This delicious paste is perfect for sweetening your morning oatmeal, smoothie, or even to use in baking. I love it! And since dates have a much lower glycemic load than table sugar, syrups or most other sweeteners it is a much healthier choice for satisfying your sweet tooth. Yay!
I love baking. I love sweets. But what I don’t love is how sugar affects the body. Not only does sugar contribute to obesity and several chronic diseases including obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancer, it negatively affects mental performance as well. AND IT’S ADDICTIVE!
THE INSULIN ROLLER COASTER
The insulin spike roller coaster causes us to eat more sugar. This is how it works: when we eat a sugary snack our blood sugar level spikes (the sugar we eat enters the blood stream very quickly) soon after eating it. In response to the high level of sugar in our blood our pancreas shoots out a bunch of insulin to quickly mop up the sugar (glucose) from the blood and deliver it to our body cells to either be used as energy, or for most of us stored as fat (eek) since we are likely not running a marathon at the time. Because there was so much sugar in our blood from that super sugary snack our pancreas pumped out a ton of insulin which caused the level of sugar in our blood to drop very quickly (the insulin mopped up all the glucose in the blood), leaving us tired, moody, and hungry, probably craving more sugar. See why it’s called a roller coaster? You can read more about how sugar and carbohydrates in the foods we eat affect our energy levels and our health in my post about sugar here.
After I chose to make a change to a healthier lifestyle and limit my added sugar and fat intake I switched over to “fake” sweeteners or non-nutritive sweeteners, thinking I was doing myself a favor. Unfortunately it took over a decade for me to realize that the fake stuff isn’t any better. In fact, fake sweeteners might even be worse than the real thing!
WHY ARE NON-NUTRITIVE SWEETENERS BAD?
Replacing real sugar with non-nutritive sweeteners can actually lead to more weight gain
Based on the current available evidence many nutrition scientists theorize that the sweet taste of “fake” sweeteners trick the brain into thinking it is being fed, so when no calories are actually consumed you end up craving more sweet foods. Because of this many people who replace real sugar with the fake stuff will end up eating more food overall and end up gaining weight.
Unpleasant side effects
Many individuals experience side effects from non-nutritive sweeteners including gas, bloating, a laxative effect, headaches, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. Regular consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners has even been linked to depression, migraine headaches, fatigue, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and systemic lupus.
Animal studies linked cancer to non-nutritive sweetener consumption
Manufacturers of products such as aspartame will tell you it is ridiculous to worry about getting cancer from consumption of their product since the amounts given to rats who developed cancers such as that of the brain and bladder would equal HUGE amounts that humans would have to consume in order to be considered at risk. Not only that, but humans are not rats and the chemicals might metabolize differently in humans than they do in rats. My take? Why the heck would I even take the chance when there are so many delicious and natural sweeteners out there…HELLO DATE PASTE!
Date paste is so easy to make. Simply remove the pits from your dates by carefully cutting them in half and taking out the pit. Then place the dates in a glass jar or bowl. Add the warm water and there you go! I let the dates sit in the water on the counter for a while before sticking them in the fridge overnight.
After your dates have soaked overnight simply dump the entire contents (water and all) into a food processor and process until smooth. You’ll want to scrape down the sides of the processor a couple of times and then, voila! Beautifully smooth, delicious, healthy date paste!
HOMEMADE DATE PASTE
Prep Time: 24 hours Total Time: 24 hours Makes: About 11 servings (22 tablespoons)
- 225 grams dates*
- 140 grams warm water
- Pour the warm water over the dates and cover. Set aside for about an hour (long enough for the water to come to room temperature), then place in the refrigerator over night.
- Place the entire contents (dates + water) into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides when necessary.
This recipe only makes about 1¼ cups of date paste, so if you are making a recipe that you will need a lot for you will need to double the recipe.
Use your date paste right away or store it in an airtight container such as a small mason jar in the refrigerator. The date paste will keep for up to a week in the fridge. What I like to do is scoop it into a ziploc freezer bag and store it in the freezer. It keeps for quite a while – up to 3 or 4 months and stays pliable so it’s ready to use whenever you want it. Perfect!
WHAT TO USE DATE PASTE FOR
Date paste is a fantastic, healthy alternative that you can use in place of any liquid sweeteners such as syrups (maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, etc.) or worse – simple syrup (a syrup made by dissolving refined sugar in hot water). Dates have a much lower glycemic load (GL) than most sugars/sweeteners and they contain fiber, vitamins A & K, several B vitamins (pyridoxin, niacin, pantothenic acid, & riboflavin), antioxidants (beta-carotene, lutein, & zeaxanthin), iron, potassium, calcium, manganese, copper, and magnesium.
Make a batch of date paste and use it to sweeten:
- Ice cream & frozen desserts
- Hot breakfast cereals
- Cakes, pies, muffins, cookies
- Sweet spreads (i.e., chocolate nut butters)
- Baked oatmeal, fruit crumbles, warm fruit/berry desserts
- Walton RG, Hudak R, Green-Waite RJ. Adverse reactions to aspartame: double-blind challenge in patients from a vulnerable population. Biol Psychiatry. 1993;34(1-2):13-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8373935. Accessed on August 4, 2014.
- Lipton RB, Newman LC, Cohen JS, Solomon S. Aspartame as a dietary trigger of headache. Headache. 1989;29(2):90-2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2708042. Accessed on August 4, 2014.
- Yang Q. Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. Yale J Biol Med. 2010;83(2):101-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892765/. Accessed on August 4, 2014.