The secret ingredient for your traditional holiday favourites

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Natural Delights Medjool Dates bring the sweet to savoury holiday appetizers

Like the cozy embrace of the fireside and the biting nip in the air in December, the holidays are a time to warm up to all the different joys of the season. That includes the best food this time of year has to offer. Traditionally, dates have been a favourite of holiday baking, and yet, they’re about so much more than just date pudding and bread. In fact, savoury date recipes might just replace visions of sugar plums this Christmas—adding them to savoury dishes adds a whole new layer of flavour.

The sweetness of Medjool dates contrasts well with most savoury flavours, and adds depth to everything from salads to appetizers to main dishes. Medjool dates are also a great addition to traditional turkey stuffing! These dates are a deep amber colour and have a crinkly skin that shimmers with natural sugar crystals. Inside, the texture is caramel-like and chewy. Medjools practically melt in your mouth. Of the hundreds of date varieties, the Medjool is the largest and is classified as a soft date because of its sweet, creamy flesh and high moisture content.

Dates have such a strong historical connection to Christmas because they originally come from the deserts of the Holy Lands. And dates may be the world’s oldest cultivated fruit because fossils show date palm trees thrived 50 million years ago. They’ve been cultivated for about 6,000 years in the Middle East and to this day dates are an important staple for nomadic tribes due to their nutrition content and portability.

So this holiday season, try a new interpretation of an ancient favourite. Medjool Date Honey Glazed Shrimp is an elegant appetizer that is the perfect sweet-savoury combination. For many more recipes, visit

Medjool Date Honey Glazed Shrimp

4 Natural Delights Medjool Dates, pitted and chopped

1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 mL) water

2 tbsp (30 mL ) mango purée *

2 tbsp (30 mL) finely grated fresh peeled ginger

2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice

1 tbsp (15 mL) honey

2 tsp (10 mL) garlic powder

2 lbs (1 kg) large shrimp, peeled & deveined (16 to 20 count)

2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, purée Medjool dates with water until paste-like in consistency. Place in a large bowl. Stir in mango puree, ginger, lemon juice, honey and garlic powder. Add shrimp and stir to coat. Marinate, refrigerated, for 1 hour.

In a large frying pan set over medium, heat oil. Add shrimp and cook until pink, about 2 minutes per side. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 8 as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre.

*Frozen mango chunks work really well, simply puree 3 or 4 pieces in a blender.

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