This recipe came to me as I was falling asleep, as most of my recipes do. Like usual, I rolled over in bed, grabbed my iPhone and started emailing the notes of my ideas to myself.
Here’s the thing… most Raw vegan cookies use some sort of dehydrated fruit to help bind it and add sweetness. But, I can’t recall ever coming across a Raw vegan cookie recipe that used dehydrated banana slices! They’re perfect… FULL of flavor, sweet, chewy-like, and delicious. Knowing that I could pair them with walnuts (or any nuts) would give me wonderful banana nut flavors. After I made these, my first bite sent my head swimming in joy.
You can enjoy these delicious treats by themselves, of course! Or, have them alongside a tall glass of Creamy Dreamy Hemp Milk (recipe here). Or, crumble them in a bowl with raw granola and enjoy as your breakfast. Or, crumble them over Raw vegan vanilla ice cream.
Now, making these requires using dehydrated banana slices that are HOME MADE. Don’t use the ones bought in the store. They’re too hard and probably have crappy preservatives on them. So, if you don’t have a dehydrator yet, then borrow someone’s or get one! And, while you’re at it, get the Excalibur (details here), because it’s the best on the market and has a fantastic warranty.
Without further ado… here is my EASY recipe for delicious Raw Vegan Cookies.
Banana Nut Cookie Dough Bites
Yield 8-10 cookies
2 cups walnuts (soaked and dehydrated*)
1 cup Raw homemade dehydrated banana slices, packed**
Place the walnuts, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a food processor, fitted with the “S” blade and process to a coarse grind. Add the dehydrated banana slices and process until they’re broken down and incorporated. As that is happening, add the raw agave nectar. Process the mixture until you get a dough-like consistency. Form into small cookies (either flat as shown in the picture or in balls). Enjoy!
* For optimal digestion, use walnuts that have been soaked and dehydrated. To do this, soak the walnuts in filtered water for 6-8 hours. Drain and rinse. Spread the walnuts out on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 135 degrees for 45 minutes. Lower the temperature to 105 degrees and continue dehydrating until dry (approximately 12-24 hours).
** This recipe is designed to use dehydrated banana slices that you make yourself so they’re not processed with any other ingredients other than the bananas themselves. You’ll notice that banana slices in the store tend to be crunchy. By using homemade dehydrated banana slices, they maintain a softer, chewier texture, which is great for this recipe, and they’re fresh and pure. To make yours, simply slice the bananas and dehydrate them for about 18-24 hours or until a dry, chewy texture is obtained.
For the past week, I’ve been living up the Raw lifestyle big time (like usual I guess, haha, but more intense. I took out a bunch of my recipe books and I’m having a blast in the kitchen. Details below…
Here is a picture of my refrigerator loaded to the gills after we went to Whole Foods Market and the farmers’ market (where I’m a part of an awesome certified organic CSA). Most of the goodies are from the farmers’ market, but a few things I had to score from WFM such as kale, mustard greens, blueberries, raspberries, celery, cilantro, and parsley.
Here is my light reading of the week… a couple of great magazines. VegNews and Purely Delicious. I’m also reading a book by Deepak Chopra, M.D. My goal is to spend time away from the computer for a few days because my right eye has been twitching for a week. It feels the most irritated when I’m working on my computer or using my iPhone, which I do ALL the time. Those two things must be the culprits because 1) I get PLENTY of sleep and 2) My body is full of any and all vitamins that if there was a deficiency it would cause that. Some could offer the suggestion that it’s stress, but my life is pretty calm for the most part in spite of my fertility adventures (will update you on that this week). And, again, once I start working on my iMac or look at the iPhone, my eye feels strained.
We’ve been having 1-2 large green smoothies every day (I took a break from juicing this week – I like to change it up from time to time). Green smoothies (green shakes, green monsters – whatever you want to call them) are a staple in my life. They’re super easy to make and HELLO! they’re loaded with nutrition, fiber, and goodness. I topped this one with home grown sprouts for fun (see my video on how to grow your own sprouts here).
Saturday night we had a birthday party to attend and I figured the restaurant probably wouldn’t have anything really healthy, so we filled up on this dish before we left the house. I made Raw zucchini/vegetable pasta medley with Lemon Basil Cashew Cream. It was refreshing and deliciously unique. (You’ll notice the “clump” of sauce in the center. I hadn’t stirred it into the dish when I took the picture. With raw pasta dishes it’s OK – even preferable – to have thick sauces because the water from the veggies helps to dilute it after it’s stirred together).
I had chia seeds in my breakfasts a couple of days last week. More specifically, Sunny Morning Chia Porridge (no oats in this porridge though!). The mixture consisted of chia seeds, shredded unsweetened coconut, orange juice, cashews, stevia, almond extract, agave nectar, and cinnamon. It was just lightly sweet, making it ideal for my breakfast. And, full of energy of course!
For dessert all week, I’ve been making different variations of raw banana ice cream. My husband LOVES this stuff. Seriously. Every time I give him a dish of it, he swears… yes, literally swear words – like “Sh*t this rocks!” (he says other things, but I’ll keep this post “PG” rated), because he loves the stuff and is amazed at the texture and flavors. I like to make it in my food processor because it helps make it fluffy by incorporating more air (as opposed to making it in a blender or Green Star).
Banana Ice Cream Crumble: I made a crumble of walnuts, raisins, shredded unsweetened coconut, and a pinch of Himalayan crystal salt. I put some crumble in the bottom of two bowls. Then, I pureed frozen bananas. I put the banana ice cream in the bowls and then topped them with more crumble. Yum! The various textures were awesome – smooth raw vegan ice cream, crunchy nuts, and chewy raisins. Today I froze 3 bunches of bananas for more Raw Banana Ice Cream.
I also made a batch of my delicious soup, Kristen Suzanne’s Harvest Soup (Holiday Style with pumpkin spice added) – it’s fabulous, easy, and FULL of nutrients. Today’s batch was a tiny bit different than my original recipe. I didn’t have dates on hand so I used maple syrup. I could have used raw agave nectar, but opted for the maple syrup to support the holiday flavor theme of the soup.
Later this week I’m going to make my lasagna and hummus recipes (these recipes are always huge hits with family and friends). I’m also going to make some dishes of uber simplicity such as chopped (or spiralized) zucchini/cucumber topped with a drizzle of olive oil (or diced avocado), Himalayan crystal salt, pepper, and a squeeze of citrus. And, some huge salads are in order.
Raw Vegan Rocks!
**Update (it’s 4:39am, 9/1/09)
Well, I ended up having quite the chocolate craving tonight with nothing in the house stashed away for a rainy day. But, I didn’t wear a frown for long. I grabbed my Chocolate Recipe book and turned to the Chocolate Crunch Hazelnut Macaroons (recipe here) and in less than 15 minutes I was a smiling girl. Chocolate covered fingers and all.
Shortly after that… I was craving GREEN JUICE! So, I busted out my GreenStar (my favorite way to juice these days) and made about 10 cups of juice (I gave my husband 2 cups, I drank a quart, then we went on a 2 mile walk at 3:30 am and I’m now home updating this post while drinking the remaining quart of green juice). What was in it? So many good things. I’m calling it Army Green Juice (because the color was truly army green and gorgeous!). The recipe: 2 red bell peppers, 1/2 lemon, 1 orange peeled, 1 large cucumber, 1 medium cucumber, 1/3 bunch Italian parsley, 2 large heads of Romaine lettuce (my first time juicing Romaine, Mr. Monarch and Ms. Stokes-Monarch inspired me), 8 medium carrots, and 4 leaves of mustard greens. YUM!!! I’m full of RAW VITALITY!!!
I can appreciate that controversial articles can make us question our choices. We’re constantly bombarded with various advertisements, opinions, figures, information, etc., and I know it can make you wonder… “WHAT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO?”
So, here is yet another opinion on the matter (mine). I’m emailed all the time about this issue and decided to blog about it.
Different Sweeteners For Different Reasons
The healthiest sweeteners are fresh, organic whole fruits, including dates. That said, dates sometimes compromise texture in recipes. As a chef, I look for beautiful texture, and as a health food advocate, I lean towards fresh dates. And, then, as a consultant helping people embrace a Raw vegan lifestyle, I’m supportive of helping them transition, which can mean using organic raw agave nectar (an easy-to-use sweetener that might not have the healthiest ranking in the Raw food world – especially to purists, which I am not), but is still much healthier than most sweeteners used in the Standard American Diet. I think it’s important to support people in the transition with eating a healthier lifestyle and, therefore, it’s important to be flexible. After all, a slice of Raw vegan cheesecake made with raw agave nectar is a heck of a lot better than a typical candy bar found in a convenience store or cookies made with white sugar and butter (and cooked!).
Agave isn’t something that you have to put in your recipes every day. If you’re unsure about it, then balance it out with dates. Many dessert recipes probably come out with the best texture if you use raw agave nectar (think mousse, pudding, etc). But, if it’s a soup or a smoothie or a dressing, then you can pretty easily just swap out the agave for 1-2 pitted dates. In my life… sometimes I use dates or date paste (recipe below), sometimes I use raw organic agave nectar, and sometimes I use a combination of both raw agave nectar and dates.
My main stance is that I’m comfortable with organic raw agave nectar and I use it in some of my recipes. I do not consume it every day.
Raw & Organic Agave Nectar – But Is It Really?
I agree that there are agave brands out there that claim to be raw and probably aren’t. The label says that it’s raw, but it doesn’t specify the temperature at which it was created. That’s why I stick with Madhava’s Raw Organic Agave for light agave (check out the FAQ of theirs for more details). I also use Wholesome Sweeteners Blue Agave when my recipe calls for a darker (or blue) agave nectar. Both companies claim on the label to not process their agave nectar over temps of 115F and 118F.
Update 3/6/09: I’ve recently been sent a sample of another Raw agave nectar. I’ll let you know my feedback, but from what I’ve read… it’s very promising.]
Update 12/9/09: I do like the raw agave from Ultimate Superfoods. Update 3/17/10: I came across this blog where an article is featured “Agave Nectar: Hold on now… Response to Rami Nagel’s article By Craig Gerbore, President of Madhave”
Listen To Your Body
People are different and at different stages of raw (or even just healthy eating, for that matter) – this is important to consider if you have doubts about the health of raw agave nectar. Ask yourself… How does it make you feel? If you have something made with raw agave nectar, do you feel OK? Do you feel icky? Do you feel good and healthy? Many people on the Raw vegan journey find that over time, they eat meals that are simpler (for the most part) and don’t eat as many gourmet foods, where you find raw agave nectar used more. So, over time, you might not consume a lot of raw agave nectar, but to have some occasionally is common.
Honey? Heck No!
As a happy and very proud vegan, honey is not an option, nor is it something that I advocate for other people. Dr. Michael Klapper, M.D., (a vegan doctor and best selling author) advises against using honey for health reasons, because it spikes natural sugar levels of the body. Honey is, basically, regurgitated bee vomit. Gross!
Bees make honey for the colony and pollen for the new queen. They don’t go to all the trouble to give it to me. When a colony is disturbed by someone taking their honey or pollen, it places a great amount of stress on the bees. This can disorient them and, in that sense, their whole order has been tampered with. I wouldn’t dream of stealing from bees. (There is a lot of information here about bees and their honey.)
In my opinion, there is no need to consume honey and harm bees, when you can use delicious and nutritious alternatives such as fresh organic dates to sweeten recipes. You can even make a date paste if you need something of a liquid nature (recipe below).
Stress About It? Double Heck No!
Stress is one of the worst things for us. So, don’t stress about your choice to use, or not use, raw agave nectar. When you do things in moderation, it helps ease your mind. And, if you use agave nectar, get the best on the market (organic and raw) and feel secure with your choice.
Date Paste – Yummy & Healthy! It’s great to keep this on hand in the refrigerator so you have it available and ready to use. It’s easy and should take you less than 10 minutes to prepare. Moreover, I love Medjool dates for my date needs because they’re plump and big (I usually buy them from SunOrganic
For those of you who want to stay away from both raw agave nectar and honey, here is a nutritious alternative that is smooth and delicious.
By Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com
Yield 1 cup
15 Medjool dates, pitted, and soaked 15 minutes (reserve soak water)
1/4 – 1/2 cup reserved “soak water”
Using a blender, or a food processor, fitted with the “S” blade, puree the ingredients until you have a smooth paste. You can add a pinch of Himalayan crystal salt, if desired. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator (glass mason jar is perfect), Date Paste will stay fresh for 10-14 days or longer.