Looking for something tasty and healthy that will take care of your sweet tooth? Take on this recipe for speckled acorn squash cookies that packs a punch of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber to your list of must-try desserts. Acorn squash is the base of this recipe, providing a nutty flavor and added sweetness so that you can cut back on the amount of sugar added to the recipe. Acorn squash is also full of vitamin C, which promotes healthy immune and skeletal systems, as well, it's rich in beta carotene, which reduces the risk of some cancers and keeps eyes healthy. Not to mention, a half-cup serving of this winter squash contains 13 percent of your recommended daily potassium intake and 11 percent of your magnesium, both essential minerals. What more of an excuse do you need to indulge?
We’ll give you another one: introducing a less familiar seed and spice to your kitchen cabinet, we’d like to present Nigella damascena, or more commonly known as love-in-a-mist (really!). This delicate, wispy, blue flower grows in most climates, blooming from mid summer to fall and forming a pod near the end of its season that contains at least 30 seeds. These black seeds are easy to harvest and store, looking like small pieces of charcoal and containing a mild flavor akin to a cross between dried fruit and nutmeg. Closely related to Nigella sativa, a common culinary herb in parts of Asia and the Middle East, love-in-a-mist seeds are believed to relieve digestive problems when ingested. The seed has even demonstrated properties as an emmenagogue, meaning that it stimulates blood flow to the pelvic area and uterus, thus aiding in menstruation. Get a packet of seeds to sow this spring and grow this edible garden beauty in your own backyard.
Last but not least, barley flour gives an added earthy sweetness to this recipe, but can be substituted with whole wheat flour if you dont have access to it. Containing a significant amount of dietary fiber, barley provides food for "friendly" bacteria located in the large intestine, thus fueling the digestive cells and maintaning a healthy digestive system.
Makes 3 dozen medium size cookies
½ stick organic butter, softened at room temperature
1 ½ cups organic acorn squash, pureed
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup organic sugar or other natural sweetener
½ teaspoon organic vanilla
2 organic eggs
1 1/3 cup organic whole wheat flour
1 cup organic unbleached white flour
2/3 cup organic barley flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Nigella damascena seeds
Preheat your oven to 375 ° F. In a large bowl mix together butter, acorn squash puree, honey, sugar and vanilla. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and add them to the mixture. In a medium size bowl mix together whole wheat flour, white flour, barley flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the large bowl and using a mixer or by hand, blend thoroughly. Add the Nigella seeds and mix until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease with organic butter. Spoon tablespoon size dollops of dough evenly on to the cookie sheet, making sure to leave leavening space in between each cookie. Bake at 375 ° F for 9-12 minutes, until golden brown on top. Once cool, rap in a cloth and store in a bread basket or freeze in a container for up to 3 months.
Images: David Christian