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How To Eat Dates: 10 Drool-Worthy Ways

Written By: Shayan Kashani

Shayan Kashani is a public speaker, editor, poet, essayist, and freelance writer. Based in Canada during the summers, he also writes from the road throughout his international travels. Shayan specializes in writing about travel, education, hospitality, medicine, and technology.

Expert Reviewed By: Katherine Basbaum, RD

Katherine Basbaum, MS RD is a Food Data Curator at MyFitnessPal. She received her Masters in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University and completed her Dietetic Internship at UVA Health, where she also works as a nutrition counselor for cardiology patients.

How to Eat Dates | Top 10 Drool-worthy Ways

Key Takeaways

  • Dates are rich in dietary fiber, which aids digestion and helps in controlling hunger. Because of that—and the natural sweetness they provide—they’re great to incorporate into a weight-loss diet.
  • Dates are packed with antioxidants that help in fighting free-radicals in your body.
  • Dates can be used as a natural sweetener in various dishes, reducing the need for processed sugar.
  • Dates are versatile and can be included in your diet in numerous ways. They can be eaten raw, used in smoothies, salads, and more.
  • Part of a healthy diet, dates also provide essential minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

Step aside, figs. Move over, prunes. Make some room, raisins — there’s a new kid in town. Well, sort of. As one of the world’s oldest cultivated fruits, people have been consuming dates for thousands of years in North Africa and the Middle East. And as nutritional understanding expanded, dates have become a mainstay in healthy diets worldwide.

More than just a sweet treat, dates are a nutritious fruit with various benefits, from improving digestive health to preventing chronic diseases to assisting with natural labor induction.

According to registered dietitian Katherine Basbaum, “Dates are a nutrient powerhouse, each one packed with natural sugars, dietary fibers, and a battery of antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals like B6, potassium, and iron.”

The rich nutrient profile makes dates excellent for your meals and snacks, infusing foods with flavor without introducing too many calories.

Today, we’re focusing on this versatile fruit to explain what dates taste like and reveal ten different ways to eat dates that are guaranteed to give your tastebuds a thrill!

What Do Dates Taste Like?

The best way to understand the taste of dates is if you think of them as nature’s candy. Sweet dates are fresh fruit with a soft, chewy texture that makes for a satisfying mouthfeel.

Medjool and Deglet Noor dates are the two most common varieties, with Medjool widely considered one of the best dates to eat because of its size and taste, earning it the nickname the King of Dates.

A Medjool date’s flavor is sweet and rich, comparable to a mix of honey, caramel, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Many also notice a hint of vanilla in the flavor profile. Other dates may have a slightly nutty or smoky undertone. Stuffed dates often include savory fillings — blue cheese, for example — offering a stark contrast to titillate taste buds.

Many people love eating dates on their own, but if you don’t love sweet foods, keep reading for recipes and ideas on how to make dates taste even better.

Top 10 Drool-Worthy Ways To Eat Fresh Dates

How to eat dates is a matter of preference, but certain combinations still stand out. Below, we share our top ideas and recipes for infusing your snacks with dates for a drool-worthy, mouth-watering experience.

1. Mixed in tarts with protein powder for recovery bites

Try blending a handful of chopped dates with protein powder into this key lime pie “recovery” bites recipe for a post-workout meal. Katherine Basbaum agrees, “Dates are high in antioxidants, and including them with protein powder in your recovery bites can help strengthen immune function and protect your cells.”

Here’s the nutritional info for the above recipe:

Nutritional content: Calories: 161; Total Fat: 6g; Monounsaturated Fat: 2g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Carbohydrates: 21g; Cholesterol: 13mg; Fiber: 2g; Sodium: 33mg; Sugar: 15g; Protein: 8g

2. Added to bite-worthy fruitcakes

The chewy, natural sweetness of dates is guaranteed to elevate your fruitcake game! The best part is you can control just how sweet to make it. Add just a few dates for a whisper of caramel or a cup for a more even flavor.

Here’s a high-fiber, gluten-free Christmas fruitcake recipe with chopped dates that we love.

Nutritional content: Calories: 281; Total Fat: 13g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Carbohydrates: 34g; Cholesterol: 66mg; Fiber: 7g; Potassium: 308mg; Sugar: 24g; Protein: 7g

3. Drizzled over coffee-soaked overnight oats

This coffee-soaked oats recipe with a salted date caramel drizzle is one of our favorites. The bitterness of the coffee and overnight oats beautifully complement the sweet date flavor, making this the perfect stand-alone pick-me-up or a delicious breakfast treat.

Nutritional content: Calories: 241; Total Fat: 5g; Carbohydrates: 41g; Fiber: 5g; Sugar: 13g; Protein: 7g

4. Mixed in your morning smoothie

Dates for breakfast? Don’t mind if we do!

Fresh dates lend a caramel-like hint to any smoothie, adding sweetness and a creamy texture without overpowering the flavor and ensuring your smoothies stay healthy. Strawberries and mangos go great with dates, but our top pick is this banana-date smoothie recipe with almond milk.

Add an oatmeal breakfast cookie under 130 calories to your breakfast smoothie for a special treat!

Nutritional content: Calories: 318; Total Fat: 13g; Monounsaturated Fat: 7g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Carbohydrates: 49g; Fiber: 8g; Potassium: 676mg; Sugar: 24g; Protein: 8g

5. Added as a secret ingredient to unique salads

Nothing lets you explore culinary creativity and experiment with flavors like a salad. And what better way to raise eyebrows and seduce tastebuds than adding dates to unique recipes? A light sprinkle adds a sweet surprise, and the versatile fruit goes just as well with leafy greens as savory dressings.

Cheese and dates also complement each other well. So salads with more pronounced dairy flavors, such as this pear, date, and walnut salad with blue cheese, are another excellent option to add dates to as a secret ingredient.

Nutritional content: Calories: 414; Total Fat: 24g; Monounsaturated Fat: 12g; Saturated Fat: 5g; Carbohydrates: 50g; Cholesterol: 9mg; Fiber: 7g; Sodium: 313mg; Sugar: 39g; Protein: 5g

6. Stuffed in sweet potatoes and other types of food

One of the best things about dates is you can mash them into a paste and use them as stuffing for other foods, but you can also stuff dates with different ingredients! Sweet potatoes are an excellent vegetable to stuff with dates, as found in this unique recipe.

Nutritional content: Calories: 307; Total Fat: 15g; Carbohydrates: 42g; Fiber: 5g; Sodium: 237mg; Protein: 5g

7. Included in your energy bars

If you’ve ever had homemade energy bars, you know why people who make them usually never go back to store-bought.

Besides the satisfaction of making your own fuel, there’s the bonus of knowing exactly how much of each ingredient you’ve included. For example, this raw date and pecan recipe is packed with energy and 2 grams of fiber for a quick fuel-up while only adding 92 calories to your daily intake.

Nutritional content: Calories: 92; Total Fat: 3g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Carbohydrate: 17g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Fiber: 2g; Sodium: 1mg; Sugar: 13g; Protein: 1g

8. Threaded with lamb kabobs

You don’t know the true potential of dates if you thought they were only good with sweet dishes.

A staple in Middle Eastern cuisine, these lamb kabobs with apples and dates might be one of our favorites. As the dates and apples caramelized, they pair perfectly with the meat to create a flavor we can only describe as symphonic.

Nutritional content: Calories: 254; Total Fat: 7g; Monounsaturated Fat: 5g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Carbohydrates: 24g; Cholesterol: 83mg; Fiber: 3g; Sodium: 283mg; Sugar: 20g; Protein: 26g

9. Used as a vital ingredient in wraps

Similar to salads, what goes into a wrap is only limited by your imagination. Why not add a dash of finely chopped dates for a streak of sweetness to your breakfast or lunch wrap?

For example, sprinkle some into this Greek roasted red pepper wrap to bring out the savory flavors with a contrast that adds a light, sweet touch.

Nutritional content: Calories: 236; Total Fat: 13g; Monounsaturated Fat: 2g; Saturated Fat: 6g; Carbohydrates: 27g; Cholesterol: 48mg; Fiber: 2g; Sodium: 769mg; Sugar: 6g; Protein: 9g

10. Mixed in hearty bowls

Whether mixing them in a hearty breakfast bowl or this mouth-watering recipe for a chickpea bowl with cauliflower and almond curry sauce, eating dates is a great way to add flavor and nutrition to meals in one fell swoop!

Add larger chunks for a flavor blast that provides contrast, or blend them in for an even, consistent hint of sweetness for balance.

Nutritional content: Calories: 482; Total Fat: 15g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Carbohydrates: 76g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Fiber: 13g; Sodium: 760mg; Sugar: 16g; Protein: 15g

FAQs

What do fresh dates look like?

You can tell if dates are fresh by their plump, glossy look and smooth skin. Colors can range anywhere from bright yellow and red to various shades of amber. Fresh dates are also more tender and moist with a juicy look compared to the dried version of the delicious fruit.

What do Medjool dates taste like?

Medjool dates have a soft, chewy texture and a rich, caramel-like sweetness. An excellent way to describe their distinct flavor is as a combination of honey, cinnamon, and caramel with a hint of brown sugar or vanilla.

What do dates taste like in a smoothie?

Adding dates to smoothies brings out a natural sweetness and hint of caramel without overpowering other tastes. Because of their natural sugars, dates are a great alternative for adding sweetness and go exceptionally well with banana, strawberry, and mango smoothies.

Take Control of Your Fitness

The verdict is in. Sweet and delicious can be part of a healthy diet, and foods with dates are an excellent way to do it.

And the best part? You don’t have to do it alone.

With MyFitnessPal, you can easily track your diet, eliminate the guesswork, and know you’re always on track to meet your goals. Whether you’re a diligent calorie counter or simply want healthier food choices, the world’s leading fitness app can help.

About the Authors

Meet the people behind the post

Written By: Shayan Kashani

Shayan Kashani is a public speaker, editor, poet, essayist, and freelance writer. Based in Canada during the summers, he also writes from the road throughout his international travels. Shayan specializes in writing about travel, education, hospitality, medicine, and technology.

Expert Reviewed By: Katherine Basbaum, RD

Katherine Basbaum, MS RD is a Food Data Curator at MyFitnessPal. She received her Masters in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University and completed her Dietetic Internship at UVA Health, where she also works as a nutrition counselor for cardiology patients.

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