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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies (and a Few Food Blogs)



By Phoebe Farag Mikhail

Vegan chocolate chip cookies: Pumpkin variation
No, this is not a food blog – but when I made these cookies last week, I could not help but share them. Food blogs, after all, are what introduced me to the blogging world. They’re like our surrogate parents and grandparents when neither are available to call for a recipe. They also form these wonderful online communities as people share recipes, meal ideas, and valuable information about food in general. I love food bloggers that not only share recipes, but also teach me new things. The first food blogger I started following is Heba Saleh’s My Life in a Pyramid. Her blog not only includes exciting, healthy recipes (like this creamy 10 minute chocolate pudding with avocados), but also shares valuable information about organic and healthy eating.

Cooking and baking can be processes of reflection and community. I have a friend who meditates on how the process of baking her holiday sugar cookies reflects her faith as she bakes, and has shared these reflections with me in addition to a delicious box of cookies. The holidays in particular bring about the communal aspect of food, not just because we gather together to enjoy our meals and share our sweets, but also because we are often cooking and baking traditional recipes from generations before us, linking us not just to each other, but to our pasts. 

This is why I love MidEats, a blog full of amazing recipes, instructions, and histories for traditional Middle Eastern foods, some with variations to make them more healthful, such as this healthier Egyptian Koshary recipe. Faith Gorsky also shares some amazing Middle Eastern and fusion recipes on An Edible Mosaic, such as this pumpkin and cheese spiced bread. Eating healthy can get expensive, which is why I follow Stacy Makes Cents, who posts about eating good food on a budget, as well as other ways of saving money. I love her slow-cooker recipes, such as (believe it or not), this Crock-Pot Honey Spiced Latte.

Vegan cookies: Double chocolate pumpkin
 Now, the recipe, which I got from Eating Bird Food, at http://www.eatingbirdfood.com/2012/09/vegan-pumpkin-oatmeal-chocolate-chip-cookies/. I made them first exactly as the recipe described, and I found them tasty but a little bit too chewy. My toddler did not like them much the first time, but loved them at the second, third, and fourth try (described below). My husband preferred the banana variation.

Vegan chocolate chip cookies: banana variation
The best part about this recipe are its healthy ingredients: pumpkin (or banana), ground flaxseed, coconut oil, old-fashioned oats, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, chocolate chips – all of these foods have wonderful health properties. I’ve linked them to some articles and blog posts that further describe their benefits. These cookies are not a health food, but because the recipe includes whole grains and fruit, one or two are quite satisfying. So you’ll enjoy a treat and yet not wipe out the whole cookie jar. The second best part is that they are very easy to make. My toddler helped me bake them. Tell me what you think!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup of whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat, but you can use all purpose flour as well)
½ cup old fashioned oats (3/4 cup if you are using the banana variation)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt (if you do not have any, a little bit less table salt will do)
Pinch of ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons cocoa powder (for double chocolate version)
¾ cup of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling. If using the banana variation, use ¾ cups mashed bananas)
1 cup sugar (3/4 cup for the banana variation)(I used organic, pure cane sugar. I don’t suggest using a liquid form of sugar like maple syrup or molasses – the cookies were too gooey when I tried them that way)
¼ cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted (add extra if using the double chocolate pumpkin variation)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (or more) vegan chocolate chips

Instructions
1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
2.       Stir together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cocoa powder for double chocolate pumpkin variation)
3.       Mix together wet ingredients (pumpkin, coconut oil, flaxseed and vanilla) in a separate mixing bowl.
4.       Combine wet and dry ingredients.
5.       Stir in chocolate chips and mix well.
6.       Drop rounded tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet (or roll them with your hands if you are baking the pumpkin or double chocolate pumpkin variation)
7.       Bake for 25-30 minutes (oven times will vary)
8.       Completely cool before eating.