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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Column: Eating dates gives me superpowers

A column on why you should start loving dates

By NADIA ANEES — nsanees@ucdavis.edu 

Dates, a superfood that have grown in popularity amongst the food and wellness community within the last year or two, are a food I have been well-acquainted with since my youth. Every year during the holy month of Ramadan, the Medjool date and I would reunite every day at sunset during Iftar, the time at which my family and I would break our fasts. I did not understand how my parents could happily break their fast with a date and water when I’d much rather have broken mine with a giant rainbow sprinkle donut. Dates just did not taste or sound appealing to me. 

Yet, my parents would teach me about the sacredness of the date and the significance it holds in my faith. Until I was about 17, I still couldn’t get myself to find joy and fulfillment in them – I hadn’t quite felt their powers yet.

In high school, I joined the cross country team and I noticed my energy levels dropping very low during and after practices. At the time I noticed health and superfood trends surfacing on social media and on ads in my favorite grocery stores. I was being “influenced” to be healthier and choose the more “whole” options with food. 

Then one day I got the idea to transform the dates my parents would always have in our kitchen into mini energy balls. Finally, I had a method to benefit from these powerhouses of energy and nutrition. The energy balls worked out perfectly. I would bring a few energy balls with me to track meets and practices and they kept me feeling energized and ready to go throughout the day. Eventually I readied myself to try whole dates again, and I’m not sure what changed in me but I found a liking for dates! 

Medjool dates are a popular variety of dates and are tender and naturally sweet, slightly resembling caramel in texture and flavor – for this reason these dried fruits have been deemed “nature’s candy.” They are high in fiber, potassium and antioxidants, providing you with many essential nutrients while you indulge in them. For those who are trying to steer away from desserts with a high sugar content, they’re a perfect addition to your food palette. Personally, I like the freedom of being able to choose between gorgeous Tillamook Mudslide ice cream or plant-based candy (a.k.a the Medjool date). They’re certainly not for everyone, but I highly recommend giving these versatile, wholesome and energy-providing fruits a try. 

Eating dates changed my life and bestowed upon me the superpowers I needed to fulfill my role as a decently hard-working college student. Today you can find me throwing a handful of dates in a container before I rush off to class, stuffing one or two with peanut butter and dark chocolate for my nightly treat or using them to add sweetness to my baked goods. They’re my ready-to-go fuel when I’m feeling depleted from class and work, sweet-tooth satisfier and rich baking ingredient! 

Throughout the years, I’ve tried and tasted hundreds of different date brands. My favorite are the Medjool dates fresh from Coachella Valley by Nature’s Anthem. Give them a try, and let me know if you can also feel their magic. 

Written by: Nadia Anees — nsanees@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie. 


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