Fennel Cookies – lightly licorice; and a Lime variation

Onward to new cookie horizons- 

Fennel Seed is served raw or toasted as crunchy after dinner snacks in India based cuisine. They are digestive aids and have a breath freshening effect. The flavor is similar to licorice with a hint of mint lingering after the initial stronger flavor. I eat a small pinch or two equal to a half teaspoon or a teaspoon after meals as I have found it good for my digestion. Health benefits may also include bone strengthening protection against osteoporosis.

I’ve found that some people have a problem with foods that are too crunchy. The raw or toasted seeds are very crunchy. They are also available at speciality spice shops as a ground powder so when shopping for more Gumbo File Powder I also bought ground Fennel Powder – and the results are delicious. I returned to the original cookie variation that uses Golden Flaxmeal and Coconut Oil because I wanted the Fennel flavor to be the main flavor. The pomegranate adds a tangy distinct fruit background flavor which works with the stronger chocolate or molasses but might overpower the licorice mint flavor of Fennel seeds.

Several of the ingredients in addition to the Fennel Seed Powder may help promote our own production of Nrf2 which helps us make our own anti-inflammatory and possibly anti-cancer chemicals in addition to containing other beneficial phytonutrients.

Fennel Cookies:

Wet ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons Golden Flaxmeal
  • 10 Tablespoons boiling Water
  • Stir the Flaxmeal into the boiling water in a small bowl for a couple minutes until it thickens and turns opaque slightly. Then add the melted Coconut Oil and stir until it turns creamy white and opaque. Then add the Brown Sugar, Vanilla, and Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar

Dry ingredients, mix together in a large bowl:

  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Flour
  • 1/2 cup Tapioca Flour/Starch
  • 1/2 cup ground Fennel Seed Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

Add the wet ingredients from the small bowl to the dry ingredients and stir gently until well mixed. The dough will be soft and sticky, moist enough to easily roll or spoon into small rounds. The batch makes two trays of 24 cookies about one inch around.

Coat the pans with a small amount of coconut oil or pan spray to prevent sticking. Bake at 350’F for 25-30 minutes. Rotate the pans from the top and bottom racks at 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, freezer or at room temperature. Chilling in the refrigerator or freezer will convert the Tapioca starch into a form that can become a healthier form in the digestive system (called resistant starch).

Fennel Cookies – these are so good, words are inadequate.

Lime Cookies

*I tried a variation of this recipe and decided I liked the first batch best but after a couple days the flavor blended better and was also pretty good. Dried lime powder or dried lemon powder are available in Middle Eastern grocery stores. I used two tablespoons of dried lime powder instead of the half teaspoon of vanilla. The flavir blended into the cookie better after a couple days so it might work better if it were added to the melted coconut oil in advance of mixing the cookie dough – melt the oil, mix in the dried lime powder, stir and let it sit for ten or twenty minutes while measuring the other ingredients and then add it to the emulsified Flaxmeal.

The fennel powder could be replaced with more of one of the other flours or the flavor blended well after couple days and both the lime and fennel have anti-inflammatory phytonutrients content – so give it a try eithet way and maybe both would be enjoyable.

Disclosure: This information is being 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  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.

New Year, new recipes

Black eyed peas are a traditional good luck food for New Year’s Day that dates back to the Civil War. Soldiers would take all the food that was available but leave the black eyed peas because they were considered a food that was fed to farm animals. The slaves that were still on plantations were glad to have the high protein food and the flavorful peas became associated with good luck – lucky to have food. They were traditionally served with collard greens or some other greens, corn bread and pork. The pan drippings added flavor for the greens and the corn bread helped soak up any extra liquid. The gold color of the corn bread was associated with gold and good fortune – money due in the new year. Read more: tripsavvy.com.

To make plain black eyed peas or other larger beans such as pinto or kidney beans:

  1. Sort the beans for any that look discolored or shriveled and occasionally small rocks may have been missed by the sorting machines.
  2. Rinse the beans or peas in water and drain.
  3. In a large stock pot add water to cover the beans with about four inches extra at the top.
  4. Leave the beans or black eyed peas to soak over night, about eight hours; or for the quick method, put on the lid and place the stock pot on medium high heat. Bring it to a boil for one minute and then remove it from the heat and let it sit covered with the lid for one hour.  Split peas and lentils and very small beans such as adzuki don’t need the overnight or hour long presoak.
  5. Drain the soak water as it helps remove some of the gassy effect (by removing some less digestible starches or something like that) and replace with fresh water to cover plus a couple extra inches if the goal is to have beans without much extra soup stock liquid. For two pounds of beans add eight cups of water for a pot of beans intended to be served without much soup broth or add about 12 cups of water if more broth is desired.
  6. Place the stock pot back on medium high heat with the lid on and bring back to a slight boil, for a large pot it might take a few minutes. Reduce the heat to a medium low so the stock continues to bubble gently – a simmer. Cook for one and half hours total.
  7. For soup with vegetables I let the beans cook for the first half hour without additional spices or vegetables as those cook in less time. I added about 2-6 cloves of garlic depending on whether small or large, minced, 2-4 tablespoons of cumin/coriander mix, 1 tablespoon of rosemary, 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped in a half inch dice, about 3 cups, 6 large celery stalks chopped in half length wise and then sliced, about 1/4 inch dice, about 3 cups in all, 4 small carrots cut in half and sliced made about 1 cup chopped, add to the soup stock pot.
  8. In a separate pan saute 2 small or 1 large onion chopped in a 1/4 inch dice until wilted, but not necessarily caramelized – browned. Add the sauteed onion to the soup stock pot. Sauteed onion can be easier for some people to digest then boiled onion.
  9. After all that work another half hour is likely to have elapsed, add more herbs if desired. I added 1 teaspoon of thyme, and 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning.

Since I am no longer lucky enough to be able to eat corn bread due to autoimmune symptoms I prepared two cups of rice in a separate pan and combined it with the soup when the vegetables and beans were done.

A large batch of soup ideally should be chilled in small glass or heat resistant containers or stir the soup in a large container or a couple larger containers in the refrigerator occasionally until the soup is chilled before adding to a plastic container.

I add salt at the table as we only taste salt that is on the surface of the food and unlike in baked goods there is no chemical reaction that requires stabilization by salt. If you forget the salt in a baked good it will likely have a crumblier texture. Baked goods are chemically recombining the ingredients into a new molecular form. Soup is more of a watery base with stuff floating in it.

Speaking of baked goods – a cookie modification to the eggless, gluten free recipe on my newer website (Chocolate Chip Cookie). These cookies are dairy free as I use baking cocoa and no chocolate chips. They are slightly less sweet and would have an increased amount of protein due to the substitution of almond meal for the buckwheat flour in the other recipe:

Chocolate Cookies

Makes 48 cookies, bake at 350’F for approximately 20-25 minutes.

  • 3 Tablespoons Golden Flax meal, ground
  • 10 Tablespoons of Boiling Hot Water,

Step 1: — Combine the flax meal and boiling water and stir together for a few minutes until the mixture is thickened and looks a little like a watery porridge. Then add the melted coconut oil, brown sugar, vanilla and apple cider vinegar, stir and set aside until later.

  • 3/4 cup Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar (This is needed in the corn free version of the recipe in order to make the Baking Soda work properly as a leavening agent. Baking Powder has cornstarch and it also has an acidic ingredient that Baking Soda doesn’t have.)
  • 1/2 cup of water (The baking cocoa makes this a dry mixture and the flax meal works best with a moist dough, the amount of water needed to make a soft dough that doesn’t crumble may be slightly less or more depending on how packed or overflowing the cups of flour and spoonfuls of cocoa powder are. I added a couple tablespoons at a time and found I needed 8 in all which equals a 1/2 cup, and it would be easier to combine with the wet ingredients. This is a new recipe, first trial run with the baking cocoa, second try with the almond meal substitution, it made a nice chewy texture. I tried this recipe again and ended up adding a little extra flour. Depending on how rounded or how packed the measuring cups are the moisture/flour ratio may need to be adjusted at the end. The dough should be soft and sticky but be able to be rolled in balls if your hands are wet or sprayed with a little of the pan-spray oil.)

Step 2: — (actually step 1 combined several actions): — add the dry ingredients to a different larger bowl and mix together thoroughly:

  • 1/2 cup Almond Meal
  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Flour
  • 6 Tablespoons Baking Cocoa
  • 1/2 and 1/8 teaspoon Baking Soda (*Baking Powder has cornstarch)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cardamom Powder – this spice works well with the flavor of buckwheat flour. It tastes a little like cinnamon but is not quite the same.

Step 3: — mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly.

If desired these cookies could be made as double chocolate cookies by adding the chocolate chips at this stage as was included in the original recipe. I didn’t have any on hand.

  • 1/2 to 3/4 of a ten or twelve ounce package of Dark Chocolate or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. This batter is greasy seeming and the chips constantly pop out of the dough so I don’t even try to add a full package. It is easiest to work with the dough when the mix is more wet than dry, more like muffin batter than a typical “cookie dough“.

Step 5: — Preheat oven to 350’F., and form cookies with a scoop or with a pair of metal spoons as the batter is sticky and might even work in a cookie press if there weren’t chocolate chips. Form approximately one inch size balls of dough. Place about 24 on a pre-oiled or nonstick cookie sheet.

Step 6: — Bake in the center of the oven and/or rotate the top and bottom pans after 15 minutes of baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden brown.

Step 7: — Allow to cool slightly before eating and store in an airtight container once they are cool enough to no longer be emitting steam. The cookies keep for about a week or until they are all eaten, whichever happens first. They can also stored in the freezer once they are baked or as a cookie dough to be formed into cookies and baked at a later time for a treat fresh out of the oven with less work.

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.