How to Use Dates as a Sweetener: Our Date Paste Recipe for Syrup, Smoothies & More
Cutting down your refined sugar intake can be a Herculean feat. Refined sugar is often added to most processed food products (including innocuous items like crackers and yogurt) and can be hard to dodge when it comes to restaurant meals, juices and sauces.
Luckily, you can keep a bit of sweetness in your life and reap some awesome health benefits by swapping in dates for sugars, syrups and ingredients ending in –ose (like dextrose and maltose). Dates are super versatile and mild in flavor, so they won’t change the taste of your concoctions much more than adding a little sweetness.
As an added bonus, dates are high in fiber, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. The fiber helps slow the uptake of sugar into your system, preventing blood sugar spikes, and the nutrients help the body recognize it’s eating real food. Sweet and nourishing? They’re win-win.
How to Make Date Paste
What you will need:
- 1 lb Medjool dates , pitted (about 2 cups tightly packed)
- 1/2 cup water
- Place the pitted dates and water in a large food processor. Process until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure dates are consistently smooth.
- Store the date paste in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
How to Use Date Paste
A simple date paste recipe is a yummy addition to coffees and teas, including lattes and cappuccinos. Keep a small glass jar of date paste in the fridge to have it handy for your morning joe.
Bake a little something-something
Dates make the perfect binder and sweetener for raw desserts: just blend them with nuts and seeds to form a solid crust for pies and tarts. You can also use the date paste above in place of brown or white sugar, molasses, agave or other sweetener syrups in just about any recipe.
Forget agave and stevia: dates are a delicious way to sweeten a smoothie. Start with one teaspoon of date paste and add more to taste. The dates will melt into the mixture and leave nothing but a subtle sweet taste (no weird chewy bits, unless you want them).
Homemade nut milk
A couple of pitted dates can make neutral nut milk truly magical. Blend 2 cups soaked, drained cashews (or other nut of choice) in 3-3.5 cups of water and toss in a couple of dates towards the end. Strain as usual.
Salads and dressings
Add a burst of sweetness to a savory dish with a small handful of chopped dates. We love them in quinoa salad with a little olive oil, parsley and chickpeas. You can also make your own dressing using date paste, your favorite oil, lemon juice and sumac (or other spices to taste).
Dip your fruit
Blend together a one-to-one ratio of date paste and peanut butter, and a pinch of cinnamon and sea salt. You’ll have the most delicious, caramel-esque dip for green apples, pears and bananas.
While dates are naturally delicious, they are high in sugar. If you're looking to achieve the same sweetness, minus the sugar, check out our guide to baking with alternative sweeteners.
Ready to go sugar-free? Get 10 days of free meal planning from PlateJoy!