I Love a Good Date – Just Add Flowers and Dinner 😉
Valentine’s Day Date Hearts
About my date obsession 🙂 Since I learned to make no sugar added, gluten free cakes and pies several years ago, I have been using dates a LOT! I buy a ton of them at the store when they’re on sale and people probably think I’m crazy! That’s okay! I will weather all the stares at my shopping cart of dates for 1.99 or 2.99 a pound (my proudest snags lately at Aldi and Food Lion, respectively) because I know when I get home I can make wonderful things with them that have no refined sugar and no added sugar whatsoever. I have recently discovered date syrup after wondering to myself – what happens if you boil dates – and realizing it would take a long time to make syrup, when I could just buy it from Amazon. I cannot wait to post more recipes reflecting my love of the date!
One of my passions lately has been spreading the good news about how reducing sugar and eliminating refined sugar helped me drop 120 pounds, cure my Obstructive Sleep Apnea and, I think, cure my Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, or RSD. I really enjoyed doing a workshop this past Christmas where I showed some friends how they could swap out nuts, chickpeas, beans, etc. for flour and dates, fruit, maple syrup, honey, etc. for sugar in Christmas cakes, cookies, buckeyes, etc. It was such a blast! So, since then, I have been dreaming of making a really simple, fast, no sugar added and gluten free Valentine’s Day Treat!
My family had to get over the “ugliness” of dates at first. I just didn’t grow up using them in a rural mountain town. The only kind I ever saw as a kid were the bags of chopped ones with sugar added around Christmas time. The only time I ever ate them was when my great aunt used the sugary chopped dates to make a fruit salad (with mini marshmallows too, you know the kind that’s so unhealthy it negates the fruit, lol) with chopped dates. I looked forward to that dish every year as a kid, anticipating my aunt and uncle’s long trek down from West Virginia to my grandma’s house! A lot of people joke that dates look gross and won’t eat them. I guess they do. But the more I use them and realize how nutritious they are, I have gotten over that! They are so high in fiber, and rich in magnesium and potassium.
Anyway, I was splitting a date open to pit it one day while making some frosting and realized, “Oh! Look at that heart! It made a heart!” And it hit me that I could quickly whip up a little pink cream and make the cutest healthy Valentine’s Day treat for hubs and the kids for V-Day. YES!
So my little Valentine’s Day Date Hearts were born!
These are really fast to make! It just takes five minute, sweet, cute as can be treat you can make for your family! With no refined sugar and all the nutritious awesomeness of my favorite versatile food- dates.
What you’ll need!
I bought pre-pitted dates just because they were on sale, but they’re so easy to remove the pits. Just split it down the middle and pluck the pit right out. My kids really enjoy doing this part!
You will also need either a fresh red fruit or a package of a freeze dried red fruit. I like to use a small package of freeze dried strawberries (with no sugar added, of course, because I try to limit my added sugar as much as I possibly can). Typically, I find these in the produce section of the grocery store, however, at Target I have found their brand near the raisins. Sometimes it’s tricky to find freeze dried fruit! Lately, I have been finding packs at Aldi for a couple of dollars (Fuji Apples, Asian Pears and Strawberries!) which makes me such a happy camper. And I suppose I could find it on Amazon with probably a great selection. Note to self.
You’ll need a half a block, or four ounces, of cream cheese. You could also use neufchatel, ricotta or cottage cheese. Completely up to you. For a dairy free or Paleo version, you might use cashew cream cheese or coconut cream cheese. There’s also Go Veggie vegetarian cream cheese. I have seen that used in place of cream cheese as well.
I also personally added Feta cheese, lemon juice to make it a bit more tangy and a splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk to make it creamy.
How to Make!
Pit dates if needed. Split three fourths of the way in half with a knife. All the dates have their own shapes but some are naturally more “pointy” on one end than the other. They’ll split into better “hearts” if you’ll split from the wide end going down to the pointy end.
Open dates and mold the cavities to where they will hold filling. Set dates aside after shaping.
Split open dates look just like little hearts! Now comes the fun part of stuffing them!
In a food processor or blender, mix cream cheese and freeze dried strawberries until well combined, scraping down bowl of food processor as needed. Taste to check your mixture.
At this point, I like to add a few tablespoons of Feta cheese and a generous squirt of lemon juice as I feel it really lends a tangy flavor which compliments the date and brings out the flavor of the strawberries! To me, the Feta and lemon juice just really brighten the whole flavor and color, but use your own creativity!
I also added a splash of almond milk for creaminess.
Here’s what the completed filling looks like!
Spoon or spread the mixture into the cavity of each date and create your hearts with a knife or a spoon. I kept a little baby spoon for this purpose. It always reminds me that my last baby is no longer baby.
Pause for a mama sigh 🙁 Mommies and Daddies, you know what I’m talking about!
I used a toothpick to level and “clean up” my hearts.
Decorate with pomegranate seeds, cinnamon or just leave them plain. They’re beautiful and simple on their own!
For extra dimension, I have caramelized my dates before by spraying them with a little coconut oil and air frying them for several minutes (or broiling). This brings out the sweetness of the date. I also love them with pistachios, pecans, walnuts , raisins… Endless combos. Try it! Great for Valentine’s Day, but really, any holiday!
Here’s a pic of caramelized date hearts that I made a few weeks ago in the air fryer, topped with pecans – they are so yummy. I love my Air Fryer. Between it and the Instant Pot, mama has a blissful kitchen that turns out quick food for littles!
Watch the recipe video!
- 6 dates, pitted
- 1/2 block or 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1 package 0.8 ounces freeze dried strawberries (can use fresh strawberries or freeze dried or fresh raspberries as well!)
- 2-3 tablespoons Feta cheese (optional)
- squirt lemon juice
- tablespoon of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, water or any liquid
- Pit dates if needed. Split three fourths of the way in half with a knife. All the dates have their own shapes but some are naturally more "pointy" on one end than the other. They'll split into better "hearts" if you'll split from the wide end going down to the pointy.
- Open date and mold the cavity to where it will hold filling. Set dates aside after shaping.
- In a food processor or blender, mix cream cheese and freeze dried strawberries until well combined, scraping down bowl of food processor as needed. Taste to check your mixture.
- At this point, I like to add a few tablespoons of Feta cheese and a generous squirt of lemon juice as I feel it really lends a tangy flavor which compliments the date and brings out the flavor of the strawberries! To me, the Feta and lemon juice just really brighten the whole flavor and color, but use your own creativity!
- I also added a splash of almond milk for creaminess.
- Use a baby spoon or a knife to spoon the mixture into the cavity of each date and create your hearts. I used a toothpick to level and "clean up" my hearts.
- Decorate with pomegranate seeds, cinnamon or just leave them plain. They're beautiful and simple on their own!
- For extra dimension, I have caramelized my dates before by spraying them with a little coconut oil and air frying them for several minutes (or broiling). This brings out the sweetness of the date. Try it!
Recipe for Valentine’s Day Date Hearts
I really hope you enjoy making these awesome treats as a healthy alternative. Doing little swaps like this is what enabled me to get rid of white flour and refined sugar from my diet. I find that I no longer crave cookies, cakes, soda and the like! I actually crave dates instead of candy, and nuts and other nutritious foods instead of chips! It’s my newfound passion to help other people find ways, like this, to become healthier!
Check out my crazy backstory about how I lost 120+ pounds on my Facebook page.
Check out these treats you might like: Pumpkin Salted Caramel Protein Muffins
Pinterest Valentine’s Day Date Hearts