Coming from the Midwest, our idea of a farm is rustic barns, silos, grazing cattle, rows of golden grains and maybe some wooded slopes or green waterways. That vision may be beautiful in its own right, but we found out this spring that a date farm is quite different. Picture a tropical oasis of palm trees in the middle of the desert near Coachella. (See Exhibit A.) Maybe that is why they call it Oasis Date Gardens, the largest organic date farm in the US.
Instead of tractors, there are bucket lifts that allow for easier pollinating and harvesting. Safety has come a long way (there are remnants of old rickety ladders in the tree tops), but the long standing method for growing dates has remained pretty much the same. Other than water, dates don’t require much to grow and we love that they are grown in the US instead of being imported from the Middle East, like most dates are.
So what's the big idea with dates? More like several ideas! Dates are heart healthy (free of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and cholesterol), antioxidant rich (hello disease-fighting polyphenols), high in fiber (score), balanced in minerals (helps lower blood pressure), and most importantly, they're naturally sweet and require no added sugar (high five emoji).
The fine folks at Oasis Date Gardens are responsible for growing and processing the dates and date syrup we use in our mueslis. On a recent visit to the farm, they also introduced us to a pretty amazing date shake which we immediately replicated back in the office with some added muesli (scroll down for the recipe below). It took all of one sip for our entire team to fall in love with them - and we know you will, too!
Muesli Date Shake
½ cup Almond Date Muesli, soaked 10+ minutes in choice of milk (we prefer almond!)
½ cup unsweetened almond milk, plus additional for soaked muesli
1 banana, frozen if possible
4 pitted dates
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup ice cubes
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prepare soaked Almond Date Muesli by combining equal parts muesli and milk. Soak for 10+ minutes in the refrigerator. Once soaked, combine muesli, almond milk, banana, dates, cinnamon, ice cubes, and vanilla extract in a blender. Blend until everything is smooth and until the dates are in small pieces. Top with more muesli, berries, or your favorite smoothie toppings. Enjoy!