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Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.
A step by step guide for how to make date paste to naturally sweeten baked goods, oatmeal, yogurt and more. All you need is dates!
Have you ever made date paste before? Forget the expensive jars of date paste at the store when it’s so easy to make your own. All you need is dates, hot water and vanilla and/or cinnamon depending on flavor preference.
We eat a lot of dates in my house, mostly in my Snicker’s Bites and my Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie aka the Snicker’s Shake. If you haven’t had a date before, you are in for a real treat– they taste like candy! Naturally sweet and packed with fiber, they are a great alternative to refined sugar in some recipes.
The misinformation that I see on the internet about sugar is shocking– while I do try and limit sugar consumption for overall health, you don’t have to fear sugar the way many social media influencers scare you into believing.
That said, one of the benefits of dates is using them as a natural sweetener in places where you would normally use other sweeteners, like coconut sugar, brown sugar or cane sugar. It doesn’t work in the same 1:1 swap in every recipe, but will in many as I’ll describe below.
Dates are rich in fiber (especially insoluble fiber), antioxidants (mainly carotenoids and phenolics) along with iron, B vitamins, folate and Vitamin C.
For my pregnant friends, you may have heard that dates help to stimulate labor. Randomized trials have found that eating dates late in pregnancy, about 5-6 dates a day, may increase cervical ripening and reduce the need for a medical labor induction or augmentation. One small study even found a positive effect on postpartum blood loss. It’s important to note though that these studies were small and were not blind (a gold standard for research studies), which may affect the results.
If you love dates, enjoy them! But I don’t think there is enough evidence to recommend my late-pregnant clients just to consume dates to induce labor.
That’s it! I prefer Medjool dates in this recipe as they naturally have a very sweet, caramel taste but other date varieties will work.
How to Make Date Paste
Soaking dates first will make them easier to blend and easier to remove the date pits. Place 1 cup tightly packed dates in a glass jar and cover with warm water.
Now that your dates have softened in the water, drain and reserve the water. Then, remove the pit. Peel open the softened date and pop out the pit inside; continue with the remaining dates and discard the pits.
Add the softened and pitted dates to the base of a food processor or high speed blender along with ~1/4 cup of the reserved date water. It’s OK if you threw out this water, just add in more warm (but not hot) water to the blender. Puree until very creamy, about 1 minute.
Depending on your blender model, you may need to stop and scrape down the sides.
While I love stirring date paste into oatmeal, it’s especially fantastic as a fruit dip for apples! To make this, add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and a few dashes of cinnamon to your date paste before blending.
Enjoy this flavored date paste with apples or pears for a delicious snack.
Once you’ve made your date paste, place in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks. Alternatively, you can freeze your date paste. I have the most success placing small amounts in a silicone ice cube tray, freezing, then popping out the cubes and storing in freezer-safe bags (these stasher bags are my favorite. A little pricy at the outside, but you can use them over and over again).
Once you’ve made your paste, you can use it to sweeten your favorite recipes. Because date paste can’t be used in all cakes and cookie recipes in a 1:1 ratio, you’ll have to experiment to find what works for you. I have more success using them in recipes that are fairly dense already, like my Vegan Smash Cake Recipe or these peanut butter date cookies that I shared over on PBJ’s.
If you are using date paste in place of honey or maple syrup, you may need to add more paste than the liquid sweeteners to account for density. So, if a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of maple syrup then I typically start with 1/4 cup of date paste to substitute.
Date paste is a favorite for me to add a little sweetness in yogurt and oatmeal, especially my Instant Pot Oatmeal with a little creamy paste stirred in at the end.
Date puree is the same as date paste. Any recipe that uses date puree you can use date paste.
In most baking recipes, you can sub in date paste though date paste will make your cookies and cake a little softer and slightly less sweet.
In assessing anything, it’s always important to ask ‘compared to what?’ Date paste contains more fiber and micronutrients than sugar and therefore, it can be considered healthier.
If you try this recipe, make sure to come back and leave a comment and a rating. Your feedback helps other readers and seeing you make my recipes makes my day!Print
Step by step directions for how to make date paste to use in recipes
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