A lower sugar, dairy-free and gluten-free soft oat cookie containing a sneaky special ingredient. Munch on a couple for a post-workout, at-work or travel snack. These energising bakes are also great as an on-the-go breakfast with a piece of fruit and a small carton of yogurt. You can easily make them child-friendly by nixing the espresso and adding some raisins in its place. For a nut-free version, use delicious sunflower/sun butter.
Reaching in the cookie jar shouldn’t be a guilt-making experience. Certainly not if they are made with rolled oats, puffs of quinoa, freshly made peanut butter and just a smidge of sugar. Heck, you could even have a couple for breakfast and feel like you’ve done something kind to yourself, and your body. These fiber-filled treats not only have a good whack of ground espresso, but a goodly amount of immune-stimulating, anti-inflammatory anti-cancer, chaga.
I have written about chaga recently in my recipe post for Tahini-Swirl Chocolate Brownies, so I won’t completely repeat myself, but it can be a fantastic addition to the diet. And weirdly, for a mushroom (in this case Siberian, dried and finely ground), it tastes faintly of nuts, chocolate and vanilla, so melds perfectly into healthy baking recipes, as well as smoothies. In fact it is so mild that no one will detect it at all. But you will know it’s there.
Why add chaga? Well, to quote a section of the MSKCC “About Herbs” page on chaga (my go-to site for unbiased herbal information): “Laboratory and animal studies show that compounds in chaga can kill cancer cells selectively and stimulate the immune system. It may also have benefits such as reductions in fatigue and inflammation, as well as increased mental sharpness.”
I want me some of that.
So, is it a superfood? It’s not a superfood as such (that’s a marketing term, not a scientific one), but it does have a long history of use as a medicinal mushroom, one that recent animal and human cell research supports the use of in cancer therapy (example: liver cancer; adenocarcinoma; cancer generally). Research is ongoing. There appears to be strong anti-cancer effects that may have a preventative element, too. Polysaccharides from studied mushrooms do not attack burgeoning and proliferating cancer cells directly, but produce their anti-tumor effects by activating different immune responses in our bodies. The effects of such mushrooms (all of the medicinal mushrooms, including reishi and shiitake) when not used at medicinal doses is not known, so I wouldn’t rush out and get it, but if you already have some, these lovely cookies can put it to good use.
Where can I get chaga? Most good health food stores will stock it, herbalists too. And on-line. I use it in baking and in smoothies.
Who shouldn’t take chaga? Chaga lowers blood sugar and inhibits platelet aggregation, so anyone on antiplatelets, anticoagulants or diabetic medication should avoid ingesting medicinal amounts of chaga. There isn’t enough in these cookies to cause a problem. Unless you ate the whole batch in one go. 🙂 If you are immunocompromised and/or undergoing cancer treatment, eating these cookies will be fine but if you wish to take chaga medicinally, please discuss this with your treatment team or physician. I would always advise anyone never to take herbal preparations for any condition without consulting with your doctor.
Some of you have been telling me that you have already made my Espresso Peanut Butter from Saturday. I’m so excited that you were so excited by this recipe! Even if you haven’t got around to making it, you can do a hack by thoroughly blending 2 teaspoons of good ground espresso (not your leftover cup of coffee!!) into the stipulated 120g (1/2 cup) of peanut butter, adding a touch more if you like. My recipe makes the peanut butter from scratch – which is obviously best – but I don’t want you to feel you can’t make these awesome cookies if you can’t instantly rustle up some espresso peanut butter. Equally, if you can’t do coffee flavours, or these are for children, forgo the espresso and add some raisins – about 50 grams for extra interest. And while we talking of substitutions, to make these school-friendly and allergy-friendly (such odd terms, but you know what I mean) whiz up 120g (or more, and just use 120g of it) roasted sunflower seeds, or I have a recipe for sunflower/sun butter.
If you have everything to hand, I urge you to give these healthy sweet-ish treats a go. They mightn’t be heart-shaped or even chocolatey – despite the looks – but they would make a thoughtful treat for anyone not fully onboard with Valentine’s Day. Or just make them for yourself and reach into that cookie jar with a smile on your face.
Espresso Peanut Butter and Oat Cookies
A lower sugar, dairy-free and gluten-free soft oat cookie, munch on a couple for a post-workout, at-work or travel snack. These energising bakes are also great as an on-the-go breakfast with a piece of fruit and a small carton of yogurt. You can easily make them child-friendly by nixing the espresso and adding some raisins in its place. For a nut-free version, use delicious sunflower/sun butter.
120g (1/2 cup) espresso peanut butter OR all-natural peanut butter/cashew or almond butter with 2 tsp ground espresso mixed in (more to taste)
2-3 tsp chaga – optional (see the post above for pointers)
3 tbsp coconut palm sugar/muscovado/dark brown sugar
1 medium hen’s egg or chia egg (3 tbsp water to 1 tbsp ground chia seed, mixed)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
40g (1/2 cup) rolled oats – gluten-free assured if necessary
2 tbsp puffed/popped quinoa, teff or sorghum -optional
Small handful of peanuts – raw, roasted; salted or unsalted (or other nuts/seeds)
1. Preheat the oven to 160C fan/180C/350F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2. In a medium mixing bowl blend the nut butter, chaga (if using), sugar, egg and vanilla until completely mixed.
3. Using a large spatula, mix in the oats and puffed quinoa. The mixture will be sticky, very dark and shiny.
4. Scoop heaped teaspoons of mixture and form into balls, pressing them onto the paper as you go. Flatten slightly with a wet spoon. Top with peanut pieces.
5. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the tray for 10 minutes or so before lifting with a spatula and cooling completely on a wire rack.
This recipe is very easily doubled/tripled etc.
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