Monday, October 18, 2010

Dairy-free Chocolate Dates

Chocolate dates have got to be one of the most delicious treats there is (I don't like plain dates, only when they're covered in chocolate). Sadly most of the commercially produced chocolate dates have powdered milk or butterfat added to the chocolate - even the dark chocolate ones. As I was pondering the problem at the supermarket the other day, my husband nonchalantly asked why I didn't just make my own. Why hadn't I thought of that? The perfect solution...and so easy.

The dates I bought still had their stones in so I had to cut them open to remove them - breaking a tooth on a stone wasn't the unforgettable experience I was aiming for! It was easy to do, but buying ready-stoned dates would make an easy process even easier. I then placed an unsalted cashew nut in each date - any nuts can be used but putting a different nut in each date would actually make it more interesting come the devouring time so I'll get a variety of my favourite nuts in for the next time. 70% dark Lindt chocolate has no butterfat in it and isn't too dark to be bitter, I melted a row of chocolate squares in a glass bowl over boiling water and once it was fully melted I rolled the dates (just 5 of them in case the results weren't very good) in the chocolate and put on some greaseproof paper to set in the fridge. Ten minutes and they were done!

The important taste test came later when my family came for dinner. "Hmmm, almost Bateel," my brother announced as he munched away. Success! [For non-Dubai residents, Bateel produces very expensive luxury chocolate dates]. Not only does this mean I can eat my favourite sweet indulgence, but I'll save a fortune since even a box of non-Bateel chocolate dates are around Dhs 50 ($14) and they are an extremely health snack.

Benefits of dates:
They contain magnesium (needed for bone development and energy metabolism), iron (needed to produce red blood cells), potassium (needed to maintain muscle contractions - including the heart) as well as multiple other vitamins and minerals.

Benefits of nuts:
They are a great protein source and contain healthy fat (see my article on Fats to understand why it is essential to include healthy fat in your diet), vitamins and minerals. Every nut has its own individual health benefits - another reason to use a variety of nuts to stuff the dates with.

Benefits of dark chocolate:
Yes, dark chocolate (65% cocoa content or higher) is good for you! It can help to lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol because it contains high levels of flavonoids which act as antioxidants to protect the body from free radicals (dangerous molecules produced as part of the digestive process which have been shown to cause aging and contribute to chronic illnesses). White and milk chocolate do not have these benefits as the cocoa content is too low.

Dates, nuts and dark chocolate are of course high in sugar and/or fat so it's not a good idea to eat too many, but 1 or 2 a day as part of a balanced diet will give you all the benefits you need. Plus it's a healthy way to satisfy any sugar craving. What more could you ask for?


  1. oooh i'm DEFINITELY trying these out!!

  2. Let me know how you like them! If you don't like dark chocolate, you can always use milk chocolate - just not as good for you :-)