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.

Gratitude for Grapefruit

Photo by dullhunk from Flickr.com

At the time of writing this, I am five months pregnant and jones-ing for grapefruit most every hour. I am a bit surprised as my first memories of grapefruit involve my parents bickering every morning when the fruit was in season. My dad believed sugar to be the best topping. My mom believed in salting to even higher puckering levels. We were cornered, my sisters and I. Were we salters? Were we sugar fiends? My youngest sibling chose not to eat the fruit at all. My other sister chose to add both in order to make peace with such opposing views. I, not wanting to deny myself goodness, and quite sick of their nit-picking over a fruit, chose neither and just left it free to be its wonderful self.

Just now, Costco is selling huge bags of grapefruits that are just the loveliest, sweetest wonders mid-winter. Thank you, Texas! Thank you truck drivers! Thank you hybrid of a pomelo and orange! I have bought a few successive bags as they seem to be the only thing that calms my recently finicky tummy. I should not be surprised. Despite the citric acid it contains, it is very easy to digest and can help quell indigestion. Other interesting bits to know about this lovely pulp, is that it can naturally reduce fevers, lower bad cholesterol, and jumpstart your metabolism if you eat it first thing in the morning.

Photo by harmonica pete from Flickr.com

Below, I’ve got a quick smoothie recipe that is frothy not due to dairy but the pulp from the grapefruit. It is indeed yummy and is also quite easy to whip up if you’ve got a sharp and fast kitchen tool like a blender, food processor or juicer. Give it a try!Woot and a howdy to grapefruit! Drinking a liter of grapefruit juice also raises your body’s pH levels and can prevent kidney stones from forming. The vitamin C content in a grapefruit is off the charts and you know that vitamin C fights free radicals and prevents yucky conditions like cancer, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Grapefruit is also a natural preservative and is even found in my nasal saline wash! You must also know that it is the best hangover cure around as it supercharged with enzymes that help your liver cleanse itself. Pass me that porter beer bartender! Errrr, after I give birth and finish nursing my impending darling…

And afterwards, try scrubbing your bathtub with kosher salt and a squeezed grapefruit half as a sponge. No joke! It’s easier, healthier, and better smelling than anything I could squirt out of a plastic bottle from a fancy cleaner company.

Grapefruit Smoothie
1/2 inch ginger knob peeled
3 carrots stems removed
1 grapefruit peeled but with pith

Blend, process, or juice!

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.

A+ For Sweet Potatoes

Photo by Natalie Maynor from Flickr.com

My Auntie Misty gives foods grades. I never knew this til I sat down to a dinner with sweet potato at the helm and I thought she said, “Sweet potato is a plus food.” I laughed, “Yes, it is a food.” “NO!” She replied, “It is A+ FOOD!” Indeed sweet potato deserves high marks. They have a low glycemic index and make your body more responsive to insulin. They contain no fat, are high in fiber, and are also high in vitamin A and C as well as containing a fair amount of calcium and iron. The best part of sweet potatoes is that they are delicious! Apparently, Christopher Columbus found these edible relations of the Morning Glory vine so yummy that he brought the tubers back to Europe and they subsequently flourished across the globe even reaching China and Japan by the 16th century. Now, the Japanese even make a kick-you-cross-eyed booze out of sweet potato called shōchū.

To roast a sweet potato, no need to fuss with foil or whatnot. Just toss them on a cookie sheet straight from your grocery bag. Whack your hotbox up to 400F, and roast for about an hour or until the sweet potato is soft all around and oozing its caramelized sugars. Then, mush with butter and enjoy. Or, toss an onion on the cookie sheet and make the dinner I made Auntie Misty. It is dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, diabetic friendly, gluten free, and, gasp, tasty. If you are vegan, substitute a smaller amount of agave nectar to taste for the honey. If you are a meat-eater, the recipe as it stands is also the perfect accompaniment to a simply prepared chicken breast, slice of beef, or a even a tasty pork chop.