Warm, healthy cookies for breakfast. Yes, please!!!!!! A fine start to any day and even the sleepiest of heads can cope with the simplicity of getting these together. This is a nourishing and energy giving breakfast on the run and one of these cookies contains much more nutrition than your average bowl of cereal.
A strange post to be winging it across from the Turkish Med, but the weather in the port town of Antalya is dreadful. Jane and I are tucked up in bed with cups of well stewed Turkish tea. We were here two weeks ago and the sun was blazing, it now resembles a supermarket car park in Leicester town centre in a November hail storm (with the occasional roman aqueduct thrown in). Amazing the difference some pants weather can make.
THE BEACH HOUSE ON TOUR
A quick update as to our wandering ways. We’re in Turkey, as mentioned and have been whizzing around in a hire car for two weeks, covering thousands of kilometres in this fascinating and rich land. Firstly, Turkey is a country with many layers of incredible history and culture, stunning and varied landscapes, but the real star (as ever we find) is the people. The folk we have met have been absolutely brilliant, wonderfully hospitable, kind and funny. Jane and I have felt very at home ever since, on the first night, a genial waiter Abdullah, offered us his house to stay in for as long as we like. We declined his more than generous offer, so he halved our bill and sent us on our merry way. This has become quite normal, every day we are confronted with bare faced kindness and highly welcoming behaviour.
We’ve been so active in the last 14 days its quite hard to recap that’s been done. Having taken in most of the Turquoise coast, with its stunning ancient Greek and Roman Ruins and beautiful beaches, we headed up to Pammukale, which is a massive calcite wave with hot thermal springs (and an almost token vast ancient Greek settlement on top). We then whisked our little Fiat up through the Alpine clad mountains, inland and across a vast Anatolian steppe to Konya (the resting place of the poet Rumi and the home of the whirling dervishes) and then spent a few days exploring and hiking in the ridiculously unique and surreal rock features of the Cappdocian valleys. We stayed in a luxury cave, carved out of compressed volcanic dust. The beauty of having a car is being able to stop alot along the way and get lost. Getting lost I find is the best way to get to know a country properly. The out of the way places are always more fun than the tourist ‘hives’.
Now we’re back on the coast, having traced the silk road for a while and hung out in caravaserai’s. We’re readying ourselves for a weeks volunteering and cooking on an organic farm and animal sanctuary (meaning sitting down for a day). Phew! In a nut shell, its been intensely brilliant. It feels like we’ve been away for years. Pictures will hopefully follow when a better internet connection arises.
THE TRIALS AND TRAVAILS OF VEGAN TRAVELER
Being a vegan foodie traveler outside select parts of LA is never going to easy, but many Turkish staples are easily veganised and we haven’t struggle for sparkling sustenance thus far. Saksuka, corba (soup, lentil normally), bean stews, gorgeous pides (Turkish pizza), village rice dishes, shepherd salads, smoked aubergine and pepper salads, many clay pot roasted veggie variations (in wood fired ovens), and lashings of white bread ( no whole grains on the horizon) have kept us ticking over quite nicely. All washed down with plenty of tiny glasses of Turkish Whiskey (well stewed tea normally grown around the Black Sea).
We do have a very unique diet in the Beach House Kitchen and we always feel the pinch the first few weeks of a travel. Gone are the 6 vegetable morning juices and rampantly organic raw salads and layered tofu bakes. Having said that, back here in the big city Antalya (population 11 million) we have just enjoyed a slap up mezze-fest in a white table cloth joint. Radical selections of local leaves, beetroot, funky turnip juice, fresh steaming white bread, melt in the mouth aubergine dishes (known as the ‘sultan’ of vegetables in Turkey and quiet revered), interesting and intense tomato rice (the shape of which I’d never seen before, very squat and dumpy grains). Great stuff and an open fire to boot.
Generally travelling as a vegan means scouting out as many fruit and nuts as you can find. I’m not a huge supplement fan, but do travel with some Spirulina which I picked up in India, see this article I wrote for more info on this wonder green powder. Getting balanced nutrition is a happy quest when on the road. A vegan traveler has to be more patient with food and accept the occasion stray lump of cheese or gristle with grace and impeccable manners. After all, we are ambassadors of something highly positive, why ruin it all with a restaurant rant. It can get a little embarrassing on occasion, especially when in a home. No matter how much you explain yourself, language barriers can become chasms when ordering in a restaurant. It is quite an alien concept in most parts of the world. So far, on this trip, I have been fine and had no encounters with surprise ingredients. There is an element of keeping it simple and realising the the cornucopia of local food is generally out of bounds and you will have to settle with some simple veggies dishes and many baffled and perplexed looks from local waiting staff and restaurant owners. Jane and I also make alot of salads and simple veggie dishes ourselves, we always travel with a good knife and some plates. This keeps costs down a little and means that we can pack loads of gorgeous local veggies into diets with relative ease. Overall, Turkey is a great country for vegan travel and much of the produce is organic and seasonal.
I made these cookies just before we left the Beach House for our travels around Turkey, Spain and India. They were a real hit with our friends over coffee and chats. As usual with our sweet things, they are an attempt at taking a gorgeous cake/ cookie recipe and making it as healthy as we can, without compromising on delicousness.
These baked beauts are packed with nutrition and low GI, all that shebang! They are also super tasty and almost a meal in themselves. After one of these for breakfast, we feel pretty much sated for the morning. We’ve basically put loads of the things that we love in a bowl and baked it, most are ingredients that we believe will do our body the most amount of good first thing in the morn. A novel way of approaching cookie making you may say?! But the cookie taste it there, it just so happens that we snook in a few wonder foods as well. We’ve got oats, flax seeds, bananas, maple syrup, brazil nuts, cinnamon……it’s like a health food shop condensed down into small disc of crispy happiness! All these things are going to make your body smile and sing.
Gluten free folk may like to try buckwheat flour or your favourite gluten free flour mix instead of the wholewheat flour, we haven’t tried it, but are sure it will lead to magic results. Gluten free oats are also readily available. You can also just use oats, but the cookies won’t quite have the density and firm texture that these will.
SO WHEN IS A BISCUIT A BISCUIT, AND A COOKIE A COOKIE?
I think this is a matter of cultural surroundings and varying criteria. Personally, a cookie is moist and chewy and a biscuit is crunchy and crumbly. Cookies are normally fatter and biscuits are thinner. Cookies are not traditional in the UK, so any new and magical ingredients normally take things in a cookie direction. What do you think? I know in the States biscuits are served with savoury dishes, they seem to be more like a semi-scone, but generally quite heavy. I know one thing, there is no way anybody would refer to these whoopers as a biscuit, maybe a ‘slab’ would be better way of describing them, or a ‘chunk’.
Use any variety of nuts and seeds here, whatever’s handy (although poppy seeds are probably best used only if you love ‘em dearly).
Once baked and cooled fully, these cookies will keep for a few days in a tight fitting container or biscuit tin and don’t just eat them for breakfast, eat them all day if you like!
The Bits – 6-8 big cookies
200g Scottish oats (50g more reserved)
30g wholewheat flour
2 bananas (mashed with your hands)
3 tbs sunflower seeds
1 ½ tbs flax seeds
1 handful brazil nuts (roughly chopped)
200ml sunflower oil/ light olive oil
3 tbs maple syrup/ brown rice syrup/
1 teas bicarb of soda
1 ½ teas ground cinnamon
1 teas almond extract
Preheat an fan oven to 180oC.
Mix together all the bits in a large bowl until a smooth dough is formed, then add the rest of the oats and stir in. This will give the cookies a little bite and texture.
For soft cookies bake for 10 minutes, for slightly crisper cookies, turn the tray and bake for a further 2-3 minutes.
Using a flat spatula, place on a wire rack and leave for 15 minutes to cool. Best served with a nice big cuppa tea.
Many people believe bananas to be high GI (Glycemic Index) foods, meaning they release their carbohydrates straight into your blood stream and leave you with a ‘sugar spike’ that can lead to blood sugar level mayhem and long term ailments.
Bananas are actually low GI and are our friends, meaning they help against diabetes and keep our heart healthy. The greener your banana, the less sugar present. Plantains have the lowest sugar levels.