buckwheat ginger cookies

This month of June has been continual change. From trips out of town to friends taking new jobs to continually decreasing pants sizes, it’s been one thing after another. For many of these things, I guess it’s really been more of a culmination, in which wheels that have been in motion, things have been coming, in these last few weeks finally have. It’s exciting. It’s terrifying. It’s something we’ll talk more about next week (along with a big announcement! stay tuned!).

But meanwhile, let’s talk about another kind of change, a specific one that’s been happening in my kitchen and could happen in yours: buckwheat flour.

soft buckwheat ginger cookies

Because, thing is, it’s not just June that’s been change for me; it’s 2010, which over the last six months has brought one new realization after another. What started with the removal of refined sugars and flours in a new year’s resolution led to the reading of labels and analyzing of ingredient lists, avoiding things I couldn’t pronounce or recognize in favor of more whole foods like blueberries, eggs, butter, milk, grass-fed meat. I watched Food, Inc. (thanks, Kendra!). I read The Maker’s Diet. I gave up white bread and chose sprouted grains. I started drinking kombucha (Whole Foods, are you listening? please start carrying it again!). Along the way, I also started taking cod liver oil and a probiotic.

The changes all felt pretty natural, like I was just taking care of my body in new ways, and while I have been eating very well and working out only two or three times a week, I’ve lost twelve pounds, without even meaning to. It’s crazy.

And really, the only change that ever felt difficult at all was probably the earliest one: removing white all-purpose flour and white sugar from my baking. You know how I like to bake. But instead of white sugar, I’ve now used raw sugar, turbinado sugar, sucanat, honey, maple syrup and, after my recent trips to the southern United States, sorghum syrup. Instead of white flour, I’ve worked with whole wheat pastry flour, regular whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, spelt flour and now, most recently, buckwheat flour.

buckwheat ginger cookies

I’ve been learning how to use these whole grains, trying them in cakes and cookies, giving them to people to see what they think. Wheat has a distinguishable taste; most people have tried baking with it and know what I mean. Regular spelt is pretty hearty and again distinguishable; white spelt behaves much like all-purpose white and so is an easy substitute. Buckwheat, on the other hand, is a thing all its own.

I mentioned it briefly with these waffles, where I said although it behaves like a grain or a cereal, it’s actually related to rhubarb, and is gluten-free, good at turning things slightly gray. Let me now add to that: It’s high in insoluble fiber, loaded with antioxidants and linked to all kinds of health benefits.

Diets that include buckwheat connect to decreased risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, better control of blood sugar and decreased risk of diabetes, prevention for women against gallstones (along with other high-fiber foods), protection against heart disease, even protection against breast cancer (to learn more, check out this article at whfoods.com).

If all those reasons aren’t enough to talk you into trying buckwheat, I don’t know what could. Well, except maybe these cookies. The brainchild of Dawna (hey, rhymes with Shanna!) at Always in the Kitchen, they incorporate enough spices—namely cinnamon, ginger, cloves—to create a good kick in flavor that really minimizes the taste of buckwheat. Of course, I’m growing to really enjoy that taste of buckwheat, but if you’re unsure, and if you like a good spicy cookie, you’ll love these. They’re soft, fragrant, comforting—easy to eat seven of at a time, you know, not that anyone around here did. Ahem.




Buckwheat Ginger Cookies
Adapted from Always in the Kitchen

Ingredients:
2/3 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup sucanat
1 3/4 cups buckwheat flour*
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup sorghum syrup (or molasses)
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

A couple teaspoons of raw sugar for dusting

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the coconut oil and sugar together with a wooden spoon. Add the egg and mix together. Add the sorghum (or molasses) and beat until smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buckwheat flour, arrowroot powder, baking soda, salt and spices until thoroughly combined, and then dump it into the molasses mixture. Stir slowly as the dough stiffens up into a thick paste, being sure to incorporate all of the flour. You don’t want any white streaks in the dough.

Use a teaspoon to scoop up a walnut-sized lump of dough, and roll it between your palms until it is nice and round. Dip the top of it in raw sugar and place it on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Leave a little room between each cookie, as they will expand.

Bake for about 10 minutes – they should be a little underdone when you pull them out.

Makes 2 -3 dozen large cookies

*I only used 1 1/2 cups of buckwheat flour, which made my cookies turn out a little softer and less puffy than the original. Feel free to experiment for the texture you’d like.

Cooksnaps
Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Hannah

    I can’t wait to hear this big announcement.

    I have never, ever tried buckwheat. The pancakes always scared me as a kid, I think it was a texture thing. I think I’m going to have to hunt down some buckwheat flour and try these out, now that I’m older and wiser. ;)

  2. Jenn Sutherland

    Well done on the dietary changes! Isn’t it amazing how your body appreciates the changes? When I was diagnosed with celiac 8 years ago, I lost 40lbs without really trying. Marvelous. I have found that when incorporating other grains, so long as I use recipes that measure flour in weight, not cups, adapting recipes comes together much more quickly…that and adding 1/4 tsp of xanthan gum for each cup of gluten free flours to help bind things together.

  3. redmenace

    I love buckwheat! The cookies look awesome! Sounds like this is all good change (albeit “terrifying”). I am looking forward to your announcement! Did I say that my doctor drinks Kombucha tea religiously? Oh Whole Foods!

  4. Kim

    Oh Shanna, you are an inspiration. When we move (in less than 6 weeks!!), I’m thinking of starting over…slightly. I think that a new kitchen (and a giant fridge) will be a good, fresh start to more healthy eating (though we are pretty healthy anyway). That was a lot of parentheticals for such a short comment, but the moral of the story is those cookies look great!!!

  5. Angela@spinachtiger

    I love buckwheat. Just started making buckwheat pasta this year. My favorite so far was making it with a sweet potato lasagna. I am still making baked goods with white flour and white sugar, but I rarely eat them. Finding alternatives that really work is something I’m interested in. I used to use a lot of agave but then read that this is not the super alternative i thought it was. Look forward to your big announcement.

  6. Maddie

    Ooh, I’m so curious to hear about…whatever it is! :)

    I’m so glad you’ve felt like you’ve reached the culmination of all these changes. It can be an act of faith to continue on paths that aren’t the “easy way out,” even when you know they’re the right thing to do. But at the end — if you’ve stuck to your guns — there’s nothing like feeling the results of those thoughtful changes in such big ways! And accomplishment should be celebrated with buckwheat cookies, for sure.

  7. Alicia

    Does Whole Foods not sell kombucha anymore?! WHAT?! I do not know this. I’m really sad right now. Whyyyyy? Also, your picture of Becky made me want to cry. I’m so sorry you’re alone most of the time now :( And what is arrowroot powder?

  8. Lan

    cannot wait to hear your big news. :)
    i’m slowly but very surely stepping away from sugar as well, seeking other sweetening alternatives to add to my baking. it’s scary. ok that last sentence is kinda ridiculous.
    but in all honesty, i am freaked out with having to use new ingredients that i *know* are good to me and good for me.
    sigh.

  9. Megan Gordon

    Ohhh…sounds like good news! And buckwheat…it’s been calling to me lately. As you know, I’m obsessed with Good to the Grain and there’s a recipe for Strawberry Buckwheat Scones that are on my soon-to-make list. I’ll have to add these, too. They look perfect!

  10. Shannalee

    Hannah, I feel that way about so many ingredients, where now that I am older and wiser, I’ll try them, but before? no way! ha! Give buckwheat a shot. It’s different, but it’s totally likable!

    Tim, Oh, I know you do.

    Jenn, Wow! 40 pounds! I like your tip about measuring weights – I do have a scale, but I hardly ever use it for baking. I should!

    RedMenace, Yep, stay tuned for the news! ; ) That’s great about your doctor – I’d be much more likely to trust one who drinks kombucha, honestly. And WF! Ugh! Apparently it’s all just a big labeling thing but still. Get me my kombucha!

    Kim, I like that. New place, new food. Stick to it! And congrats on moving!

    Angela, Yes, it’s funny you mention agave nectar—I have had several people talk to me about it. I read something negative about it, too, which totally turned me off . It was this article (maybe the same one you saw): http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad/. So personally, I’m freaked out by it. On the other hand, I am def still learning.

    Maddie, You are such a generous reader. I think blog people are really like that, as a whole. Thank you for that comment—I agree there’s a faith required in stepping out into unknowns, for sure. I hope to walk in that more often.

    Alicia, I know. I KNOW. Apparently the drink can ferment again (raising the alcohol level) when left at certain temperatures and therefore it needs to be labeled as such. Meanwhile, all WF nationwide have removed it. Big bummer. The Jewel in Lakeview still has it, at least for now, but that’s my only resource. You’ll have to let me know where you find it! Oh and arrowroot powder is sometimes used as a thickener, you can find it in the spices section and it’s easily digestible. Kind of pricey but helpful.

    Jacqui, I was just telling someone that I feel so thankful for you. I appreciate SO MUCH all your encouragement and support. I wish I could do something to help you sometime. (yes, that’s an open offer!)

    Lan, No, I totally get that sense of fear. It’s weird and a little daunting. But small steps, you know? Try something, then try something else, and so on. Then, next thing you know, it’s six months later and you’re like, woah, what happened to me? For real.

    Megan, Ha! I have yet to use that cookbook, which makes me very sad. So many of the recipes require all-purpose flour along with the specialty one, and I’ve been nervous to experiment with what seem to be very-well-planned combinations. Will I ruin the texture? the flavor? You know? But sometime soon. I will.

    Jenious, Thanks for your excitement! More to come! :)

  11. jordan

    congrats lady!! thats amazing. i want to make changes like that, i’ve been so busy and running around lately that i am eating out a lot and late at night…not healthy. i have to figure out how to maintain balance. balance is so important. kudos on the flour swaps! let me know how pasta goes.

    and i too, cannot wait for your surprise, whatever it might be!

  12. Caitlin

    Hot dang, woman! How cool to see the shift in your cooking and baking! I must admit, I probably will never give up white flour and white sugar, but I definitely have at least a dozen other flours around my kitchen at all times. They’re so fun to play with.

  13. Dana

    That’s so funny, I rave over buckwheat honey, but must say that I’ve never used buckwheat flour or eaten buckwheat (to my knowledge). I’m going to have to see if the farmer’s market carries it…
    Congratulations on the pants sizes!

  14. Lisa

    I love incorporating whole grains into baked goods – although I still have a terrible habit of adding chocolate chips to just about every cake, cookie, bread I make with whole grain flour! I have used almond flour and spelt flour in lieu of white, refined flour – and soon, buckwheat flour thanks to this recipe :-) The cookies look great and congrats on the healthy changes and your success.

  15. Shannalee

    jordan, I know how that goes. being busy makes eating healthy so much harder. when I try pasta, I’ll definitely post about it. : )

    Allison, Apparently all WF in the country aren’t carrying it anymore and have taken it off the shelves indefinitely. I have thought about making my own… even went to a class about it a few months ago (at WF! ha!) but it seemed a little daunting. May come to that though!

    Caitlin, I am learning to play with them for sure. Hey, have you ever tried kamut? I can’t find it anywhere!

    Dana, And I’ve never had buckwheat honey! I don’t know if I’ve ever even seen it! Maybe I’ll try that, and you’ll try the flour. What do you say?

    Lisa, Ha! Well if it’s dark chocolate, it’s not so bad, right? Let me know what you think of these cookies/buckwheat flour!

  16. Janet

    So thrilled to hear about all the things you’ve been doing! My comments here are less frequent or rare given how pressed I am for time. you’re my inspiration for working even harder to lose 10 pounds! It’s good to know we can enjoy the pleasures of cookies but using ingredients that are good for us!

  17. Shannalee

    Thanks so much, Janet! For the record, you do not need to lose 10 pounds! But I appreciate the comment and the desire to be healthy. To be honest, I enjoy cooking more now that I eat this way!

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  19. Josephine

    Just found your site and am beginning to turn to whole foods too..slowly..and so I’m really enjoying your site. I’ll have to look into some of your substitutes and incorporate them. I just now have started to use chickpea flour in my baking with some really wonderful results. You might like it too!

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