Dates are the only whole-food, unprocessed sweeteners that are viable for using in a lot of recipes (as opposed to, say, bananas, which are a great sweetener for some dishes but not as versatile as dates). You can buy date sugar (very tiny chunks of dates), but I prefer date paste, which is just dates and water blended into an ultra-smooth paste. If a recipe calls for sugar, honey, or agave, I generally use double or just less than double the amount of date paste. There are only a few recipes I’ve found where substituting date paste doesn’t work well.
Makes: Amount of date paste made is about the same as the measure of dates you start with
Start with a 3:1 dates-to-water ratio (e.g., 3 cups pitted dates to 1 cup water). Make sure all pits are removed. Chopping your dates (at least in half) beforehand will help. (Do not use commercial chopped dates—the oat flour is not good for date paste.)
Use a food processor to make the date paste. (I don’t have great luck with a blender, even a high-speed one, but maybe it will work for you.) You may have to stop and scrape down the sides one or more times. Once it’s smooth, you’re done. It can be frozen and will keep for months in the freezer.
Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO
Timing: Under 10 minutes