A blog of hopeful, inspired living: cooking & baking & growing & harvesting & preserving & gleaning & eating & sharing food... while bringing positive change to my kitchen and our food system.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fruit & Nut 'Cookies': Vegan, Raw, Gluten-Free

Day 1 of my spring cleanse went well. I'm always a little hesitant to talk about decisions like a cleanse. Quite a few people have suggestions for what I should or should not be doing for a cleanse. There are a thousand books, websites, urban myths and family stories about cleansing. So, sharing that I am starting a cleanse brings it all on. But in it all, there's a lot of support, which I appreciate greatly.

My cleanse is not a diet or fad, it's an elimination of a great many things that my body may or may not have trouble processing: gluten, dairy, soy, caffeine, alcohol. I'm cutting (most) processed foods and sugar. I'm giving my digestive system and liver a little 27-day vacation (wish it was in Hawaii!).  Why? Why not?! Ok really, why? Well, I've had good experiences with cleanses like this. Cleansing helps me focus more on what I put in my mouth, and helps me to notice how my body really feels. It helps me break habits I keep talking about breaking. I experience greater energy (after a rough first few days), healthier skin & hair, better digestion, better sleep. It feels like an adventure: I look for new recipes, try new foods, and get newly creative in the kitchen.

This past weekend before beginning, I checked out a stack of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and raw books from the library and marked a good 50 recipes. I narrowed my list down to the first week's recipes, making sure to include snacks and sweets to get me through the initial cravings.

I made enough of today's feature treat to last for the week (I hope!). And I experimented with the same ingredients to make two slightly different treats... and I really like them both. The classic cookie is made by shaping the dough into small cookie-shaped disks and then dehydrating them for about 10 hours. This can be done in a dehydrator or in the oven. The bites are made by rolling the dough into small balls and then rolling those in sesame seeds -- that's all. You choose! Or choose both.

The dates and raisins are nice and sweet, the ground Brazil nuts are creamy and hearty, the coconut adds nice texture and nuttiness, the cocoa and cocoa nibs add a nice depth and chocolaty goodness. Even though the ingredients are the same (except for the sesame seeds), it's nice to have two different texture options. I was inspired by recipes in several places: Rawlicious, by Peter Daniel, Dried Fruit and Nut Bites in New Year, New You, from the February issue of Whole Living Magazine, and from a kids' Honey Seed Snack recipe I learned at Life Lab Gardens, in Santa Cruz, CA.

Fruit & Nut 'Cookies': Vegan, Raw, Gluten-Free
makes 10 flat cookies and 20 bites (or about 25 cookies; 35 bites)
2 cups oats, uncooked (look for gluten-free oats)
1/2 cup Brazil nuts
1 cup packed, pitted dates, soaked in warm water to cover for 15 minutes (save the soaking water)
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons cocoa nibs
a pinch of sea salt
2 Tablespoons honey
1/4 cup sesame seeds (only if making the bites)

1. In a blender or food processor, blend the oats to make a coarse meal. Put aside in a medium mixing bowl.
2. Blend the Brazil nuts 'til coarsely chopped. Add to the bowl with the oats.
3. Add the raisins, cocoa, cocoa nibs and a pinch of salt to the Brazil nuts & oats, stir to mix.
4. Blend the dates with some of the soaking water, adding more water as necessary to get a smooth consistency.

Date puree with oat, Brazil nut, raisin mixture on the right.

5. Mix the pureed dates and honey into the dry ingredients. It takes a bit of patience to mix it in evenly. Add a teaspoon of soaking water at a time, as needed to make the dough into a cookie dough texture.

6. Now it's time to decide if you want to make the dehydrated cookies or the sesame bites.

7. For cookies, break off enough dough to create a 2" flat disk. Place the disks on your dehydrator racks or on a wire rack that fits in the oven (I use a cooling rack). The goal is to have the aid circulate around the cookies to ensure even drying. Dehydrate in your dehydrator or in a 155 degree oven (if your oven doesn't go this low, put it on the 'warm' setting) over night, up to 10 hours.

8. For sesame bites: shape dough into bite-sized pieces, roll into balls. Roll each ball in raw sesame seeds to completely cover. Voila! Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Enjoy! These are delicious treats I plan to keep in rotation even after my cleanse!

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