Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More cookies and what I'm having for supper tonight

It is a warm day-don't know why I am baking and cooking so much today.

Since it is so warm, I am compelled to share the latest opinions and research-yes research about drinking water. We have all been told by our mothers, our favourite magazines and possibly even some medical and health gurus that we should be drinking at least 8 8oz glasses of water a day to keep hydrated. This is one great exaggeration if not a down right myth and it will take ages to dispel it for the general public since so many people have so much to gain by its propagation. The idea of being dehydrated already by the time you feel thirst is actually inaccurate. Sure, the thirst is genuine, but does it make sense that our bodies would have evolved so inefficiently as to give a warning signal so late? It seems more likely that thirst is a warning to drink something so as to maintain hydration. Still, the companies selling water and even those selling the more ec0-friendly and human friendly aluminum or steel water bottles all have something to gain by convincing us that we should carry water around with us all day and so do the magazines who rely on these advertisers for financial reasons. Even medical experts support this idea, it has become so entrenched in western culture. Being a medical expert does not mean they are correct, since there are too many issues to be an expert in all of them and most doctors would probably prefer their patients to aim for more water rather than less just to err on the side of caution. Your GP likely doesn't have time to go into a detailed discussion on this topic with you. She is therefore more likely to say, drink plenty of water especially when you are active or in hot weather. Not bad advice, just not detailed enough to keep you from buying into the idea that you must carry around a water bottle every where you go. There is also the little mentioned fact that our bodies are able to extract water from foods and other liquids that we drink just as they can extract nutrients, sugars and fats. Of course drinking juices, sports beverages and other non-water liquids provide what may be unwanted calories.

That reminds me of another myth: the tea and coffee doesn't count as water myth. It is fine to get some of your water from tea and coffee. Although they are diuretics for people who rarely drink them, the body apparently becomes quickly accustomed and no significant water loss occurs for regular drinkers. Clear tea is a totally appropriate substitute for water, otherwise there are the calories of the cream and sugar to take into account. In case you think I'm just spouting my own opinions (which of course I love to do) I found information on this subject at these websites listed below. These are not links.

Okay-onto the food.

My son wanted chocolate chip cookies today, and of course I often make the recipe I osted earlier which is a classic chocolate chip cookie. Today I added more nutrition and there have been no complaints. I think that for him, chocolate chips are the key. This cookie recipe would be a very suitable oatmeal raisin or add coconut and call them Ranger cookies. I have a son who is difficult to get nutritional variety into so I use chocolate chips whenever possible. I don't have a trick yet for getting him to eat spaghetti sauce and I doubt that chocolate chips would help in that case.

Healthy but Still Delicious Cookies
Combine the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well.

1/2 cup organic canola oil plus 1 tbsp soy lecithin *
(or 1 cup canola oil)
2 cups organic brown sugar
1/4 cup organic blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup non-dairy milk


2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1 heaping Tbsp ground flax seed
2 cups oatmeal ground in a food processor
1 cup chopped walnuts ( I ground mine to a finer texture because my son would object if he could see them)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup fair trade chocolate chips**

The dough will be somewhat stiff and sticky. If it seems too dry, drizzle small amounts of water or non-dairy milk in as you stir. I like to roll cookies into a ball and flatten them on the cookie sheet, but this is quite a sticky dough if the lecithan is used so you may want to drop dough with a soon. Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes. The cookies will seem very soft when you remove them from the oven. Let them sit on the cookie sheet for a few minutes to set before you remove them with a spatula to a cooling rack. I made approximately 48 cookies with this recipe.

* Lecithin is something I'm just beginning to experiment with. It is made from soy and although it is not a low calorie ingredient, it is highly emolllient and can replace some of the oil. It is considered to be highly nutritious and my research shows no negative aspects. If you are reluctant to use it I have included the regular amount of canola oil for this recipe.

**Fair Trade coca/chocolate and coffee are a priority for me although they are more expensive. I cannot justify saving money at the expense of people living in poverty because of unfair labour practices and am especially concerned about the abusive use of child labour by cocoa farms in western Africa.

Supper Tonight

I have almost got everything pre-cooked in order to have a cool summertime meal and to reduce time spent over the stove on a hot day. It is useful to have beans and grains cooked ahead of time, but I would normally want greens-kale being my favourite and the most nutritious-sauteed with mushrooms and garlic, sprinkled with lemon juice. I haven't got kale and don't want to stand over the stove, so I'm going to steam some broccoli* until it is tender-crisp kind of an oxymoron) and let it cool.

Yummy and Delicious Beans-use two kinds of beans such as garbanzo and small red, kidney or black beans. You can use canned ones drained and well rinsed, or soak and cook dried beans.** Cool the beans to room temperature or store in the fridge and use cold later on. Toss the beans with a Tbsp of flax oil and some mustard to taste. I could eat this every day-simple but yummy.

When the broccoli is steamed for a couple of minutes or until it s that oxymoronic tender-crisp and bright green, dump it into a colander and rinse it with cool water to stop the cooking process and cool it down.

To save on dishes, rinse the cooking pot with cool water and put the broccoli back in. (Not on the stove!) combine 1 tbsp flax oil***, 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp nutritional yeast. Add salt to taste. Toss this dressing with the broccoli.

Since I am doing an all cold meal I will use my pre-cooked quinoa**** and put about 1 cup on my plate. Then I pile on the beans and top with the broccoli. You could sprinkle sunflower seeds on top or spice up the dressings to your liking.

* Steamed Broccoli
I am not a huge fan of raw vegetables so I usually steam them. You could use raw broccoli in this meal if you prefer it. Like the water myths about which I ranted today, people have been convinced that cooking vegetables is not good for you (I'm not even talking about raw foodists) and that vegetables are best eaten raw. Science shows that although cooking destroys some nutrients it is not significant. These studies are often done with boiled vegetables too, so lightly steamed would show even less vitamin loss. If the vegetables are boiled in a liquid that is to be kept, such as a soup or a stew, the nutrients remain in the liquid. The enzymes which are killed by heat, a fact which alarms the raw foodists, are not significant to our nutrition anyway, according to this interesting website: and so it does not matter if our vegetables are "alive" or "dead".

** Basic Bean Cooking
It is always recommended that you sort and rinse beans because theoretically there could be little stones mixed in. I have never experienced this, but I do a quick inspection and them rinse them in a colander under cool tap water, swishing them around with my hands. The beans should then be soaked in two to three times the quantity of water before cooking and there are a couple of options for this. They can be soaked overnight and cooked the next morning, soaked while you are at work or out for the day, but the general guideline is 8 hours of soaking. If you have not planned in advance, put the rinsed beans in a pot of water and bring the water to a boil on the stove. Remove the pot once the water is boiling and set it aside to sit for an hour or two. The best method of reducing/eliminating the gas caused by beans (the musical fruit) is to rinse away the soaking water before cooking. Once the soaking time is over and the beans have been rinsed again, cook them in fresh water (about twice as much water as beans) for an hour. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer for an hour.

*** Flax Oil
Flax oil is fat. so the first thing to remember is that although it is a healthy fat, it still has calories. I like to use it because they are not empty calories. Flax is a good source of vitamin E, omega 6 and especially omega 3 and has a nice light flavour. It is snot suitable for cooking or baking so I use it in dressings for vegetables or making spreads such as hummus.

****quinoa (pronounced keenwah) is a little round ancient grain which is by itself an excellent source of complete protein.It is also a source of fibre like all whole grains. It is cooked in the same way you cook rice. Rinsing it first is recommended, because it supposedly gets rid of a bitter outer residue. I have never noticed this. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add 1 cup of quinoa. Reduce the heat and let it simmer about 20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. Go ahead and peek, it will not ruin anything. This will make enough to serve four or five people. Quinoa can be used any way that rice can-salads, puddings, pilaf-and can be combined with rice to make a lovely mixed grain dish.

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