A couple years ago, I taught a cook-along class with my local Oregon Oiselle running group, and we made one of the recipe variations of these no-bake cookies as a dessert. A couple weeks later while on a run, one of the attendees mentioned she’d adapted the recipe just slightly to make it even easier to whip together, and she was using it for long run and ultra training fuel.
With the combination of milled oats and ground nuts, coconut oil, and a quickly absorbing sugar source (honey or maple syrup), these will indeed make a good fuel option for longer (slower) runs or cycling rides, where the digestive system can take its time a bit and handle a little more complex carbohydrates and fats as fuel.
And I’m all for taking a recipe and making it your own.
I give a variation to make these sort of like no-bake truffles that are coated in a dark chocolate shell, but realistically, I almost never do that. I don’t tend to be a big chocolate person (I do like chocolate! I just rarely crave it or set out to make chocolate infused foods.) But if that sounds good to you, the chocolate / coconut flavor pairing is generally a good one.
Hope you enjoy – as a dessert, a post-workout quick fuel, afternoon snack, or training fuel – or whatever way works for you!
Coconut Macaroon No-Bake Cookies
Nothing like a traditional macaroon but rich in coconut and almond flavor, these are tasty little bites to have as a quick snack or end of day dessert – or training fuel for longer, lower intensity (easy day) efforts.
Prep: 10-15 minutes | Makes: 6-7
½ cup + 2 Tbs. / 70 grams rolled oats ¼ cup / 28 grams almond flour ¼ cup / 20 grams unsweetened coconut flakes ⅛ tsp. salt 2 Tbs. / 32 grams raw coconut butter ½ Tbs. / 7 grams coconut oil 2 ½ Tbs. / 50 grams maple syrup or honey ¼ tsp. vanilla extract Optional: melted dark chocolate
In a food processor, combine the oats until broken down in a rough flour-like consistency. Then add the remaining ingredients and process until everything comes together.
Scoop out heaping tablespoons of the dough and roll into balls in using your palms until they are firm and won’t fall apart when you pick them up. Put them on a plate or in a storage container.
Store in the fridge for up to 1 week. They will last longer, but won’t taste as fresh. Allow them to come to room temperature before enjoying.
Note: if you’d like a slightly more decadent dessert, melt a small amount of chocolate in a double boiler and dip each cookie into the chocolate. Set in the fridge to firm up.
I have a weekly ritual of taking a walk around our neighborhood on Mondays, a day that’s typically reserved for no other activity – my rest day from running. The walks serve many purposes because I find it super helpful to do some form of easy, short activity to help me recover better from the previous week’s training load. And the slow walk is a break from work, a time to slow down and notice in more detail the subtle seasonal shifts that are continuously happening all around us. Plus, some of my neighbors tend to put up humorous and light hearted seasonal décor, or I’ll stop and have a little chat with a couple neighbors if they’re out and about. It’s always a win win.
But I also sometimes dread those Monday walks. It’s frequently cold. It’s frequently rainy. It’s frequently windy. And sometimes I love them and the sun shines, like yesterday.
When I can, I enjoy the walks even more when I can convince William to go with me. He often works from home on Mondays and the walk together becomes an especially nice work break.
Yesterday, I was reflecting on how many more flowers have arrived in just a handful of days here locally. The crocuses, the daffodils, the red flowering currant outside our dining room window, and now the first starts of tree blooms. After a long, cold and continuously snowy winter, we all need the bright bursts of coming flowers.
When it comes to eating, this time of year can feel like a chore for many of us too. Your digestion might have slowed down, where everything feels heavy and meals just sit there in your GI. There’s a lot of dampness in the air and that, combined with heavy winter meals can lead to a lot of congestion, mucus, and that heaviness and sluggishness – maybe even an energy crash – after eating. Or maybe you just have no appetite and everything sounds meh.
The first flowers can tell us, it’s time to shift with the season, towards more bitter foods – the brassicas, spring greens, onions and garlic, fresh ginger, black pepper, a pinch of chili flakes to get things moving, and generally more vegetables.
If you’d like inspiration that’s not too green and herbaceous, try out this seasonal pasta. As written, it will need a good quality protein to round out your meal – I’d choose a nice grilled white fish – but you can also make it completely plant-based by adding chickpeas or a chickpea/lentil-based noodle. Chickpeas are also one of the most drying beans – which can make them excellent this time of year for many people. I hope you enjoy – and happy spring!
Creamy Cauliflower and Fennel Fettuccine
Prep: 15 minutes | Cook: 20-30 minutes | Serves:4
2 Tbs. olive oil, divided ¼ cup breadcrumbs (gluten-free as needed) Optional: ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes ¼ cup parsley, minced ½ tsp. mineral salt pinch of black pepper 1 tsp. fennel seeds ½ a large onion, thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 small head cauliflower, chopped 1 bulb fennel, cored and chopped ¼ cup raw cashews, chopped 1 ½ cups water, divided 8 oz. brown rice fettuccine noodles
Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tsp. of the olive oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and the breadcrumbs. Stir constantly until breadcrumbs are golden.
Transfer the breadcrumb mixture to a bowl and stir in the parsley. Set aside.
Add 2 tsp. of olive oil to the same skillet and heat over medium heat. Add salt, pepper, and fennel seeds and heat until the aroma from the seeds comes up. Then stir in the onion and cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
When the onion and garlic are soft, remove half of the mixture to a bowl and set it aside.
In the skillet, add the cauliflower and 1/2 cup of water to the remaining onion and garlic mixture. Cook, covered, for about 5 minutes, until the cauliflower is soft.
When the cauliflower is cooked, transfer the mixture to a blender. Add the cashews, 1/4 cup water, pinch of red pepper flakes, and the remaining olive oil. Blend until smooth and creamy. Then set aside.
Put the onion and garlic that was set aside back in the skillet, along with the chopped fennel. Over medium heat, sear the fennel for 2-3 minutes on each side. Then add the remaining 3/4 cup of water, stir, cover, and cook until tender and soft, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain pasta but reserve about 1/4 cup of pasta water.
Add the pasta back to the pot along with a couple tablespoons of pasta water. Toss to coat, then add in cauliflower puree, along with the braised fennel mixture. Stir to mix.
Divide the pasta into bowls and top with the breadcrumb mixture and a pinch of minced fennel fronds if you have them.
Serve with a healthy protein, such as grilled fish, or swap the brown rice fettuccine for a lentil/chickpea based pasta to make this a balanced meal.
When it comes to eating and ingredient choices, eating in tune with the seasons can go a long way towards creating an internal environment that leads to lasting health.
You know you don’t choose the same foods on a hot, sticky summer day as you do in the middle of winter. But what about a blustery spring day when the options at the farmers market (or grocery store) can be a little lackluster?
Below are a few tips for transitioning your eating into spring, as well as a deeper look at the why behind them.
Tips for Eating in the Spring
Avoid congestive foods – these are generally foods that are heavy, cold, and wet. This includes refined grains and sugar, dairy (especially cold, sweetened dairy products, like ice cream, and fruit-sweetened yogurt), processed / pre-packaged meals and takeout, high fat foods, excessively salty foods (miso, soy sauce, restaurant meals), wheat products – a heavier grain that is inflammatory when digestion is compromised.
Add in more dark leafy greens! What grows in spring? GREENS! Early spring greens tend to be bitter, pungent and cleansing. They’re perfectly designed to balance us after a winter of heartier fare.
Sip on warm beverages rather than cold water and drinks. For many individuals with compromised digestion, this tip will always be true, but spring is a time of year when this is true for everyone.
Sip on dandelion and/or burdock tea. These are bitter, detoxifying roots, and are nearly always included in any herbal “detox” formula. They support healthy liver function and help the body get rid of unwanted waste products and excess moisture.
Try to eat three meals each day with little snacking. Or if you’re quite active, four balanced meals with no snacking in between. Giving the digestive system time to rest by about 3.5-6 hours after each meal really supports its ability to fully digest the last meal before the body has to begin digestion again.
Get Moving! Getting your heart rate and circulation up and breaking a sweat regularly is an excellent way to promote optimal detoxification – of environmental toxins and pollens, of hormones, of inflammatory substances from foods. Moving promotes lymph flow, which when stagnated leads to congestion, mucous, retaining water, and sluggish digestion. If you’re already active, and perhaps training for a spring race, make sure you balance some of that heavier training with slower movement, and gentle yoga or daily self-massage that can gently move out some of the extra inflammation that can accumulate during this season.
Up your spices! In the springtime, spices help the body to warm up and remove mucus. They also promote optimal digestion, and help to digest more difficult foods such as beans and legumes.
The Why: Energetics of Early Spring
First, look at the energetics of the season, or the energetics of the weather outside today. Energetics means the quality that is present in the environment, your body, or the ingredient, and the effect it has. The most basic energetics to work with are hot, cold, (and thus heating or cooling), and wet, dry (and thus (moistening/dampening, or drying).
In most places in the northern hemisphere, late winter and early spring tends to be cool or cold, and wet or damp. When we’re using a food as medicine approach, we do so by eating in a way that has the opposite quality of the body or of the seasonal environment that we’re a part of – eating in this opposite approach then provides balance for the body to be at, or return to equilibrium, where health occurs.
So in the cool, damp weeks of early spring, we want to eat meals that are warm and perhaps slightly drying in nature. One of the easiest ways to work with this component is by eating all meals cooked, and adding in more spices as we’re preparing foods. In terms of spices, nearly every common cooking spice will be drying in effect. Many of them will also be warming, and some will be more warming, or just plain hot, than others –like garlic, chilies, onion, and ginger.
Energetics of Your Body
Now take a look at what’s going on in your body. Do you tend towards having symptoms of spring allergies, mucus, a wet phlegmy cough, swelling of the lower legs, retaining water, lack of appetite, or sluggish digestion where you eat and feel full for hours, like food is heavy and just sitting in your belly? This means you can use more warm and drying foods and spices!
Key spices to incorporate into meals in late winter and early spring season include black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, horseradish, cayenne and chili in small amounts, garlic in small amounts, fenugreek, mustard seed, cumin, turmeric, ajwain, rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano.
Putting Them Together: Cook with Three Spices
One of the best ways to start spicing your foods without it becoming an overwhelming task is to choose three spices to use in each meal. For breakfast, if you’re having something warm and porridge-like, such as oatmeal, incorporating a trio of spices in the total amount of ¼ – ⅜ teaspoon is just about right.
A couple combinations to start with include: ⅛ teaspoon each of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg ⅛ teaspoon each of ginger, anise seed, and cardamom ⅛ teaspoon each of ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon
In midday and evening meals, we can slightly increase the total amount of spices to about ½ – ¾ teaspoon total per person.
Some Spring Spice Combinations include (amounts per serving): ¼ fresh garlic clove, ¼ teaspoon each of rosemary, and oregano ¼ teaspoon each of cumin, mustard seed, turmeric ¼ teaspoon each of fenugreek, sage, and rosemary ¼ teaspoon each of fresh ginger, turmeric, and a pinch of black pepper
If you’re using other people’s recipes to cook with, adjust the spicing according to what you’ve learned above, particularly about your body. Most modern recipes over-rely on heating spices and condiments.
An example is a recipe with several cloves of garlic, chilies, several tablespoons of fresh ginger, tamari, soy sauce, or miso, all in one. This is a recipe that’s probably going to burn us up internally, even if you and the season is running cold! You can tame the recipe and spice level by slowly reducing the amounts of each spice, or switching an ingredient out for one that has a milder effect of the same quality, such as using a pinch of black pepper instead of a ½ teaspoon of cayenne, or using 1-2 teaspoons of finely grated fresh ginger in a recipe that calls for 3-inches of the fresh root.
Signs of Balance and Imbalance
Ultimately, the goal is to feel good in your body and mind in each season.
During this time of year, signs of balance include slowing down more than other times of year to rest more, having steady energy throughout the daylight hours, maintaining a healthy immune system and response, and eating to nourish yourself with no signs of impaired digestion.
Signs of imbalance include over committing, feeling depleted throughout the day, stagnation (mentally or physically), depression, mucus in the respiratory system, overeating (especially high sugar, extremely rich, or cold foods), and having heavy, sluggish digestion with reduced or no appetite.