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MTF: Macrobiotic Friendly Vegan Gingerbread Cookies

Happy MACRO TREAT FRIDAY (MTF). It's been awhile since I posted a sweet treat, and Christmas is almost here, so a cookie recipe seems appropriate.

I wasn't sure if I should call these gingersnaps, ginger molasses cookies, or gingerbread...so let's mix it all up and call 'em gingerbread cookies.

Delicious, whatever you call 'em.

Macro Gingerbread Cookies

Wholegrain. One bowl. Super Simple. Very light on the oil. Lightly sweetened with maple.
Makes about 16 small gingerbread cookies.

See other possibilities at the end of the post.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sprouted whole spelt flour (+ 2 TBSP if dough is a bit too sticky)
  • 1/4 tsp each cloves & nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp of FRESH grated ginger
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 TBSP olive oil or other vegetable oil of choice.
  • 4 TBSP maple syrup or brown rice syrup.
  • 2 tsp blackstrap molasses (for flavour)
  • 4 TBSP water
  • Maple sugar for rolling (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix flour and spices together in a large bowl.
  3. Grate ginger. Add to bowl.
  4. Add to the flour: oil, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses and water.
  5. Mix together with a fork.
  6. Wet hands (this is key!!) and roll into small balls, about 1/2 ". If dough is just too sticky after trying with wet hands, don't be shy to sprinkle in a bit more flour.
  7. If desired, roll in maple sugar. Place on parchment paper.
  8. Bake until lightly browned on bottoms, about 12 minutes.
  9. Let sit for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack.
  10. Let cool completely, and enjoy! Store in an airtight container.

NOTES:

* If you wanted to roll these out and cut out gingerbread men, I'm sure this recipe would work. You might want to let the dough cool in the fridge for a bit first, and I'd roll it out between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Because it'll be thinner, it will take less time to bake. :)

*Also, if you like bigger gingerbread molasses cookies, then I'd recommend making 8 larger balls instead of about 16, and let cook for the same amount of time for really chewy cookies, and a few minutes longer for a bit crispier ones.

* I like them just as much without the maple sugar, as with <3

* And, for your viewing pleasure, here's a video of my class and I making these cookies together, during a Macrobiotic Sweets Class I taught earlier this December, where we made these cookies! I have been so honoured to teach a few Macrobiotic nutrition classes per month at the lovely Templed Mind Studio here in Victoria, and this clip gives you a sneak peek into their delightful studio.


Happy Holiday Baking!!

Β 

MTF: Vegan & Macrobiotic friendly Chocolate Bundt Cake

It's good. It's really good. It's for sure Macro Treat Friday (MTF) approved.

Enough said.

MTF: Chocolate Bundt Cake // vegan & macrobiotic friendly

This cake got the 2 thumbs up from T, who enjoys cake that tastes more like cake than something really healthy. I was super happy because the texture reminded me of a cake we enjoyed as a family when I was growing up. It felt truly, like a treat. In any case, it's chocolate cake. It's good. There is a fair amount less oil and sugar (in fact, no sugar, just maple syrup) than traditional chocolate bundt cakes, making it more macrobiotic friendly, and of course it's vegan. This is a great cake for special occasions!  If you don't have a bundt pan, don't worry, you can also bake this in a "9 x 13" inch pan too.

Ingredients

Dry

  • 3 cups flour [ I've used whole sprouted spelt flour, and whole wheat pastry flour - the whole wheat pastry flour was my favourite of the two, but both were good, and I want to try it with whole spelt pastry flour next ]
  • 3/4 cup natural cocoa (non-alkalized)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

Wet

  • 2/3 cup brewed coffee (or grain coffee, or water)
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 3/4 cup oil. I used sunflower (and I also tried with 1/2 sesame & 1/4 EVO blend), but avocado or grapeseed would be good too.
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla

Optional (but highly recommended)

  • 1/2  to 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2  to 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350F. Oil a bundt pan. Feel free to lightly flour or cocoa the pan as well (I haven't tried that yet).
  2. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix wet together, and add to dry.
  4. Stir together until just combined. It'll be a really runny batter, but don't worry, and don't overmix :) lightly stir in the nuts and chocolate chips, if using.
  5. Bake for 45 - 55 minutes. Check with a toothpick at 45 - mine usually takes 55.
    If baking in a 9 X 13 dish, it will take less time - check at 30 minutes, if not before.
  6. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before inverting (says the directions that came with my bundt pan)...but I've read that it's best to place the bundt pan on a wire rack, let it cool completely, then tap a few times before inverting.
  7. If you desire, you can try some of the frosting suggestions below! I have enjoyed it both with, and without frosting.

Frosting

Option 1: Coconut Whipped Cream - I followed these steps HERE

  • this is what I used as it is simple, and not so sweet, so I could dress the cake up with berries

Option 2:  TOFU WHIPPED CREAM

  • Using an immersion blender, blend 2 package of lite silken tofu with 4 TBSP maple syrup, and 2 tsp vanilla until very smooth. Place in the fridge for a few hours to let it firm up. I haven't used this on the cake yet (but I have on other treats), so you might need to make even more to cover the whole cake.

Option 3: CHOCOLATE GLAZE

  • Melt 4 oz. very dark or semisweet chocolate in a double boiler with a tablespoon of coconut oil.
  • When melted, pour into bowl and add in 6 TBSP coconut milk, brewed coffee, or almond milk
  • Add in 1 tsp vanilla, and up to 1.5 cups of confectioners sugar (to sweetness). I have made once before, my own "maple sugar icing sugar" by blending in a highspeed blender maple sugar until really fine and powdery. It worked - not quite as well, but it did.
  • Pour over cake / spread over cake while while glaze is warm. Let glaze cool and harden before serving.
  • This one is straight up delicious - but very intense - decadent, sweet and rich.

Β 

Now...Celebrate!!
Buy some berries and perhaps some vegan icecream, make some cake, invite some friends over, and sit outside while you celebrate the wonderfulness of life, and enjoy your treat  <3

Macro Monday: Macrobiotics vs. Veganism

Most people understand what the word vegan means. Less people have heard of Macrobiotics. I get asked about it a lot. Often if I'm eating out with other people, I'll say I'm vegan + occasional fish for simplicity's sake. But then I usually get asked why I eat fish, etc., and the topic of being vegan versus eating Macrobiotically comes up. In fact, it comes up enough that it's about time I wrote about the differences. Macrobiotics itself is founded on entirely different principles than veganism.

MM: Macrobiotics // Veganism

Vegan = Healthy, Right?

I have spent a lot of times in and working at health food stores. Let me tell you what the number one best sellers are: all natural pop & all natural chips. Close behind them are all the natural candies, chocolates, ice cream alternatives etc. These can be or are all vegan! And vegan means healthy, right?

Well...nope. Haha. Sure some chips once in a while, and a pop here or there, is not going to be a problem. But that doesn't mean they're healthy. They're still a treat, or an indulgence - with or without the vegan label.

I once overheard a lady in the pop/chip aisle at the health foods store I was working at, giving advice to her friend about how she could get her kids to eat better. She said "it's really easy, just give them this pop instead, and they'll drink it down like crazy, they won't even know they're drinking something much healthier. You see, it's vegan and has evaporated cane juice in it...no sugar!"

No judgements from my end, truly, only a giant sincere simple wish for more real food educating and more honest information out there, so that people can really understand what is actually in the food and drinks they are consuming.

In regards to the lady I mentioned above, she probably read somewhere that organic is healthy, vegan is healthy, and to look out for white sugar. So she really felt she was making a healthy choice. And sure, an organic cane-juice sweetened pop is fine for a treat once in awhile - life is too short to be too crazy restrictive. Sometimes a little sweetness is a good thing. But there will likely be health consequences down the road if you're guzzling down organic pops on a daily basis because you are under the impression that they are healthy.

Another thing I hear often: "didn't you know, Oreo's are vegan!?" These guys aren't organic, and have regular ol' sugar in them. But they are vegan, so they must be healthy too, right? Hey, I'm all for a bit of Oreo lovin' every once in awhile. And if you are vegan for ethical reasons alone - then it is great to know that certain products are vegan, and this will allow you to purchase things with more ease. BUT, this by no means that because a product is vegan, it is healthy. To get a label saying "vegan" slapped on a product, only means that it does not contain any animal products. It does not guarantee that it is made with high quality ingredients, or that it is good for you.

I'm simply trying to illustrate the misconception I keep seeing, that simply because something is vegan, it is healthy. This is not necessarily true.

Healthy Vegan Food

Now let's chat about the flipside: super duper healthy food that IS vegan. Apples, bananas, rice, quinoa, flax, chia, almonds, kale salad, guacamole...all these are healthy real food choices. And vegan. Much different than vegan treat foods.

So where does Macrobiotics come in?

It's pretty unlikely that you will see as many things labelled Macrobiotic as you will things labelled vegan.

Macrobiotic foods (true macrobiotic foods) will be egg, dairy, & meat free (often fish free too). That sounds kind of like most vegan foods! But Macrobiotics isn't as simple as the whole "no animal products" thing. Macrobiotics means big life, and this means choosing foods that will support you (in your given environment, life situation, age etc.) - giving you consistent stable energy, so you can be be there fully for whatever it is that you are here to do.

Where Macrobiotics & veganism differ is this: true macrobiotic food will be less processed, and will contain ingredients in their whole form as much as possible, emphasizing the nutrients found in natural foods in their natural state. These principles are fundamental to Macrobiotics. Think whole grains, seeds, veggies, healthy unprocessed oils, fruits, & nuts. Minimal natural sweeteners & natural seasonings.

So an Oreo, while being vegan, would not be considered Macrobiotic. But, an organic bean & quinoa salad, tossed in olive oil and lemon juice - that can be considered both vegan & macrobiotic. And an organic cookie made using minimal wholefood ingredients - that could count as both Macrobiotic and vegan too.

Another thing that Macrobiotics takes into consideration is using as many locally grown ingredients as possible, rather than foods grown in foreign climates. Also the nightshade veggies play a minimal role.

Now, to be fair, you can technically also subsist off of Macrobiotic granola bars, rice cakes, peanut butter, and apples...and that wouldn't leave you feeling so balanced either. Just as there is a way to make vegan unhealthy, there are also foods that could be classified as Macrobiotic, that wouldn't be the best to base your diet off of entirely. The difference, I think, is that in principle, being vegan is about abstaining from animal products, whereas Macrobiotics is about finding the big balance in your life through balanced eating. There are many ways to make vegan food healthy, but the definition of the word "vegan"  alone does not necessarily guide you towards the goal of a healthy lifestyle, whereas the meaning of the word "macrobiotic" does (at least more so, in my opinion).

Both paths, vegan & Macrobiotic, can ultimately take you towards the same healthy meal and life, but I'd caution you to read the road signs carefully if you're on the vegan highway, as there are many big companies using clever labeling that are out there doing their best to guide you away from simple clean foods, and towards their packaged products.

Any thoughts?

xoxo Jess

Brown Rice in Cookie form.

You see, I told you I didn't need an excuse to bake!

I decided to put my new present to use:

Perhaps I shouldn't even bother with  measuring cups, as I like to fill 'em a bit too high ;)
Used a favourite book of mine:  "The Self-Healing Cookbook" by Kristina Turner.
Can't express how much I love this book...full of advice for the mind, body, and soul.
Yummy recipes!
I decided to go for an all-time favourite: oatmeal raisin cookies, that use actual brown rice in them. Sweetened the natural way, with raisins, and less than 1/4c brown rice syrup!
I used gluten-free oat flour to make them even more easy on the digestion. 

The only problem with these cookies is that they are so full of good ingredients, and free of all my allergens (dairy, eggs) that it is very easy to eat a few too many! Although, in some respect, perhaps these cookies are healthier than a lot of "meals" out there.

What's better than a mug full of kukicha tea? 



Well, kukicha tea and brown rice cookies! That's what!

I have made these cookies a few times before. They are really chewy from the brown rice, and a bit crunchy from the sunflower seeds. They sweet enough to satisfy a sweet craving, but won't leave you spinning your wheels on a sugar high.
I plan to play around with these cookies, so expect to see more variations in the future.

What have you been munching on lately?
Any yummy afternoon sweets?

It happened again.

Ok. maybe I have just been eating cake.
Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Rice Cooker Cake
Vegan & Wholegrain & lightly sweetened with stevia
Dry
1.5 cups flour (I ground up 1 cup rolled oats and 1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats)
1/4 cup + 1 T cocoa powder
1/4 t baking soda
20 grams chopped hazelnuts
20 grams chopped 70% or higher chocolate, or use chocolate chips
~1.5 t stevia powder (or to taste...I'd use a bit less next time)
cinnamon
cayenne pepper
Wet
400g tofu (I use the type that isn't in water... I think it's like silken back home?)
2 t  olive oil
1/4 c. pumpkin soup (this one I bought...turns out it has some sugar added and I didn't like it as soup)- 
         pumpkin puree would be great too...or any other puree.
~1/2 cup almond milk
Mix dry.

Blend Wet.
Mix together.

Line rice cooker with parchment paper.
Cook in the rice cooker for about 40-50 minutes. You don't want it to be dry.
It will firm up a bit when it cools.
If you divide into 8 pieces, each piece clocks in around ~170 cals.
Did I mention that the chocolate gets all melty?


Success.

I'm sure you knew that...

I wouldn't only make one cake, after my last one was so delicious, right!?
Well, I think I have a bee in my baking bonnet, because I feel liked a deranged cake beast...
Who ever knew that my rice cooker would become SO useful... hahaha ;)
(Just kidding. I make brown rice in it EVERYDAY, amongst other things).
So yep, onto the new cake.
This was my rice cooker version of the lovely  Carrie's Tofu Brownies
Dark Chocolate Coconut Cake 
It's vegan, wholegrain, and very dark and delicious.
Dry
1 cup of ground up rolled oats
0.5 cups of ground up buckwheat groats
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 c shredded coconut
1 t cinnamon
pinch of cayenne
Wet
400g silken like tofu
~20 stevia drops
2 teaspoons olive oil
~1/2 cup almond milk
Mix dry. Blend wet. Add wet to dry.

Pop in the parchment paper lined rice cooker.
I cooked mine for 40 minutes, then 20 minutes more. 
I think next time I would do it for a bit less....so maybe 50 minutes overall?
Try not to eat it while it cools.

Devour.
I did
In typical dainty pig fashion:
Crumbled up in a bowl of almond milk topped with frozen raspberries!
What's your favourite way to eat cake?
I love berries....so berries on any cake pretty much make it better.

Do you like chocolate cake?
Like I said before, I'm not much of a cake girl...but as it is currently my only 
baking option, I'm learning to appreciate them.

pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's (wo)man.

Bake me a kabocha cake, as fast as you can!
Now why am I so excited about baking, you ask?
Well, I baked, I baked, I baked my very own cake!!!
It has been over 18 months since I last baked! 
Most houses do not have ovens, here in Japan. 
And, because I don't use microwaves very often, I couldn't justify buying a new
fancy one that has a baking function. 
And also...baking in microwaves always just seems a bit strange to me.
But, I am going to one up that whole "microwave baking is strange" idea, because I finally caved.

I baked a cake in my rice..........
wait for it.................................................................................
cooker! 
(p.s., I'm currently loving How I Met Your Mother...any other fans out there?)

Anyways, it was glorious!
I used the wonderful edible perspective's pumpkin buckwheat bake recipe.
So, so so so so so yummy.
Can you tell i'm excited?
My changes:
I doubled the recipe...because I wanted a big cake. Enough said.
I didn't have any bananas or maple syrup, so instead:
 I added in some vanilla stevia drops into the kabocha puree (I think I used about 15 drops?). 
I also doubled the amount of kabocha puree than called for (final amount was ~1c).
And I doubled the flax egg also (so I used 4T flax meal).
And I didn't use any nuts, because I was out.
Let's get to it!
I ground my own buckwheat groats. And mixed all the dry stuff together.

I steamed, then roasted, then pureed my own kabocha (skin included).
And I used my own almond milk. And I mixed it all together!
After it was all said and done, I felt like a pioneer woman, hahaha.
It took MUCH longer to cook using my rice cooker's CAKE function.
But, no problem. Apart from finding my patience within, it was no big deal.
I think I cooked it for just over an hour on the rice cooker cake setting.
It was cinnamony, kabocha-ey, and hearty.
I loved it! It was more like a kabocha BREAD, than a cake, because of lack of banana and maple syrup. 
But that was cool...I just served it up with a spoon of nut butter, and relaxed.
It was fun. I really miss baking. 
Normally I wouldn't bake cakes back home. 
Cookies or granola bars, or breads are more up my alley. 
But hey, beggars can't be choosers.
Have you ever baked anything cake-like in your rice cooker?
First time for me. But now, I feel like Christopher Columbus, ready to explore a whole new territory!
Do you like baking? If so, what do you like to bake?
I love baking. I find it very stress relieving. 
I think as soon as I get home to Canada, I will bake a big batch of cookies.