FRUITY ALMOND CAROB SCOOKIES (GLUTEN-FREE)

Firsts things first: what’s a “scookie”? A scookie is a scone-cookie hybrid, thus named after many happy accidents resulting in a baked treat with a scone shape and a cookie crumb. How’d that happen? Let me back up a bit. Baking without butter and without refined sugar creates a precarious problem. Both butter (margarine, Crisco, et-disgusting-cetera) and refined sugar (whether it is of the pedestrian Domino variety or the super-duper organic raw Sucanat sort) create the spread that we identify as a cookie-thing. Ditch the butter for organic canola or raw coconut oil, but keep the refined sugar and you’ll still get the spread. Same thing happens if you switch the sugar for something less processed (maple syrup, for insistence) and cream with butter: spread is maintained. But when you remove both butter and sugar, well, there’s the rub. And there’s the scookie. Now don’t get me wrong: I often bake with butter. The unctuous thing that butter does cannot be duplicated. Sometimes, though, I want something a little lighter and little more everyday, if you will. I never, however, cook with refined sugar. But I digress.

My friend is slightly obsessed with a carob-almond flavored energy bar. As far as bars go, this one’s pretty good and clean. Still, I thought I’d try to duplicate it without the abundance of brown rice syrup (to maintain all that sticky, will-last-for-months goodness) that the processed bar contains. On the contrary, my treat is sweetened with only a few drops of maple syrup (easily eliminated if you so choose) and blackstrap molasses. (Blackstrap molasses is actually very healthy, for sugar: it is mineral-dense and an iron powerhouse, which is particularly necessary for vegans/vegetarians as well as women who are menstruating or breastfeeding. But it must be blackstrap. Period.) As an added nutritional bonus (as well as subversive sweetness), I added coconut flakes, dried figs, dates, raisins and goji berries to my concoction. The fiber in one scookie will keep you regular for a week! They are also vegan and naturally gluten-free (no weird gums nor refined starches here). Enjoy them for breakfast or dessert. Or, better yet, both!

fruity carob almond scookie

 

THE RECIPE

SWEET TOMATO CUPCAKES

Anticipating the summer-bounty, here’s a tomato dessert that is truly delectable. While I do believe moderation is necessary in nightshades* consumption, there’s really nothing as perfect as a lush/ripe/seasonal tomato. Thus, enjoy this botanical fruit/culinary vegetable in the height of its availability and explore a myriad of ways to incorporate it in your diet. After all, we do need the lycopene!

sweet tomato cupcakes

*Nightshades are in the plant family called Solanaceae and include tobacco, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, goji berries and potatoes (sweet potatoes and yams excluded). Nightshades are linked to inflammatory problems such as heartburn and arthritis (among many others). They can also exacerbate certain autoimmune diseases, so it is very necessary to eliminate them while cleansing. Enjoy in moderation.

THE RECIPE

Banana-Cardamom-Lentil Bread

Quick-cooking breads are so satisfying and this one is even more so with the addition of lentils. The protein boost will keep you fuller longer while the cardamom offers a whole host of digestive benefits, from taming intestinal gas to alleviating constipation to relieving IBS symptoms. All of this nutritional goodness is married with the familiar flavor of banana. Delicious. If you’re feeling extra spunky, add about a cup of chopped walnuts for an Omega 3 overload.

banana cardamom bread

THE RECIPE

Hijiki Brown Rice Crispies

I don’t know who doesn’t love a Rice Krispy Treat. That irresistible combination of ooey gooey marshmallow and crispy rice cereal is just so delectable, so addictive, so…processed. Many health-minded cooks have concocted their own versions using nut butters and brown rice syrup. That’s definitely a start. However, I take it a few steps further by adding some fresh vanilla bean powder and…hijiki. Yes, I’m talking seaweed. The balance of flavors is so perfect that you’ll wonder why you haven’t been eating these for years. It’s definitely the most fun way to get all those seaweed-exclusive minerals. And the taste: I promise you’ll never again crave a shiny blue wrapped, partially hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup laced bar again. You’re welcome.

hijiki brown rice crispy

THE RECIPE

Green Velvet Cupcakes

Continuing with the savory-in-sweet theme, here’s a cupcake with something green and leafy. Spinach is the secret ingredient, providing not only a plethora of phytonutrients, but also a backbone of flavor (especially when olive oil serves as the fat component). Who says dessert has to be cloyingly sweet? Or that red velvet should have all the fun?

green velvet cupcake

THE RECIPE

Cinnamon Blondies

It’s no secret that I’m kindasorta obsessed with all things bean-based. Nothing, shall we say, sweeps out your digestive track quite like those little legumes. While hide-n-seek treats (we’ll call them hide-n-treats) are often as unappealing as they are trendy, I do believe they can be done in a palatable way. Try these cinnamon blondies and I dare you to not agree. And, per usual, these contain no refined sugar. More on sugar soon. 

cinnamon blondies

THE RECIPE