Adaptogenic Date Shake

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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.

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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.   

Date shake

Along the dusty, desert road home we saw so many signs for date shakes, since this is the land where this indulgent treat was invented back in the 1930s. None of us caved and bought one, but my mouth was definitely watering, and I was excited to get back and make one for myself. The original recipe is simple, and calls for dates, vanilla ice cream, milk, and sometimes a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. I knew this was the perfect makeover opportunity, and high-vibed my date shake with coconut milk instead of dairy, hemp seeds, and adaptogens.

So why the adaptogens? Well, I felt like the already-pretty-healthy date shake could use a boost, and what better way to make something more supportive than with a dose of stress-reducing, adrenal-loving, hormone-balancing, potions to get you back into balance? Yahs! I had these four choices on hand, but there are a lot of options once you start to dig around the health food store a little. Here is a little about each one and why I chose them.

Ashwaganda: helps the body adapt to stress and bring us back into balance. It encourages deeper sleep, supports the immune system, and energy levels.
He Shou Wu: builds the blood, harmonizes adrenal gland function, nourishes hair, skin and nervous system, increases antioxidant activity.
Maca: increases stamina, elevates mood, helps to balance hormones in both men and women, supports fertility and healthy libido.
Licorice: balances hormones, helps the body adapt to stress, supports the immune response, and aids learning and memory.

*Some adaptogens during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and while on medication are not recommended, so check with your natural health care provider before trying any of them.

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The farm we visited grew seven types of dates, and we loved trying them all. The unanimous favourite was the grower’s very own variety that he created himself, called Black Gold. He also mentioned that this was the best type of date for a date shake, but considering the fact that you maaaaay not get a chance to visit Palm Springs anytime soon, I’ll go ahead and recommend using Medjool dates for the shakes, since they are widely available, and their thin skin blends very easily into a smooth consistency. If you cannot find Medjool, try Deglet Noor instead, or soak your dates in warm water for half an hour before blending.

Dates are a great source of energy, and provide a generous amount of filling dietary fibre with very little fat. Dates are mineral rich, delivering potassium, manganese, magnesium and copper, as well as an assortment of B-vitamins. Seek out dates that are plump and juicy-looking (if you’re buying from a market, ask to try them first), that their skin is intact, and that they are neither glossy or dusty. I store my dates in an airtight glass jar in the fridge to extend their shelf life, and protect their flavour and nutrients. Kept this way, dates will last up to six months. Outside of the fridge at room temperature, dates will last about a month and a half, or you can freeze them for up to a year.

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The banana in this blend up is totally optional, and I actually really liked the version without, even though it was less thick and “milkshakey”. If you want to add more dates for sweetness and flavour, live it up. I found that this amount, about 3 Medjool dates, was just perfect for me, even without the banana. The spices are also optional, but help to disguise any strong flavours from the adaptogens, which admittedly can sometimes taste like the inside of a barn, or everyone’s favourite: feet? Mmmmm. Right. Let’s cover that up.

All in all, this is a delicious and filling way to start your morning, or the perfect afternoon pick-me-up. It’s creamy, smooth, sweet and totally balanced. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!   

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I just want to give a huge shout out to Sasha and all the women who attended the retreat – it was truly a beautiful experience. And if anyone out there is looking for some inspiration and general awesomeness, follow these wonderful people, below:

Sasha Swerdloff – Tending the Table
Renne Byrd – Will Frolic for Food
Lily Diamond – Kale and Caramel
Kimberly Hasselbrink – Kimberly Hasselbrink
Shelley Westerhausen – Vegetarian Ventures
Lindsay Kluge – Ginger Botanicals
Trisha Hughes – Go Eat Your Beets
Carly Diaz – Carly Diaz
Eva Kosmes Flores – Adventures in Cooking
Sophie MacKenzie – Wholehearted Eats

Hope you’re all enjoying the first breaths of Springtime. Sending love, gratitude, and sunshine,
Sarah B.

Show me your shakes on Instagram: #mnrdateshake

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retreatannoucement

Hey ya’ll! One more thing before I go: new Wild Heart High Spirit retreats are being planned! I’ll share more news about the retreats soon, but if you want to be the first to know when tickets are available, go to www.goldencircleretreats.com and join the email list. I’m so excited to welcome another group of women to this magical experience!

53 comments

  1. Julia

    I’ve been following your site for a few months now and I always see the amount of good thing that you have for us, it’s really good, success!

  2. Kat

    Hi! I never really comment but I’m hoping you can share some info…which date farm did you go to??? I’m in Palm Springs right now (I’m from Seattle) and hope to go on a date farm tour tomorrow and I’m trying to decide where to go. Are you able to share which farm you went to?

  3. Monika

    Dear Sarah,
    I love your recipes!
    I’ve one question about this delicious adaptogenic-date-shake. You think it is ok to drink it in pregnancy? (because of the licorice root or can I replace it? I love licorice and it’s really make sth great in this shake).
    Greetings from Poland, Warsaw

  4. Ttrockwood

    I have to say i think it’s really kind of sad and tragic that a group of women who appreciate food and terroir and how unique these dates are weren’t able to stop and enjoy a date shake from a roadside stand.

    It’s like going to paris and not having a baguette. Just…..yeah, sad.

  5. Jessica Simons

    A healthy and lip smacking drink for the summers. Dates are highly rich in minerals and fiber. If taken in moderation, they can prove good for weight loss, by keeping away the hunger pangs. The countries of middle-east prefer them in heated summers. Not too sure if ashwagandha would be so easily available, so can we replace that with anything else?

  6. Jasmine

    Hello! I would love to try some of these adaptogens!! ‘m wondering if you have any recommendations on where to purchase the herbs/brands that are clean and environmentally conscious ? Thanks!!

    • Sara Morrison

      Check out Moon Juice, they have the best selection. I’ve been using them for years and LOVE them!!

  7. Maureen

    I liked this article because I learned something new. I hadn’t heard of adaptogens and although I eat dates, I never thought of using them in a shake.

  8. arushi

    Awsome. Thanx… reall speking this is really a nice blog. you have shared really awsome contets here. These days blogging is becoming pofessional work just to gain and earn money.i would say that you are doing really a great job. keep up.

  9. Natalie Ellis

    Such an amazing trip! It is truly awesome when having a group of people sharing common things! I’m really jealous of you xD
    Btw, the date shake looks tasty!

  10. online assignment help uk

    I don’t think it’s a matter of the protein being denatured, it’s more of an issue of it going bad. It won’t taste as good, though. We drank a protein shake that was 6 months out of date (it sounds like yours is a powder

  11. Jennifer

    I’ve been really interested in adaptogens, and this looks delicious. Do you have some good/reputable online sources for them? Thanks!

  12. Beatrice

    Oh, this sounds absolutely delicious! I’d never seen how dates grow before and that is so interesting that only one male tree is needed for every 30 females. Reading about how they are grown just makes me appreciate one of my favorite foods all the more! I must make this date shake, sounds like a perfect snack! Oh, and as always, your photos are GORGEOUS.

    Beatrice | The Bliss Bean

    • Sarah Britton

      Hello Beatrice!

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment…I couldn’t agree more! Seeing and learning about how things are grown makes you appreciate it so much 😀 I hope you love the shake too.

      Big hugs,
      Sarah B

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    Here are two things here that recommend this is probably going to be a heap of old shoemakers. Those two things are the words “nutritious” and “specialist”. If it’s not too much trouble overlook this twaddle and accomplish something that gives you joy and accomplishment

  14. Gabby @ Putumayo Kitchen

    Such beautiful photos and sounds like an incredible trip!

    I really feel like adaptogens are the key to helping us navigate through all the stresses modern society brings. He shou wu is one of my favourites at the moment… will have to try this recipe for sure 🙂

  15. Shayna

    Sounds like you were at Bautista farms! Thanks for this fun recipe, I totally wouldn’t have thought of making a shake that’s date-centered. Question though (I hate to be “that person”) but any reason to us full fat coconut milk instead of something a bit lighter? I try not to be a calorie counting fanatic, but with full fat coconut milk this is like a 700+ calorie shake. at least a full meal’s worth of calories and a looot of fat unless you’re extremely active. Just sayin’….but again if there’s a reason besides deliciousness for that would love to know. <3 keep it up though! Love your posts and recipes. <3

    • Sarah Britton

      Hello Shayna,

      Thanks for your question…you’re right! It IS a lot of fat! Haha…I rarely keep track of these things, but I am also very active (and love the deliciousnesssss). If you’re concerned about the numbers, use coconut milk from the carton instead, or cut it in half and double the amount of tea 🙂 I hope that helps!

      xoxo, Sarah B

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  17. Amber

    Thanks for sharing such a delightful post, S! It was a treat for the senses. I’d love to know—what was the name of the date farm y’all visited?

  18. Julia Austine

    I love meeting people who are so passionate about the food they produce! My great grandfather was a date farmer in California and when I was a little girl, he would send a box of Medjools to my family in Canada every Christmas and we would pass them around reverently and sink our teeth into them in silent appreciation

  19. Erin @ PureFeast.com

    I love all the adaptogens you incorporated in here, I’m familiar and use all of them on a regular basis with the exception of the licorice – that one has me super intrigued about how it would taste in there! I was in Palm Springs in March, definitely a lovely location to escape to from Ontario during that time of year! 🙂

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi Erin,

      The liquorice is SO GOOD in here…it adds an incredible sweetness without any sugar 🙂 And I hear you on escaping Ontario. I hope you had a great time in Palm Springs too!

      xo, Sarah B

  20. CD

    I keep reading that the Peruvians don’t eat raw Maca and that we should be using gelatinised Maca powder instead. Would love to know if you have any nutritional info around Raw Powder V Gelatinised Powder? I mostly use the raw toe in hot choc so it’s being heated, but I do also use it in cold puddings and drinks at times and wonder if I should switch?

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi CD,

      Great question! If you personally have tried raw maca in the past and have had stomach upset or digestive issues, you would probably do better on the gelatinized maca. The latter has had the fibrous part of the plant removed so it’s easier to break down than the non-gelatinized type. It’s really up to you – the raw form is cheaper and easier to find, but if it’s upsetting your tummy, try the other kind! I hope that helps 🙂

      xo, Sarah B

  21. Susan

    Thank you for posting a healthy date shake recipe. I had a recipe for a date and cashew shake and got tired of it quickly, perhaps due to containing a banana. Although I like the idea of the adaptogens, I will choose to skip them when I make the shake. I don’t know enough about them and don’t want to invest in something like that unless I know I would be using them. (I already know that I can’t use maca.)

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi Susan,

      It’s fine to skip the adaptogens – they are pricey and not everyone needs them (just us stress balls! Haha…) I hope you enjoy the shake!

      xo, Sarah B

  22. Jen @ sweetgreenkitchen.com

    Oh, I love dates! It’s so incredibly hot today in NY, this post just inspired me to whip up some sweet green milk (with spinach, hemp seeds and of course dates!), so cool, delicious and refreshing. I also LOVE your pictures of the dates growing in the trees, SO COOL, and getting a little education on how they grow.

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi Jen!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post <3 Your sweet green milk sounds deeeelish! I'll try it 🙂

      Waves and smiles from your Northern neighbour,
      Sarah B

  23. Sasha Swerdloff

    Sarah,

    Love this recap of our trip to the date farm and this recipe. I make pretty much the same shake all the time during the summer but usually use almond milk and toasted coconut flakes plus cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. I call it the ojas shake. YUM! Thanks for the sweet shout out too. I’m so so so glad you invited yourself and that we got to know each other IRL. Also, can we talk about these photos!? Jaw droppingly beautiful!

    • Sarah Britton

      Hi love!

      Thanks for your sweet comment <3 I was so grateful for our trip (and still ashamed that I approached you the way I did, but hey! It got me to Palm Springs 😉 Your version sounds next level! I love the toasted coconut addition...brill.
      And thanks for your compliment on the photos - as I've said before, coming from you it means a LOT!

      xox, Sarah B

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