Adaptogenic Date Shake
Each year, my now friend Sasha Swerdloff of Tending the Table genius organizes a trip for women in the food world (bloggers, cookbook authors, chefs, nutritionists, photographers etc.) to get together, hang out, share delicious food, and get to know each other beyond a screen (…see? Genius!) This year I actually got to attend – ok truth: I shamelessly invited myself because I wanted to meet this talented troupe of ladies IRL. The group decided to gather in Palm Springs, much to my delight as I needed to escape two kinds of hell: overdue home renovations and Ontario in February.
The days were magically sunny, delicious, and life-affirming. We cooked a lot, then let our food get cold taking too many photos of it. We swam, we hiked, we yoga-ed, we laughed, and conspired together. Besides all of the heart-warming togetherness, one of the highlights for me, was visiting a date farm just outside the city limits, to understand where our favourite whole food sweetener comes from (and to gorge ourselves, naturally). I had never seen dates on a tree before, and was moved to learn from the passionate farmer himself just how these sweet miracles grow.
Dates grow on palm trees, and they fastidiously follow the calendar – you can practically set your watch to a date palm’s seasonal cycle. The first day of spring the tree is in full bloom and the hard work begins, as the farmer pollinates each one by hand. The ratio of male to female trees is about 1 to 30, since the male trees are only necessary to produce the pollen, and the female trees are the ones that produce the fruit. Between the first day of spring and the first day of summer, the tree sets up its entire crop for the year.
All the work (trimming, feeding, etc.) must take place during this season, since it’s during this period is when the fruit ripens, turning from green, to yellow, to brown. The dates are ready to eat from the first day of autumn, and then the harvest begins. During this season, the fruit is either left on the tree and protected with cloth bags to prevent rain, birds and insects from spoiling the fruit, or picked when ripe. The farmer told us that the best place for the dates is to remain on the tree for freshness, but if the load is too heavy, it will not bloom as well the following year, thus effecting the trees’ output.
After decades of date farming, he was as wide-eyed and passionate about his fruit as an eager young man, which really made us all swoon. It is truly one of my favourite things in this world, to see how and where food is grown, and to meet and connect with the people who lovingly produce it. We all left with full bellies and hearts, and of course, our bags bulging with dates.
- ¼ cup / 50g pitted Medjool or Deglet Noor Dates
- ½ – 1 frozen banana (optional)
- 1 cup / 250ml full-fat coconut milk
- 2 Tbsp. hulled hemp seeds
- ½ Tbsp. licorice root
- ½ tsp. ashwaganda
- ½ tsp. maca
- ¼ tsp. ho shu wu
- pinch vanilla powder (or ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract)
- pinch ground cinnamon
- pinch ground nutmeg
- 3-4 ice cubes
- Brew the licorice tea by combining 1 cup / 250ml boiling water with ½ tablespoon of chopped licorice root. Let steep covered for 15-30 minutes.
- Place all ingredients in the blender. Measure out ½ cup / 125ml of licorice tea, add it to the blender, and blend on high until smooth. Taste and adjust sweetness and spice to your liking. Enjoy immediately.