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“Healthy” Chocolate Chip Cookies

With bathing suit season looming over the house, it was decided that now might be a good time for a detox diet (and besides, Buzzfeed’s Clean Eating Challenge sounded like it contained many delicious recipes, even if it did rather over-emphasise bananas). Obviously, on a detox, there’s a long list of things that you’re not supposed to eat – but then I saw a recipe for cookies with oats, and chia seeds, and dark chocolate, and sunflower/pumpkin seeds. So what if they’re not gluten-free? I declared them detox-friendly and promptly made them. (This was about 10 days in, and I needed a sugar fix.)

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“Healthy” Chocolate Chip Cookies

75g (1/3c) mixed seeds seeds (I used sunflower, pumpkin, flax, and linseed, and some pine nuts, and I toasted them first)
50g (1/2c) rolled oats (approximately scant 1/2 cup)
24g (1 tbs) chia seeds
60g (1/2c) whole-meal flour
65g (1/2c) plain flour
2g (1/2 tsp) baking soda
115g (4oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
50g (1/4c) white sguar
80g (1/2c, packed) light brown sugar
2g (1/4tsp) fine sea salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
225g (8 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, cut into small chunks

1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C/160C fan.

2. Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl until creamy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the sugars and sea salt until fluffy, then add the egg and vanilla. When well-mixed, stir in the flours, followed by the oats, seeds, and chocolate.

3. Roll into 1-inch balls and drop onto parchment-lined backing sheets with about 2 inches of space between (they will spread). Bake for 14-15 minutes and let cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from cooking sheets.

makes about 30 cookies

Banana Walnut Bread

I’ve had something of a weird relationship with bananas over time. For awhile, I wouldn’t go anywhere near one, and the smell is not one of my favourites. I still won’t touch a banana chip, and the thought of them in something (like chocolate or banoffee pie) turns my stomach.

Oddly, I’ve always liked banana bread. On my recent visit to Ireland, I was greeted with a freshly baked loaf, and since I needed to do something non-work-related this week, I decided to bake my own (along with some roasted red pepper hummus and minestrone soup…but that’s a different story). Well, it turns out that getting bananas in Krakow is, like getting many other food-related items in Krakow, not the easiest thing to do! In the end, I just schlepped out to Tesco, the one place that consistently has decent produce during all four seasons – and after three days of constant checking to see whether my ingredients were ready to be turned into bread, they were finally ripe enough today! So – banana bread!

Banana Bread

Ingredients
285g/10oz all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
110g/4oz butter, plus extra for greasing the pans
225g/8oz caster sugar
2 eggs
4 ripe/overripe bananas, mashed (or you can puree them in a food processor until they’re chunky)
85ml/3fl oz buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
110g/4oz toasted walnuts

1 Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Toast the walnuts for about 10-15 minutes, and remove to cool.

2. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk and vanilla extract (at this point, I also threw in 2 tablespoons of golden syrup for kicks) to the butter and sugar mixture and mix well, then fold in the flour mixture, followed by the walnuts.

5. Grease and flour two large loaf pans (or four small ones) and pour the batter into them.

6. Bake one hour, or until the breads are firm. Remove to cool on wire racks.

Butterscotch Toasted Pecan Cookies

Ok, seriously? I wrote a whole post for this and then it mysteriously was deleted. Gah! Well, here is attempt #2.

Although I thought that this could never happen, these cookies seem to have supplanted the Chocolate Brownie Cookies as my favourite. They have also created in me an addiction to toasted pecans (so yummy, and they make my apartment smell nice). This was the first cookie that I ever made using instant pudding mix, and let me just say, whoever originally thought to do that was a GENIUS. I will be altering all of my future soft-cookie recipes to include it. The original version of this recipe called for butterscotch flavoured pudding mix (in keeping with the theme of the cookie, obviously), but that seems to be the one pudding type that Key Food (my usually fabulous local grocery) does not stock. I made several batches using different flavours, and the white chocolate ones were voted the best.

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Butterscotch Toasted Pecan Cookies
2/3 c pecans, coarsely chopped
2 1/4 c (280 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c (225 g) butter, softened
3/4 c (150 g) brown sugar, packed
1/4 c (50 g) white sugar
1 package white chocolate pudding mix
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c butterscotch morsels
1. Preheat oven to 350oF. Place pecans on a cookie sheet and toasted for 8 minutes or until aromatic. Set aside to cool. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Stir in butterscotch morsels and cooled, toasted pecans.
3. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove to wire racks to cool.
Makes about 30 cookies