One thing I have learned about changing a habit is that it is great to have a friend on board when you do it. When I realized that I had to eat less sugar I was so sad thinking I would never bake again (sob) and life would never be quite as fine. Now that it has been over a year I have realized that I can still eat sugar but just in moderation (a-hem, not my strong point) and I have also learned to happily bake most weeks without it.
Finding new “staple” recipes has been essential and that brings me back to one of my best friends. She too has been eating less sugar for health reasons and we have been a great support system for each other as we’ve transitioned from having scones and cereal for breakfast to greek yogurt with nuts and fruit or eggs and enjoying local ricotta with honey and almonds for dessert over scoops of ice cream with hot fudge. On my birthday this past year she gave me a really wonderful book to aid in my natural cooking/baking and I have used it weekly since: Clean Food by Terry Walters.
The book is organized by season which I love. Some of the sweets recipes I’ve made have varied from Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies to Coconut Cranberry Pecan Balls to Teff Ginger Molasses Cookies. And on the savory side I have made Lentil Soups, Kale with Pine Nuts and Currants, Collard Greens and Black-Eyed Peas and more.
Walters’ recipes are not fussy and I would actually call them plain in most cases but it’s a perfect match for me because it’s just the way I like to eat when I’m alone. Simple preparation of good seasonal food where the natural flavors are allowed to spring forward and bring a smile to your face … this is a great cookbook for quick week-day meals.
One of my favorite recipes thus far has to be Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. Today one of my dearest friends is having a birthday on the other side of the country (Happy Birthday, sweet Hilary!) and I wanted to send her some cookies so I whipped up a batch. These cookies travel in the post really well so I highly recommend them for cross-country-sweets-packages. Here is the recipe and my notes:
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip (or raisin) Cookies
By Terry Walters, Clean Food Cookbook
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup unbleached white flour or brown rice flour
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or raisins
Oven: 350ºF / 180ºC
Combine oats, flour, coconut, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl whisk syrup, oil and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry and combine. Fold in nuts and chips/raisins. Press dough together into small balls and place onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake 16 minutes or until lightly browned.
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I use white whole wheat flour as well as grain-sweetened chocolate chips or unsweetened carob chips. These, I have found, are wonderful substitutions so certainly I would encourage you to play with the ingredients based on your preferences. I have also chopped up a dark chocolate bar for this recipe and I think I actually prefer that over chips. Oh and the nuts are completely optional as well. I bake the cookies for around 18 minutes because I really enjoy them super-crunchy. And lastly, when preparing the batter for baking it can be a little difficult to press the dough into balls but don’t discourage. I find that giving your hands a rinse every 6 cookies or so really helps.
Happy clean baking!