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What kind of kid were you when it came to school lunches? Were you a baloney and mayo, like my old best friend? A Thermos stuffed with lukewarm mac n' cheese or pizza pockets like my sister? Or maybe you were like me, who adored a good PB & J? Maybe you were even lucky enough to be able to break out the nut butters in your lunchroom - up till grade 9, where I went to school nuts (or legumes, in the case of peanuts) of any kind were ixnayed due to allergies, so if I wanted my favourite nosh it had to be on the weekends or during the holidays.
It wasn't all that bad for me, considering that while I could enjoy spoonfuls of Kraft creamy right out of the jar, one of my friends and classmates wasn't so lucky. He taught me what an Epi-Pen actually was (my 7 year old self thought it was a newfangled marker) and made me realize that allergies weren't just something "everyone" gets when Spring comes around. Thankfully I never witnessed one of his reactions, but I'm fairly sure that's what got me into a "find out everything I can about everything" mindset when it came to medical things. I schooled myself with everything I had (we still have medicine books of mine in the basement) and always wanted to know why. Why do people get allergies, diseases, freckles, red hair, sunburns?
Well, I still don't have the answers to everything, but I do know some methods to bring back the love of life, especially in the kitchen. I was playing around with a fairly popular peanut butter cookie recipe (trying to use the last of the almond butter we had) and decided to try out a version of my old favourite sandwich in cookie form. I went all out on the almond flavour, with the almond butter, almond milk, almond extract and tossing in some ground almonds for kicks. The dough turned into a gluten-free and vegan gem, but I wanted to make it a bit more... moreish. So I dug into some of my homemade grape jam and turned the criss-crosses into thumbprints. Rather violently thumbed thumbprints, mind you. I had to laugh at myself - it had been years since I had made the last batch and apparently my thumbs are a bit bigger!
3 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/2 cup warmed almond milk
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp agave nectar (or honey if not vegan)
1/2 tsp stevia extract powder
5 oz (2/3 cup) shortening
4 oz (2/3 cup) stirred almond butter
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup ground almonds
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup glutinous rice flour
1 tbsp tapoica starch
1/2 tsp guar gum
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup jam or preserves of your choice (I used homemade Concord grape)
- Heat oven to 375 F and line baking sheets with parchment or silicone.
- In a small dish, whisk together flaxseed and almond milk. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together brown sugar, agave, stevia, shortening and almond butter.
- Add flax mixture and the extracts, beating well.
- Whisk together ground almonds, flours, starch, guar gum, nutmeg, baking soda and salt.
- Add to the creamed mixture and stir in well.
- Shape into small balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Press your thumb or fingertip into the centre of each cookie and fill with jam
- Bake 10 minutes, then cool 10-15minutes on the sheets before carefully transferring to a cooling rack.
Calories: 118.4Total Fat: 6.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 4.7 mg
Total Carbs: 15.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.6 gProtein: 1.5 g