A peanut-free version of the Rocky cookie

Never in my life, until just over a year ago, had I known so many people with food allergies.  Now I have adopted an entire family full  🙂  (and I love them all) and have several friends with them as well.  There are allergies to spices, some to raw fruits and veggies, to gluten, to tree nuts, to peanuts, to dairy, and the list goes on.  Then there are the folks who make life choices to exclude certain foods- people who eat paleo, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, etc.  All of this adds up to challenge the “foodie” at each party.  You want to bring a dish that looks good, tastes great, and that everyone will be able to partake in.  It can be a little crazy, but I’m up for the challenge.

This particular recipe is an adaptation of the Rocky cookie which tastes a bit more tropical and uses no peanut butter.  It’s for Sheila and Michael as she loves her healthy foods and he doesn’t breathe so well when peanut products are near him 😉

Ingredients:

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup steel cut oats

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (or oat flour)

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

dash of  nutmeg

Sprinkle of sea salt

Handful of bittersweet chocolate chunks

Handful of raisins

Handful of chopped dates

Handful of cashews

Handful of shredded coconut

Handful of dried pineapple

Handful of wheat germ

Handful of flax seed meal

Handful of sunflower seeds

1 egg

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1/4 cup molasses

¾ cup plain, unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

a well-ripened banana

1 large scoop of Tahini

  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix
  • Scoop the batter by the tablespoon onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (cookies will not spread)
  • Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on your oven).  You want a finished cookie that is golden brown around the edges and a bit on top

Rocky cookies

Rocky cookies

I have a dear friend named Roxanne.  Those who know her well call her Rocky.  Rocky is a giving and loving person, always there to listen to a friend, offer advice, lend her opinion.  Rocky also happens to be famous for her cookies, and I mean that.  She’s been asked to make them for parties at a salon, for people’s backyard shindigs, she’s made them for co-workers.  She willingly shares her recipe and I’ve used it over and over.  In fact I have a family member who swears that Rocky cookies helped her survive through a rough patch of menopause.  My weight-lifting friend asks me to make them as her cheat after competitions.  I’ve made them for constipated children who don’t get enough fiber in their diet, and for adults after surgery.  I make them for myself as a snack.  Unlike conventional cookies, they’re packed with healthy fats and fruits, nuts, and energy-supplying seeds.  No butter, no brown sugar, no white sugar- you get my drift.

This cookie is hearty.  It can be made with every ingredient in the list, or only a few of them.  You can play with combinations for flavor such as pumpkin and walnut, or chocolate and cherries, or sunflower and raisin.  Personally, I love to have a little bit of dark chocolate, lots of different fruits (prune, fig, raisin, cranberry), some wheat berries, a mixture of flours (barley and whole wheat)- a little bit of everything.

The recipe may confuse some as it calls for a handful of this and that ingredient.  It means that, literally.  The dough should not be terribly stiff when complete, but if it’s too runny just add a bit more flour to the mix.

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup steel cut oats

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (or oat or barley flour)

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon cinnamon (can also add a dash of cloves and/or nutmeg)

Sprinkle of sea salt

Handful of bittersweet chocolate chunks

Handful of raisins

Handful of dried cranberries

Handful of walnuts

Handful of wheat germ

Handful of flax seed meal

Handful of seeds if you like them (sunflower, pepitas, flax, sesame, etc.)

the dry ingredients

1 egg

¾ cup real maple syrup (or any variation of, honey, agave, and/or molasses)

¾ cup plain, unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup coconut or olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup canned pumpkin (or a well-ripened banana)

1 large scoop of peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter)

the wet ingredients

  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix

the mixture

  • Scoop the batter by the tablespoon onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (cookies will not spread)
  • Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on your oven).  You want a finished cookie that is golden brown around the edges and a bit on top

the Rocky cookie

J

Carrot-Walnut Cookies

Are you a fan of the “morning glory” muffin?  They are the breakfast muffin with a little bit of everything in them- carrots, raisins, apple butter, wheat germ, nuts.  Well this cookie is similar to that.  Packed with fiber, servings of fruit and vegetable, whole grains, and warm spices this cookie has a lot going for it health-wise.  And it’s tasty too!

Ingredients:

1 cup raw, un-salted walnuts

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 carrots, grated

1 apple, grated

1 very ripe banana, peeled and mashed

1/4 cup apple juice

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F
  • Line your baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Combine the walnuts, oats and raisins in a food processor and pulse until ground
  • Transfer to a bowl and stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger

  • Add carrots, apples, banana and apple juice and mix until combined

  • Drop by tablespoons one inch apart on the baking sheet, making about 24 cookies
  • Press down on each cookie with the back of a fork to flatten them a bit (peanut butter cookie-style)
  • Bake until tops and bottoms are lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes

Inspired by this recipe by Whole Foods Market.

J

Barley Banana Bread

There is a new Farmer’s Market that’s started up right in my lovely little city of Holyoke.  It’s on Saturday mornings at Open Square, and it’s already growing.  You see, starting up a new market is no easy task according to farmer Dan from Astarte Farm.  Farmers don’t want to show up and have no patrons, thus make no money, and patrons don’t want to waste their time going to a new market that doesn’t have enough farmers at it to give them a great variety to choose from.  I think that this market has started off well though.  There are soaps, eggs, lots of veggies, grass-fed beef, herbs, bread, cheese and grains.  Plus it’s at Open Square, so you can really make a day of it by having breakfast or lunch at Slice Cafe, get a haircut, mani, pedi, or massage at Serene Salon & Spa, attend a yoga or dance class at Vega Yoga, the options are endless.  Plus the canalwalk is right there, as are the Children’s Museum and the carousel– all within walking/biking distance.

Speaking of the grains, the vendor at the Open Square market who brings grains for sale is Four Star Farms, and they’re pretty smart.  You see, instead of simply packaging their grains and pricing them and calling it a day, they showed up with a) their product, b) samples of baked goods using the product, and c) printed recipes and re-order forms for their grains.    That’s how they got me.  I had never even thought to bake with barley flour before.  I tried a sample of some coffee cake that they had baked with it.  I had no idea what I had been missing!  Barley flour has a moist, sweet, nut-like flavor.  While I haven’t yet tried any of their recipes, I did decide to make my own banana bread recipe with 100% barley flour.  The result was a moist, dense, darkly-colored loaf of yum!

Ingredients:

¼ cup coconut oil

2 eggs

2 cups barley flour

¼ cup raw wheat germ

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup mashed bananas

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt

a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg

Directions:

  • Cream the coconut oil, eggs, bananas, syrup, honey, vanilla and yogurt in a large stand mixer
  • Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just incorporated
  • Pour the batter into a greased Bundt pan, sprinkled with a bit of wheat germ
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F
  • Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to complete cooling

J

Banana Cocoa Cake with Toasted Coconut top

I love to bake, and I love to eat desserts.  What I do not love are overly-sweet and/or rich desserts that make my teeth ache and my conscience wish that I had said “no” after I begin digestion.  That is where this recipe comes in: a moist cake, rich with cocoa flavor, made indulgent by the addition of coconut milk and flakes, and sweetened with nothing but fruit, but won’t cause a heart attack.

I will admit that the batter is a bit on the thick side which can make it a bit difficult to work with.  Knowing this ahead of time allows you to set aside extra patience for this very deserving indulgence.  Topped with toasty bits of crunchy coconut I think that it would make for a great breakfast with a cup of coffee or snack with a glass of milk.

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 very ripe medium bananas
8 dried mission figs
1/2 cup light coconut milk
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, both of the flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk or sift thoroughly to eliminate any lumps. Set aside.
  • Put the bananas, figs, coconut milk, water and vanilla into a blender. Blend until figs are chopped very small and the mixture is thick and smooth, about a minute.
  • Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined, taking care not to overwork the batter. This batter will be very thick.  Pour/scoop the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle the coconut on top. Bake until the top is firm and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
  • Let the cake cool in the baking pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely.  Slice into 16 even pieces.

J