What you see isn’t always what you get.
The holidays are always a mixed bag for me. Heightened expectations of a warm and fuzzy holiday season mixed with a stark contrast of family drama, strained budgets, and over-indulging in the wrong foods leave me feeling ready to cleanse come the new year. Every year I ask myself, why? Why do I so easily give into the foods, the feelings, even the guilt, to become an inauthentic version of myself? And why does this always seem to be linked with times of celebration?
Of course we aren’t perfect, and our want to give in, relax, please, or unwind, is often tempted by the many social conventions surrounding the holidays. This can of course become a little more complex if you define yourself as “other” or “alternative”. The holidays may be an awkward, uncomfortable time, emphasising the many things we tend to actively exclude from our day to day the rest of the year.
Holiday cookies are the perfect example of this. We celebrate with something sweet and beautifully decorated, but do absolutely nothing to nourish. Can’t we do both?
I get excited by the chances to remake and upgrade these confections we have come to accept as conventional. Truly, there is no need to give into the red food-dye, the refined sugar and the white floured sweets out there. The holidays should be a celebration of all the things we do and believe in, in every way possible. These super gingerbread cookies are no exception. While maintaining the classic flavor, smell, and texture of the classic, I’ve enhanced these cookies, and in the process made them:
Refined sugar free
Chemical and dye-free
And superfood full!
They are the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, fragrant, and festive. Redefine your expectations – often the result is even better than planned, and happily accepted, if not cherished.
Super Gingerbread Recipe:
Makes approximately 1 dozen gingerbread cookies, or 2 dozen small, or 1 gingerbread house with plenty of icing to decorate.
3 cups extra fine almond flour (if you can’t find simply blend in a coffee mill or high speed blender)
½ cup tapioca or arrowroot starch
¼ cup lucuma powder
1 Tablespoon chaga powder
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon Himalayan salt
* fresh ground spices are always more fragrant and flavorful–
½ cup unsulphured molasses
¼ cup ghee or coconut oil, softened at room temperature
1-2 Tablespoons of raw goat milk to nut milk as needed
Royal Icing Recipe:
2 cups powdered coconut sugar
1 large egg white
Up to 1 Tablespoon lemon juice (depending on consistency desired)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Natural Food Coloring:
Add 1 teaspoon - 1 tablespoon of each to divided icing until desired color is reached.
Red: beet juice
Gold: turmeric juice or powder
Green: Spirulina or liquid chlorophyll
I've been using Terrasoul superfoods in my recipes. Their attention to quality is matched by their concern with sourcing organically and ethically, only enhancing my want for a heartfelt, nourishing product all around.
Combine all of the dry ingredients and mixed well. Add the softened ghee or coconut oil and molasses, and either with an electric mixer, mixing bowl with paddle attachment, or good old fashioned hands, mix the dough well until uniform and evenly moistened. If the dough is too dry add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until dough is soft enough and holds together without sticking to your hands.
Shape into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper. Chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, or better yet overnight.
Once chilled, separate dough into equal portions. Keep one wrapped and chilled while you work with the first batch. Lay out a dusting of tapioca or arrowroot starch or roll dough between two pieces of parchment paper. Carefully and evenly roll your dough until it is approximately ¼-⅛ inch thick. (I tend to like my gingerbread a little thicker ¼)
Using cookie cutters or a skilled free hand, cut shapes and transfer cookies to a parchment lined cookie tray using a spatula. Repeat steps until you have used up your dough. You can return the dough to the fridge to firm if you feel it is beginning to crack.
Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to completely cool before decorating.
To make “powdered” coconut sugar. Simply blend regular coconut sugar crystals with a high speed blender or coffee mill until fine and powdered. I used Terrasoul coconut sugar, which is already extremely fine, but blended it down even further to create the perfect powdered texture.
In a separate bowl, beat 1 egg white on medium to high speed with an electric mixer until it turns opaque and fluffy.
Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract together and mix with an electric mixer until soft peaks are formed. Depending on your desired consistency, add up to 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.
Once blended, separate your icing into different bowls for different colors. Mix in superfood extracts until you’ve reached your desired color, keeping in mind that the colors will take on the flavor of ingredient added. I think they all enhanced the flavor of the cookies, especially the turmeric. Even the spirulina was a nice touch to balance out the sweetness.
Add icing to piping bags or plastic bags. Cut the tip quite small for fine detail work, or decorating tips can be used, even with plastic bags. Be sure to insert the decorating tips before you add your icing!
Get creative, and top with all the superfoods your heart desires. Enjoy guilt free!
Some discoveries I made: Goji berries make great buttons for gingerbread men. Bee pollen looks like misty strung lights on a christmas tree in a dimly lit room. Cacao nibs look almost purple against the golden turmeric-enhanced icing. Spirulina actually can taste good!