Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vegan Fruit and Nut Cookies

Contrary to what you might think, the words cookie and vegan are not an oxymoron. Really. Let me say up front, I am not nor will ever be vegan. I couldn’t live without bacon. Or cheese. And a rich brownie without a glass of cold milk? Forget it. But I love baked goods, including, it turns out, vegan cookies.

While I wholeheartedly believe that the western world consumes entirely too much meat--at the expense of our heath and the environment--I also believe that one can enjoy animal products to the fullest in moderation without foregoing them entirely. American food writer and critic Mark Bittman is a self proclaimed “vegetarian before 6:00 p.m.” That is to say, Bittman, author of the best selling cookbooks How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, eats plant foods all day long, but at dinner enjoys a regular meal of, say, pasta, cheese, vegetables, perhaps a small steak even. In this way, he reduces his carbon footprint while at the same time improving and maintaining his overall health. There are also “Meatless Mondays,” an increasingly global effort to forgo meat at least once a week.

So what does all this have to do with today’s recipe? Simple. Instead of turning to your stand-by cookie that contains butter and eggs, why not try one that not only tastes fantastic but is made sans animal products. Some might argue that it's better for you and the planet.

Loaded with fruit, nuts, and coconut, it’s the perfect treat alongside a mug of hot tea or coffee. Just the thing to warm up during these chilly fall days. Go ahead and play with the ingredients. Can’t find dried blueberries? Cranberries are a great substitute. No shelled pistachios on hand? Pumpkin seeds, walnuts, or sliced almonds are an equally good bet. If you are feeling health-conscious, political, or environmental, these cookies fit the bill. On the other hand, it’s totally okay if you just want a sweet treat.

Delicious Vegan Cookies
Adapted from Alicia Silverstone's recipe

1c /250 ml rolled oats
3/4c /175 ml all-purpose flour
1/3c /75 ml brown sugar
1t /5.0 ml (small spoonful) cream of tartar (omit if unavailable to you)
1t /5.0 ml baking soda
1/2t /2.5 ml sea salt
1/3c /80 g maple syrup
1/2c /115 g vegetable oil
1t /5.0 ml vanilla extract
1/4c /60 ml dried blueberries (or cranberries, raisins, apricots)
1/4c /60 ml toasted pistachios (or other nuts)
1/4c /60 ml unsweetened coconut flakes
1. Mix the oats, flour, brown sugar, tartar (if using), soda, and salt in a large bowl.
2. Stir in syrup, oil, and vanilla.
3. Fold in dried fruit, nuts, and coconut.
4. Wet your hands with water; use your hands to shape the dough into small balls of uniform size.
5. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, slightly flatten ball with the palm of your hand.
6. Bake at 350F /180C for 8-12 minutes or until tops are slightly golden. Let cool 5 minutes on baking sheet before removing to a wire rack.

Makes 12-15 cookies, depending on the size of your dough balls.

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