Your Holiday Classics, Naturally Sweetened

Holiday sugar overload no-more!

This year more than ever, the Christmas cookie elephant in the room is sugar. Many experts recommend limiting the consumption of refined sugar and most health advocates agree that it’s best to use natural sweeteners instead. Yet holiday baking always seems to have an abundance of sugar! You can help avoid sugar overdose this Christmas by using Medjool dates instead, as they’re the perfect ingredient in sweet and healthy holiday baking.

Here are two classic cookie recipes that use naturally sweet Medjool dates for a sugar substitute. These Gingerbread and Thumbprint cookies will conjure up memories of Christmases past, and only you will know how healthy these versions are!

Gingerbread Cookies
¼ cup (60 mL) Natural Delights® Medjool date syrup (see link below)
¼ cup (60 mL) Medjool date paste (see recipe below)
4 tsp (20 mL) ground ginger
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
½ tsp (2 mL) ground cloves
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, cold
1 egg
2¼ cups (280 g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling

Preheat oven to 325 F (160 C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a heat-proof bowl, combine Medjool date syrup, Medjool date paste, and spices. Place bowl over a small pot of simmering water and stir until mixture is warmed, melted, and smooth. Add baking soda and combine well.

Cut butter into pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Pour warmed mixture over butter. Stir until butter is completely melted. Cool slightly.

Add egg and stir until completely combined. Add one cup of the flour and beat on medium speed until fully combined.

With mixer on lowest speed, add remaining flour a little at a time and mix just until all flour is mixed in. Do not over mix.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently to form a consistent ball of dough. Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper to about ¼ inch (0.5 cm) thick. Dust lightly with flour as needed.

Turn the sheet of dough over and remove the top layer of parchment paper. Use cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes and place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Allow to cool completely on baking sheets before transferring to wire racks for decorating.

Click HERE for the Medjool date syrup recipe and video.

Thumbprint Cookies
These unique Medjool Date Thumbprint Cookies are the perfect way to keep treats on your holiday table without the sugar crash.

1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (250 mL) Medjool date paste (see recipe below)
1 egg
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
2 ¾ cups (344 g) flour
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
2 cups (240 g) walnuts, finely chopped
Dark chocolate kisses

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).

Sift flour and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Mix butter and Medjool date paste in a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated.

While mixer runs on lowest speed, gradually add flour and mix just until mixed in and dough ball forms. Scrape down sides of bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Using a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon to measure, roll dough into balls. Roll the balls in chopped walnuts and place on parchment lined baking sheets at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the middle of the cookies. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until very lightly brown. While still warm, gently press a chocolate kiss into the indentation.

Allow cookies to cool completely on a wire rack, and store in an airtight container.

Easy Medjool Date Paste

Skip the refined sugars and learn how to sweeten your dishes with Natural Delights® Date Paste. Just add water!

2 cups (480 g) pitted Natural Delights® Medjool Dates, coarsely chopped (about 20 dates)
½ cup (125 mL) very hot water

Place Medjools and water in a food processor. Process until fairly smooth to make a coarse paste, or process longer to make a creamy paste, scraping down sides as necessary.

Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Santa’s Tip: When buying your baking Medjool dates, be sure to get some Mini Medjools too, for stocking stuffers and snacking!

Medjool dates are a pure and wholesome superfood picked straight off the tree at the peak of ripeness. Plump and naturally sweet, the only things added are sunshine and water. Grown at the intersection of California and Arizona, a perfect microclimate along the Colorado River, Natural Delights Medjool Dates
are a nourishing portable snack that provides long-lasting energy, and are full of antioxidants, potassium, and fibre.

They are also a nutritious and natural replacement for processed sugar in baking. While Medjool dates are high in natural sugars, they are low on the glycemic index thanks to a balanced amount of soluble fibre. The complex carbohydrates found in Medjool dates are digested at a slower rate, making them a source of dietary fibre and releasing energy to the body over a longer period of time.

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