How is your weekend going? I'm riding a small high right now as have just finished a bunch of year end exams for my Naturopathy, Nutrition and Herbal Medicine degree, and we're now on a two week break. For some reason I decided that doing five papers this semester was a good idea (yes I know, with a baby and business/blog in tow). I love my studies so much, it's such a great blend of science, biology, pathophysiology and research based medicine (all the things you'd expect to see in a medical degree). But then overlaid with a real desire to heal the body in as natural a way as possible, through nutrition, lifestyle and herbs. Which I just love. I truly believe that an integrative approach to health is the way of the future, and I'm so excited to be a part of that.
So despite the fact that I had the option to take this year off while we had our wee Mila, there was a little voice inside that (rightly or wrongly), still wanted to keep going with my studies. It's an interesting space we women are now in, with so much opportunity to do everything, that sometimes I'm not sure we know where the right balance sits. Are we career women, intellectuals and society contributors, or are we partners, mothers, family holder-togetherers and homemakers? Of course the answer must be somewhere in between, but where that optimal line lies i certainly find challenging to decipher.
In anycase, I'm feeling rather grateful right now, sitting at our little bach in Palm Beach, Waiheke, looking out over an incredible sea view and typing away to you on my laptop. I'm so looking forward to being able to spend the next two weeks with a few less projects on the go - just bub, biz and blog. As well as getting back in the kitchen a bit more than I have the past few weeks. It's always such a great feeling being able to get away and take note of where you're at and where your priorities are. I think it's something we should all try and do regularly!
So off of the philosophical, and onto the food. You'll recall a few weeks ago we talked about making your own Homemade Nut Butter. I hope you gave it a go! And if you didn't get time (tied up with aforementioned commitments), then have a read here for all my favourite nut buttery tips and tricks. It's really quick and easy to do. Failing that, grab yourself a pre-made jar here (it's ok, I do this too).
These cookies are everything you'd want from a cookie - soft yet crunchy, buttery yet slightly sweet, moreish and super versatile. Add your favourite dried fruit or chocolate chunks and you're good to go. Traditional cookie recipes (or biscuits/bikkies as we call them here in NZ) generally use eggs, butter, white flour and sugar as their base. Eggs and the gluten in white flour help to hold them together and give them rise, butter gives flavour and crunch, while sugar of course gives sweetness. So when you decide to try and make vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free cookies without all these things, it's quite a challenge!
After much experimentation I've found that the combination of nut butter and coconut oil is an excellent substitute for eggs and butter, while a blend of three different naturally wheat free flours (brown rice, buckwheat and oat) is a great substitute for regular white wheat flour and binds quite well. Meanwhile I've used a very small amount of coconut nectar to sweeten these slightly, instead of white sugar. The result is delicious! Like a soft buttery cookie, almost like a shortbread, with just a hint of sweetness. Let's just say I made a double batch for the weekend, and between the four of us (Tony, my Mum, sister and I) we've polished them off already.
Once you've mastered this base recipe, feel free to get experimental and add your favourite dried fruit or chocolate to the mix. So far I've tried chopped up bars of chocolate (Loving Earth's Coconut Mylk choc here, and Pana's Raw and 80% flavours here), raisins, and some brand new NZ grown freeze-dried blackcurrants from Viberi we just got in store. I'm imagining chopped up apricots or dried figs would also be brilliant, so they're next on my list!
Because there aren't any eggs in these, they only need to cook a very short while to be done - 8 minutes to be precise. So don't be tempted to go over (I have, not good) - they'll end up as nice little rocks, good for hurling, but not so good for chewing. Also thanks to the blend of wheat free flours I've used (brown rice, buckwheat and oat), they are very delicate when they first come out of the oven. Don't be tempted to touch or eat them until they're cool, unless you're prepared for cookie crumbs! After 10 minutes you can peel them off and move them to a drying rack, then once they're cool you're free to dig in. Gluten free flour blends bake rather crumbly (that goes for cookies and cakes), but on cooling firm up closer to regular wheat flour. If you're not worried about gluten sensitivities then feel free to make these with wholemeal spelt flour instead - they also turn out great.
I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I do, and if you share them on Instagram I'd love to stop by - just tag me @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics so I can find you.
Enjoy your cookie munching, and I'm wishing you a wonderfully relaxing, priority-regenerating, happiness-filled week!
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Always use certified organic, local and fairly traded ingredients wherever possible
1 1/2 c wholegrain flour (1/3 c brown rice flour, 1 /3 c buckwheat flour and 1/3 c oat OR all spelt flour)
1/2 c rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 c coconut oil, softened
1 c nut butter*
1/4 c - 1/3 c coconut nectar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
c = 250ml cup, tbsp = 15ml tablespoon, tsp = 5ml teaspoon
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.