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.
Kale salads are often less than desirable. IMO. The kale leaves are either left too big and floppy, or it feels like you are a horse, chewing, and chewing, and chewing. Am I right? Well, welcome the massaged kale salad! By simply massaging kale leaves with sea salt, the friction gently breaks down the fibers, leaving the leaves more tender and easier to digest. Massaging also enhances the flavor of the kale, especially when tossed with a bunch of delicious goodies. Cooked cruciferous vegetables are often better tolerated as the heat breaks down fibers. Massaging the greens has a similar effect, while keeping intact heat sensitive nutrients.
Unfortunately, I know a lot of people struggle with gas and bloating after eating raw cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, etc). This is likely due to their high amounts of raffinose, a short chain carbohydrate that humans cannot digest, leaving a feast for gut bacteria. Cauliflower and Brussel sprouts are considered high FODMAP foods, and are often triggers for patients with IBS. Also, sometimes individuals do not tolerate cruciferous vegetables due to an abundance of sulfur reducing bacteria in the gut that like to feed off of their sulfur rich compounds. If you have struggled with severe foul smelling gas and bloating after eating cruciferous vegetables (or garlic and onion), you may want to consider hydrogen sulfide SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or LIBO (large intestinal bacterial overgrowth).
However, if you tolerate cruciferous vegetables just fine, then they are a great addition to support liver detoxification and hormone health. Eating one serving of cruciferous vegetables per day, is a great dietary practice for overall health and wellness.
Festive Massaged Kale Salad
1 bunch green curly kale (~8 leaves)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ tablespoons unrefined cold-press extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar (white or brown)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted maple almonds or walnuts (see below for recipe)
**Crumbled gorgonzola, feta, or goat cheese
**Dried cranberries, raisins, or currants, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
Wash your kale and shake off any excess water. You can also shake them in a clean kitchen towel. Devein each kale leaf by pulling down along the stem towards the tip of the leaf. Chop the leaves into bite sized pieces and toss into a large bowl.
Add the sea salt and gently massage the kale for about 1 minute or until the kale leaves begin to break down and look shiny. Do not over massage otherwise it will wilt too much. Add the olive oil and the vinegar and toss well.
Finally, add the chopped almonds, cheese, and dried fruit of your choice, and mix until combined. **Add as much of the cheese and dried fruit as you like. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Variation: You can swap the cheese with diced avocado.
Roasted Maple Almonds
Makes 1 cup
1 cup almonds (or walnuts/pecans)
1 tablespoons butter or ghee
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Generous pinch sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place almonds onto a baking sheet and roast for about 8 minutes or until fragrant. Make sure to watch that they do not burn. Set aside to cool.
Heat a cast-iron pan over medium. Add the butter and the maple syrup. Stir the mixture until it bubbles a lot, becomes syrupy, and reduces in amount. Add cooled nuts and pinch of salt. Mix well to coat. Be careful as the syrup is extremely hot.
With a spoon or spatula spread almonds onto a plate and allow to cool. Break into pieces. Serve with the massaged kale salad or eat as a snack!
Are you kale lover? Let me know if the comments below!
As I am writing this I am curled up on my couch drinking green tea, the wind is blowing gusts and the fire is flickering. There is so much cozy going on right now, and I love it! The last couple days I have been making delicious soups and skillet cornbread. There is just something so comforting about cornbread when it is baked in a cast iron skillet. Am I right?
So let me tell you, this is not your typical cornbread! It is a golden delight, perfectly paired with any fall soup or stew. Most cornbread recipes include refined wheat or gluten-free flours and are loaded with sugar or sweeteners. Not the ideal combo when it comes to nourishing a good gut microbiome. My recipe uses old fashioned rolled oats and grated apple instead to keep it nice and moist. This swap not only increases the fiber content but also increases the nutrition density as well. Both oats and apples are rich in soluble fiber, while the corn flours are rich in insoluble fiber. This balance is wonderful for digestive health, increasing stool bulk, speeding up transit time, and feeding good gut bacteria. It also helps increase satiety, keeping you full for longer. Plus, the apple (along with the honey) adds a light but healthy sweetness. Apples are also a rich source of polyphenols, powerful anti-inflammatory phytonutrients that act as prebiotics. As with all my recipes, it's gluten-free too (and happens to be dairy free as well) making it a wonderful side dish to share with friends and family. To make this recipe I suggest visiting the BULK section of your local co-op to stock up on the different flours and oats.
Are you ready to get your fall cozy on? Then whirl up this delicious cornbread in less than 45 minutes. No bowls required, just a high speed blender and a cast iron skillet. And if you don't have one, then use a 9x13" glass baking pan instead.
Whole Grain Harvest Cornbread
1 cup milk (any kind)
1 medium apple, grated with peel
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup raw local honey
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup organic old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup Bob's organic medium grind cornmeal
½ cup Bob's organic golden masa harina
1 tablespoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and oil or butter a 12” cast iron skillet. I like to melt a pat of butter in the skillet before pouring in the batter. Place all the ingredients, expect the baking powder into a high speed blender (I use a BlendTec) and blend until smooth. Finally, add the tablespoon of baking powder and pulse a few times until evenly dispersed.
Gently pour the mixture evenly into the oiled/buttered cast iron skillet and place into the preheated oven. Bake until golden brown for 25-30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool 15 minutes before cutting with a knife.
Serve warm with a pat of butter. You can easily reheat a slice in the microwave for 30 seconds or alternatively pan-fry a slice in butter.
Note: This recipe is moderately high in fructose due to the honey and apple content. To reduce the fructose content, swap the honey for maple syrup. Then each serving is considered low FODMAP.
What are your favorite fall foods?
I hope you enjoy my creative, flavorful, and nutrient dense approach to whole foods cooking. All recipes are gluten free.