The Perfect Date

The Perfect Date

Do you remember your first date? Do you have a favorite date?  I still remember mine…

Date

 

The best date I have ever had was on a spring break trip to Arizona with my mom a few years ago.  We found them in a flea market outside of Phoenix.  They were so good, I bought a 5lb box even though I had to cram it into my carry on bag!  We spent the rest of the week looking for every opportunity to find more dates (date shakes!); they just seemed to taste so much better in Arizona.

#dates #dried fruit #nuts

Dates are a popular snack on the trail and as a major ingredient in many snack bars both in the store and in recipes you can make at home.  I buy both the snacking kinds of dates, as well as dates I use in recipes on a regular basis.  Dates are not only super sweet and yummy, they have fiber, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, K and a few Bs (okay, not a lot but it all counts, right?).

When looking for dates, you have two main options:

Deglet Noor

Deglet Noor

Deglet Noor Dates.  Originating in Algeria and often called the “Queen of All Dates”, this date makes the perfect snacking date right out of the bag.  Trust me, I know.  I have to be careful from the moment I open the bag or before I know it the bag is half empty.  These things pack a caloric punch; 5 dates are 120 calories.  They are better saved for the trail.  It is a firmer date and because it is easier to produce, it’s easier and cheaper to find in the stores.

Medjool Dates

Medjool Dates

Medjool Dates.  Also called the King of Dates, this date is considered more of a dessert date because of it’s softer nature and it is not consumed on a daily basis in the Middle East and North Africa.  This date is the one often called for in recipes because it easier to blend into the things you make.

I usually buy my dates at Costco, they have the best prices and the Noor’s are organic. This small box here I bought at Fred Meyer’s (Kroger).

BUT, I have to tell you about this little tip I discovered last year and now I only buy the Medjools for when I am making appetizers.

I was in my local Asian market in their international section or what would be Middle Eastern, I guess, when I saw this little guy:

Baking Dates

Baking Dates

What is THIS, I said?  Basically, it is medjool dates already in a paste! The package is 13oz and cost less than $3.  If you buy Medjools, you know they cost between $8 and $9 a pound.

It looks like this out of the package:

Date paste

Date paste

 

I LOVE it.  Not only do I save money, it is SO much easier than buying the Medjools (which are not always as fresh as they could be and you have to soak them to get them to blend right in a recipe).  And no pits!

I use these baking dates for when I make my own snack bars for the trail like my Hickory Smoke Lara Bars. I will often look up recipes on Pinterest like this: Cherry Pie Larabars or this: Coconut Cream Larabars.  But more often than not, I simply throw a combination of these things into the food processor until they make a paste I can shape.   A ratio like this works:

  • 1 cup dried fruit
  • 1 cup nuts
  • 1/2 cup date paste
Likely Candidates

Likely Candidates

You can just use those 3 or get fancy with shredded coconut, lemon or lime zest, chocolate chips, cinnamon, sunflower seeds, flax, protein powder, etc.  It’s hard to go wrong!

Here’s another tip: don’t be lazy. Shape that stuff into balls or squares before you put them into containers.  If you just roll it and put it in the bag, your fellow hikers will wonder what in the world you are eating:

What is in that bag??

What is in that bag??

 

And as for those other kinds of dates I lead you to assume in the beginning of the post, some of my favorites have been hikes (duh!), Frisbee golf and heart pizza at Alfy’s restaurant with my son on Valentine’s Day.  I love dates!

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