Medjool Dates! Get the 101 on Medjool dates health benefits, calories, nutrition, and ways to use dry and pitted dates in recipes. Dates are an incredible fresh fruit substitute for sugar with loads of nutritional value- not empty calories!
WHAT ARE MEDJOOL DATES
Medjool dates are a fresh fruit that hang from the date palm tree. It is a flower plant species in the palm family producing bundles of dates clustered together in a clump that stems from one large stem and a bunch of smaller stems branching out. We typically do not think of dates as a FRESH FRUIT since they are most commonly harvested then sold dried at stores and Farmer's Markets (not to be confused with a jujube red grape, also known as the Chinese date which you can learn more about here). We always loved to get fresh dried dates from our local Farmer's Market! When they are fresh without sitting on the shelf for a while, they are extra soft. Just make sure to remove the pits before eating them.
The pulp is absolutely delicious, sweet and rich in antioxidants and nutrients! These little oval fruits are an incredible way to add sweetness and nutrition to foods without using processed sugar or sugars with no nutritional value. Today dates are also available in the form of date syrup, and can be used in place of honey and maple syrup.
There are three parts used on the medjool date tree, a fruit plant – the fruit, the seeds inside and the leaves from the tree.
- Date fruit – The fruit is a large soft fruit, with orange-yellowish flesh (depending on the variety) and a mildly rich and pleasing caramel-like flavor. They are oval shaped and about 1 to 3 inches long and are incredibly delicious dried, tasting like chewy sweet candy!
- Seeds – Inside the date fruit are long seeds, which needs to be removed before eating. The seeds are ground up and used to feed cattle.
- Leaves – The leaves from a date palm tree are used for Palm Sunday in many cultures.
WHERE ARE MEDJOOL DATE TREES CULTIVATED
Dates have been a staple food item in the Middle East for thousands of years. Countries of the Middle East and North Africa produce the worlds largest amount of dates, although they are produced all over the world including Mexico and California. When we lived in California we used to see date palm trees all over, too bad at 5'4″ tall I couldn't quite reach the fruit😜.
WHAT IS THE NUTRITION IN DATES
Medjool dates are rich in a wide variety of nutrients, and an excellent source of potassium. They are mostly made of sugar and ripe dates contain 80%, with the remaining 20% being protein, fiber, and trace elements including boron, cobalt, copper, fluorine, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc. [source]
From medjool dats grown in Mexico here it breakdown of the nutrients inside the pulp of the sweet treats [source]! Note that these values change based of where the dates are grown.
- potassium, 851.98 mg/100 g
- magnesium, 142.97 mg/100 g
- phosphorus, 139.40 mg/100 g
- and inside the the seeds, they were potassium, 413.36 mg/100 g
- sulfur, 151.36 mg/100 g
- phosphorus, 92.42 mg/100 g
The health benefits of eating dates are they may contribute to:
- reduced blood sugar – as they are rich in fiber, fiber helps to slow digestion which may help reduce blood sugar levels from spiking
- protect cells from free radicals and helps with the immune system – dates are rich in antioxidants which can act as an anti-inflammatory, reduce bloat, promote heart health and reduce the risk of certain cancers
- supports bone health – dates are packed with magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium which all promote bone health
HOW TO USE DRY PITTED DATES IN RECIPES
Wondering how to eat dates? They are a delicious treat to eat pitted, then by itself as medjool dates taste like a chewy candy! They are most commonly used soaked in water for an hour, drained, then then blended with other ingredients to add natural sweet rich flavor. Dates can be added to smoothies, used as a base in vegan pies and raw desserts, turned into energy bites for sweet chewy texture, used to make a naturally sweetened vegan date caramel sauce, and used in no-bake bars. Here are a few recipe to try to get you started enjoying all the benefits of medjool dates!
- Chia Seed Date Bars (printable recipe below)
- Magic Layer Chocolate Ganache Brownie Bars (with a Caramel Date Sauce inside!)
- Peanut Butter Oatmeal With Bananas and Raisins (perfect to add chopped medjool dates on top with or in place of raisins)
- Chocolate Chia Pudding Pie Tarts (use as a raw crust base that comes together quickly!)
- No-Bake Raw Pumpkin Pie (like above, use for a vegan no-bake crust)
- DIY Almond Milk (add dates to homemade plant-based milks to sweeten them naturally)
- Stuff dates! Dates are wonderful stuffed with soft cheeses like this Cashew Ricotta Cheese, or get fancier and wrap in bacon then cook. The sweet and salty is delicious!
- Date Caramel – a delicious sauce to add to cheesecakes, apple dip, ice cream, apple crisps and more!
Carbs: 75 grams
Fiber: 7 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Potassium: 20% of the RDI
Magnesium: 14% of the RDI
Copper: 18% of the RDI
Manganese: 15% of the RDI
Iron: 5% of the RDI
Vitamin B6: 12% of the RDI
HOW TO REMOVE THE SEED FROM THE PULP
Slice a dried date horizontally across from the longest ends. Then remove the pits and either stuff them, eat as is, or use in favorite recipes.
The truth about dates is they are wonderful to eat in moderation. If you fear eating them due to their high sugar content, don't be! The health benefits of this sweet chewy fruit outweighs the sugar but try not to eat more than 3 per day. They are a wonderful healthy treat to eat whenever craving something sweet! P.S. Don't forget to try our easy date bar recipe below that tastes like Lara Bars!
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Chia Date Bars
- Prepare a square baking dish by putting wax paper or parchment paper over it.
- In a food processor add the pitted dates, cashews, almonds, chia seeds, vanilla, cinnamon, coconut oil and a pinch of salt.
- Process on high for 1-2 minutes or until the nuts are pretty small. You can make this with larger nuts by blending on less time or smaller creamier nuts and consistency by blending longer.
- Pour the “dough” mixture in the prepared baking pan. Press down with your hands to spread the date nut mixture out evenly. The mixture will be thin, or use half the pan for thicker bars.
- Chill to set before slicing. Optional to garnish with pyramid salt. Store in the refrigerator.