An extremely wordy post about date flakes.

Wow. Three weeks flies by pretty quickly. I’m dropping back in again, with the hopes that you haven’t totally lost faith in me and my increasingly-sporadic rambles.

But the exciting thing is, in my absence from blogging, I’ve developed so much (SO MUCH!) that I want to share on this blog, ranging everywhere from pack out anticipation, to new work projects, to recent trips across the states, to upcoming trip ideas, to new ideas in general. Excuse this little bit of word vomit, I took one of these this morning. So now, where does one start?

shields date flakes

I know, let’s start at the beginning. Sometimes the beginning means at the header of a page, sometimes it means at a marked starting line, but today, my beginning is starting with breakfast – as many of your mornings do too, I gather. (Caution: If you’re not into wordiness right now, I’d suggest you skip to the bottom, because admittedly, this is a very long entry with a lot of fluff in the middle).

Every morning I wake up hungry- this is a staid fact in my life- which means I have some assemblance of a breakfast every morning. It’s usually more simple than anything fancy, meaning that I generally avoid turning on the stove to make breakfast. I make my slice of toast, or juice, or bowl of oatmeal, and then eat it, in front of my computer, simultaneously checking emails and letting my mind wander to things such as the breakfast routines of other people. You see, it’s a bit of a yearning of mine to have the same breakfast every morning, like many of you claim to do. Fresh yogurt and homemade granola with beautiful fruits every morning is the preferred staple, but I’d get down with a slice of hearty-grained toast with peanut butter too, and seriously even just half a grapefruit every morning. As long as it’s every morning. Though I so desperately want for one of these routines, and have tried so hard in the past for weeks at a time to turn myself into an everyday-same-breakfast-er, I’m never committal enough, nor sure enough, nor decisive enough, nor have planned ahead enough, to have one single item for breakfast every day. It really is one of my desired goals though, and there – I just shared with the world one of my embarrassingly superflous, and highly unnecessary goals in my life.

date flakes- in the bag

Recently part of my breakfast has been a green juice, which has been made semi-routine-ish thanks to the addition of our shiny new *expensive* blender. And interspersed here and there, particularly if it’s cold and dreary out, I’ll heat up a big bowl of oats. If you too like to encounter a bowl of steaming hot oatmeal in front of your face in the AM, I am highly suggesting the addition of date flakes, or date crystals. The name date flakes sounds a bit gross, and look just slightly less so, but I promise you they add a world of flavor and complexity to an otherwise simple bowl of hot oats.

And here, is where the point of this blog post actually starts (I warned you earlier of wordiness, so you can’t fault me for that now).

I first tasted date flakes in Palm Springs, where date flakes have been a raging fad since the 60’s. By now, it can be stated they have outrun their status as a fad and are turning more into a local staple, something for tourists to seek out should they find themselves in the California desert. In Palm Springs, where a date industry has created a name for itself, date flakes are mostly used in hybrid milkshakes, or rather, frozen-yogurt health shakes created from the hippie-bohemian types that tend to frequent Palm Springs.

After consuming one of the aforementioned date shakes, I told myself I would go home and make a date shake every day to satisfy my sweet tooth. However the act of purchasing and drinking a date shake in Palm Springs and making a date shake in your blender at home, somehow, somewhere, presents a large gap of disconuity, where your date shake at home tastes nothing like the one you had in Palm Springs. This phenomena happens often with hamburgers and hot dogs, as well as with milkshakes in general, and sometimes Chinese Food and other types of ethnic foods.

Which leaves you with a lot of date flakes you anticipated on making shakes for in your pantry, to be used now for what….?

date flakes - in the hand

The answer is oatmeal. I previously would always add brown sugar in my oatmeal, but this has since changed. Date flakes are hard and crunchy out of the bag, but when heated in oatmeal become melted and soft and become one with the oats (yes, I just said “become one with oats“). They add a heightened complexity of sweetness that plan old sugar or honey does not, and since they’re natural, they’re infinitely healthier than processed sugar.

I’m excited to try to sprinkle these date flakes into a banana or zucchini bread WHEN I GET AN OVEN AGAIN, but in the meantime, these little candied pieces of dates are absolute heaven in my semi-routine breakfast bowls of oatmeal. Shield’s Date Garden is one of the more famous companies who sell date flakes out of the Palm Springs area (and who also offer online ordering), but any other brand you might find would probably be fine. I’ve yet to ever see these at any Whole Foods or health store on the East Coast, so I’d recommend ordering online. Also, sorry for that photo of my extremely dry hands. Winter here in DC is killer.

Oatmeal with date flakes

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup – 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp date flakes
  • accompaniments: blueberries, peaches, and/or walnuts, cashew nut milk or soy millk.
  1. Rinse oats once under cold water and drain. Add up to 1 cup water. Heat in microwave for 1 minute, then add date flakes. Heat for another 1 minute, watching carefully as the oats will have a tendency to overflow (if it does, take the bowl out and stir, then continue heating).
  2. Add accompaniments as desired. If you’re feeling crazy, add a pinch of salt to your oatmeal!

Shields Date Flakes - closeup

I’m also excited because date flakes and oatmeal with soy milk fits into my plan to go Gluten Free for a few weeks. I’m telling you, I’ve got a lot to say since I’ve missed blogging for a few weeks. But there’s more research and planning that needs to be done for that, so for now we’ll leave it as yet another silly and superfluous goal I’m setting in my life.