Spiced Date Syrup

Yields 1-1 1/2C (about)spiced date syrup

Happy Anniversary Guaya Gourmet!

Somehow we are at our first year anniversary!  Last year when I began blogging here, Claire was 5 months old and spent most of her time in the kitchen with me in her carrier.  Now, she spends her time climbing on and off the footstool, opening drawers and cabinets and subsequently hiding my measuring cups and spoons, and helping me by mixing or adding ingredients.  Oh, and we also live in a foreign country.  A lot has changed.

Other surprises over the past year include; gathering quite a following (THANK YOU for reading and following!), developing relationships with other bloggers via social media networks, learning a ton about social media and how useful it is, learning and working with the developing taste buds and moods of a baby foodie, and being consistently amazed about the people I meet as a result of the food that inspires and delights me.

It has been a fruitful and eventful year.  And with every meal that has made it to these pages and all the meals that haven’t, we have been grateful.

That was my toast.  Now on to the real reason you’re here.

For our anniversary blog post, Claire and I thought it would be most logical to write about a local ingredient.  We miss maple syrup (along with kale) and while it is available here, it is prohibitively expensive and well, not very local.  Enter dates!

Dates are incredibly nutritious and the best part about this syrup is that it is a whole food.  You are getting the sweetener without any of the fiber removed so it is much easier assimilated and processed by the body and your body doesn’t get a shock from the sugar.

What makes dates special?  FIBER, POTASSIUM, B-COMPLEX VITAMINS, and ANTIOXIDANTS do!  Let’s do a quick recap on why we should care about these characteristics.

Fiber:  Soluble fiber (remember the peas?) dissolves and becomes gel-like traveling slowly through your digestive tract, makes you feel fuller and longer and it binds to cholesterol lingering around your body and escorts it out.

Potassium:  A mineral that is critical for muscle contraction.  So, dates are especially good if you’ve got an exercise regime you adhere to.  But, even if you don’t, you know what else is a muscle…your heart!  “A critical electrolyte, potassium allows our muscles to move, our nerves to fire, and our kidneys to filter blood. The right balance of potassium literally allows the heart to beat.”¹

B-Complex Vitamins:  This is a team of vitamins that are essential for many bodily functions such as making blood cells, maintaining blood glucose levels and they are also key for mind-related health such as mood, memory and stress.  Click here for more detailed and fascinating info.

Antioxidants:  I love these.  Dates have polyphenols which are particularly effective at protecting the body, destroying free radicals roaming around.  We’re all vulnerable to oxidative stress so you can’t ever really get too many antioxidants!

You can use this syrup in your baking, as a topping on pancakes, waffles, granola, oatmeal, yogurt, in your smoothies or even as a sweetener for your morning coffee.  However you use it, enjoy every delicious minute of it!

You’ll need:

12-15 pitted dates, Medjool or Halawii

1-1 1/2 C water- I had some coconut water so I added that, too.

3-4 (slightly crushed) cardamom pods

To make:

1.  Place pitted dates and cardamom in a bowl or jar and add just enough water to cover dates.  Let sit for at least 4 hours or as in my case, overnight.

2.  Remove cardamom pods and blend water and dates until syrup forms.  If you want, you could run it through a sieve or cheesecloth for a finer consistency.

3.  That’s it!  It will keep refrigerated for 2-3 weeks.

4.  Enjoy!

¹http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/potassium-and-your-heart

Kingdom Date Truffles

Makes 20 ridiculously amazing truffles

I had the good fortune of getting my hands on some Kingdom Dates, which just means they came from their original home.  The Date Palm Tree is native to Saudi Arabia and dates back over 10,000 years.  This little wonder has stuck around for good reason.  Nowadays, most of the dates we get are grown in California.  Not exactly local for us on the East Coast, but we can make an exception.  Especially for yummy, whole food sweetness like this.  (There are a variety of dates though these were the ubiquitous Medjool dates as they were soft and semi-dry.)

Dates are sweet.  Make no mistake about it.  They are my preferred sweetener actually.  I use them in my smoothies and in baked goods and the sweetness is real, not sugary.  Because they are so sweet by nature, they aren’t suitable for those with diabetes (even pre-diabetics are advised against them) or cancer.  That’s the bad news…sorry!  Now for the good news.

There is an abundance of dietary fiber in dates, which means a healthy gut and colon.  Dates are a good source of Vitamin A as well as other anti-oxidants.  Bye-bye free radicals!  It’s also got great cancer fighting properties, particularly against colon, prostate, breast and pancreatic cancers.¹  Sugars in Libyan dates were shown to have some anti-tumor properties while another sugar, beta-D-glucan slows the absorption of glucose.²  Dates are also a good source of iron, potassium, copper and calcium.  Not bad for a little morsel of sweetness.

This is a great dessert especially for these summer months since there’s no baking involved.  It’s also gluten-free and vegan (don’t tell your non-gluten-free/non-vegan friends) so everyone at the party can enjoy and share in the date joy.

You’ll need:

2 C pitted dates, roughly chopped

1/4 C cacao powder

1 T ground flaxseeds

1/4 C unsweetened shredded coconut, separated

1 T coconut oil (+ more for rolling truffles)

1/4 t cinnamon

1/2 t vanilla extract (optional)

For coating:

1/4 C unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 C hazelnut meal (or crushed hazelnuts)

1/4 C sesame seeds

To make:

1.  Place all the ingredients in a food processor and begin to process.  It will be noisy and tough to break up the dates, so it’ll take some time.  Add 1 T of water at a time to help loosen it up, but do so slowly so the mixture doesn’t get too wet or sticky.  If it does (it happened to me), add more coconut and a touch more cacao powder.

2. Refrigerate mixture for 20 minutes or so before rolling into little truffles.

3. Put some coconut oil on your hands before rolling.  Measure about a scant T and roll away.  I ended up with 20 exactly…kind of lucky I think, but of course it’ll depend on how large or small you roll them.

4. Coat the truffles in your desired coating or mix and match.  Then refrigerate for about 30 minutes or longer.  Just let them sit at room temp for a few minutes before serving.

5. Enjoy!  I know you will!

¹http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/dates.html

²Rebecca Katz, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen

Banana Coconut Smoothie

Serves 4



Smoothies are a delicious way to get some nutrients in a hurry.  They work with fresh fruit, dried fruit, veggies, dairy and non-dairy milks.  They’re wonderful for kids, too.  I’ve always loved smoothies but only really started making them (religiously) a couple of years ago for one of my clients during chemo treatments. They worked like a charm when the appetite waned!


Coconut milk is not only delicious, it is incredibly nutritious.  Coconut milk and oil contain lauric acid (which is also present in Mother’s milk) and has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.  Coconut contains saturated fat but it is assimilated into the body better because it is veggie derived.  Saturated fats feed the brain and are necessary for hormone production.  They deliver calcium to our bones, actually protect our cardiovascular health and are important for our immunity.  I know that’s not what we grew up believing but it’s true!  (Check out Weston A. Price for more info on fats.) 


I practically lived on these for most of my pregnancy (and one with a cacao variation).  They’re also great for kids! 


You’ll need:
2-3 Medjool dates
1 C coconut milk
1 C coconut water (or plain water works well, too)
2-3 ripe bananas
1 T ground flax seeds
1 T almond butter
1 T coconut oil
1 t vanilla extract
6 ice cubes
ground cinnamon, optional (for garnish)

To make:

1. Add dates and coconut milk to blender and blend thoroughly to break up dates as much as possible.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well.  For a thicker consistency, add more ice.
3. Serve with a pinch of cinnamon on top.
4. Enjoy!