I have a sweet tooth. My mom has one. My grandpa and great grandpa had one. Translation? We are sugar addicts.
My “sweet tooth” is written in my DNA. My great grandpa couldn’t get enough of his wife’s homemade pies, my granddad the dentist had a secret love for Twinkies, and my mom is famous for spraying whipped cream in her mouth straight from the can. What can we say? Sweets bring us pure euphoria.
While I come from a long line of dessert-lovers, I am lucky to have grown up in a home where eating healthy was the norm. My mom took our nutrition seriously, requiring we eat at least three to five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, which we reported to her at the end of the day. We never drank soda, and sweet cereals were only allowed as a dessert. But we did have our fair share of homemade pies, cookies, and ice cream. And that’s not so bad, is it?
When I was 21, I met my husband Simon, an amazing man who happens to be a trained baker and pastry chef—SCORE!!!! He can make truly anything, so the past eight years have been stuffed with countless sweet adventures in food. No meal was complete without an exquisite homemade dessert, just ask any of our family and friends!
Over the past holiday season Simon and I became more conscious of sugar’s effects on our bodies. After one glorious serving of dessert, we feel the uncontrollable urge to go for seconds. And sometimes thirds. Then, soon after, our blood sugar crashes and we feel crappy and lethargic. So what do we do the next night? SUGAR TIME!!!
I have heard people say that sugar is more addictive than heroin. I’m no scientist, nor have I done heroin, but it certainly works like a drug for me. My aunt claims that if she has one tiny cookie, her body will force her to eat more and more until she spirals into a dark world of sugar spikes and crashes. I can’t exactly say I’m that bad, but I have started to see the potential for me to become a full-fledged sugar addict.
Sometimes feeling like crap after binging is the best inspiration to make a change. So as we pulled ourselves out of the gumdrop swamps and crystalline sugar-trip of the holidays, Simon and I decided to challenge ourselves to go one month without refined sugar.
Unsure we could make it a month without desserts, we sought out whole-food alternatives, and we found our new obsession—DATES!
Until quite recently the only way I ever used dates was to stuff them with chorizo and wrap them in bacon. But in the past few months these heavenly fruits have become a staple in our home, and something we simply couldn’t live without.
Some might argue that dates are also filled with sugar. They are. In fact, they’re 80% sugar! But unlike refined sugars such as white table sugar, corn syrup, and even agave nectar, dates are actually amazingly healthy.
Dates are super high in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and most importantly, they don’t make your blood sugar spike and drop. Here’s a link to a short video that talks a study on dates’ effects on our health:
I will share many recipes for desserts sweetened by dates, but I wanted to start with something, quick, easy and versatile—Chocolate Date Butter! Seriously, it’s freaking amazing. It’s one of those things that you think about and wonder how you ever lived without it.
My date butter recipe is an adaptation from a fudgy chocolate frosting recipe from the Forks Over Knives cookbook.
This chocolate date butter is everything. It’s smooth, dark, rich, sweet, and creamy. It’s got all the dates’ nutrients, fiber and sweetness, but it won’t make you crash like sugar does, and it won’t trigger the addictive response that refined sugar does.
So how to we use it? Um… how DON’T we use it?! Here are some of our favorite ways to eat our Fudgy Chocolate Date Butter:
- Spread it on toast with some almond butter and bananas (or make a sandwich!)
- Blend it with unsweetened almond milk for a healthy version of chocolate milk
- Use it to sweeten a chocolate-banana-peanut butter milkshake (recipe to come)
- Spread it on fruit (berries, bananas, etc)
- Use it as a base to sweeten healthy chocolate cookies (recipe to come)
- Spread it on cupcakes, cake, or cookies
- Mix it with almond butter for a chocolately nut butter (much better than Nutella, I feel)
- Eat it with a spoon
- Mix it with coconut oil, then coat strawberries or cookies and refrigerate to set.
Recipe: Fudgy Chocolate Date Butter
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 ½ cup pitted dates (Deglet Noor or Medjool)
- pinch salt (optional)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon instant coffee
- Put water and cocoa powder in a blender and blend on high for about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides.
- Add dates and salt to blender. Blend, working from low to high until dates are creamy and smooth.
- Add vanilla and coffee and blend until well incorporated.
- Enjoy immediately or store and refrigerate.
This will last at least two weeks in the fridge. But no jars of date butter have ever lasted that long in this house!
I couldn’ bear to waste what I couldn’t scrape out of the blender, so I threw in some almond milk and hot water to make an amazing glass of hot chocolate!
Two months after our “no refined sugar” goal, we now only have refined sugars a couple of times per month. We have only just begun to explore the infinite uses for Chocolate Date Butter. What other ideas do you have? Comment below! And don’t forget to subscribe, like, and share!
Interesting facts about dates (copied and pasted from Wikipedia!):
- Dates are believed to have originated around Iraq, and have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 BCE
- Date seeds are soaked and ground up for animal feed. Their oil is suitable for use in soap and cosmetics.
- Young date leaves are cooked and eaten as a vegetable, as is the terminal bud or heart, though its removal kills the palm
- Dates ripen in four stages, which are known throughout the world by their Arabic names kimri(unripe), khlal (full-size, crunchy), rutab (ripe, soft), tamr (ripe, sun-dried).
- Dates provide a wide range of essential nutrients, and are a very good source of dietary potassium. The sugar content of ripe dates is about 80%; the remainder consists of protein, fiber, and trace elements including boron, cobalt, copper, fluorine, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc