Date palms have been cultivated for some 5,000 years, and their fruit has been prized around the world for its flavor, versatility, keeping qualities and nutritional value.
For the Bedu – a nomadic people whose territory spans the Arabian desert regions – dates and camel milk formed a major part of their diet in this harsh and unforgiving climate.
Dates contain a remarkable range of vitamins and minerals, and provide easily digestible fiber and sugar. They are an excellent source of potassium, magnesium, and copper, and a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B-6.
There are a wide variety of different dates, but they can be classified into three main categories: soft, semi-dry, and dry.
Of the many varieties of dates, the soft Medjool is most prized for its flavor and texture. This ‘King of Dates’ is more challenging to cultivate and this is usually reflected in the price. The extra expenditure is worth it, however, as Medjools are wonderful for use in cooking or for just eating plain.
This recipe for Honey Almond Date Bites is best made with Medjools, but can be made with other types, too.
The bites are a simple combination of dates, almonds, coconut, honey, cocoa and cinnamon. The flavor of the cinnamon is not pronounced, as it melds with the dates in a natural taste partnership.
I prefer to toast the almonds and coconut before adding them, but the recipe will work just as well without that extra step.
These sweet bites provide a natural and nutritious energy boost, and store well in the fridge or freezer.
- 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds toasted (see note)
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut toasted (see note)
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- 2 cups chopped dates
- 1/4 cup honey
In bowl of food processor, pulse almonds, coconut, cocoa, cinnamon and salt until nuts are finely chopped.
Add dates and pulse until mixture has started to combine and dates are finely chopped.
Add honey and process until mixture begins to form a ball.
Shape into 1-inch balls and store in fridge.
To toast nuts and coconut, place in cold pan on stove and turn heat to medium. Heat, stirring regularly, until nuts just begin to brown. Remove from heat immediately and put nuts and coconut in food processor bowl. It should only take a few minutes for the nuts to begin browning.
Watch them carefully as they are toasting, because once they begin to toast they will burn easily.