[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s a child, I was always wanting to create; art, music, structures, food, I could never decide. I ignored my passion for food because I was convinced that it was something that everyone did; In a way, I was right, and perhaps this was even more reason for why I should not have ignored the passion I felt. The connections made through the creating and sharing of real food blows me away every single day; there is so much to learn and the possibilities are truly endless. Unfortunately, like many kids growing up, I never considered where my food came from. The food culture where I am from is bleak, (though it has grown exponentially since I was young) because of this, I passed things like boxed mashed potatoes, Alphagetti and hamburger helper as legitimate meals.
Much has changed since then and I cannot pinpoint exactly where the turning point was. I have been vegetarian since I was 16, but early last year I became vegan for about 6 months; this restricted diet has had a huge impact on the way I think about food and where I get my nutrients. Though I do not recommend this diet for everyone, I wish that others can have the same eye-opening experience that I did. So many amazing foods out there go completely unnoticed, especially by us here in the West; things like lentils, millet, and whole grain flours like spelt, they are so wonderfully nutritious and are delicious to boot.
To me, real food means food that fuels your body and your soul, and ultimately that brings a smile to your face.I have come to learn that defining eating habits in a single word is about as silly as defining your personality in a single word. I truly believe that eating all real food in moderation and listening to your body is the key to healthful eating. To me, real food means food that fuels your body and your soul, and ultimately that brings a smile to your face. Avoiding premade and preserved food is something that has changed my life for the better. Slow Food is a movement started by Carlo Petrini that began in 1986 and focuses on locally sourced ingredients and centuries-old methods of food production, and is a lifestyle by which I am constantly striving to live.
Baking is not something that is generally thought of as being healthful, and while I do not claim that my baked goods are 100% healthy, I am always trying to refine classic recipes. My baking style focuses on creating a wonderful product while reducing excess fat and sugar use, which helps to make the recipes more healthy and affordable. In addition, I try to use alternative fats and sweeteners (i.e. coconut oil and honey), both for different taste profiles as well as benefiting from the unique nutrition profiles.
These chocolate chip cookies were inspired by the nostalgia that many people experience when eating a good chocolate chip cookie. Whenever possible, I like to use a blend of whole grain and all-purpose flour, which I believe adds extra flavor while also boosting healthfulness of the finished product; my preferred blend is unbleached all-purpose flour and spelt flour. Unlike whole wheat flour, spelt flour is very light and thus wonderful for cake recipes as well. Instead of staying true to the classics by using milk chocolate, I opted for an extra dark 90% – however, you can substitute whatever percentage you prefer, though I would not recommend any lower than 75%. Cookies rely on a high fat percentage in the recipe, so I decided to use unrefined coconut oil, which satisfies optimal texture while also creating a subtle coconut flavour in the background. Overall, these cookies will satisfy your cravings, and you can feel pretty great about eating them as well!
- ¾ cup unrefined coconut oil, at room temperature
- ⅓ cup organic cane sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (I use a homemade bourbon variety)
- 1⅔ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup spelt flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp vanilla bean powder (can substitute additional 2 tsp extract)
- ½ tsp vanilla sea salt (can substitute regular sea/kosher salt)
- Pinch nutmeg
- Fold in: ⅔ cup chopped 90% dark chocolate
- Preheat oven to 370 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream coconut oil and sugars until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time until homogenous. Mix in vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, mix together flours, baking soda, vanilla bean powder (if using), salt and nutmeg. Sift into wet ingredients and mix until only a few dry spots remain. Fold in dark chocolate and gently mix until thoroughly combined.
- Place dough in refrigerator and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes to re-chill and allow the flour to saturate.
- Shape cookies using about two tablespoons of dough, about the size of a golf ball – there should be nearly two dozen cookies at this size. Once you have shaped your balls of dough, flatten with your palm to about one inch thick. These cookies do not spread much during cooking, so this step will help them along.
- Bake cookies for 9-13 minutes, depending on your desired consistency. At 9 minutes, the cookies will be lightly golden at the edges and still quite soft in the middle; at 13 minutes, you will have a very crisp cookie.
- Store cookies in a covered container at room temperature for 4-5 days, or freeze until needed.