By Emma Crist
July 11, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

Confession: I have an obsession with dates. Yes, dates--the exceptionally sweet fruit of the date palm, typically consumed dried, like a raisin or prune. And no, I'm not 76-years-old.

It all started a year ago when my roommate began regularly bringing home this clear, plastic container full of strange-looking, coconut-covered brown rolls that she bought from Whole Foods. They were Coconut Date Rolls, and she swore by them as her favorite new fiber-packed sweet treat. Honestly, they looked awful.

(Side note: Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure she was on a lunch date with her Nana when she first brought them home. This explains so much.)

Fortunately, I love trying new foods and especially love desserts, so it didn't take much convincing for me to try one. I hadn't (knowingly) eaten a date in years--I'm pretty sure the last time prior to this was munching on those old-school date bars we had at family reunions growing up--but I can honestly say that one bite of my roommate's snack won me over.

While I'll be the first to admit that this brown sticky fruit doesn't look very appealing from the outside, hear me out: Dates. Are. Delicious.

Not only are they a naturally super-sweet food and extremely-versatile (keep reading for ways to enjoy them), they offer numerous health benefits. They're a good source of various vitamins and minerals and are packed with fiber and potassium. Plus, dates are widely recognized for their anti-inflammatory properties (which is also why they're associated with senior citizens), and they're known as one of the best ingredients for muscle development. Eating dates promotes good digestive health, reduces blood pressure, and can reduce the risk of stroke. Pretty impressive for a little fruit, don't you think?

Not only are they healthy, dates happen to be some awesome workhorses in the kitchen and can be used to add natural, health-packed sweetness to anything from pie crusts, quick breads, truffles, and more.

Here's how to use them:

#1. To Sweeten Delicious, Nutrient-Dense Desserts(especially vegan and Paleo treats)

The Ultimate Unbaked Brownies
Chocolate-Date Truffle Bites
Oatmeal-Date-Chocolate Cookies
Coconut-Date Truffles



#2. To Bind DIY, Energy-Packed Granola Bars

Chewy Oat and Fruit Granola Bars
Almond-Date Bars
Pumpkinseed, Date, and Tahini Bars


#3. To Add Texture to Quick Breads and Muffins

Fig, Date, and Walnut Quick Bread
Morning Glory Muffins
Date Nut Bread
Thousand-Seed Banana Date Muffins