Cheerful Chocolate Cookies

Having chocolate cookies is likely going to be more cheerful than not having chocolate cookies, however these cookies may contain an extra helping of cheerfulness. I made another batch of the Gumbo File/Choctaw Spice/Sassafras Leaf powder Spicy Molasses Cookies http://transcendingsquare.com/2018/03/29/spicy-molasses-cookies-revisited/ with cocoa powder as the main flavoring in place of the Blackstrap Molasses. This time however I wrote out a recipe based on the latest experiment and my latest version of Chocolate Cookies. The calculations revealed that inadvertantly in doubling the batch I had forgotten to double the Baking Soda which is the actual leavening- agent in the recipe, as well as not doubling the emulsifier- the egg replacer, which was the Gumbo File Powder in the experiment and Golden Flaxmeal in my typical egg free versions.

For allergy or digestive intolerant patients it can be nice to have a few substitutions available in case they can’t have one they might still be able to have a different one. The Gumbo File seems to be a more potent emulsifier than the Golden Flaxmeal. The recipe worked with double the amount but still didn’t rise much even with the correct amount of leavening-. The lack of oil or butter and substitution of liquid instead makes the cookies more Brownie or Fudge like, very moist and dense- Energy Bites.

The pomegranate extract and pomegranate juice are likely giving the cookies their increased helping of cheerfulness mood boosting power, beyond the normal yum, it’s chocolate effects. If you want to try the recipe and don’t have Pomegranate Extract on hand then just substitute Pomegranate Juice; 100 percent, unsweetened organic, is what I used and it isn’t low cost – $12/32 ounces. The recipe as I made it this time used 2 1/2 cups juice – 20 ounces, and 1 1/2 cups Pomegranate Extract – 12 ounces; so the double batch, 92 cookies contain 32 ounces of juice/pomegranate peel extract. *Sweetened pomegranate juice would be fine to use, this is a reduced sugar recipe compared to typical cookie recipes. Cherry juice would probably also taste good in this recipe and also has medicinal/functional food benefits. 100 percent juice also means no water is added which could make a tart cherry juice too strong, I typically dilute 100 percent tart cherry juice with some water when I drink it as a beverage, and sometimes the 100percent pomegranate juice but it isn’t quite as tart as the cherry, consider either as somewhat of a concentated juice compared to the milder blends that are available which frequently are based on apple. white grape, or pear juice. Pure fructose can be more difficult for people with digestive sensitivities than a blend of fructose and glucose/table sugar, as the fructose can promote more gassiness occasionally. Smaller portions also can help, a fruit or fruit juice serving is typically four to six ounces and yet bottles sold as individual portions are frequently twelve to twenty ounces-recap it and save some for later.

The Baking Cocoa I used is the  “Dutched” type that is pre-treated with an alkali, similar to the Native American method of treating corn with alkali wood ash (Nixtamil flour) which increases the B vitamin content and helps protect against deficiency of Niacin and pellagra, Niacin deficiency. The process also may help preserve B1, Thiamin content and B2, Riboflavin content (Thiamin content of three sources of corn and arepas…. )(Beriberi- is caused by thiamin/thiamine – B1 deficiency,, the processing of brown rice into a polished low fiber white rice led to large numbers of people developing BeriBeri in early history of Asian food processing.  Thiamin). The “Dutched” cocoa powder is smoother in flavor and a little darker in color then cocoa powder that is not pte-treated with alkali. I don’t know if the B vitamin content is modified in the same way as with Nixtamil  corn flour — but somehow the combination of ingredients made a very dark chocolate cookie:

Cheerful Chocolate Cookies, baked and raw dough – no they are not overbaked.
The raw Cheerful Chocolate Cookie dough.
The baked Cheerful Chocolate Cookies are not overbaked but you have to flip one over in the oven to check the crust in order to tell if is is close to being baked enough – is it crisp with some increased darkness of color.

Dry ingredients, stir together in a large bowl:

  • 1 1/4 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 3/4 cup Cocoa Powder (Regular or “Dutched” would work similarly)
  • 2 cups Coconut Flour
  • 1 cup Almond Meal
  • 1/2 cup Tapioca Flour/Starch
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cardamom Powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

Emulsifier step- gently heat Pomegranate Extract or Juice to a simmer in a saucepan then remove from heat and stir in the Gumbo File Powder.

  • 1 1/2 cups Pomegranate Extract
  • 6 Tablespoons Gumbo File Powder

Wet ingredients – in a another large bowl combine the thickened warm emulsifier liquid with the Brown Sugar and then stir in half of the remaining juice. Reserve part of the juice to add to the dry ingredients after first mixing in the emulsifier/sugar mixture. (This method is more like making a cake than a cookie, you combine small amounts of the liquid at a time for a smooth cake batter that is not over-stirred.)

  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups Pomegranate Juice, (100 percent, unsweetened organic is what I used – with the goal of a functional/healing food in mind)

The dough should be moist and able to be rolled or spoonef into a sticky round shape that doesn’t crumble – a soft playdough-like consistency.

The Baking time is longer than for a cookie dough made with butter or coconut oil – 20-25 minutes for those became 30-35 minutes for these Brownie or Fudge like Energy Bites. I bake two pans of 24 cookies at a time and rotate the pans from top shelf to bottom shelf and turned around front to back at 20 minutes to get a more even baking. These low fat juice containing cookies then take an additional 10-15 minutes. My typical coconut oil/ butter cookies are rotated at 15 minutes and then left for another 10-15 minutes. If baking only one tray use the top shelf and rotating the pan is less important as the oven heat is directed at the top and bottom of the pan more evenly.

Most of the ingredients in this recipe may be providing beneficial phytonutrients that might help promote our own production of NRF2 which then helps promote our own anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer abilities. Health may never have tasted so good – enjoy!

Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. While I am a Registered Dietitian it is not intended to provide individualized health care guidance. Please seek an individual health care professional for the purpose of individualized health care guidance.

 

 

Spicy Molasses Cookies- revisited

Sometimes it is fun to just try substitutions in recipes to see if it will work. I had most of the ingredients I would need for a batch of my Spicy Molasses Cookies-, see recipe here, towards the end of the page, section G8.4.2, https://effectivecare.info/g8-cookies-%26-bean-soup  but not everything. I was also curious with how pomegranate extract would effect the taste or texture. I had extra almond meal and coconut flour but no coconut oil so the experiment is also a trial run on an oil free version. The coconut flour and almond meal are oil/fat containing ingredients but they are dry so extra moisture was needed – quite a bit extra it turned out but it also turned into a double batch.

They are tangy with a slight fruit taste along with the strong molasses and spicy ginger and cardamom flavors. Blackstrap molasses is a good source of iron which makes the cookies more nutritious than typical cookies but can also make it better not to overeat – a half dozen is better than a dozen. Cookies are good and now I know that Gumbo File will work as an egg substitute if necessary. The cookies aren’t crumbly which is the risk if eggs are forgotten altogether but the Golden Flax Meal may have helped more with the leavening- supporting air bubbles but so many changes were made that more trial vetsions would be needed to see how the Gumbo File works in baking. It does have a little flavor and greenish color (ground Sassafras Leaves) which is not noticeable with the molasses. It might not be noticeable in a chocolate recipe either. Sassafras Leaves may have helpful phytonutrients in addition to the intestinal health friendly emulsifying mucilaginous fiber content. I used the ratio I’ve been using with Golden Flax Meal, but I only used as much as I would have put in a single batch so maybe doubling it would have helped them leaven better they stayed the same size as they were when I shaped the dough:

Roughly, meaning not exact measurements, this is a first draft batch, I included:

Dry ingredients, mix in a large bowl:

  • 2 cups Brown Rice Flour
  • 2 cups Coconut Flour
  • 2 cups Almond Meal
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Cardamom Powder

Wet ingredients, heat gently stir in emulsifier and stir until thickened and then add molasses and brown sugar.

  • 1  1/2 cup Pomegranate Extract
  • 3 tablespoons Gumbo File Powder (traditionally used in Creole cooking, initially used by Native Americans, also known as Choctaw spice, link, it is an emulsifier though and I was out of ground golden flax meal which I’ve been using as an egg replacer. See below for more health information about Sassafras Leaves.)
  • 1 cup Blackstrap Molasses
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 4 rounded tablespoons minced Candied Ginger
  1. When mixing the emulsified sugar solution into the dry ingredients I wasn’t sure how much additional liquid would be needed without the coconut oil ingredient. I eventually mixed in about 2 cups of Pomegranate Juice plus one more 1/2 cup of plain water. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky rather than crumble.  The cookies took a little longer to bake and didn’t rise much/expand into a larger dome shape.

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Gumbo File is the Acadian name for a powdered preparation of dried Sassafras Leaves that was used by Native Americans and was commonly known as the Choctaw Spice. It was widely used for a portion of the U.S. history and became the second largest export with tobacco being the largest export crop in the 17th century. It became less popular in the 20th century when it was discovered that a chemical, safrole in the essential oil of the tree bark and sassafras root was cancerogenic. Gumbo File is still healthy though because it does not contain as much of the chemical. Beneficial nutrients include the terpenes, myrcene and linalool, which both have anti-inflammatory benefits and sedative (sleep inducing) effects and myracene may also help reduce pain (analgesic). It has been traditionally thought to be helpful to prevent kidney stones from forming, and it may be due to a diuretic effect. It also is thought to help reduce high blood pressure and relieve arthritis pain. [link]

The amount typically used in a soup or stew is far less than the amount I used in this cookie recipe as an egg replacer. Only a half teaspoon to a teaspoon tends to be added to a batch of soup, best added at the end of the cooking time, it thickens the broth slightly to a creamier texture but can become more gelatinous (slimy/shiny/sticky) if overcooked. The three tablespoons dissolved in a cup and a half of liquid made a gelatinous thickened mixture that was more of a thick gravy texture with a shiny, thicker in places texture. It mixed into the cookie dough easily though.

Tapioca starch also produces a shiny gelatinous effect in gravy or fruit sauces compared to corn starch. Once chilled it makes a ‘resistant starch’ [resistant starch, definitive guide] that is turned into other beneficial nutrients in our digestive system by some types of beneficial bacteria. I’m not sure if the Gumbo File starch is similar to tapioca starch in ‘resistant starch’ content.

Root beer is named after the sassafras root which was the traditional way the beverage was made. Now Root Beer that is still made with actual Sassafras Root uses root that has the safrole oil extracted. Sassafras root tea tastes like Root Beer. The ground dried leaves are described as tasting like the herbs thyme or savory, or slightly like Root Beer or eucalyptus. [link] I can confirm that the root makes a Root Beer flavor as I’ve tried a tea made with actual dug up in the forest Sassafras root. It was a tree commonly found in my backyard and surrounding woods as a child. The tree leaves are interesting as they have different shapes – a right and left mitten shape and a mitten with two thumbs and as a plain oval shape (Sassafras Leaves, images).

So cookies with an anti-inflammatory benefit – I did feel sleepy this afternoon after making them however and only added this interesting section on the health benefits of Gumbo File after waking up. – Note to self – do not eat these cookies while driving. Bedtime cookies – yum!

They may also have anti-cancer benefits due to the Sassafras plant being part of the cinnamomum/camphor plant family. Cinnamon phytonutrients include aldehydes which in addition to terpenes an other types of phytonutrients can promote the production of the NRF2 gene and protein which has many roles in the immune system including anti-cancer benefits. (“Cinnamomum – camphor plants (including cinnamon, Cinnamomum Kennedy, hairy leaves camphor, linalyl burmannii, sassafras) “” [0056] sassafras aboveground 5kg, pulverized and extracted…to obtain cinnamon plant extracts 412g, a yield of 8.24%” –  https://patents.google.com/patent/CN103520279B/en)

Disclosure: This information is being provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health care guidance. Please see an individual  health care professional for individualized health care guidance.

Pomegranate extract – Master Chef Challenge update

For anyone following along with the pomegranate peel experiments  (previous post)- update, I had a lot of pomegranate extract thawed at the same time and for a dietitian that means reheat to steaming to assure food safety. So it was an opportunity to experiment some more with trying to adjust the acidity again. When baking soda is added to a hot acidic liquid there is an obvious bubbling reaction and change in color of the liquid. I have pH strips to check acidity and did manage to adjust the acidity of the extract. The taste is still not great but chronic illness and mood issues are not great either. After three cups of experimental attempts my mood is awesome *(see additional note) and I have some recipe details:

6 cups of pomegranate extract  (previous post)

2 Tablespoons Cardamom powdered spice

1 teaspoon Gumbo File powdered spice (Sassafras Leaves, powdered and used in Gumbo’s in Creole style cooking)

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

  1. Add the Cardamom and Gumbo File to the Pomegranate Extract and stir well to break apart any dry lumps of the powdered spices. The Gumbo File acts as an emulsifier and is a digestive aid and the Cardamom adds flavor, phytonutrients and would help alkalize the mixture in addition to the alkalizing power of the Baking Soda.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Add the Baking Soda and stir. Remove the mixture from the heat and keep stirring. It will froth up and stirring helps keep it from frothing over the top of the pan. The color changes from pinkish to brown from the Cardamom spice.
  4. To drink as a beverage dilute with equal parts water to Pomegranate Extract.

This would be an acquired taste – aka “not good” until you get used to it, or not good at all but the mood and health benefits are worth for me at least. It is also a diuretic which means it is like beer or coffee in the way it increases kidney activity and urine production so it is best to have it earlier in the day followed by plenty of glasses of water early in the day so that you aren’t waking up in the middle of the night as much. Overly acidic, dehydrated body fluids can increase work for the kidneys and result in a frequent feeling of needing to go urgently but then not producing much quantity – drink plenty of water early  in the day and produce plenty of dilute quantity early in the day and a diuretic can help cleanse toxins from the body instead of being a middle of the night problem.

Since pomegranate growing season is limited the powdered spice made from Sumac might be a health substitute. It has been shown to have a range of health benefits, and is also a diuretic. Its phytonutrients are similarly colored suggesting there might be some similar antioxidant content as well. The gallotannin group of phytonutrients are in common and would likely promote Nrf2. (More about Sumac in this post) (a series of posts on Nrf2)

To put a financial perspective on this – for my health needs the pomegranate extract or pomegranate seeds and cardamom powder and a few other good sources of phospholipids are adequate replacements for my medical marijuana which cost me around $1000-1200 per month. The medical effects are slightly different and not quite as good for pain killing properties but the negative psychological effects that can occur with withdrawal for some people are also not present.

To review – cannabinoids are a group of chemicals that are made within the cells of most species and are similar to the group of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plants commonly known as marijuana or hemp. Medical marijuana has a euphoria producing one known by the chemical initials THC while hemp has only non-euphoria producing cannabinoids. Both types can have medical or other basic health benefits. Cannabinoids are found throughout membranes and add to cell wall flexibility and help with messenger chemical type activities that can help reduce inflammation and fight infection. Some people such as myself can have genetic differences that make it impossible to make the chemicals internally as in average health. I have had minor health problems since infancy and having external dietary sources of phospholipids or cannabinoids helps my body and mood and immune system. More information about the topic is available in the post/article Is it Addiction or Starvation?

People with problems with binge eating disorders, alcohol abuse tendencies, meth or heroin/opioid abuse tendencies, or seem to have an excess use of marijuana, and nicotine to a lesser extent all may actually have underlying genetic differences that leave them in need of increased dietary sources of phospholipids/cannabinoids. The article Is It Addiction or Starvation? has some legal food sources in addition to pomegranate seeds and cardamom spice. It doesn’t mention the Middle Eastern spice Sumac but it might help also.

*Additional note – three cups was likely to large of a serving, an awesome mood for someone with unstable mood issues was too much of a good thing – Newton’s Law of Gravity may apply metaphorically, “What goes up must come down.” I had a worse mood problem later in the evening. Today (the next morning) I’ve enjoyed a few spoonfuls of the spicy, creamy slightly thickened mixture in my coffee and it is good to my “acquired taste.” The thing about having acquired an acquired taste for something is that you then want to acquire more – pun intended.  The pomegranate season in Australia turns out to also be November to March so that isn’t much help. Processing pomegranate peel during the growing season would be necessary if I hope to continue to be able to acquire pomegranate extract all year long. It has medicinal benefits according to the research that is available, (see links in earlier posts on this site).

New Zealand isn’t ideal for pomegranate either as the summer length may be too short some years, however their harvest season is February-April: “Pomegranates grow best in areas with cold Winters and long hot, dry Summers.” (Pomegranate Wonderful)

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.