Our Summer Solstice 2014
was marked by ..
a potluck picnic at the park .. with a pretty cool group of healthy foodies
There's always the what-to-bring dilemma .. with none of my go-tos begging the mood or the occasion. If you're a follower of The Veggies .. or know me personally .. cookies are a mainstay
It seemed like a good time to turn my attention to the dog-eared pages of two cookbooks that have been permanently opened on my desk the past couple of months .. Nourishing Traditions and The World's Healthiest Foods
Nourishing Traditions .. a book that's both a bible of useful recipes .. as well as an argument for a considered .. holistic .. relationship to food & diet.
The 50-page introduction alone provides a wealth of information on vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, carbs, beverages, sugar, milk, allergies, and additives. It's deeply empowering .. I don't think anyone could read the words & not want to re-evaluate their relationship with what they put in their mouth
As I paged through the enormous selection of whole food recipes .. I found myself distracted by the quizzes called “Know Your Ingredients .. Name that product” (I got a few of them without looking!) As well as the sidebars discussing populations from around the world .. who've stayed close to their traditional ways of eating .. and the enormous benefits they've reaped. Compared to populations that have adopted a “Western diet” .. the contrast is breathtaking
Also worth noting is a section discussing the health values of fermented foods like kefir .. yogurt .. and sauerkraut. Information around the pure evilness of sugar .. and the importance of saturated fats in a healthy diet (note: not trans-fats) are emphasized as well.
I have to admit .. it was hard to pick just one recipe to try .. there were so many that looked good .. though in the end I'm glad this one made the cut .. it pushed me out of my comfort zone
Bulgur was a grain I knew of .. though I hadn't used very often in cooking .. much less baking. Essentially it's whole wheat berries that have been steamed .. cooked .. dried .. and cracked .. available in fine .. medium .. and coarse grains.
Bulgur flour? Not as easy as I thought & definitely not an off-the-shelf product. Turns out it can be made at home if you have a grain grinder. (A couple of interesting articles related to the process can be found .. here) Alternatively .. I used Bob's Red Mill Light Bulgur which wasn't as fine as flour .. and gave them an nutty .. chewy texture.
For a lesson on all things Sweet Potato .. I turned to The World's Healthiest Foods .. or online .. here. Even if you'd consider yourself an expert .. I bet you'll find yourself saying “Huh .. I didn't know that!” For example .. my go-to method has always been roasting in a bit of olive oil with salt & pepper .. though they recommend steaming (from a nutritional standpoint).
I steamed .. it was just fine.
The dough was easy to make in the food processor .. and was a bit wetter than a standard cookie dough. I tucked it away in the fridge for 72 hours (a standard for me .. I always let cookie dough sit 72 hours after reading this article in the NYTimes) .. though the recipe says they can easily be baked right away.
All in all ..
They were wonderful .. soft .. and chewy .. with the spices lending a great depth of flavor. Definitely not in super sweet category .. though between the sweet potato .. vanilla .. and maple syrup .. they taste just sweet enough.
The texture is distinct .. almost (?) the consistency of a muffin .. as opposed to a more traditional cookie. Not a negative by any means. The bulgur giving them an interesting mouth-feel .. which I was glad for.
Truly a one-of-a kind recipe .. that a number of people asked for. Just the way a cookie should be!
ps: If you have experience or tips about these sprouted grain flours .. or grinding flour at home .. if you would be willing to leave a comment or two .. I'd really be interested
pps: The secret to a really good cookie? Let the dough rest 72 hours before baking your cookies .. here
~ Adapted from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions Cookbook .. here
Sweet Potato, Raisin, and Pecan Cookies
- 1 cup cooked sweet potatoes ** or about 2 medium
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups fine bulgur ** or bulgur flour
- 1/2 cup raisins divided
- 1/2 cup pecans chopped
- Steam the Sweet Potatoes
- Peel & cut the sweet potatoes into 1/2" slices
- Fill bottom of steamer with 2 inches of water
- When the steam has built up .. add the sweet potato slices and steam for 5-7 minutes
- Transfer to a bowl .. let cool .. and mash.
- Toast the Pecans
- In a small saucepan .. over low to medium heat .. melt 1 tsp coconut oil
- Add the pecans and cook 2-3 minutes until they are slightly toasted, stirring frequently to make sure they don't burn
- Transfer to a small bowl and let cool completely
- For the Cookies
- Add all of the ingredients to a food processor (reserving 1/4 cup of the raisins & toasted pecans) Process until well blended.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl & fold in the remaining raisins & toasted pecans.
- For best results, chill at least overnight in the refrigerator (72 hours is best) .. though they can easily be made right-away
- Pre-heat oven to 325
- On baking day .. <span class="hiddenSpellError">form</span> the dough <span class="hiddenGrammarError">into into</span> walnut-sized balls & bake for 5 minutes. Lightly press the cookies down with the back of a fork.
- Bake another 15 minutes .. or until their edges have set
- Let cool on the baking sheet 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
- Let them cool completely before storing in the refrigerator (or freezer) in an airtight container.