We're lucky enough to have a family holiday house on Waiheke, a beautiful island just out of Auckland. We never had a holiday home (or bach as we call it here in NZ) when we were growing up, but since Mum downsized the house once the kids had flown the roost, she bought something instead out on Waiheke that we could all enjoy. It is the most amazing place ever. If you've never been before, Waiheke is a beautiful tranquil island, only a half hour ferry away from Auckland city, and yet feels like worlds away in terms of the pace and lifestyle. Our place is at Palm Beach, a beautiful beach with no shops other than a small fish and chipper and a dairy, and in winter especially it's peacefully almost desolate.
Tony and I used to head out to the bach almost once a month to spend the weekend before Mila was born, and found it's the most wonderful place to relax, go for beach walks, eat delicious homemade food, and also to focus and work on some of the things we love (for me my blog and my nutrition and naturopathy studies!). But since Mila arrived in February (3 months ago already can you believe..?), we hadn't been over at all. So this long weekend just been we decided to head on over for our inaugural family trip away from home.
Quite apart from the amazing scenery, nature, and sea side walks, I love going to Waiheke because it (a) gives me actual 'free' time to cook (where I don't feel obliged to do other jobs), and (b) makes me think outside the square as we inevitably have a less than optimal cupboard of ingredients available. And so, last weekend, these delicious Apple and Oat Muesli Cookies were born, with very limited ingredients, no cook books, and a surreptitious sweet tooth waiting to be satisfied.
These cookies are made with seven simple ingredients - muesli, wholemeal spelt flour, sultanas, apple, coconut oil, nut butter and banana. The sultanas, apple and banana give a delicious natural sweetness without the need for sugar, while the coconut oil, nut butter and banana work to bind without needing a huge wad of butter. Using the banana also means you cut down on the amount of fats you need, making these much lighter than a regular cookie (and therefore totally legitimate for breakfast). The banana also lends a delicious texture that's crisp on the outside but super soft on the inside.
You can also include baking powder to give them a bit more rise, but my first batch (at the bach) we didn't have any, and they still turned out great! Back in my home kitchen I made a few more batches adding baking powder, vanilla extract and cinnamon, the latter of which do almost all sweet recipes wonders by adding sweetness without the sugar. But the originals are still amazing. In fact I've made about six batches of these cookies since that first weekend - trialling spelt vs quinoa and buckwheat flour, muesli vs oats, as well as doing them with and without the baking powder, vanilla and cinnamon - they all taste amazing so whatever you have right now in your cupboard you can't go wrong!
Take a Spin on Spelt
Organic wholemeal spelt is one of my favourite flours to use in baking (I use this one here). Spelt is a relative of wheat originating in Southeast Asia, and was brought to the Middle East over 9,000 years ago. The key benefit of it over regular wheat flour is it's much less inclined to cause allergies in people who otherwise react or have intolerances to wheat. While it does contain some gluten, those with gluten-sensitivities and coeliacs (gluten allergy) can normally tolerate it. This is partly due to the fact that it hasn't been hybridised, refined and genetically altered like wheat (unfortunately) has over the past 90 years. It is also normally not treated with as many pesticides or chemicals as the grain berry grows in a thick husk which naturally protects it from predators.
I often make cakes and cookies with organic wholemeal spelt flour, as it binds wonderfully giving you a result very similar to a traditional baked good. It also imparts a wonderful nutty and earthy flavour, which after you've tried a few times, I promise you will come to love even more than a processed fibre-less refined flour alternative.
Spelt is also super high is protein at 13% (compared to a stock standard chicken breast at 20%), water-soluble fiber, and B vitamins which drive energy conversion in the body (keeping you peppy and alert!). It also makes amazing pasta (I love these ones here), as it gives a really authentic texture and taste, but with a more diverse nutritional profile and that lovely nutty taste.
Oh the other thing about these cookies is I just whipped out whatever muesli we had in the cupboard and you can too! Ours was a natural mix I'd made with rolled oats, sultanas, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and coconut chips, but use whatever you have on hand. Failing that, just use plain rolled oats they taste amazing too.
These cookies taste best on day one, just out of the oven, when they're crisp and still slightly warm. And to be honest that's when most of them get demolished in our house. Once cool you can store them in a sealed container in the cupboard for up to a week, however because of their high moisture content from the apple and banana, they will lose some of their crispness from day two onwards. Solution? Simply pop them in your regular old toaster to crisp them back up to their original glory!
So, have you got a spare 10 minutes this weekend? If so make these cookies! And if you do, feel free to share them on Insta with @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics to be in to feature in my next month's "Be Good Organics in Your Kitchen" album on FB and IG.
Hope you enjoy your cookie adventures, and have a wonderful weekend!
Makes 16 cookies
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c = 250ml cup, tbsp = 15ml tablespoon, tsp = 5ml teaspoon
*If you have Coeliac disease (a full gluten allergy as opposed to just sensitivity/intolerance), feel free to use quinoa or buckwheat flour which are both 100% gluten free - I personally love the flavour of the spelt though! Note oats do contain a type of gluten (called avenin), but again most people are very able to digest it even Coeliac's. You will know your own bodily responses so go with those. If you wish to make your own buckwheat flour, simply blend buckwheat in a food processor until fine.
** You could also use plain almond butter or Cashew Coconut Butter
Note: These are best on the day of baking when still slightly warm, as the banana and apple content softens them slightly on subsequent days. You can still happily keep them for up to a week though, just pop them in the toaster or oven to refresh them back to their warm crispy state just before eating.
These deliciously dark and mysterious tarts are just a little bit special, with a secret ingredient. Modestly sweet, with an earthy, nutty flavour- a lovely change from the usual fruity/chocolate affairs - give them a go, and fall in love!
These light and fruity muffins use one of my favourite fruits – feijoas! If you’re a feijoa fan you’ll love these (and if not, come to NZ to try them). Best of all, they have no added sugar – just the natural sweetness of feijoas, coconut, dates, and vanilla.