Healthy Holiday Treats Featuring Dates


Author: Chef Nicola Raadsma

The holidays are here again! For many of us, that’s the good news and the bad news. Gathering together in celebration with family and friends is something I look forward to but what I find challenging is enjoying myself while maintaining healthy eating. I love all the beautiful, scrumptious cookies, cakes, pies and candy that deck the halls this time of year but I don’t like how I feel when I eat them. Yet when I deny myself the pleasure of holiday sweets I feel deprived. That’s no fun! The good news is that I have found ways to participate in holiday eating and still eat well.
Here are a couple of recipes that are decadently delicious but don’t contain any gluten, eggs or added sugar.
Happy Holidays!!!




Tahini Salted Chocolate Date Chews

The first recipe is borrowed from a company in New York by the name of Seed + Mill that specializes in dishes made with sesame seeds and tahini. These are so amazing that they post a warning above the recipe that says: “these vegan treats are completely addictive! We dare you to eat just one!”
10 Medjool dates
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. organic tahini
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
pin salt for topping
Place all ingredients (except for the chocolate and salt) in a food processor. Once completely combined and smooth, roll the mixture out onto plastic wrap and place in the freezer until firm (about 30 minutes). Cut the hard mixture into small bite-sized pieces. Melt the chocolate and dip the pieces into the chocolate one by one and sprinkle with the salt.

Orange, Saffron, and Olive Oil Shortbread Cookies

From the blog “Stir it Up.” This is another recipe that uses dates for sweetening and is also chock-full of good, healthy ingredients.

1 cup of pitted dates
1 cup of coconut flour
1/2 cup butter
1 pinch of sea salt
juice of 1 orange
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. saffron ( I used 1/4 tsp. for good but not overpowering flavor.)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dates, coconut flour, orange peel, butter, and salt and pulse until the mixture is well combined and fine-textured. Add remaining ingredients and pulse again. Form a 1” ball with the dough, place on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Flatten balls to about 1/4” and then bake about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
Health benefits from eating dates:
  • Dates are full of fiber and so can help lower cholesterol
  • They contain selenium, magnesium, manganese, and copper for good bone health
  • They have a lot of soluble fiber so can help with constipation
  • Dates are rich in iron
  • They are good for the skin because they contain vitamin C and D
  • They are low glycemic and can be safely eaten by diabetics


Provided by: Chef Nicola Raadsma

Just one short year ago Nicola and her partner Jean moved to Wichita to be closer to family. Nicola is a native Californian born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area. For the last eighteen years or so she had been living in Sonoma Valley known to most as “wine country” because it is one of the country’s premiere grape growing regions. Sonoma County, however, is also known for the growing of organic produce and for its organic and sustainable production of meat, poultry, and dairy products. For this reason, and the fact that Sonoma is a beautiful place to live, Nicola was happy to call it home.

During her time in Sonoma, she worked for the Sonoma Catering Company, started a small catering company herself to serve visitors to the area and for the last fifteen years worked for four different Sonoma/Napa families as their personal chef. Nicola was never formally trained as a “chef” but because of her passion for food and the desire to feed people well, over the last forty years, has become, what she considers, a good cook.

Her interest in food started at a very young age. She was fortunate to live walking distance from her maternal grandparent’s home. They were both immigrants from Croatia and their families had farmed the land there for many generations. Surrounding their modest home were both vegetable and flower gardens along with a small backyard orchard where they grew peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, and figs. From a very young age Nicola remembers helping her grandparents plant and harvest vegetables, cut flowers, and assist her grandmother with the canning of both vegetables and fruits for winter months.

At age fourteen Nicola happened upon a copy of the book, “You are what You Eat.” Reading that book was the beginning of a life long interest in healthy eating. She has studied and experimented with a variety of different diets from raw foods and macrobiotics to the Paleo and Keto diets and many in between. For the last year, Nicola has been a patient at the Riordan Clinic herself because of chronic fallout from parasitic gut infections and now SIBO. She has had to transform her relationship to food and has made radical changes in her own diet in order to heal. It has been a slow and challenging process. As a result, she has developed greater understanding and empathy for those undergoing healing from chronic illness and she has a much greater appreciation for “food as medicine.” It is from this understanding, her continued passion for preparing good, healthy food, and her desire to help people eat well that she is now offering her services here in Wichita as a personal chef for those that need to or want to eat better to improve their health.

Her Personal Chef services, available for the Wichita, KS, include an introductory free consultation, meal planning, shopping, preparation, cooking, and clean-up. Nicola can be reached by phone at (707)327-7806 or email at