Wednesday, June 12, 2013

SUPER Vanilla Bean Chocolate-Chippers and the wonders of vanilla beans and maca root!


SUPER CHOCOLATE CHIPPER COOKIES! 

Sounds like a dream, but it's true! These mini-cookies are so delicious and loaded with some of my favorite superfood ingredients. These superfoods provide essential vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, protein and energy

Most desserts provide a quick sugar-fix followed by an inevitable crash. But these tiny cookies pack a serious punch. They will wake up your body and senses with no crash on the horizon. Why? They are vegan, gluten-free, well balanced, mostly fruit-sweetened, full of healthy EFAs (essential fatty acids), high fiber (so they digest more gradually), and feature a little mood and energy boosting secret ingredient called Maca powder

Never heard of Maca
Say "Buenos Dias" to Peruvian maca root and maca powder.
Maca is a Peruvian superfood. It is a root vegetable (similar in appearance to beets) that is sold in North America and abroad as a dehydrated food powder and also as a supplement. It comes in 3 varieties: white, red and black. White/cream maca is the most commonly grown and sold variety of maca and is what I use in today's recipe (and most of my recipes when I use maca). It is also the most affordable and easy to find variety of maca. If you have no idea where to purchase maca powder and would like to try it out you can purchase it online from several retailers. The type you should look for is "raw gelatinized white/cream maca powder". 

Maca powder is a great addition to sweet and savory dishes and a little goes a long way. Maca has an aroma and flavor that not everyone loves but can taste fantastic when mixed with certain complimentary flavors. The taste is earthy and nutty and similar to caramel or malt. It works well with chocolate and certain fruits (mango, pear, berries, dates to name a few) but also works very well in a savory context (it is a vegetable after all!). White maca is more bitter than red and black so if you don't think it's for you, you may want to give another variety a try. Why? Because maca is amazingly good for you! 

Maca delivers a wide array of health benefits. It provides a boost of energy and stamina but without the jitteriness of caffeine. It also enhances mental clarity and focus.
It can even help you build bone and muscle mass and give you a jolt of energy to fuel a workout. 

Maca helps to regulate both male and female hormone systems. If you have a homone imbalance, maca may be able to bring your body into balance naturally. It can also ease PMS symptoms and even menopause symptoms. It can also help clear your skin if you have hormone-enduced acne. If you're trying for a baby, maca can also enhance female fertility and male virility and even increase sperm count! Some studies have even linked it to better prostate health. Maca doesn't just regulate your hormones though, it boosts them. It can enhance your sexual drive and perhaps even your sexual satisfaction.


Wouldn't you eat a delicious tiny cookie 
for overall health and better sex? 



Certain types of maca are better for men and for women.  Black maca is a better variety for male sexual and prostate health while Red maca is more beneficial for women. White maca is beneficial for both men and women and since it's price and availability is right for my budget, it is what I use most of the time.

CAUTION: I do NOT consume maca straight or simply mixed with water. It tastes pretty bad by itself. But add it to a chocolate flavored smoothie, a vegetable juice or even your next fruit smoothie and you'll barely notice that it's there. 

Perhaps the best part about maca is how little you need to consume to reap it's many rewards. When I add just a teaspoon to a drink or a juice it makes me feel both at peace and full of focused energy for hours. Studies indicate that the best way to consume maca is raw but you will still benefit nutritionally from its addition to baked and cooked foods. 


These tiny cookies are the perfect way to try maca powder for the first time. They are easy to make and quick to bake. Chocolate chips aside, these cookies are so healthy you could eat them for a snack any day of the week or even for breakfast! To make these cookies totally fruit-sweetened, swap the chocolate chips for stevia-sweetened cacao nibs




These cookies use a lot of vanilla bean powder. It gives them a distinct and delicious smell and flavor. This is a new ingredient I discovered recently and already absolutely adore. It is simply the freeze dried seeds of vanilla beans and packs a gluten-free whollop of vanilla flavor in every teaspoon. 

Vanilla Bean Powder looks like coffee grinds 
and smells like heaven. 

Did you know that the vanilla bean is a superfood too? It is full of antioxidants, B vitamins and has some interesting healing abilities. These sweet smelling beans are aphrodisiacs, anti-inflammatory and anti-infective and have been shown to ease symptoms of depression! Vanilla bean seeds and maca powder are just two of the awesomely healthy and delicious superfoods in these little cookies that transform them from ordinary to SUPER!

  
I started using vanilla bean powder because I've been reading a lot online about some vanilla extract brands causing a gluten-related reaction in celiacs and gluten-intolerant people. When I found this powder at my local healthfood store it seemed like a great idea. If you can't try it yourself, just substitute a teaspoon of vanilla extract for every teaspoon of powder that my recipe calls for. But I highly recommend trying the powder if you can! It's flavor is wonderful and the aroma reminds me of oreo cookies and ice cream sandwiches.

I hope that you enjoy these delicious little cookies. They taste fantastic hot from the oven and fully cooled on the stove. They're a great way to sneak some superfoods into your day!

       

SUPER Vanilla Bean Chocolate-Chippers
Makes 20-25 tiny chocolate chip cookies 
(gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, nut-free, healthy)
Part I:
  • 1 large frozen banana
  • 6 heaping tsps pear sauce (unsweetened) (Can't find this ingredient? Use unsweetened applesauce instead!)
  • 6 small dates
  • dash coarse sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp brown rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 370F. In a food processor, blend Part I ingredients together until smooth.stopping often to scrape down sides.

Part II:
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean powder (or 2-3 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1 large frozen banana
  • 1 heaping tsp maca powder (or 2 tsps if you want to use more of this amazing superfood)
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1.5 tsp soy-free vegenaise
  • 0.5 tsp cocoa powder

Add all Part II ingredients and blend to incorporate.

Part III:
  • 1 and 2/3 cups quinoa flakes
Add the quinoa flakes and blend until incorporated.

Part IV:
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (I use enjoy life)
    OR 1/2 cup sweetened cacao nibs
Add the chocolate chips and pulse to incorporate. Form cookies with a teaspoon. Each should be one heaping teaspoon. Drop the spoonful of batter onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until golden and firm, about 12-15 minutes.