Gluten-Free Vegan Monster Cookies Brought to You by Flax!

Photo by HealthAliciousNess from Flickr

Flax. These slick little seeds used to confound me. I’ve had to adopt a completely egg-free and milk-free diet due to my son’s anaphylaxis to all eats containing egg and milk. So where does this lead me and my culinary efforts to eat yummy, essentially vegan sweets that do not taste like cardboard? Flax. A slippery little seed with incredible binding power if you can just slide past its slip.

Photo by hagwall from Flickr

Go on, get your good self to the grocery store and purchase at least 3 Tablespoons of ground flax seeds for the following fabulous vegan dairy free, egg free and gluten free cookies that kick your sugar cravings to the curb with loads of surprising yum. If you buy more than 3 Tablespoon, store in your fridge and make another batch soon! The flax won’t last!How to do this? Well, I’ve tried grinding them myself in a coffee grinder, a food processor, and pummeling with a mortar/pestle. I’ve soaked and then attempted annihilation of the seed’s exterior. But really the most effective way to grind them is to let the professionals do it. I buy the seeds pre-ground and in small quantities from the grocery store. Remember once the seeds are ground they are incredibly susceptible to becoming rancid. How do the grocery stores grind these little goodies so well? I’m not sure. But I do know, once ground, you too can access the flax seed’s amazing fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, most of the B vitamins you could ever want, and lignans! Gasp! What are lignans? Well, they convert in our intestines into various beneficial substances that seem to balance out hormones, promote fertility, reduce peri-menopausal symptoms and possibly prevent Type 2 diabetes.

Vegan Monster Cookies – adapted from La Vegan Loca
3 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups organic, creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cherries corsely cut (or other dried fruits)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.
  2. Combine ground flax seeds and water in a food processor and whirl until the liquid becomes viscous and thick, about 1 minute.
  3. In a very large mixing bowl, combine the flax mixture and sugars. Mix well. Add the vanilla, peanut butter, and margarine. Mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips, raisins, baking soda, and rolled oats. The dough will get very unwieldy. Fret not. Keep mixing.
  4. When the dough is thoroughly mixed and all ingredients are distributed evenly thoughtout, drop by tablespoons two inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Let stand for about 3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool. When cool, store in airtight containers.

Steel Cut Oats Make the Best Brain and Body Food

Rolled vs. steel cut oats. Photo by little blue hen from Flickr.com

Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine, Arginine, Histidine, Lysine, Phenylalanine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Methionine.

When I say this list, I somehow become a palpably nerdy and decidedly feminine version of Jay-Z in my wee brain and then I mutter, “Hit me!” as if asking the nutrition gods to drop that dope list on me again. Why begin this
entry with this list and let you in on what my husband calls an, “(sigh) embarrassingly private moment?”

Well, dear eater, this list is the complete list of the 10 essential amino acids (proteins) your body must get from outside sources. These 10 essential amino acids are also, wait for it, found in STEEL CUT OATS. That’s right, I’ve pulled up my hoodie and murmured, “Hit me,” again.

What else should you know about your oats? Don’t get them rolled or boxed as “quick cook” versions. That squishes the goodness right out of them. You want them to be steel-cut, pinhead, Irish, or Scottish. These labels mean that your dope oats have undergone minimal processing and that mighty fine list of essential amino acids is present to increase brain and body function.

Oats also contain beta-glucan, a fiber that has the ability to lower cholesterol and thus reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Beta-glucan has also been linked to enhanced immune system responses. Oats also have antioxidant compounds called avenanthramides that further reduce cardiovascular disease. High fiber diets including steel-cut oats are also well known to reduce blood pressure risks, aid in diabetes prevention and treatment and reduce asthmatic symptoms. Also, if packaged in a gluten-free facility they can provide a great grain alternative for those with celiac disease/gluten tolerance issues. Que my hoodie and a, “Hit me!”

Packages of steel-cut oats always have a recipe for my favorite breakfast food. So, rather than repeat the easily found, I’ve included my recipe for vegan haggis that I fondly call “Vegas.” It is a different yet yummy use of oats and is a riff off a recipe found at allfoods.com online and with a bit of hotsauce is also mighty fine with tortilla chips in front of a good basketball game on the telly.

Jenna’s Vegas, A.K.A. Vegan Haggis

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
5 fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup dry red lentils
2 tablespoons canned black beans – drained, rinsed, and mashed
3 tablespoons ground peanuts
2 tablespoons ground hazelnuts
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 1/3 cups steel cut oats

Directions

Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat, and saute the onion 5 minutes, until tender. Mix in carrot and mushrooms, and continue cooking 5 minutes. Stir in broth, lentils, mashed black beans, peanuts, hazelnuts, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Season with thyme, sage, cayenne pepper, and mixed spice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in oats, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 5×9 inch baking pan. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan. Bake 30 minutes, until firm and the moisture is completely absorbed and the oats and lentils are al dente. You may need to add more broth if the mixture dries out before the oats and lentils are done.

Recipe: Jenna’s Twisty Waldorf Salad

Photo by woodleywonderworks from Flickr.com

While I have since found ways to stir fry, blanch, and even roast broccoli in ways much more edible than my mother could ever dream, I decided to include a recipe that loves broccoli for what it is; a crunchy, green bit of good. The twist on a Waldorf salad below can be made vegan, holds up to lunch boxes and potlucks, and is darn yummy too. Enjoy.

Sunflower Seed Dressing Ingredients
(adapted from 101 cookbooks website recipe)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1 T honey ( or agave nectar to taste if making vegan)
salt to taste
warm water to loosen dressing as desired

Salad Ingredients
2 crunchy apples washed and cubed into bite sizes
1 cup broccoli florets cleaned and cut into bite sizes
1 dash salt
1 cup thinly sliced celery (can be omitted)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (can be omitted for nut allergies)
1 cup sunflower seed dressing
raisins to taste (can be omitted)

Preparation
Put apples, florets, celery and walnuts into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and let stand for a few minutes. Add a cup of the sunflower dressing and toss. I like the dressing on the thicker side for this recipe as it sticks to the apples and the nooks and crannies of the walnuts and florets. If you’d like, even add a few raisins… If you find that the apples are browning, feel free to add more lemon juice. But, usually the lemon juice from the dressing does the trick.

Recipe: A+ Sweet Potatoes for Auntie Misty with Sunflower Seed Dressing

Photo by MinimalistPhotography101 from Flickr.com

Ingredients:

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Red or Yellow Onions
Salad Greens (including watercress is a nice option)
Cooked Brown Rice
Sunflower Dressing (below)

Sunflower Seed Dressing Ingredients: (adapted from 101 cookbooks website recipe)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1 T honey
salt to taste

warm water to loosen dressing as desired

Directions: Blend sunflower seed dressing ingredients in a food processor until creamy and smooth. Then add salt to taste and warm water for desired consistency. I find the dressing works best if it is not runny, but more like a thicker ranch dressing consistency. But, it is very much up to your own taste.

Prepare beds of salad greens on plates. Salt and pepper the greens lightly, then place just a few thin slices of roasted onions on the top. Next, slice the roasted sweet potatoes into rounds about as thick as your index finger. Peel off the skin, and place one or two slices on the salad greens. Top with brown rice and a turn or two of the dressing.

If you’re feeling adventurous and have a few more minutes on your hands, try frying the sweet potato slices approximately 2 minutes per side til brown before putting on the salad greens. It adds another whole level of sweet potato flavor. yummmmm.