Vegan Cookies & Chocolate Tea
a healthy treat and afternoon pick-me-up
We all need a little treat sometimes. I hardly ever consume pure sugar in any form, but now and then I need a little pick-me-up. It’s not so much a physical thing as a mental one. A healthy sweet can make everything look a little brighter.
If you’re going to make cookies, some sugar is required. If they don’t have sugar, then they aren’t cookies! However, if you make them right, then you can enjoy just 2-3 and be satisfied, without having to eat the entire batch and then feel bad about it later.
These vegan carob cookies are nicely sweet and the perfect mix of chewy and crispy. They are also totally wheat-free, nut-free, dairy-free and egg-free. Substantial and flavorful, and sweet enough that I can get my fix without overdoing it and ending up with a sugar-crash later.
These cookies use carob powder which has a mildly chocolate flavor; though carob isn’t at all related to cocoa. Carob comes from the seeds of the pods of mesquite trees. Here in Argentina the trees are called Algarrobo, and the carob is called Algarroba. Carob powder is easy to find here, even organically grown. I’d imagine you could find carob powder in most countries: Mesquite trees grow (too) prolifically all over the world.
To go with the slightly chocolate flavor of the carob, I like to eat these healthy cookies with a mug of chocolate tea. I mean the real deal tea- nothing artificially flavored- the stuff that tastes exactly like chocolate, because it is. Cocoa nib tea is a lovely low calorie way to get all of the flavor of chocolate, and little energy lift too.
When we visited Peru, we came across a great little shop in Cusco that did all things chocolate. Actually, there was a lot of chocolate promotion throughout the region. Apparently the government of Peru is helping farmers make the switch to growing cacao from coca.
Coca leaves are pretty innocuous in and of themselves. They are chewed throughout South America as an appetite suppressant and stimulant, and are consumed as tea for all-that-ails-you. (The coca leaf tea did help us avoid headaches at the extremely high altitudes of Cusco and Macchu Picchu.) However, coca leaves are also processed into cocaine. According to a taxi driver we spoke with, one of the first things he gets asked by many North Americans is where to get some of the world-famous cocaine.
I can’t vouch for the cocaine, but the chocolate is world class.
So, back to the chocolate shop, called Choco Museo, which was a highlight of our trip. It had a little ‘museum’, held classes on how to make chocolate, took people on tours of cacao farms, and of course sold all things chocolate - from chocolate liqueurs, to chocolate bars of all types (milk chocolate to 70% cacao, with every flavor from chili to nuts), to chocolate tea. We ate some fantastic dark chocolate there, and I was so taken with the tea we sampled in the store that I brought a bag back with us to Argentina.
All that’s required to make chocolate tea is a bag of cacao nibs (also called cocoa nibs). If you live in the North America, or in a region that makes chocolate, then I know you’ll be able to find them. These are just the little leftover shells from the cacao seeds. Steep them in hot water, add a touch of sweetener (chocolate is not at all sweet by nature), and voíla!
Apparently, people like to eat the cacao nibs as a snack too, and some are even incorporating them into recipes that range from desserts to salads. I don’t get much out of eating them straight, but you can give them a try.
If you are looking for a healthy pick-me-up or afternoon treat, have a vegan cookie. And if you can get cocoa nibs, I think you’ll really enjoy the tea.
Recipe for Vegan Carob Cookies
Makes 14 cookies.
3 cups oats (traditional rolled oats, not groats)
1/2 cup carob powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 banana- ripe or frozen thawed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup honey (mild-flavored)
1/2 cup hot water
Heat oven to 315F (160C).
In a large bowl combine the oats through baking soda. Add the banana and cover with the teaspoon of lemon juice. Smash the banana thoroughly with a fork and incorporate into the dry ingredients until fairly well blended. Pour in the honey and then the hot water. Blend until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Put a cookie sheet in the oven for a few minutes to heat. Then grease the warm cookie sheet with coconut oil or butter.
Roll the cookie dough into small balls in the palm of your hand, press into patties and place on the cookie sheet with at about an inch of space between each cookie.
Bake for 25 minutes until mostly firm to the touch and lightly browning around the edges.
Now, get your chocolate tea steeping to enjoy with a warm cookie...
Recipe for Chocolate Cocoa Nib Tea
Makes one mug (approximately 1 1/2 cups water).
1 tablespoon cocoa nibs
1/2 teaspoon honey or preferred sweetener
Put the cocoa nibs in a tea ball, tied in gauze, or loose in the mug. Add hot water and sweetener. Let steep 10-15 minutes until the water is fragrant and light brown in color.
Remove the teaball, or strain off the cocoa nibs, and enjoy!
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