Peanut Butter Cookies (or make them peanut-free!)
(No gluten, dairy, cane sugar or soy – even with options for peanuts)
Children could easily help prepare this simple recipe. Although careful scrutiny is needed with helpers of any age as the raw batter is so yummy.
These cookies are high in protein and fibre, and low in starchy carbs. This dietary package helps regulate blood sugar critical for brain and body fuel. Peanuts are a particularly good source of Magnesium (see website TIPS page); have vitamins E and B, plus iron, selenium, manganese and Zinc (TIPS); and are similar to olives in monounsaturated fat levels. These fats are needed for the protection and flexibility of every one of your 50 trillion cells. They also help lower levels of sticky LDL cholesterol, which in excess can be obstructive to arterial blood flow. Peanuts are high in arginine, an amino acid that is a precursor to nitric oxide, which helps expand blood vessels and can decrease high blood pressure. They have significant levels of phytosterols which can also reduce LDL. Their antioxidant status rivals many berries. Some of these such as p-coumaric acid (linked with lowered free radicals and carcinogens) are considerably enhanced by cooking.
Peanuts are technically not nuts but pod-bearing Legumes (see website RECIPES). However when studied and compared to other nuts their health benefits are similar. The British Journal of Nutrition published a review of four large prospective studies involving tens of thousands of participants. Subjects who consumed nuts at least four times weekly had a 37% reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Each additional serving of nuts per week was associated with an 8.3% reduced risk. For more on tasty ways to keep your heart and arteries happy see HEALTH STORE for my report: The Heart of the Matter.
1 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter*
½ cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract*
1 large free range egg
½ cup raisins
¼ cup rice flour*
1½ tsp powdered ginger (optional)
1 tsp baking soda
In a medium-size bowl use a fork to combine the peanut butter, honey and vanilla. Beat in the egg until well mixed. Stir in the raisins, flour, ginger and baking soda. Mixture will be soft and moist but should hold its shape on a spoon.
Drop mixture in tablespoon amounts onto lightly oiled baking trays. Cookies will spread so space about 4 cm (1½”) apart. Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 10-12 minutes just until golden brown. The cookies will be slightly brown around the edges and soft on top, but firm upon cooling. Cool on tray for 5 minutes before using a metal spatula to remove to a wire rack. When completely cool, store in an airtight container in a cool place.
Shopping and Preparation Tips*
• Peanut Butter: buy a brand that is made solely from peanuts and salt – no sugar, artificial additives, or hydrogenated fat (sometimes called ‘vegetable oil’ on labels; see The Fats of Life – TIPS). Ceres is a good organic brand available in supermarkets. The ideal consistency for this recipe is for the peanut butter to be moist and pliable; not runny or hard.
• Rice flour: the best for baking is from very finely ground (sometimes called ‘zentrofan’) whole rice. The results will not be the same with Asian rice flour which is made from the starch only and looks sticky like cornflour (US: cornstarch). Use very finely milled brown rice flour (there should be no grittiness). Or mix ½ brown rice flour (for increased nutrients) and ½ white rice flour (for increased lightness).
• Replace raisins with chopped prunes, dates or figs.
• Reduce raisins (or other dried fruit) to ¼ cup; add ¼ cup chopped toasted peanuts and ¼ tsp sea salt.
• Experiment with other nut butters as a replacement for peanut. Most supermarkets stock Ceres’ brand almond butter, cashew butter and tahini (sesame butter). Health stores carry hazelnut, sunflower, macadamia, walnut, brazil and others. If the nut butter is too stiff (see first bullet point) try ¾ cup plus ¼ cup mild cold-pressed oil. If the nut butter is too thin try ¾ cup plus ¼ cup finely ground nuts or more rice flour.