I have a family who like treats, especially cookies. No wait, make that ‘love’ treats, especially cookies. And given that we don’t eat wheat this can be good (or bad) depending on what your view point is on consuming treats….
We aren’t tempted to buy cookies given they typically made from wheat flour. That means the cookies we eat are usually ones we make. In my exploration for new recipes and the nutrition they provide, I’ve recently been experimenting with raw food treats. They can be healthier and just as tasty. Thanks to Ani Phyo’s book, I’ve gotten some good ideas. Here is one that I came up with for a Valentine’s Day treat.
Choosing the right ingredients:
I really try to use ingredients that are not just empty calories, but provide some nutrition too. These cookies contain carob, coconut and dates.
Carob: I have a daughter who loves chocolate. That same daughter, who, like me, is very sensitive to theobromine in chocolate (a chemical that has a similar effect as caffeine). Neither of us can eat anything made from chocolate in the evening or we’ll pay the price and will be rewarded with a sleepless night. That’s where carob comes to the rescue. It tastes similar to chocolate when it is mixed in with other ingredients and it doesn’t have the negative impact on our sleep.
So what is carob?
Carob is a legume that comes from the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua). This evergreen tree is native to the Mediterranean. The tree bears fruit; the carob pods. These long bean-like pods are cooked for a short time or roasted and then ground into carob powder or made into carob chips The roasting enhances the chocolate-like flavor. Note that given the roasting; carob powder or chips are not technically ‘raw’.
Carob provides some good nutrition. It contains as much Vitamin B1 as asparagus or strawberries; as much niacin as lima beans, lentils, or peas; and more Vitamin A than eggplant, asparagus, and beets. It also contains Vitamin B2, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and the trace minerals iron, manganese, chromium, copper, and nickel. It contains approximately 8 percent protein and is a good source of fiber. Compared to chocolate, carob is three times richer in calcium, has one third less calories and seventeen times less fat. Carob is also nondairy; making it a good option for those who are lactose-intolerant.
I buy unsweetened carob chips from Wholefoods Market.
Coconut: Look for the unsweetened dried grated or shredded coconut meat (I like Bob’s Red Mill flaked coconut). Dried coconut can keep at room temperature for several months if sealed in plastic bags. Coconut is a source of fat (one of few non-animal sources of saturated fatty acids), dietary fiber and as well as vitamins and minerals. Coconuts are also rich in lauric acid, which is known for being antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal, and boosts the immune system.
Dates: Dates are harvested from the date palm tree. They have a wrinkled skin and are a dark reddish brown color. Dates contain a seed that needs to be removed. The inside of this fruit is fleshy and sticky. Dates are mostly eaten fresh or dried. I buy the medjool dates (from Trader Joes) which are typically larger and moister. Dates are a good source of dietary fiber, low in calories, high in potassium, calcium and magnesium, loaded with a variety of B-complex vitamins, vitamin A, and low sodium. Dates are a good energy boosting food with the naturally occurring sugars (fructose, glucose and sucrose). Given these naturally occurring sugars, dates are naturally sweet so there is no need to add any extra sweetener when using them in recipes.
2 cups of medjool dates (seed removed).
2 tbsp peanut butter (optional)
¾ cup of raw cashew nuts
¾ cup of unsweetened coconut
¾ cup of oats
¾ cup carob chips.
1 tsp of cinnamon (optional)
1. In a food processer; process the cashew nuts, coconut and oats until they are quite fine. Pour these into a bowl and set aside.
2. Next process the dates and peanut butter into a paste. Break up the date paste a little with your fingers (this is a sticky mess).
3. Add the processed dry ingredients, carob chips and cinnamon. Process until all the ingredients are well mixed. If the mixture is too dry; add some more date paste, or too wet; add some more dry ingredients to get the right consistency. The right consistency is when you pinch the ingredients together they will hold together and not fall apart.
4. Using your hands form small patties or I use a mini muffin pan to help form the cookies.
And that is it. So simple. And my 6 year will eat them. I store them in the fridge for up to a week. They don’t typically last that long though….