Baked Granola “Haystack” Cookies
[A plate of detox-friendly cookies! In the background, the ailing azalea plant my cousin gave me. Any advice on how to keep it alive?]
Are you a fan of granola? For most of us, the mix of (usually) oats, nuts, seeds and raisins or dates is very alluring. I must admit, however, that I first ate granola in my 20s, and then only for a few weeks before eschewing it entirely until my 40s. Why, you may ask? Well, let me answer by telling you a story (because you know that I will, right?).
As a child, I couldn’t really tolerate the taste of nuts. Which was weird, since pretty much everyone else in my family seemed to love them; my Uncle S , for one, consumed dry roasted peanuts almost incessantly (though I must admit I never counted peanuts as “nuts”; not because I was a child prodigy who instinctively understood that “legumes aren’t nuts”; no, it was just that I never associated the sweet, tan unguent that I slathered on toast or saltines–so far removed in appearance, taste and texture from their original form–with the dry pods that my uncle popped in his mouth all day).
My mother, too, loved nuts of all kinds. Every Christmas, between the shortbread cookies, the pecan bars, the sugar cookies, the double chocolate brownies and the coffee cakes, she baked a huge batch of what she called “Frozen Nut Cookies.” What was considered “frozen” about them I have no idea, as the mixed dough was never placed anywhere near the freezer, nor were any of the ingredients previously chilled. The recipe called for a pound (454 grams) of ground walnuts, an entire jar of maraschino cherries (including the syrupy, sugary “juice”), and lots–lots–of butter. Every year, I scarfed a few of the cookies, hoping they’d convert me into a nut-lover, but really the only part I enjoyed was the chopped maraschinos. (In retrospect, I realize that what I really enjoyed was actually the sugar in the chopped maraschinos).
Then, during my late teens and early 20s while living in a university residence, I finally began to eat nuts in certain foods and actually enjoy them. That is, until what I now refer to as “The Granola Trauma,” an incident that’s gone down in the annals of Ricki lore. My room mate and I had acquired the habit of buying the large plastic bags of “No Name” granola to snack on (or eat as a meal) during the semester (when we weren’t inhaling birthday cake, that is). One evening as we sat cross-legged on opposite sides of the army-style cot, each totally totally engrossed in studying for our next final and entirely oblivious as our spoons repeatedly dipped into the bag with the cheery yellow stripe and then directly into our mouths, the GT occurred. Let me explain what happened by relating this common children’s riddle:
Q. What’s worse than finding a worm in your
A: Finding half a worm.
As you can guess, I wasn’t too keen on eating granola for a while. . . like, for a couple of decades. The nuts were just collateral damage.
It wasn’t until my 30s and the advent of the ACD that I really began to appreciate almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts and the like again (of course, meeting the HH during those days also helped, since he’s one nut that everyone’s just gotta love. But you saw that coming, of course.).
By the time I created my first cookbook, Sweet Freedom, I was consuming (homemade) granola again and even had a favorite recipe to share on the blog. I decided I wanted to include my own version of a granola cookie in the book, and came up with Seed Jumble Cookies. The Seed Jumbles were always a hit with my friends and their children (whether or not they could eat nuts–the cookie is nut-free). This recipe is a healthier, gluten-free version of those.
I actually created this recipe in anticipation of this week’s Sweet Victory detox program that begins on Saturday (and today is the last day to register at the early bird discount price!). The program is designed to help participants eschew sugar from their lives and get a grip on those gnawing sugar cravings (a feeling about which I know all too well). I’m also participating in the program, which was designed by holistic health coach Andrea Nakayama to provide crucial information about the nature of sugar addiction, brain chemistry, how to deal with cravings, and more. I wanted to be sure that everyone’s sweet tooth was satisfied with healthy, delicious desserts for the two weeks. Believe it or not, this is the kind of recipe you can eat while detoxing from sugar!
Although I’ve already removed refined sugars from my own diet, I’m going through the program to learn more about why my brain keeps asking for sugar anyway–and what to do about it. But it’s really for anyone at any stage who wants to beat the sugar demon ).
These cookies combine coconut sugar with fresh pear purée and a bit of stevia to achieve a perfect level of sweetness and cookie-like texture. The seeds and SunWarrior powder add enough protein and fiber to offset any rise in blood sugar and prevent a spike that will send you toward the sugar bowl. I was able to eat two cookies and stop there (though the HH enjoyed these so much he actually ate 3, and told me, “These taste like real cookies”!). In fact, they’re healthy enough that I would feel fine eating a couple for breakfast–just the way I might eat a bowl of granola (just please, not the no-name kind).
Baked Granola Haystack Cookies (ACD Stage 3 and beyond)
These are a great cookie as an afternoon snack or even as a quick breakfast-on-the-go. If feeding to people with nut allergies, you can replace the almond butter with sunflower seed butter or more tahini.
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut sugar
1 large pear, cored and cut into 8 pieces (no need to peel)
1/4-1/2 tsp (1-2.5 ml) plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
2-1/2 tablespoons (37.5 ml) tahini (sesame seed butter)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) smooth natural almond butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 g) whole old-fashioned oats (not
instant or quick cook)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) plain rice protein powder (I like SunWarrior)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) cinnamon
Pinch fine sea salt
2 tablespoons (30 ml) finely ground flax seeds (flax meal)
1/4 cup (40 g) raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup (35 g) raw sunflower seeds
2-1/2 tablespoons (37.5 ml) raw sesame seeds
1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened dairy free carob chips or cacao nibs (optional; may replace with raisins, if you’re allowed)
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
Place the coconut sugar and pear in a food process and process until smooth. Add the stevia, vanilla, tahini and almond butter and process again. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, protein powder, cinnamon, salt and flax seeds to break up any lumps. Add the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and carob chips, if using.
Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients in the bowl and stir to coat everything well. It may seem as if it won’t hold together like a “real” cookie batter—this is as it should be.
Using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, place mounds of “dough” about one inch apart on cookie sheet. Flatten slightly and press together with your fingers if it looks as if they’re not holding together on the edges.
Bake in preheated oven 20-25 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet once about halfway through, until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before sampling. Makes 16-20 cookies. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 5 days. May be frozen.
Last Year at this Time: Salad Days (3): Crazy Simple Raw Kale Salad (ACD Stage 1 and beyond)
Two Years Ago: Confetti Quinoa-Wild Rice Salad (ACD stage 1 and beyond)
Three Years Ago: Mrs. K’s Date Cake (not gluten free; ACD maintenance only)