Have you ever wondered what the sweetest fruit in the world is? If you go by sugar content, you may be surprised to learn that it is the date. Dates have over 60% sugar content. However, in terms of taste, the Guinness Book of World Records lists the Philippine mango called Caraboa, as the sweetest fruit in the world. In comparison, it has less than 20% sugar content.
Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree commonly grown in the Middle East. Here in the states, Arizona and California harvest dates between September and March. If you don't live in an area where dates are grown you're likely buying dried dates rather than fresh. Dried dates are equally delicious and provide just as much quality nutrition, including fiber, potassium, magnesium and antioxidants. While dates are naturally high in sugar, they can still be a good sugar replacer since they come packed with other nutrients!
Find pitted dates in your grocery store near the raisins and other dried fruits. Once the package is open keep them in the refrigerator for longer lasting freshness. Dates will only stay fresh 1-2 months in the pantry but will last a whole year in the refrigerator.
Dates can be added to any course of the meal. Stuff them with cream cheese or almonds and wrap them in bacon for a mouth-watering appetizer. Use chopped dates in rice, couscous or stuffing for a slightly sweet side dish. Try making a chutney by deglazing dates and apples and pouring over cooked pork loin. Dates are also wonderful in baked goods. They add moisture and sweetness to breads, muffins, bars and cookies. Dates can even be added as a sweetener in smoothies and ice creams. Try this kid-approved recipe below for a nutritious snack!
Carrot Date Truffles Printable PDF
1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut (divided)
3-4 medium carrots
¾ cup peanuts or sunflower seeds
3-4 pitted dates
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Set aside ½ cup shredded coconut for coating the truffles. Shred carrots in food processor using shredding blade. Add all other ingredients and process for 2 minutes. The mixture should be thick enough to form balls. Roll the carrot balls into the shredded coconut that was set aside. Refrigerate overnight before eating.
Yield: about 15 truffles, 1 truffle each per serving
Nutritional analysis per serving: 100 calories, 7 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 35 milligrams sodium, 10 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 2 grams protein