As a passionate home chef, I can’t imagine cooking without a full array of herbs and spices. And as an herbalist, I can’t imagine creating a health protocol without the use of herbs and spices. Fortunately, culinary and medicinal herbs are often one and the same. As Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
As an herbalist, nutritionist, jazz musician, and chef, I find that food preparation and cooking is similar to combining herbs for medicine or composing music. Home cooking is a creative endeavor, and the reward is a delicious and healthy meal that can be savored with family and friends.
People love the idea of ‘super foods,’ and I’m commonly asked my thoughts about everything from goji berries to blue-green algae. Some super foods, like chia seeds and coconut oil, are foods that I recommend. Others, like blue-green algae—sourced from a lake polluted by agricultural runoff—are supplements that I obviously do not advise taking.
But even the super foods I like
and recommend don’t compare to the humble potato. The humble potato is nutrient
dense, and not only is it good for you, it’s good for the health of the planet.
Potatoes have gotten a bad rap, with many people thinking that they’re fattening and devoid of nutritional value. But potatoes have a long history of nourishing humankind. In Ireland, people based their diets on nutrient rich potatoes for hundreds of years.
Baking cookies and sharing them with friends is part of our family’s holiday tradition. This year, I created a new recipe that I’d like to share with you. It’s a delicious holiday treat (made with spelt, walnuts, and other healthy ingredients) that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as we do!
4 oz butter (1 stick butter)
2 oz coconut oil
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1 cup oat flour
1 cup sprouted spelt flour *
½ cup Pamela’s baking mix
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts*
1 cup shredded coconut, toasted on stove for 2 minutes, stirring frequently
Sugar and spice topping:
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cardamom
2 tsp. maple sugar
1 tsp. coconut milk powder
Soften butter and mix with coconut oil and vanilla. Beat in maple syrup and coconut sugar.
Sift oat flour, spelt flour, baking mix, and sea salt and add to wet ingredients.
Fold in chopped walnuts and coconut.
Shape into crescents and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before baking.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F convection.
Bake cookies for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from oven, place on rack to cool, and using a sifter, dust cookies with the sugar and spice mixture.
The tradition of baking and sharing holiday cookies is one that my family enjoys. Of course, I like to make our treats as healthy as possible. I have special memories of the delicious cookies that my mother made at Christmas, and I’ve updated her recipe, making it with healthy ingredients. It’s our favorite holiday cookie recipe, and I’d like to share it with you.
2 cups ground pecans: I use a wooden rolling pin to crush the pecans
2 cups flour: I use a combination of 1 cup organic oat flour (freshly ground from organic whole oat groats), ½ cup coconut flour, and ½ cup sprouted spelt flour. (If you prefer a less crumbly cookie, substitute kamut flour for the oat flour.)
I rarely question any food that much of the world has been using for thousands of years. Eventually, science confirms the health benefits of foods and medicines of traditional cultures, and I believe that holds true for coconut. However, a food that is used liberally in one culture does not necessarily mean that the health benefits transfer to other cultures—we must take into consideration climate, other dietary factors, genetics, and lifestyle.
Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) grows near the equator, and is a staple for people who live in areas that are hot and sunny all year round. All parts of the coconut tree are used in the daily life of people in traditional coconut growing areas, and the coconut itself (which is actually a fruit, nut, and seed) is especially valued for its nutritional and medicinal benefits. Coconuts offer coconut water, coconut flesh, coconut milk, and coconut oil produced from the kernel. The shell, husk, and leaves are also used for creating a variety of household and decorative items. Continue reading “Myths and Truths About Coconut: And Two Delicious Recipes”