Date sugar is a marvelous alternative sweetener. It’s not even really a “sugar” in the sense that it was derived from something and processed into concentrated sweetness. Wanna know what it actually is?
Cooked and ground-up dates! Really, that’s it.
And dates are just an all-around awesome food. High in carbohydrates, they’re a great thing to have around for people on the GAPS diet. And speaking of that, did you know that honey isn’t the only sweetener allowed on GAPS? Dr. Natasha didn’t put date sugar on the list, but she does say dates are okay! And like we just established, date sugar = nothing but dates!
Dates also are a very good source of tryptophan, an amino acid. You know how they say that eating turkey makes you sleepy? Well, that’s cause it has tryptophan in it. So if you’ve got hyper kids that want a sugar fix — maybe date sugar is just what you need!
Date sugar bought in stores is pricey. Plus, with some of the kinds I’ve seen, the sugar is almost white. Uh, dates are brown! Skip the overly-processed stuff and just make it yourself. It’s easy!
- Some dates (find organic medjool dates here)
- A baking sheet (I bought my stainless steel one here)
- A food processor (I dearly love my little pink Cuisinart) or a coffee grinder (this one is awesome)
Slice and pit the dates. I’m a total newbie to these things — never even had them before starting GAPS. I hear there’s more than one type. Mine is the kind with pits inside — “Medjool” — but if yours doesn’t have pits, welp! Maybe still slice them open anyway. Just for fun. (And to let the air and heat get to the middle parts.)
If you want to make the sugar more of a “raw” food, to prevent loss of the nutrients found in dates, you can slowly dehydrate them at a low temperature (100-110 degrees) either in a dehydrator, or in the summertime — in a hot car, inside a (turned off) barbecue, or just out in the sun. That would take a couple days, given the hours of hot sunlight available. I haven’t done this yet, but I think it would taste differently than the higher-heat method. The sugar in dates gets all nice and toasty and crystalizes/caramelizes in the oven, changing the flavor.
What do I do with it?
Well, date sugar is a little different than other types of sweeteners. It doesn’t dissolve like sugar, so you probably wouldn’t want to try to stir it into your coffee or tea. And if you’re baking with it, just be aware that your treats will have little granules of crunchy date sweetness, which is something I kind of like! If you’re eating grains, date sugar is awesome as a substitute for brown sugar in your oatmeal. Or on top of yogurt or even ice cream!
I’ve also got a recipe I’m brewing up for GAPS-legal snickerdoodles — and instead of granulated sugar topping, we’ll be using this homemade date sugar instead. They’re gonna be amazing, I’m sure!
What do you think?
Have you ever heard of or used date sugar? Do you think you might try this out? If you do, be sure to let me know how you like it!