Saffron rice with dates

Photo: Susie Cushner

A New Dimension to Main-Course Meats
Fiber- and mineral-rich dates are common in breads and other baked goods, but you'd never know how versatile they are unless you tried a dish such as this pilaf. It's a no-fuss, delicious and different spin on meat-with-carbs that pairs the dried fruits with Moroccan-spiced meatballs, saffron rice and red bell pepper. There's a terrific interplay of sweet and savory, and the dates go particularly well with warm and earthy cumin, paprika and cayenne.

Get the recipe: Saffron Rice Pilaf with Lamb Meatballs, Red Peppers and Dates
Chocolate chip cookies with dates

Photo: Ben Fink

A Quick Dessert Fix
Another reason to love dates: They keep well in your pantry (up to a year, if you seal them in an airtight container), so whenever a craving strikes, you're likely to have all the ingredients you need to make treats like these lightened-up chocolate chip cookies. They start with a date puree; then you add modest amounts of sugar, egg whites, flour (a combo of all-purpose and whole wheat) and a small handful of mini chocolate chips. The resulting treats will more than satisfy your sweet tooth without pushing you over the caloric edge.

Get the recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies
Beet salad with dates

Photo: Laura Pedgett

A Way to Pull a Busy Salad Together
Even if you don't make every component of this showstopping entr??e salad (you can easily swap out the port vinaigrette for a basic one, or use store-bought nuts instead of roasting your own), don't omit the dates. They elevate the beets and spinach to a new level of brightness, and they're also a perfect contrast to the salty nuts and cheese.

Get the recipe: Spinach and Beet Salad
Raw brownies

Photo: Richard Majchrzak/Studio D

The Brownie with Some Surprise Mix-Ins
One look at this recipe's ingredient list—walnuts or pecans, dates, orange zest, avocado—and you may wonder if it's actually meant for a salad or other good-for-you dish. Yet, when you mix everything together in a food processor, along with vanilla extract and cocoa powder, it forms a rich and fudgy base. You press it into a pan and freeze; and, within a few hours you'll never believe you're eating dates and avocados.

Get the recipe: Raw Brownies
Date shake

Photo: Teri Lyn Fisher

The Trick to Thick Dessert-Like Drinks
Lighter versions of milkshakes can end up thin and watery. But tossing a handful of pitted Medjool dates into the blender with the milk and ice cream makes this shake smooth and creamy without the extra calories. You can use soy, rice or almond milk, and any type of ice cream (dairy-free or not); the dates will ensure that the finished drink still has plenty of heft.

Get the recipe: It's a Date! Shake
Almond-butter fudge

Photo: Lisa F. Young/Thinkstock

The Easiest Fudge Ever
This gooey, chocolaty, almond-butter-spiked fudge tastes amazing, yet doesn't require any of the standing over the stove and stirring you find in traditional recipes. Made with just dates, almond butter, coconut oil and cacao powder, it's wholesome and unbelievably simple to throw together. The best part: It keeps in the freezer for those times when you're craving a little something sweet (that is, if there are any leftovers).

Get the recipe: Almond Butter Fudge