As a stay-at-home wife and mother with a passion for homemade whole foods, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I spend what seems like an equal amount of time researching nutrition and recipes. I feel it is my duty as resident cook to ensure I feed my family the very best, which means our diet is constantly evolving as I discover new information, methods, and scientific studies. The power of food is astonishing and well-documented, whether it be preventative or curative, but it is certainly not simple. It requires lots of investigation and interpretation; there are many ideas of what ‘healthy’ truly means, and what works for one person may not for another. At first, the sheer volume of conflicting information is overwhelming, and invokes visions of countless hours in the kitchen with nary a moment of peace. While that vision is at times pretty accurate, it is vital to find your own balance.
I once read an article that discussed the importance of cooking for your family. It tore down the current societal outlook of cooking being burdensome and instead called it a sacred responsibility. As a wife and mother, the health of my family rests upon my shoulders. It is in my power to decide whether my daughter eats junk food or vegetables for lunch (well, right now it’s still good ol’ mama’s milk 🙂 ). When my husband is peckish, it is up to me to make sure there are healthy snacks available. This responsibility must also work with our budget, another ‘sacred’ task of mine. Some people claim they cannot afford to eat healthily, whilst chatting on their iPhone and watching their big screen TV. Healthy living is a choice. It takes work and research and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. Americans spend less on their food than anyone else in the entire world, and that isn’t a good thing. Good food is vital, a new dress is not.
All this is leading up to an important announcement for my household: we have officially gone grain-free. The remaining bits of oats and flours have been packed up and tucked into the chest freezer, perhaps for guests? Special treats? Who knows, but I can’t seem to part with it completely just yet. After a few months, we may decide to keep a few around; properly prepared grains such as homemade sourdough bread or soaked oats can sometimes be a beneficial part of a healthy diet. However, running a homemade household already takes a substantial amount of time; soaking and preparing every single grain is not something I can deal with at the moment.
Our reasons for ditching grain are a bit complicated, but the main catalyst was my daughter’s eczema. After completing an unsuccessful elimination diet and being prescribed a multitude of toxic creams by her pediatrician and dermatologist, I am absolutely determined to figure out the root cause. After much (much!) research, it seems that skin problems such as eczema (and acne, psoriasis, etc) can be traced to internal or external allergy/intolerance. While I did give up gluten during the elimination diet, I did not avoid grains entirely. Also, my research has taken me to places I did not expect to visit, such as Mark’s Daily Apple and other real food blogs that tout the benefits of being grain-free. I learned quite a bit! Did you know that there is not a single nutrient in grains that you can’t get from another source? I didn’t! I also found out about things such as phytic acid and lectins that prevent our absorption of the little nutrients that are found in grains, and how they are rumored to be the cause of a unique first world issue: being overweight but malnourished.
This post is getting mighty lengthy, so I will stop here and leave you with my new favorite recipe for breakfast cookies. They are moist and chewy, filled only with nourishing ingredients that I feel good about eating. While I love the idea of a smoothie for breakfast, I need something substantial first thing in the morning. I wake up HUNGRY, and pureed fruits just won’t cut it. These cookies are awesome; two of them fill me up and give me the energy I need to keep up with my 14-month-old. My husband likes them, too, as they are easy to grab and go. You won’t be missing those pesky grains, either, I promise.
Adapted from Nourished Kitchen
Yields 24-26 cookies
The original recipe uses dates instead of prunes, but I didn’t have those on hand and like the final product just the same. Dates will make the cookie slightly sweeter, though, so be sure to compensate with less molasses or dried fruit if you are worried about the sugar content.
Also, don’t try to save time by not melting the coconut oil. If you add it to the dough while solid, it will simply get thrown around instead of blending in. Trust me, this is experience talking…
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 cup nut butter (I used my homemade peanut butter)
1 ½ cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons ground flax seed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
½ cup dried fruit (I used date crumbles)
½ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grab two baking sheets and line them with either a silicone mat or parchment paper.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the coconut flour, nut butter, dates, and shredded coconut. Process for a minute or two, scraping down the sides as needed. You want this mixture to be as uniform in texture as possible.
Next, add the rest of the ingredients except the nuts and fruit. Process for another 30 seconds to a minute until thoroughly incorporated.
Add in the remaining nuts and dried fruit. Pulse a few times to mix. Or, if you prefer fewer chunks in the final cookie, process another 30 seconds instead.
Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet; they will not spread in the oven, so you can get them pretty close together. I like to use a 3 tablespoon cookie/ice cream scoop.
Lightly wet or oil your fingers and press softly on each bit of dough to flatten. You could leave them as cute little balls if you wish, just make sure to increase the baking time a few minutes to ensure they cook all the way through.
Bake for 15 minutes. When done, the tops should be slightly cracked and golden. Cool a few minutes on the baking sheet, then serve immediately or cool completely and store in an airtight container for about a week. These cookies also freeze very well.