VegaDates make a very useful sweetener in a vegan diet when you want to use a natural replacement for sugar. They are packed full of vitamins, minerals and fiber making them a healthy addition to your food plan.
Dates don’t have a comparable sweetness to refined sugar, so you have to use a lot more of them to get the sweetness you desire. This is going to be different for everyone and just depends on how much sweetness you want to achieve. Some people use refined sugar in addition to the dates to reduce their use of refined sugar.
Initially, I used coconut sugar as it is supposed to have a lower glycemic index than refined sugar. It ranks 35 on this index, while regular table sugar ranks between 60 and 75 causing a much smaller blood sugar spike.
It’s not as sweet as refined sugar and it does contain trace amounts of vitamins, causing some people to tout it as a healthy sugar substitute. These vitamins aren’t enough to provide a reason to switch to coconut sugar as you would have to consume too much to obtain any health benefits from it.
Once I decided to eliminate sugar from my diet, I switched to dates. They’re sweet, moist, and so darn good!
I now use them in most things I want to sweeten. You can slice up dates and throw them in your smoothie raw or you can soften them and make a date paste or spread.
I usually use deglet dates, but you can use any type of dates that you want. Medjool dates are considered the sweetest and meatiest.
Here’s how I make my Date Spread. You can use as many dates as you want. This recipe uses 12 ounces. Once made, you can add the date spread to just about any recipe to sweeten it up.
12 oz. Dates, pitted
Water to cover
Place dates in a saucepan and cover.
Heat water to just before boiling.
Remove from heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
At this point you can drain the dates (reserve the liquid for something else) and puree or puree with the liquid. It really depends on how you want to use the date spread – this will determine the consistency. You can also retain the liquid and mash them. This will transfer more of the date meat in whatever you add them to.
I have to say these are some of the worst pictures I’ve taken. There seems to have been a glare in the room when I took them. Oh well!
Notice that some of the dates have retained a hard piece of stem that was not removed
when the dates were cleaned. I remove those and also make sure each date has had
the pit removed.
You can see that I sliced the dates and have added them to a small saucepan.
Cover the dates with enough water, but they don’t have to be totally submerged. I like to
retain the water, so I use as little as possible to achieve this.
Cover the pan and heat to just before a boil. Remove from heat and let them soak for
at least 30 minutes.
At this point your dates will look something like this
Use a potato masher to turn the dates and liquid into a rough spread. If you want a puree,
run them through the Vitamix or a food processor.
Mash until they are the consistency you desire.
The last step is to store them in a glass container. They will hold in the refrigerator for
at least a week. If you don’t plan on using them in that period of time, you can put them
in the freezer and then defrost them when needed.
What are you using to sweeten your recipes? Have you tried using dates or coconut sugar? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you!
P.S. I absolutely LOVE my Vitamix. I have used it every single day since I purchased it… best investment I ever made. You can make nut butters, dips and spreads, smoothies, soups, purees, flours, dressings, batters, and even knead dough.
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