Friday, August 31, 2012

Date Sugar

In the recent Eating Well Magazine (Sept/Oct 2012 issue), I read an excellent article on different types of sugar, from granulated white to natural sweetners, such as maple crystals or agave nectar.  But there was one listed that I'd never heard of before: Date sugar.  I was curious!  So I went on a hunt for information and where to purchase the product. 

It turns out that date sugar is simply dried and finely ground dates.  It makes an excellent substitute in recipes calling for brown sugar or to sprinkle on cereal or yogurt. It is significantly lower in calories compared to white sugar and you can use less (about 2/3 cup of date sugar when 1 cup of white or brown sugar is called for in a recipe), which further reduces the calories from sugar in the final product.  For comparison, 1/2 cup of date sugar is 288 calories, while refined white sugar is 387 calories per 1/2 cup.  Also, about 8 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup is a nice bonus that you won't get with white sugar!  Date sugar provides some vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, as well.  My regular grocery store did not carry it, but it is available at health food stores, some Middle Eastern markets or online. I purchased it at my local Whole Foods store.  One important note: Date sugar crystals do not melt, so avoid recipes in which the sugar is required to melt, such as in drinks or candy.  In baked goods, pretty brown flecks will be visible, but in quick breads, cookies or whole grain recipes you'll not notice. 

To test its consistency and flavor, I made some banana bread using my own recipe.  (See July 29, 2009 blog post).  I substituted date sugar in place of the white sugar called for in the recipe.  The final result was wonderful! The bread was moist and flavorful.  The dates didn't impart any particular flavor, but the warm, subtle sweetness beautifully complimented the bananas.  The lovely sweetness lingered on my tongue; it was delicious!  I hope you'll be inspired to try it sometime.  I think you'll be pleased, too.

Other recipes to try:

Bananas Foster Quick Bread (May 10, 2011 post)
A Smarter Peach Muffin (Oct. 18, 2009 post)
Caramel Apple Tea Bread (Sept 17, 2009 post)

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