Dates are a fantastic natural sweetener. Nearly 80 percent of their mass is sugar, making them perfect in recipes such as my Bran Muffins, Roasted Banana Coconut Ice Cream and Date Walnut Bread.

I store my dates in a glass mason jar in the cupboard.

Despite being so sweet they are slightly lower on the glycemic index than some processed sweeteners, as they are a whole food versus a refined product. Further, dates contain trace minerals, potassium and fiber.

After removing the hard, inedible seed from the dried fruit, dates can also easily be stuffed with nuts or herbed fillings. You may also want to try my Stuffed Dates or these Chocolate Espresso Power Bars.

We are probably most familiar with two or three types of dates that are widely available, such as the meaty, large, and slightly wrinkled medjool date or the smaller, firmer, nuttier Deglet Noor dates found in specialty markets. I keep medjool dates on hand in my house as I prefer them to the other varieties.