Coconut Cookies

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 February 2012 04:56 Written by Flax Wednesday, 15 February 2012 04:41

While I am not a big fan of baked desserts, there are times when they are appropriate.  While baking recipes will often call for butter, Jewish law prevents eating a dairy dessert after a meat meal.  Traditional Jewish dessert recipes, such as yeast cakes and kichelech,overcame this problem by creating desserts which technically did not need any fat.  Modern Jewish baking recipes have adapted dairy dessert recipes, replacing the butter with margarine.  Unfortunately, as many of us well know, margarine is extremely unhealthy.

Hydrogenated fat, margarine, or trans fat, is one of the worst things that a person can put in their body.  In addition to being linked to coronary heart disease, it also tastes terrible.  I personally can’t stand that scum that sticks to the tongue and the roof of the mouth after having (accidentally) eaten something with margarine.  Not only that, I know that the scum that is on my tongue is the same scum that is sticking to my intestinal wall as well as clogging up my arteries.  So, what are the options?  Many of us believe that canola oil provides a healthier alternative.  This is not necessarily the case, as the oil on supermarket shelves is refined.  The refining process depletes the oil of vital nutrients and, while it removes the taste of rancidity, the harmful effects of rancid oil remain behind.

The recipe below recommends using coconut oil.  While again, I think everyone is better off without cookies, I know that some of us, at least some of the time, might on occasion eat a cookie or two.  In which case, I try to make the baked goods as delicious, and as healthy as possible.  Coconut oil was not traditionally used in baking but rather as a skin moisturizer and a hair conditioner.   As a practitioner who bases her beliefs on proven ancient traditions, I still think that it is better not to bake with coconut oil, but rather to stay completely away from baked desserts.  Since I know that the vast majority of people won’t do that, I will have to say, that after butter, the best choice of fat to use in baking would be coconut oil.

The myth that coconut oil is bad for you is unfounded:

  • Coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in preventing various heart problems including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure and it does not lead to increase in LDL levels.
  • Coconut oil strengthens the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.
  • Coconut oil contains lesser calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy and it does not lead to accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries. Coconut oil helps in boosting energy and endurance, and enhances the performance of athletes.
  • Coconut oil is now shown to be helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Coconut oil stops tooth decay.  (I would still recommend brushing your teeth after a eating a cookie).

My daughter used the recipe below to make cookies for her brother’s bar-mitzvah.  They were so good that unfortunately there are none left.  I am hoping that we will get lucky and she will make us another batch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 3 tbsp hot water
  • 8 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup whole spelt flour (or wheat)
  • 1 cup white spelt flour (or wheat)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180 c (350 f).

Pour the hot water over the ground flax seed and allow to sit for five minutes.

Cream the sugar and the coconut oil.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix with an electric mixer until smooth.

Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper to 1/2 cm thickness and use a cookie cutter to cut out desired shapes.

Place the cookies on a greased cookie sheet and decorate with the chocolate chips.

Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Sima Herzfeld Navon is a nutritional healer and teaches healthy cooking classes.

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Home-Made Applesauce (Compote)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 December 2011 12:27 Written by Flax Tuesday, 20 December 2011 12:27

This recipe is dedicated to the memory of my Oma who’s yarzheit is on the eighth day of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah latkes are yummy!  Certainly not the healthiest food, and definitely hard to digest.  Potato latkes are often eaten with a little bit of applesauce on the side.  Believe it or not, that little bit of applesauce actually helps with the digestion of the latke.

Apples contain both malic and tartaric acids which inhibit the growth of unhealthy bacteria in the digestive tract.  Apples also contain pectin which removes cholesterol and helps the liver and the gallbladder to metabolize fat.  Apples, especially green apples are used to soften gallstones in preparation for a gallbladder flush.

The recipe below is from my Oma.  My Oma was born and passed away on the same day, on the eighth day of Hanukkah.  Needless to say that my grandmother was a wonderful cook-and her favorite activity was to feed us!  Her homemade applesauce was one of my favorite foods as a child, and to this day it is my ultimate comfort food.  Her method was to cook the apples whole, and then to puree them using a food mill  Using a food mill, a once common kitchen tool,  simplifies the process and makes the work involved almost nil.  Unfortunately, the food mill is no longer common (Williams-Sonoma does sell food mills for the ridiculous price of $150) and this necessitates peeling and coring the apples before cooking them.  While preparing the apples for cooking does require more time and effort, the end result justifies the means.

Tradition holds that being born and passing away on the same day is the sign of someone who is a zadik (a righteous person).  I love that my Oma’s yarzheit is on the last night of Hanukkah, a time when Jews, all over the world are lighting an abundance of candles.  I am comforted in the knowledge that my Oma’s neshama (soul) can be easily drawn by those sparks of light to be with those who might need her.

Ingredients:

  • 10 golden apples
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup orange juice (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

If you own a food mill boil the apples whole, if not then peel and core the apples.  Bring the water to a boil and add the apples. Simmer on a low flame for approximately one hour or until the apples are soft. Remove from the flame,  and either sieve through a food mill or lightly mash with a fork.  Add the orange juice and refrigerate.

Serve cold.

Sima Herzfeld Navon has a clinic for holistic medicine.  She also teaches healthy cooking and nutritional healing.

To learn more about Sima visit: www.JustAddFlax.com

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Oma’s Compote Recipe

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 December 2011 01:33 Written by Flax Tuesday, 9 November 2010 11:23

Oma's Compote Maker

My Oma (grandmother) was a very special person. Her birthday and her yahrzeit (anniversary of her death) are both on the same day, the second day of Tevet, the last night of Hanukkah.  Jewish tradition holds that having a birthday and a yahrzeit on the same day is the sign of someone who is a Zadik. My Oma was outspoken, she had a strong and forceful personality, she might have even offended people at times, but she also had an unlimited faith in G-d’s abundance.  My Oma would give a poor person the coat off of her back, saying “They need the coat, I’ll be fine.”
I love that my Oma’s yarzheit is on the last night of Hanukkah, a time when Jews, all over the world are lighting an abundance of candles.  I feel that this way my Oma’s neshama (soul) is drawn to visit with whomever might need her.
Hanukkah’s traditional food is latkes (potato pancakes).  Latkes are usually accompanied by applesauce.  In honor of my Oma’s   birthday and yarzhiet I am sharing her very special compote (applesauce) recipe.
My Oma’s house was the Central Food Station. Every Sunday we would visit with her and within seconds of entering the front door she would have us sitting at the table and eating. My personal favorite was her dessert. Compote, made almost always with apples, but sometimes with apples and pears as well. The leftover compote she would send home with us, bottled up in a Maxwell House Coffee Jar, a piece of wax paper under the lid, to prevent the compote from leaking out on the trip home. To this day, whenever I see an empty Maxwell House coffee jar, my mouth starts watering and I start having compote cravings.
I consider myself to be a very lucky person. While my sister, as the eldest daughter, inherited my grandmothers candlesticks, I merited to inherit the object of “lesser” value, my Oma’s compote maker (commonly known as a food mill). Food mills are an almost obsolete kitchen tool, but they certainly simplify the whole compote making process. With a food mill there is no need to peel and core the apples first. Just dump the apples in a pot and when they are soft, push them through the sieve.  While my compote maker does make things easier, it is still not a big deal to make compote without one, and boy,  people are so impressed to be served home-made applesauce! (As if, what’s the big deal, just most people don’t even think about it. After all, applesauce comes from a jar, no?)

Ingredients:

  • 10 golden apples, peeled and cored
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup orange juice (or to taste)

Put the water in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the apples and simmer for approximately one hour or until the apples are soft. Remove from the flame, add the orange juice and mash.

Refrigerate and serve cold.

Note: If you like, you can add cinnamon, just don’t let Oma know, she hated cinnamon.

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