Dates are becoming more and more popular. Not that long ago they were primarily eaten by older people and very health-conscious people but that is changing at an astounding rate. More and more people are becoming aware of the health benefits of eating dates and are using them as a substitute for chocolate bars or candy. Manufacturers have started to innovate with dates, turning them into date bars, packed with goodness and aimed at the ever-growing health-conscious younger generation. Many of them are using dates to aid them when exercising, to give them extra energy.

Here are five great ideas on how to use dates without cooking them:

Simple – If you like keeping things as simple as possible, you have no preparation time or have no patience, take a small plate and arrange the dates in a decorative pattern. The shape of the date really lends itself to a nice circular design with the points pointing to the center of the plate.

Brownies – Yes you can really make brownies from dates and without cooking them! Part of the secret is that the stickiness of the date helps bind the other ingredients. As dates are naturally sweet, you generally do not need to use any extra sugar making them healthier than a normal brownie. There are plenty of recipes on the internet to choose from.

Stuffed – You can stuff dates with all different fillings. Cut down the center without cutting all the way through and remove the stone. Then fill with goats cheese for a tangy flavor or chopped nuts for a little texture. Truth be told, part of the joy is experimenting with different stuffings.

Energy Bars – One of the new food trends are energy bars. They are often used by those exercising or just as a healthy pick-me-up between meals. Dates are full of energy so making energy bars out of dates is a no brainer! Again no need to bake, just pack them with nuts or oats.

Drinks – You can make so many different drinks using dates. Whizz them up in the blender with milk for a shake or other fruits for a smoothie. You can even add ice cream. The beauty here is you really don’t have to add any extra sugar because the dates are sweet enough.

Of course it is really important when working with raw dates that you get the freshest and finest dates possible. Medjool dates are the obvious choice as they are large, sweet and succulent. Israel is the biggest exporter of fine dates in the world and companies such as Tomer Medjoul Dates are known for their quality.

There are so many simple things that you can do with dates without having to turn on your oven. The best thing is that dates are packed with so much goodness and they can be your guiltless treat!