Natural Delights-Medjool Dates-630x500
SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL FEATURE

Date-Gardens-250x188Leading a busy, active life means finding the time to refuel your body. But that’s not always easy. No wonder so many Canadians turn to convenient, unhealthy snacks for a ‘quick fix’ of energy. And if the idea of grabbing a quick snack filled with unhealthy ingredients just doesn’t sit well with you, take heart, because Mother Nature has provided a much better alternative.

The fact is that throughout human history, people have needed convenient, healthy ‘fast food’ – and preferably the kind that travelled well.

Fruit has always been a perfect snack. It’s a healthy source of vitamins and nutrients and because fruit contains natural sugar, it’s also a delicious and convenient source of energy. But when it comes to a healthy, portable fruit to snack on, nothing beats Medjool Dates. Loaded with antioxidants and fibre, they’re also a source of five essential nutrients.

They’re decadent and chewy, with a soft, caramel-like texture. These dates practically melt in your mouth and are great for those times when you want something sweet but healthy too.

Cultivated in the Middle East over 6,000 years ago — and revered ever since by Nomadic tribes for their portable nutrition — if Medjool dates sound exotic that’s because they are. Medjools are called the ‘king of dates’ because they are the largest of the hundreds of date varieties and were once reserved only for Moroccan royalty.

But that doesn’t mean they’re exclusive anymore: in fact, they’re as close as your nearest grocery store. Probably the most common date available in Canada are Natural Delights Medjool Dates. They’re sold in the produce department in clear plastic tubs. Look for colour-coded labels for conventional, organic or coconut and almond date roll varieties.

Grown in the Bard Valley straddling California and Arizona, Medjool date palms were introduced to the U.S. in 1927 by a horticulturalist who brought 11 Medjool plants to the Bard Valley to save them from disease in Morocco. Today, those original trees are still producing fruit.

Medjool Dates are:

  • Fat free
  • Cholesterol free
  • Low in sodium
  • Source of fibre
  • Source of energy
  • Source of magnesium

Try these recipes, and be sure to buy extra Medjool Dates to have on hand for the perfect snack. Happy eating!

Medjool-Date-Power-Balls-close-250x188Medjool Date Power Balls
1 cup (250 mL) raw almonds
16 Natural Delights Medjool Dates, pitted
Water, for blending
½ cup (125 mL) shredded unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup (75 mL) raw almond butter or coconut butter
3 tbsp (45 mL) cocoa powder
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon

Pulse almonds in a food processor until coarsely ground. Transfer to a bowl.

Pulse dates in food processor until almost smooth, adding up to 3 tbsp (45 mL) water as needed to help blend.

Add almonds back to food processor with coconut, almond butter, cocoa powder and cinnamon and pulse, scraping down mixture in bowl with a wooden spoon as needed until completely incorporated.

Transfer to a large bowl. Scoop mixture into 2tbsp (30 mL) balls, rolling with your hands; place balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate.

Makes 18 Balls

Dark-Chocolate-Medjool-Date-Truffle-horizontal-250x188Medjool Date Pecan Chocolate Truffles
12 Natural Delights Medjool Dates, pitted
12 Pecan halves
5 oz (150 g) dark chocolate (70%), chopped
2.5 oz (75 g) white chocolate, chopped

Using a small paring knife, cut a slit into each date and remove the pit. Gently squeeze a date open and stuff the pecan half inside. Repeat with remaining pecan halves and Medjool dates.

Using a double boiler, gently melt the chocolate and remove from heat once it’s melted. Be sure to keep any moisture, water or even steam away from the chocolate.

Using a fork, dredge the stuffed dates through the chocolate and place onto a wire cooling-rack. Let cool completely.

Place the melted white chocolate into a small piping bag. Drizzle the white chocolate decoratively back and forth over the chocolate dipped date. Let cool completely before serving.

Makes 12 truffles.

For more information and recipes, visit naturaldelights.ca

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