Eat Happy, Be Healthy!
This post is adapted from the original on my old food blog Poppies & Papayas published in 2014.
Tis the season to bake cookies! Truth be told, I am not much of a cookie person. I do, however, have a soft spot for cookies that I can dip into a cup of afternoon tea or coffee. A sweet little pick me up to carry me through to dinner on a crisp and sunny winter day. A day just like today, where the sun warms my cheeks and the cool air energizes me with every deep breath. The kind of day where a long brisk walk should end with a cozy cup of tea and a homemade cookie. And since my son insists that Santa needs his cookie and glass of milk, it was time to bake these wholesome delights again.
Since 2014, when I first developed this cookie recipe, I have been making them every year. They have become my holiday cookie tradition. These cashew coconut cookies are my wholesome take on a crunchy shortbread cookie, lightly sweet, and super satisfying. They can shine just like any ol' traditional holiday treat, trust me. And now that I have a super cute, almost four-year-old kitchen helper, it's even more fun to share the cookie making experience.
So what sorts of goodness will you find in these cookies? A good amount of cashews, shredded unsweetened coconut, coconut sugar and coconut oil, a wee bit of sweet sorghum flour, a splash of vanilla, and a sprinkle of cardamom…all roasted and toasted and dipped into delicious semi-sweet dark chocolate! Of course you can choose whatever chocolate you want, milk chocolate, flavored chocolate, or even go with no chocolate. It's up to you!
May this be my holiday gift to you, my dear friends! A gift that keeps on giving throughout the holiday season. Surprise your co-workers, your family members, or even your dearest friends with totally delicious sweet treats. With that I wish you a beautiful, sunny and crisp winter day, a long brisk walk, and a hot tea and cookie to come home to.
Cashew Coconut Dippers
In this recipe I used sweet sorghum flour. It's a nice alternative to rice based GF flours. Usually, I can find this in the BULK section of my natural foods store. However, if you can't find it, you can also use Bob's GF 1:1 baking mix flour blend, or even use just plain rice flour. The fine psyllium husk powder I usually purchase in the BULK section as well. However, you can also buy it in large quantities here.
Makes about 2 dozen
1 ½ cups whole raw cashews
1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
½ cup coconut sugar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons fine psyllium husk powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup sweet sorghum flour (or any other kind of GF flour)
2-3 tablespoons coconut milk (or any other kind of milk)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup coconut oil, packed
1 - 3oz chocolate bar, chopped (or use chocolate chips)
Optional: extra shredded coconut for garnish
Place the cashews and shredded coconut into a food processor and process until they resemble a mealy texture. Add the coconut sugar, sea salt, cardamom, psyllium husk, baking soda, and sorghum flour. Pulse to combine. Add the coconut milk, the vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Process until the mixture begins to clump together and form a type of “dough”. Scrape the mixture down the side of the processor to help blend the ingredients enough. Don't worry, you can't really over process the "dough" because at this point the food processor doesn't even process the mixture anymore because it clumps up so much. The mixture should easily stick together when pressed together with your fingers.
Gather up the cookie "dough" and place onto a parchment sheet. Press the dough into the shape of a long rectangle to create dipper-like cookies. Take your time here. This may take a little bit of effort as the "dough" tends to be a bit more crumbly than traditional cookie dough. The heat of your hands will help release more of the oils and make it easier to shape the log. In the end you want a cohesive, smooth looking log. Depending on the size and shape of your log, it can impact how many individual cookies you can make. Wrap up the rectangle with the remaining parchment paper and refrigerate for at least an hour.This step is crucial as it allows the psyllium husk and oils to bind the dough making it easier to cut later on.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator. With a sharp knife cut slices off of the rectangle that are about a ¼ of an inch thick. Place each slice onto a parchment lined baking sheet. You will need two baking sheets, one per dozen. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. They will still be soft to touch when removed from the oven. Therefore, allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet before moving them. I usually place the whole sheet outside to cool quickly.
Meanwhile, create a double boiler by heating a little bit of water over medium heat in small saucepan. Place the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips in a small bowl or glass, and place the dish in the heated water. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the saucepan from the heat, leaving the bowl inside to keep the chocolate warm. Dunk the end of each cookie into the melted chocolate and place back onto a parchment lined sheet. Alternatively, you can brush the tops of the cookies with chocolate using a pastry brush. Decorate each cookie with a sprinkle of shredded coconut, and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container.
Serve with a cup of hot tea or decaf coffee as an afternoon delight.
Although you have probably tried many butternut, delicata, and spaghetti squash recipes, you likely haven't tried this winter squash variety yet. Kuri squash is by far my favorite choice for soups because it delivers this beautiful bright orange, creamy soup, that other squash varieties just can't meet. Plus, this soup is rich in fiber and polyphenols because you can eat the peel of the squash unlike many other squash varieties. You can find Kuri Squash at your local grocery store or Farmer's Market. Kuri squash also tastes great as an alternative for pumpkin pie.
Since this soup is low in protein, I highly recommend pairing it with a protein rich food. For example a salad topped with grilled chicken breast or burger patty, a tuna sandwich, or simply cut in some leftover cooked protein when reheating a serving.
Coconut Ginger Red Kuri Soup
1 small Red Kuri squash
1 medium yellow onion
1 medium apple
2 inches ginger root
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 can organic coconut milk
2 teaspoons Better than Bouillon Organic Vegetable paste
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Optional: chili flakes
Cut the kuri squash in half and remove the seeds. Then cut into quarters. Steam the squash in a steamer basket over medium heat until tender when pierced with a fork, about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool enough to handle. Chop into chunks.
Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients. Peel the onion and dice. Chop the apple into chunks, leaving the skin on. Peel and dice the ginger root and garlic cloves. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once hot add the prepared veggies, reduce heat to medium low, stir in 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and saute until onions are glassy. Then pour in the can of coconut milk. Fill up the empty can of coconut milk with water and add that to the veggies as well. Add the Better than Bouillon, and add the coarsely chopped kuri squash and stir to combine.
Increase heat to medium high and bring the soup to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for ~10 minutes. Then remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender. Add fresh ground pepper and lemon juice to taste, starting with the juice of 1/2 lemon and increasing to taste. Season with additional salt and chili flakes if desired.
Homemade Applesauce with a Special Twist
Most people peel their apples when making applesauce to keep the texture nice and smooth. But in the process they are discarding the most nutritious part! The apple peel is rich in gut loving and anti-inflammatory polyphenols including well known quercetin. Quercetin is most well known for inhibiting the production and release of histamine, thereby reducing the severity of seasonal allergies and other histamine related symptoms.
The peel is also an excellent source of pectin a soluble fiber which can soothe the GI tract and can be especially helpful when struggling with diarrhea. Pectin is also fermented by good gut microbes and therefore helps support a healthy and diverse gut microbiome.
Since we are keeping the peel on for this applesauce, it becomes increasingly important to choose ORGANIC apples, as conventional apples are highly sprayed with pesticides. And to help improve texture of applesauce, I recommend grating the apple peels instead of just coarsely chopping the apples. Although this is an extra step, it allows the apple peel to easily dissolve during the cooking process, leaving the texture more smooth. With the addition of the skin, and the increase in polyphenols and pectin, the applesauce is pinker in color and is thicker in texture.
However, apples are rich in fructose and sorbitol, two kinds of sugars that are considered FODMAPs. If you don't tolerate either of these well, then applesauce (and apples) may trigger uncomfortable digestive symptoms until the underlying cause is addressed, such as SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), which can lead to fructose malabsorption. Some people unfortunately, struggle with hereditary fructose intolerance, and will have to limit fructose entirely to avoid uncomfortable symptoms.
Spices (fresh ginger root, cinnamon, vanilla, etc)
Sweetener of choice (optional) - depending on the type of apple you may need more of less
Wash your apples and grate the peels. Cut out the core and dice up the remaining apple flesh. Add the grated peels, apple bits, water, lemon juice, and your choice of spices to a large pot, cover, and bring to a simmer. Simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the chunks. Remove lid, and mash with a potato masher or whisk, stir in salt, and optional sweetener to taste. You may continue to simmer uncovered for a couple of minutes to evaporate excess water if needed until desired texture is achieved. Transfer to a sealable glass jar and enjoy. I love it with Nancy’s whole milk yogurt or cottage cheese.
Show me your applesauce making skills!!
I hope you enjoy my creative, flavorful, and nutrient dense approach to whole foods cooking. All recipes are gluten free.