“I’ve decided to call these Super Manly Spring Training Cookies, because when I called them Pregnancy Cookies, Scott wouldn’t eat them” said my currently pregnant friend Rita. She had stumbled upon a recipe for “pregnancy cookies” while searching for something else and decided to make them for a Spring-themed potluck with her husband Damon’s cousins. Scott, one of the cousins, apparently was fearful that eating a cookie would make him pregnant, so chose not to partake of one.
Once Rita showed me the original recipe, I immediately started to think of how I could make them better. Sure the original recipe did a good job of packing in nutrients for a preggers woman (a phrase Rita loathes, much preferring the more established “knocked up” euphemism) using blackstrap molasses to add iron, dried apricots for fiber and vitamin A and sunflower seeds for folic acid, thiamin and vitamin B6. But why stick with just plain all purpose flour? Why not use whole wheat for an added folate, Vitamin B1, B3, B5 and fiber boost? And swapping out the white sugar for coconut palm sugar seemed like a good ideas as it is supposed to have a lower glycemic index (though that’s debatable) as well as more nutrients. Of course the earthy caramel flavor of coconut palm sugar plays really well with the molasses and the candied crystallized ginger I threw in there to help fight nausea. Yep, I was on a mission to make a better, more improved healthy cookie for pregnant or fitness folks all the way around.
In the end, I rejiggered the recipe a few times, all the while trying to make sure the cookie actually tasted good. Sure I could pack it with even more crazy ingredients to give it even more nutrients, but they already bordered on “energy bar” and not “cookie” in flavor. Rita says she now craves the pregnancy cookies more than chocolate chip cookies and that’s saying a lot as she has been known to make triple and quadruple batches of chocolate chip cookies just to find the exact variation that she prefers. AJ took one bite of these new healthy cookies and proclaimed that he would TOTALLY eat the pregnancy cookies…especially while on training rides for the AIDS Lifecycle. So I guess they are Super Manly Spring Training Cookies. Or maybe AJ just isn’t too worried about getting pregnant.
Pregnancy Cookies, otherwise known as Super Manly Spring Training Cookies
By Irvin Lin
The list of specialty ingredients that I use is fairly long in this recipe but I picked them because they added both flavor and nutrition to the cookie; nutrition that is good for both someone who is pregnant and for someone who is training for a long distance ride or race. Most of the specialty ingredients can be found at an upscale supermarket like Whole Foods, a specialty store like Trader Joe’s or a health food store. If you can’t find them or don’t want to spend the money on them (specialty ingredients can really add up) I’ve also listed a number of more common ingredient substitutions at the end of the recipe along with the reason as to why I included them in the recipe.
Radically adapted from Hello Bee
1/4 cup (50 g) candied crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
1/2 cup (70 g) dried apricots
1/2 cup (80 g) dried cherries
1 cup (155 g) white whole wheat flour
1 cup (150 g) teff flour
2 cups (220 g) multigrain whole rolled cereal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup (165 g) coconut oil
3/4 cup (130 g) granulated coconut palm sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup (100 g) blackstrap molasses
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup (125 g) applesauce
1 cup (130 g) toasted raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup (85 g) golden raisins
2 tablespoons (25 g) chia seeds
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Chop the crystallized ginger into 1/4 inch chunks and place in a bowl. Sprinkle white sugar over ginger, and toss so the ginger pieces don’t stick together. Chop the apricots to 1/2 inch chunks. Chop dried cherries (if bigger than the raisins) into 1/2 inch chunks. Set aside.
2. Place the wheat flour, teff flour, multigrain cereal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. With a balloon whisk, vigorously stir the dry ingredients together until they are evenly distributed and uniform in color and texture. Set aside.
3. Place the coconut oil, palm sugar, cinnamon and ginger in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). Turn the mixer to low at first, until the dry ingredients start to incorporate into the oil. Increase the speed to medium and continue to beat the mixture until it is creamy, uniform in color and you can’t see any chunks of white coconut oil. This can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 or 4 minutes depending on how cold your coconut oil. Once blended, add the vanilla extract and beat for 15 seconds on medium speed. Add the molasses and beat to incorporate. Add the eggs, one at a time and then the egg yolk, beating between additions until incorporated. Add the applesauce and beat to incorporate. You might need to scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions. If the batter looks broken, don’t worry it’ll come together when you add the dry ingredients.
4. Add the flour mixture to the batter, and beat to incorporate. The batter will seem a bit wet. Add the ginger, apricots, cherries, sunflower seeds, raisins and chia seeds. Mix to incorporate. Spoon heaping tablespoons of cookie dough onto lined baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven, for 9-11 minutes, or until the top of the cookies start to look dry. Don’t overbake. Let cool on the sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Makes 60 cookies.
Candied crystallized ginger can be found in health stores and specialty stores but increasingly you can find it in your regular grocery store. Just look in the produce section where there are nuts and dried fruit, or in the bulk food section.
White whole wheat flour is an albino wheat variety that has all the nutritional value of whole wheat but isn’t as heavy or bitter. Most grocery stores carry it, but you can substitute the same amount of regular whole wheat or all purpose if you can’t find it.
Teff flour is a gluten free whole grain that is most often used in Ethiopian food (the sour bread called injera is made from teff). It is loaded with calcium, iron, thiamin and fiber. The iron in teff is easily absorbed into the body making it ideal for pregnant women. You can find it in ethnic stores, health food stores and upscale grocery stores. If you can’t find it, you can replace it with another whole grain flour like millet, quinoa or oat flour (take 1 1/4 cups of rolled oats and stick it in a food processor. Process until powder). You can even just substitute whole wheat or all-purpose if you want.
Multigrain whole rolled cereal can be found in most grocery stores near the oatmeal or the natural food section, as well as upscale grocery stores and health food stores. If you can’t find it, replace it with the same amount of regular rolled oats (avoid quick cooked, which are cut too thin).
Coconut oil tends to be rather controversial, as some people view it as a healthy alternative to butter and other saturated fats, while others still view it as unhealthy. I tend to fall on the healthier side of the debate, but mostly I just find that it adds a nice undertone of vanilla and tropical flavors to my baked goods. Just make sure to buy virgin unrefined coconut oil. The refined stuff goes through a bleaching and deodorizing process that strips it of flavor and nutrients. If you are wary of it though, feel free to substitute butter for the coconut oil.
Coconut palm sugar supposedly has a lower glycemic index which means it is less likely to give you blood sugar spikes. It also is less processed than white sugar and has a number of nutrients like potassium, zinc, iron and the Vitamin Bs. It also lends a great earthy caramel flavor to baked goods. That said, it’s still sugar so don’t be eating it by the spoonful. You can find coconut palm sugar at specialty stores, health stores and upscale grocery stores. It’s expensive though, and if you don’t want to splurge on it you can substitute dark brown sugar in its place.
Blackstrap molasses is a dark molasses that is made from the processing of sugar cane into white granulated sugar. It has a strong bitter flavor but is full of vitamin B6 and minerals like iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. If you can’t find blackstrap molasses just substitute “robust” or “full” flavored molasses, but keep in mind you will be losing the nutrients that the blackstrap has.
Chia seeds seem to be trending as the hot new superfood, packed with omega 3s and 6s fatty acids as well as fiber, protein and more. You can find them in health food stores, upscale grocery stores or specialty stores. If you can’t find them or don’t want to spend the money (they can be expensive) you can omit them or substitute ground flax meal in its place. Keep in mind though, that the flax meal will impart a “healthier” flax flavor to the cookies, while the chia seeds tend to be relatively neutral in flavor.