Ok, so I’m a teensy-bit excited. I hit up one of the fruit markets here in Canberra yesterday and bought a 10 kg (22lb) box of Iranian dates for $30! Yes I know Uncle Sam is probably disappointed in me, but then again he is not a fruitmonster and could never truly understand the glory that is this moment! Bottom line, I’m stoked because this fruit-tastic find roughly translates into a 60+ green smoothie excursions, which means plenty of new delicious date-driven discoveries posted to the smoothie recipes archive!
And the way I see it, this discovery seems to offer a grand opportunity to explain my obsession with these little palm-tree treats! As The FruitMonster, dates are one of my main sources of calories. If you have checked out any of my smoothie recipes, you will have seen that they include anywhere from 15-25 dates in them, which for most people, sounds quite strange! I also eat a lot of dates with my fruits meals, adding them to salads, monstering dates along with other fruits (such as apples or cucumbers, yum!), or munching them down all by themselves as a snack! In doing this, I’ve received a lot of questions/criticisms/strange-looks regarding why I use dates in my smoothies. I have also come across a surprising number of people who have never even eaten a date which, given how delicious they are, is quite the travesty! To answer the questions, calm the criticisms, explain my quirky fruitmonster ways and encourage all of the poor, dear date-less to end their life-long date-droughts, you are blessed with this blog post!
Let me start with a pitifully succinct background on dates. Dates are believed to have been under cultivation for the last 6,000 years, having history in ancient Egypt and the Mesopotamia region, which makes them one of the oldest products of ‘agriculture’. They originated in the Persian Gulf area, where the main producers remain today (Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia). To my knowledge, there are nearly a hundred different types of dates that are cultivated worldwide in significant quantities, which clearly means that a review of all these date types, their individual nutrition benefits, their culinary uses, as well as the elements of their individual-deliciousness, is more than I could hope to cover in one blog post! In light of this, we’ll stick to the fruitmonstering basics.
Dates are Calorie Rich
First off, as far as fruits go, dates are extremely calorie dense, averaging around 500 calories (that’s 2100 kj for you Aussie types) per cup or ~280 calories/1200 kj per 100 grams. This calorie intensity is great for maintaining the high-calorie intake a fruitmonster must maintain! As a fruitmonster, you will find that shifting to a low-fat diet means that you must intake more food (in terms of volume) than you did before. In the busy world we all live in, finding the time to monster the large volumes of fruit required to intake the needed ~2500-3000 calories a day (obviously this changes a bit amongst different people, but is a generally good number for a fruitmonster to target!), can be very difficult if you are not eating the right types of fruits. Do you have the time or stomach capacity to monster 37.5 apples or 30 bananas? Probably not! This is why it is helpful to eat calorie rich fruits, such as dates, in order to make sure that you are monstering enough calories each day!
Dates are a Great Green Smoothie Sweetener
Secondly, as a fruitmonster, green smoothies are an absolutely essential part of your diet. Within the fruitmonster diet, green smoothies are meant to be a’meal’, which requires that they are high calorie and full of nutrition (they are also an invaluable method of ensuring you intake enough greens! a post on this soon!). Now generally such smoothies will require some sort of sweetening, which in the case of most smoothie recipes is done with refined sugars – yuck! As a fruitmonster, you will learn to feel the unnatural effects that refined sugars have on your body and begin to lose any desire to consume them (a post on this as well, perhaps?). But alas, this is where dates come in to save the day! See, dates are packed with naturally occurring fruit sugars (fructose and dextrose) that haven’t been run through any refining or weird chemical processes. Instead they are a transmutation of sunlight, the earth, the atmosphere and rain (a cool way to think of all fruits!), into a delectable morsel that is oh-so-sweet, while also being nourishing to our bodies. In fact, this is why Teddi calls them ‘Nature’s Candy Bar’! And what is awesome about these ‘candy bars’, is they are not just sugar, but are also delivered with an accompanying high level of fiber, which controls the release of the sugars into the bloodstream, making it a steady, more even process rather than the rapid disintegration/absorption that occurs with refined sweeteners.
Dates are Super Healthy!
But the benefits don’t just stop there! Dates are also packed with vital nutrients! They are vitamin rich, containing a host of B-vitamins (pyridoxine – B6 , niacin – B3, pantothenic acid – B5, and riboflavin – B2.), beta carotene – Vitamin A and high levels of vitamin K, while simultaneously having high amounts of iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese and copper. You can also get about 4-6 grams of fruit-based protein per cup of dates (depending on the type)!
So you can see that by using dates in our green smoothies, we’ve made it much easier to ensure we monster our way to enough calories each day, while avoiding the use of processed/refined sugars, sticking to just fruit! This is important because by using dates, we are eating fruit sugars while benefiting from the regulatory benefits of dietary fiber. We are also using a raw-food, rich in the enzymes that aid digestion (a post forthcoming). But don’t forget, we added a whole variety of supplementary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to our (already nutrient rich) green smoothie as well!
Sounds like using dates in our smoothies, including them as an ingredient in our fruit meals, or eating them just as a snack is clearly a great idea*!
HOT DATE TIPS:
Think dates are too expensive? Try looking for the packaged ones in the grocery store, near the raisins/sultanas/dried fruits!
When using in smoothies, if you find that your dates are too hard, soak them in water overnight!
Best place to buy dates in the U.S. – http://7hotdates.com/