Much like their predecessors – the avocado, the chickpea – cauliflower took over the cultural zeitgeist. It can be hidden and transformed into anything: pizza crust, rice, mashed potatoes, gnocchi! There are dozens of factors that lead one health food to reign supreme over others. In cauliflower’s case, one New York Times article attributes its trendiness to the rise of Paleo, low-carb eating. Recently, while scrolling Instagram (as you do) it came to my attention that another food is dominating the healthy ingredient scene.
This sugary sweet obscure-looking fruit is officially trendy. Recipes with dates range from three second simple to thirty minutes and straightforward. Cooking with dates, which look like prunes but aren’t prunes, and are related to figs but aren’t figs, is surprisingly easy. My thinking is that dates are having their moment in the spotlight in 2020 because they are one of the few fruits that last nearly forever, in or out of the fridge. These babies can chill out in the refrigerator for UP TO SIX MONTHS. Name another produce that can match that! So when things got crazy a few months ago, when people were stock piling canned beans and stores were selling out of bread flour for sudden sourdough enthusiasts, food bloggers picked up some wrinkly dates and thought, ‘Yeah. This will do.’
Now that the internet has provided us with an endless amount of date-forward recipes, let’s investigate: how healthy are dates? According to my favorite food bible The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, “Dates are an excellent source of fiber…the B vitamins…a good source of folic acid and the trace minerals, zinc and selenium.” A lot of these vitamins and minerals that dates contain may also help fight PMS – especially the week before your period. (Look up cycle syncing foods – trust me!) Dates are low in calories and although they are high in sugar, the soluble fiber found in dates “has been to shown to…slow or delay absorption of glucose (sugar) in the small intestine, thus helping to keep blood sugar levels even.” Meaning, no crazy sugar crash a few hours after you eat them. Score!
You might come across fancy date-based ingredients like date syrup or date sugar. Cool, but don’t sweat it if you don’t want to spend the dough. Cooking with dates couldn’t be easier. If you’re adding them to baked goods, just remove the pits and soak a few in warm water for around ten minutes. Some of my favorite date-focused treats are below.