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!
Got tummy discomfort? Then try this low FODMAP soup that will leave you feeling satisfied and full. It can be easy to get stuck eating very simple, bland meals if you are following a low FODMAP or SIBO type diet. I cannot tell you how often I hear patients tell me they eat baked chicken, zucchini, and white rice. This does not have to be the case! The more you are able to enjoy your food, and the more variety you have in your diet, the better it is for your gut and for your recovery.
I love soups! First of all they are cozy and warming and secondly soups are a wonderful meal for anyone struggling with digestive distress. Since the vegetables and proteins are softened during the cooking process they are easier to digest. Plus, soups catch all the vitamins/minerals in the broth that may be lost with other methods of cooking. My Hearty Veggie Curry Soup is rich in plant based protein and fiber, yet still low in fermentable fibers. Beans and legumes are often high in GOS (galactooligosaccharides) which can cause uncomfortable symptoms in patients with IBS and/or SIBO. Canned brown lentils, however, are low in FODMAPs but still pack a good punch of fiber (9g per 1/2 cup serving) helping to move stool through the digestive tract. Plus when lentils are paired with extra firm tofu, you get 17g of plant protein per serving of soup, keeping you full for longer.
If you are craving a delicious soup that all will enjoy, then try this Hearty Low FODMAP Curry Soup. I specifically chose Whole Foods Chicken Stock (not low sodium) because it is naturally low FODMAP and easily accessible. You don't have to order it online nor do you have to plan ahead to make your own stock. If you want to keep the soup vegan, you are welcome to make your own low FODMAP vegetable stock or consider using FODY Vegetable Soup Base as an alternative. Serve with a side green salad and a hot tea for an uber nutritious and cozy meal.
Hearty Veggie Curry Soup (Low FODMAP)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger root
6 green onions, green parts only, finely sliced
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 ½ teaspoons yellow curry powder
2 cups Whole Foods Organic Chicken Stock (or FODY vegetable soup base)
1 can organic full fat coconut milk
1 can Westbrae canned lentils, rinsed and drained
1 pkg extra firm tofu (in liquid), diced
½ teaspoon sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 bunch cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
Prep all the produce. Then, in a soup pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, reduce to medium low and add minced ginger root and finely sliced green onions. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes or until fragrant and onions glassy. Stir in diced sweet potatoes and bell pepper, and then add the curry powder. Sauté veggies stirring occasionally for another 3-5 minutes. Pour in 2 cups of stock or another low FODMAP alternative broth. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook covered stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
Remove the lid and stir in the full fat coconut milk, canned lentils and diced extra firm tofu. Season soup with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Allow the soup to simmer on low for another 10 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to brighten the flavor of the soup. I suggest starting with 1 tablespoon and adding a little more per preference 1 tsp at a time to avoid making it too sour. Stir in chopped cilantro, and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a green salad if desired.
Note: In place of tofu you can use pre-cooked diced/sliced meat and add into the soup.
Nutrition (per serving): 320kcal, 24g carbs, 8g fiber, 19g fat, 17g protein.
Let me know what you think!
Happy soup season :)
I hope you enjoy my creative, flavorful, and nutrient dense approach to whole foods cooking. All recipes are gluten free.