Thursday, December 13, 2012

Coconut Date Rolls

Christmas is a season of family, friends, parties and the inevitable that comes with it: sweets, desserts and lots of treats. The key to joining in the festivities without sacrificing your health is to prepare your own wholesome desserts using the highest quality, freshest ingredients. These Coconut Dates Rolls are incredibly sweet and satisfying while being all natural and contributing positively to your health. Let me tell why it's vital this season to pass on refined sugary treats and choose the healthy yet delicious alternatives.

Refined sugars damage the immune system, contain absolute no nutrient value, and cause blood sugar imbalances. They contribute to emotional imbalances, hyperactivity, cavities and bacterial overgrowth in the gut. Refined white sugar has even been linked to progression of cancer growth and it literally leaches minerals from your bones. While refined sugars are clearly incredibly damaging to your health the natural sugars we have access to are extremely beneficial to our health. So don't fret, you can have your cake and eat it too, just make it right! Choose natural sugars like raw local honey, organic maple syrup, molasses, and even better fresh dates!

Traditionally dates would have always been harvested when they were ripe off the trees and then consumed fresh. Unfortunately, like everything else that comes to the market these days traditional practices are sacrificed in the name of 'efficiency'. Most dates today are harvested at only one time at the end of the season to save on costs. The dates are then dry on the trees similar to raisins. Next, they are steamed before packaging to ensure they remain soft for consumers. Not only is the taste completely different but the sugars are then changed from mostly fructose and glucose to sucrose which is more likely to cause blood sugar spikes. Not to mention nutrients are lost in this process. You can still find farmers who harvest their dates the traditional way. Lucky for us, Four Apostles Ranch sells their dates at the Santa Barbara Farmer's Market on Saturday and Tuesday at Milliken Family Farms. They just started carrying them at Isla Vista Food Coop in the deli section so you can find them anyday! The new season has started and the dates are being harvested fresh as we speak, come try one and taste the difference for yourself!

15 dates
1t vanilla extract
15-30 raw almonds
1C unsweetened coconut extract

1. Remove the pit from the center of the dates and throw pits directly into the trash.
2. In a small mixing bowl, mash the dates with the vanilla extract. Using your hands is messy but it's easy and gets the job done best. You can add more vanilla extract as needed for flavor.
3. Grab a small spoonful of the date mix and roll into a ball. Take one to two almonds and place in the middle of the ball, roll around to make into the shape of a finger. 1 date should make 1 roll.
4. Roll in plenty of coconut shreds and place on a serving plate.
5. They can be served immediately, kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for later use.

Everyone should enjoy the holidays, so don't restrict yourself instead indulge in healthy desserts!


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