed (if you didn’t buy seedless), and put a tsp of all natural sugar free peanut butter inside of it. You could even add a dash of cinnamon. Freaking Yum!
Add some sweetness and additional nutrients to your post workout protein smoothie with dates. Dates contain a good amount of potassium, which is an electrolyte that our bodies need to function properly. When we exercise our bodies sweat out potassium and other electrolytes. Potassium is needed for proper muscle contraction and protein synthesis (a.k.a. bigger muscles ??).
I particularly enjoy this combination of ingredients for a post workout smoothie:
- frozen banana (more added potassium!)
- Orgain vanilla protein powder
- Further Food collagen powder
- sugar free peanut butter
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- unsweetened cashew/almond milk
Last, but certainly not least, I use dates for most all of my sweet baked goods. From baked peanut butter cookies to chocolate muffins to granola. Dates can really do it all!! My best advice for smooth texture with baked goods: blend your dates first. Along with soft dates, blending your dates first helps to get a smooth texture so your are not biting into a chunk of date. If done properly, you honestly cannot even tell that you used dates at all! Here are a few recipe links to my favorite baked goods using dates:
I hope this helps you on your sugar-free journey! Please feel free to ask any questions! I love hearing from readers and helping them in any way I can along the way. Before you go, be sure to check out my fantastic Cayenne Ginger Energy Date Bites! It’s so yummy!