Smart Cookies (with protein!)

I go back and forth on the whole concept of protein powder.  Sure, it’s an easy add-in for the morning smoothie and it can help keep me satiated until lunch.  BUT, protein powders are expensive, often contain unnatural ingredients, and can taste like, well, butt.  So lately I’ve been choosing to avoid them and to rely on eggs, nuts, meats, and raw milk for my protein.  In the meantime, a very expensive bag of protein powder has been wasting away in my cupboard.

This is the Vanilla SunWarrior Warrior Blend protein.  I bought it after trying a free sample and I thought I was in love.  When my whole 2 pound bag came in the mail, though, I found that my tastebuds had done a complete switch.  I found it to be just tolerable and, a few weeks later, not even that.  By the time I was halfway through the bag, I hated the stuff.  And so we’ve been at an impasse, with me unable to either consume it or throw it away (I figure there’s a good $20 worth of product still in that bag!).  BTW, I’m not trying to point out SunWarrior as having a worse-than-average product.  Based on the online reviews, it seems that most people love it…just a matter of taste.

This long story is to tell you that  these cookies finally vindicated my purchase.  When baked into these hearty cookies, I find the Warrior Blend to be absolutely amazing.  It lends a nice, sweet vanilla flavor and plenty of healthy staying power.  Next time I make these, I may even increase the amount of protein and decrease the whole wheat flour, just to see what I end up with.  Use your favorite (or maybe least favorite) brand and whip these up for quick breakfasts or snacks.

Have you ever found a way to repurpose something that was languishing in your cupboards?

Smart Cookies
makes 12-15 large cookies
adapted from Blissful Bites

Ingredients:
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
- 2 Tbsp peanut butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup vanilla protein powder (I used Warrior Blend)
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1/4 hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.  Beat oil, milk, peanut butter, honey, egg, and vanilla and almond extracts until smooth.  Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and protein.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Fold in oats, cherries, and hazelnuts.

Form cookies with large scoops of dough and place them on a nonstick baking sheet.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Peanut Butter Oat Clusters (GF, Vegan)

It was the perfect day for a potluck picnic and I decided to bring something wholesome but with an edge of sweetness.  That’s how these chocolate-studded bite-sized peanut butter clusters came to be.  By the end of the picnic, they were all gone.

Oh, and just because the dough contains some healthy ingredients, try not to ruin your dinner by standing over the mixing bowl and eating it by the handful.  Do as I say, not as I do.  :)

Peanut Butter Oat Clusters
makes 40-50

Ingredients
- 3 1/4 cup oats
- 3/4 cups brown rice flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, mix oats, brown rice flour, baking powder, and flax seeds together.

Melt the coconut oil in a medium bowl in the microwave.  Add peanut butter and use a fork to mix until smooth.  Add brown sugar and vanilla and mix until well-combined.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Using a Tablespoon, drop dough onto a greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  They do not really spread out while baking and so you can put them quite close together.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until just starting to brown.  They will firm up as they cool.

* I added this post to this week’s Seasonal Celebration Sunday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Mix it Up Monday, Monday Mania, and My Meatless Mondays.

Raw Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies

With any luck, this is the last sweet treat that you will see here for the next 3 weeks.  In response to the approach of summer and the slight but constant bloat in my belly, I’ve decided to jump into a 21 day sugar detox.  This is not a well-planned or well-researched detox.  Some more seasoned and hardcore detoxers might even call it a “detox lite” because it’s not as strict as it could be.  Nonetheless, I decided that doing something that feels possible for me for 21 days is better than doing nothing.

My version of the sugar detox goes like this:

Not OK: sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, brown rice syrup (or any products containing these…bye Clif bars!), white or refined flour, fruit juices

OK: pretty much everything else, including whole fruit

I’m going to focus on eating vegetables, fish, eggs, and healthy fats like olive and coconut oil.  These won’t be all that I eat, but I just stocked my refrigerator and pantry with exciting personal detox-approved items including broccoli, asparagus, spinach, cucumbers avocados, bananas, lemons, olives, wild-caught salmon, Oregon bay shrimp, and sardines packed in olive oil.  And some Mary’s Gone Crackers crackers.

In the meantime, these healthy (but brown rice syrup containing) cookies are going in the freezer.  They’ll be waiting for me 21 20 days from now.

Raw Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies
makes 30 cookies
adapted from Rawmazing’s recipe

Ingredients
- 2 cups almonds, soaked and dehydrated if possible
- 1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut, pulverized in the blender
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
- 1/3 cup peanut oil (I think I’d like to try coconut oil next time)
- 1/4 cup fresh strawberries

First, make the filling.  Put the strawberries in a blender or food processor and puree.  That’s it.  Set aside.

Place almonds in the food processor and pulse until finely ground.  This could take several minutes.

Add coconut and chia seeds.  Pulse to combine.  Add brown rice syrup and oil and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse, wet sand.

Using a tablespoon measure, form the dough into small balls.  Press a hole in the center and fill with strawberry puree.

Dehydrate and 115 degrees for 8 hours.

* I shared this post on this week’s Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Hop, Whole Food Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, and Tasty Tuesday.

Peanut Butter Spelt Cookies

Whenever I make cookies at home, I run into a big problem…I end up with a lot of cookies at home.  And I just haven’t figured out how not to eat way too many when they are just over there on the counter.  Calling my name.  Maybe I’ll get the hang of it when I’m a real grown-up.  But for now, I have to resort to sneakier methods of self-control such as (1) giving most of the batch away, (2) putting half of them in the freezer where instant gratification is less of an option (frozen cookies just don’t have the same siren call), or (3) making cookies that only contain ingredients that I would put into a healthy snack.  These fall into the last category.

My favorite part of these crumbly, sweet, and salty treats is that they are made with whole grain spelt flour, which is a good source of fiber, manganese, copper, and zinc.  My second favorite part is that it contains Grade B maple syrup as the sweetener instead of refined sugar.  Also, the ingredients list is simple and to the point.  They’re on the small side, so you can eat two and say that it only counts as one.  And they’re vegan, in case you’re looking to cut animal products.  I like to think of these as my all-of-the-satisfaction-with-none-of-the-guilt-peanut-butter-cookies.  But that’s too much of a mouthfull.

Before baking

And after. Hey, there's some sunlight in this picture! Thanks, Portland!

Peanut Butter Spelt Cookies
 
makes about 4 dozen small cookies
adapted from Green Kitchen Stories

Ingredients
- 2 cups whole grain spelt flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup walnut oil (you could use olive oil here instead)
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Lightly grease 2-3 baking sheets.  If you are using non-stick baking sheets, you probably don’t need to grease them.

2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt.  In a separate large bowl, mix peanut butter, tahini, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla extract until well-combined.

3. Add peanut butter mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.  The dough will be quite soft.  Drop dough by the tablespoon-full onto your baking sheets and lightly press down with the back of a fork.  It helps to get the fork a little wet occasionally to keep it from sticking.

4. Bake for 8-10 minutes.  They may seem a little under baked when you remove them from the oven but they will seem less doughy when they cool.

* I added this post to this week’s Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Whole Food Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked, Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, and Hearth and Soul Hop.

Danish(?) Trabak

I love family recipes.  There’s something so cozy and comforting about connecting to one’s parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents through food.  One recipe I always enjoyed though we seldom made was danish trabak.  I only remember having it a couple of times when I was a kid but it obviously made a lasting impression.  It’s similar to biscotti in appearance but has a finer texture and is topped with a magical blend of cinnamon and sugar.  A trabak experience is not complete unless you dunk the cookies in coffee or milk and so I believe that this counts as a legitimate breakfast.

This year, I decided to reconnect with my ancestry and bring danish trabak into my kitchen.  Problem was…the recipe was nowhere to be found.  I talked to my mom but she didn’t seem to have in anywhere.  I did numerous google searches with all kinds of crazy alternative spellings and descriptive terms.  Nothing.  I thumbed through a scandinavian baking book looking for recipes that resembled what I imagined my trabak would look like.  Nada.  (Fun fact: Most danish cookies are really just the same dough formed into fun new shapes.  Spritz!  Sugar pretzels!  Vanilla wreaths!  If you don’t believe me, just buy yourself a tin of danish butter cookies.)  My search seemed to have hit a dead end.  Even a real, live Danish food blogger who I consulted on the matter had never heard of such a thing.

The breakthrough came when my dad got involved.  The recipe is from his side of the family and he knows it’s for real because he remembers eating it when he was younger.  He called my grandmother who referred him to my aunt who was finally able to dig it up in a 1970s Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Spencer, Iowa cookbook.  The recipe had been submitted to the cookbook by my grandmother who got it from her mother-in-law, Mary.  I think.

While the complete absence of this recipe from any other corner of the world throws some serious doubt on it’s legitimacy as a traditional food, I still choose to believe in it.  Otherwise, I’d be calling great-grandma Mary a liar.  And that’s just not nice.  So here it is, the first publicly available trabak recipe since the one that surfaced in 1970s Iowa.  Now I’ll never lose it again.

Trabak

Ingredients
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp sugar
- 4-5 cups of flour
- 4 tsp baking  powder
- 1 cup butter, softened plus a 2 Tbsp, melted
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla

1.  Preheat oven to 325F.  In a small bowl, mix together 2 Tbsp sugar and cinnamon.  Set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, combine 4 cups flour and baking powder.

3. In a large mixing bowl, cream sugar and butter.  Add eggs and beat until fluffy, a few minutes.

4. Add milk and vanilla to sugar and butter mixture.  Mix until well-incorporated.  Slowly add flour mixture, mixing continually until a soft dough forms.  Add remaining flour until the dough has a slightly firm but pliable texture.  The dough really will not become too firm, it just needs to be able to hold its shape.

5. Form the dough into 6-8 loaves and place on greased cookie sheets.  Brush with melted butter and top generously with cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Bake for 1 hour.

6. Remove loaves from the oven and allow to cool just enough to be handled.  Reduce oven temperature to 200F.  Cut loaves at a diagonal in slices that are about an inch thick.  Lay slices on their sides and return to the oven for about another hour, flipping halfway through.  They are done when they are nice and crispy.

7. Dip in your morning coffee and enjoy!

* I added this post to Melt in Your Mouth Monday.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

These are not healthy.  When I was contemplating making cookies, I thought about how I should substitute applesauce for some of the butter.  Then I started baking and it completely slipped my mind.  So despite the inclusion of ingredients like whole wheat pastry flour and brown rice syrup, please do not think I’m trying to pass these off as a health food.   They are just delicious.

I used to use whole wheat flour for all my baking, including treats like these.  It’s hard for me to reconcile my desire to be healthy with using refined carbohydrates in any of my recipes.  The problem with this was that I could always taste the whole wheat even when I didn’t necessarily want to.  I’m not sure how this drama in my kitchen is going to end, but for now I’m going with the tactic of using about half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour in this kind of recipe.  As a trade-off, I’m going to try to eat fewer of the cookies.  Wish me luck with that.


Chocolate Chunk Cookies

makes 2 dozen cookies

based on Angela’s recipe from Oh She Glows

Ingredients:
- 1 stick butter (8 Tbs), softened
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.
2. Cream butter and brown sugar.  Mix in egg, brown rice syrup, and vanilla.
3. Mix together dry ingredients except walnuts and chocolate chunks.  Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until well-incorporated.  Fold in walnuts and chocolate chunks.
4. Drop by the spoonful onto the baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes.