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Oatmeal raisin cookies are getting a make-over

There's nothing more terrifying than a naked selfie craze on Facebook. It's not that I don't love all your beautiful pictures but rather that eventually I had to join in. I was so tempted to photo shop out the big zit that had kindly arrived on my forehead beforehand, but in the end I went with reality. Yes I have hormonal skin and very little willpower when it comes to Justin's organic peanut butter cups. There, confession over and I feel better.

At this stage I should probably clarify that naked selfies are of naked faces. They are not body shots, god forbid. This all started with the “Dare to Bare” cancer awareness campaign that encouraged women to try a day, a week, or a month without make-up. Somehow it evolved into single shots posted on social media. The idea being that we bare our naked faces and encourage people to donate to cancer research. Despite the fact that some people have forgotten the latter, one UK charity announced a £15,000 spike in mobile phone text donations due to the selfie-craze — from a campaign they didn't even initiate. That's got to feel good! We don't have cell phone donations set up in Bermuda but I added a note about joining in with Bermuda's “Relay for Life” instead. It's going to be an amazing 24-hour relay event, designed to remember and celebrate lives lost to cancer, and to help generate funds for research. As you can run or walk it really is for everyone, so find out more at www.cancer.bm.

Although it's easy to get annoyed with a newsfeed full of selfies, I have really loved this trend. As women, we are often so self-critical that it's actually good to see all your nearest and dearest with the very same lines and marks and wrinkles. It made me wonder why we bother covering it all up in the first place, especially given the chemicals littered through our cosmetics.

And that brings me on to an interesting point about this campaign. Within this context, no one is really raising the issue that maybe our cosmetics are linked to cancer in the first place. I'm not suggesting that cosmetics irrefutably lead to cancer, but I think it's safe to say that our exposure to environmental toxins is significant, especially cumulatively. We spend a great deal of time thinking about what we put in our bodies, but what about the lotions and potions we put on them?

If you need some convincing (as much as you would like to put your head in the sand) then check out the Environmental Working Group's “Skin Deep” resource (go to www.ewg.org). Their database is vast and covers most of the cosmetics available in Bermuda. Look up the products you use a lot (especially those you use a lot of — like sunscreen or lipstick) and see what rating they get. You'll be given a green, yellow or red light relating to chemical content, so it couldn't be simpler to use. Just a word of caution — just because one item in a cosmetic line gets a green light, doesn't mean the whole brand is ok. You do need to search items individually. They also have an App that allows you to scan bar codes, which makes things even easier.

Although it has been a pain, I have gradually given my cosmetics an overhaul — the upside being that I now have things I feel good about using. In a way I went through the same process that I did with food years earlier. The more I learned, the more I was inspired to change, the more I wanted to change, and so the more I did change. Doing things because we WANT to is a major part of the process — especially if we want results or new behaviours to stick.

So this week I am giving you a great “make-over” recipe. Who doesn't love a good cookie? The thing is, when you bake or buy healthier versions, sometimes they're disappointing — and that's because your taste buds are “set” at a certain level of “sweet.” Part of adopting a healthier diet successfully, is allowing your expectations to reset, so that the less-sweet options are sweet enough. I'm hoping this recipe helps you do that. It's allergy friendly, so good for all those awkward people in your life too.

Here's the recipe and some notes on what I did (some of which you may be able to apply to other recipes you have):

Flour base — I used a blend of almond and brown rice flours (both Bobs Red Mill from Supermart). If you have a nut-free house then you could try switching the almond flour with Arrowhead Mills organic fine cornmeal or whole-wheat flour (it just wouldn't be wheat free then obviously).

Sugar — this contains less sugar than most recipes and I used Sucanat which is a wholefood approach to sugar. It's still sugar, but more mineral rich and less refined. You can get it at Supermart, Miles, Lindos and Down to Earth.

Dried fruit — I used Eden organic tart cherries (Supermart) which have less sugar and my kids love them, but raisins would be totally great too.

Oil — I used refined coconut oil (which is the better one for baking. I use unrefined/extra virgin for raw recipes) by Spectrum (Supermart, Lindos, Miles, Marketplace, Down to Earth)

Protein — I added more protein (and good fats/fibre) to provide a more sustained energy release. This comes from the almond flour and the Linwoods ground flax/sunflower/sesame/pumpkin/goji mix (Miles.) You can skip the Linwoods if you like (or come up with your own version.) If you do skip it, reduce the oil to 1/3 cup.

Oats — use whole oats (not quick cook) for more fibre. You can get gluten-free oats (e.g. Nairn's or Waitrose gluten free oats at Supermart) if necessary (and then the recipe will be gluten free too!)

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (wheat free, dairy free)

Ingredients (makes approx 12)

First mix

1/2 cup almond flour (or use ground almonds from baking section if necessary)

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup whole oats

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 cup Linwoods mix (I prefer the flax, sunflower, sesame, pumpkin goji blend — purple bag — Miles)

1/2 cup Eden tart cherries or raisins

Second mix

1 large egg, whisked

1/2 cup Sucanat (you can try a little less if you like)

1/2 cup refined coconut oil (runny, so melt over a LOW heat if necessary)

1 tsp natural vanilla extract

Method: (preheat oven to 350F and grease a large baking tray)

1. Mix all the first mix ingredients (except the dried fruit) together in a large bowl. I use a hand whisk. Once well combined, add the dried fruit and whisk again.

2. In a smaller bowl, whisk the second mix ingredients together well.

3. Pour oil mix into dry mix and stir well to combine. If too wet for any reason, add more linwoods or almond flour. If too dry add more coconut oil.

4. Using your hands or a spoon, shape the dough into generous one-inch balls and place on baking sheet, one inch apart. Flatten each one slightly with a fork.

5. Bake at 350F for 12-15 mins until golden. Cool for 5 mins on the sheet and then transfer to a rack.

The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION is the Managing Director of Natural Ltd and a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a Registered Dietitian. For details, please go to www.natural.bm or call 236-7511. Join Catherine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nutrifitandnaturalnutritionbermuda

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Published March 21, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 20, 2014 at 4:23 pm)

Oatmeal raisin cookies are getting a make-over

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