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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Is it a Muffin or is it a Meal

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 August 2011 07:54 Written by Flax Monday, 30 August 2010 12:36

While I serve these muffins as dessert, they are so healthy and so filling they can really be called a meal.  This is especially true if you have any young, finicky eaters who refuse to eat anything that actually resembles food. While it contains many wonderful and healthy ingredients, my favorite ingredient here is the flax-seed.

Flax seed is an incredible food.  It is a  great food for everyone but it is especially helpful if you are interested in losing weight, strengthening your immune system, cleansing your arteries or cleansing your colon.    Flax seeds,  and their by-product, flax-seed oil, are receiving a lot of recognition these days, as many people are becoming more interested in the healing properties of  omega-3.  Omega-3, extolled for its ability to lower cholesterol and improve concentration,  is the healthiest oil around and flax-seed is the highest source of this oil.  Since I am also a very practical person, there is an added value to always having flax-seed in my pantry.  Keeping a jar of flax-sed around can prevent a culinary emergency if you happen to have an unfortunate accident with your last egg.

Yes, eggs and flax-seed perform the same function and are interchangable.  Eggs are a hidden product in so many foods that we eat on a daily basis.  People who are allergic to eggs, suffer from high cholesterol, or who just want to cut down on animal products, often get stuck when it comes to eggs.  Eggs are used to bind foods together and since they are relatively inexpensive and easily available, they are the most common binding food that is used today.  There are alternatives however, flax-seeds, soaked in water, become mucilaginous and they can perform the same moistening and  binding function as eggs, and simultaneously improve your health!  The basic recipe for substituting eggs with flax is: 1 tbsp ground flax-seed+2-3 tbsp water=1 egg.  Allow the flax-seed and water to sit for five minutes before adding it to the rest of the dish.  This gives the flax-seed time to absorb the water and to become “eggy”.

The recipe below is a basic muffin recipe, just much healthier. The carrot, apple, and banana replace the sugar. The chesnuts and banana replace the oil, and the flaxseed replaces the egg. While the recipe below still uses a small amount of both sugar and oil if you wish to you can eliminate them entirely and replace them with applesauce instead.

Ingredients:

  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 2 bags, peeled and roasted chesnuts (200 gr.)
  • 1 red apple, peeled and cored
  • 1 banana
  • 2 cups flour (I recommend using 70% whole wheat or spelt.)
  • 1/4 cup demerara sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 tbsp ground flax-seed, soaked in 2 tbsp hot water for 5 minutes
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 cup craisins or chocolate chips
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180 c/350 f.
Puree the carrot, chestnuts, and the fruits in a food processor, add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Lightly oil a muffin tin. Spoon in the batter until the muffin cups are 2/3 full.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the tops are golden.

Note:  Most of the omega-3 oil is lost when the flax-seed is cooking yet it still retains all the other health benefits, primarily it’s cleansing properties.  Additionally, the omega-3 in ground flax-seed and in flax-seed oil is very delicate, to best benefit from their oil, the products need to be kept refrigerated and used within a few weeks of their purchase.

Enjoy!

Sima Herzfeld Navon has a clinic for holistic medicine.  She also teaches healthy cooking and holistic nutrition.  To learn more about Sima, visit her website at www.justaddflax.com

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