Whether or not you have dietary restrictions yourself, you are bound to have friends who need to avoid certain foods. Refusing foods because of your diet can be embarrassing, painful, and difficult. When someone prepares food specially, with your individual concerns in mind, you feel immense gratitude, and perhaps some guilt. These nut cookies are so simple and so universally enjoyed, that the guilt revolving around the extra trouble can be tossed aside, because there really is none.
Nuts, although they vary widely, are in general a super-nutritious addition to a low-carb diet. They are a good source of protein, fiber, Vitamin E and many minerals. Polyphenols found in nuts are powerful antioxidants that protect your cells from damage via oxidation and also help lower your LDL cholesterol. The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids also seem to improve “good” cholesterol levels, lower “bad” cholesterol, and reduce triglycerides.
Studies have shown that nuts can be very effective in weight loss as well, since many of the calories from fat are trapped in the nut fibers and do not get absorbed into the body. Some studies suggest that regular consumption of nuts can improve blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure, and reduce inflammation for those with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. So unless you’re allergic, there’s no reason not to go nuts about nuts!
3/4 pound (2 cups) of nuts – using a variety gives the cookie a more complex flavor. I like using some combination of almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts, but you can choose your own favorites.
3/4 cup oatmeal (choose gluten free if this is an issue).
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1/2 cup dried fruit, lightly stewed and pureed to become a sweet and sticky vegan binder for your cookies. Dates, apricots, or prunes work really well and add their own fruity flavor and fiber to the cookie.
1/2 cup softened coconut oil (or butter if you’re not going for vegan)
1/2 tsp. Sea salt
Spices to taste. (This is where you can steer your cookie into something familiar.)
- If you are avoiding carbs altogether, try replacing the oats with ground chia or flax seeds, mixed with an equal amount of water; and replace the fruit puree with a small amount (no more than 1/4 cup) of xylitol, a natural sugar substitute that has many beneficial properties.
- For a ginger-snap flavor, use prune puree, add a touch of molasses, and spice the dough generously with cinnamon, ginger, and a hint of cloves.
- Use mashed banana and mostly peanuts for a peanut butter cookie
- Use mostly almond meal, and apricot puree, with a splash of almond extract for an almond cookie
- Use date puree, mostly walnuts, a splash of vanilla and cocoa nibs or chocolate morsels for a chocolate chip cookie.
Feel free to experiment. I often leave them spice-free because there is so much flavor in the nuts and fruit themselves that it’s a shame to mask it.
Toss the nuts and oats into a food-processor or blender and grind to a coarse meal.
Add salt and seasonings.
Stir in the pureed fruit and softened oil.
If you want to make them something a bit fancy, you can roll the dough into 1-½ inch logs, or squared-off ‘timbers’ and refrigerate until firm. Then use a sharp knife to slice the form into ¼ inch sections, making dozens of perfectly shaped cookies.
If the event is more casual or you’re making them for your children, who will devour them without appreciating the fine craftsmanship, then just drop spoonfuls onto a tray and flatten with a fork. They will be bigger and coarser and just as delicious.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F until toasty brown on the bottom. Flip the cookies and return to the oven. When both sides are lightly toasted, remove from the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy with a tall glass of Oatly (full fat) or a freshly brewed bowl of matcha.
Note: If you have a delicate digestive system, you may wish to soak the nuts before baking. This process removes the phytic acid, an enzyme inhibitor meant to prevent sprouting under non-ideal conditions. These compounds readily bind with minerals, somewhat reducing the nutritional value of our food intake. To improve digestibility and mineral absorption, soak the nuts overnight in lightly salted water, rinse, and then toast them at a low temperature (225°F) to remove excess moisture before applying them in the recipe.
Eat better. Feel better!