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 Sultana 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 Apple and Sultana Muslie 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!
Please note – if you are wanting to meet any of the specific dietary requirements below, please read my recipe notes.
- 1 c natural muesli OR oats
- 1 c wholemeal spelt flour OR quinoa/buckwheat flour
- ½ c sultanas
- 5 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil melted
- 5 tbsp almond butter
- 1 apple grated, including the juice
- ½ banana
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 180°C on fan bake.
- Mix the dry ingredients (muesli, flour and sultanas) in a bowl. Add the baking powder and cinnamon here if using.
- In another bowl, mash the banana and mix in the other wet ingredients (coconut oil, ABC butter and apple). Add the vanilla extract if using.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix gently until just combined (don’t overmix to avoid getting a dense cookie).
- Using lightly floured (or slightly wet) hands, roll the mixture into heaped tablespoon sized balls and place on a floured tray. Press down on each cookie with the back of a fork to flatten.
- Fan bake at 180°C for 13-15 minutes until just slightly golden, then remove. Leave to cool for a few minutes on the tray (they’ll start to firm up), then move to a drying rack to cool.
- Enjoy warm with your favourite hot beverage. Or save for later (just remember to toast them back up to their original glory, for optimal eating pleasure).
- Make it paleo: use quinoa flakes instead of oats and quinoa or buckwheat flour instead of spelt flour.
- Make it gluten free: 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. They also can be substituted with quinoa flakes.
- Make it nut free: use tahini instead of almond butter.
- You could use Cashew Coconut Butter instead of almond butter, or even ABC butter (Almond, Brazil and Cashew) for great nutritional variation.
- 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.