more than cookies

 

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The Track + Field Trials have been going on in town these last couple weeks and I originally intended to meet a bunch of Oiselle ladies, go on a group run or two, and generally engage (a little) in the festivities. This is part of my 2016 doing-the-hard-things mission of showing up, getting involved, and not hiding with the areas I’d like to do more but feel unworthy of–like being part of a more supportive community.

Instead, I have been tapering and then recovering from a race, feeling a little run-down like I’m fending off a summer cold, in deep with my two summer classes, and commuting to and fro work. I haven’t felt like being social and using up excess energy to meet new people and navigate crowds. So I’ve been hunkering down in my little corner of the city, not venturing beyond it.

It has felt a little like hiding but also necessary to preserve my energy, do some reflecting, practice breathing,  journaling, and listening to what I need.

 

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I was asked a couple weeks ago to be the leader of the local food action team I’m a part of in Corvallis and after considering it for quite some time, I agreed. It was a decision made with a lot of mixed feelings because the group is a part of a city I no longer reside in, likely won’t be working in much longer, and generally miss a lot. Eugene and I have had some growing pains, i.e. I’ve checked out most of the super-local trails, the too-crowded farmers market, and the little grocery store we prefer to shop in for local goods. I’ve ignored more than a few unnecessary comments while running, felt a little unsafe some days on the bike path, and  almost stopped using my GPS to go new places. At this point, it feels like the next step for me in this new place is to simply show up for opportunities to create and be a part of the community. Instead, I find myself avoiding the Eugene farmers markets, run meet-ups, and yoga invitations, shopping in Corvallis or on the farm there directly instead, and putting my energy and ideas into how to promote local food in Corvallis, in what still is my community, no matter my current address.

In times when more self-care is needed, like this last week, I often use my relationship with food and body image as a barometer for how I’m doing. As I’ve shared before, eating with the source of my food in mind has helped me to have a better relationship with my body, to not focus so much on good/bad, too much/too little, and stress about controlling all the variables. Since moving, I haven’t done such a good job of this. Relocating to a new city is stressful and adjustments are hard–my mind has often resorted back to the things that it (thinks) it can control, food, calories, amounts, and my body. More than ever, I’m conscious of  it these days and trying hard to stay gentle, to be kind with myself, to forgive, and to understand that there will be both good and bad days. I will eat too much. I will eat too little. I will listen to what I need and I’ll ignore it. This is normal eating and that’s okay.

One thing that is good practice is experimenting with baked goods. I’ve been experimenting with a good oatmeal raisin cookie that’s gluten free, dairy free, and enjoyable by all for going on ten months now. I don’t make them too often, once a month or less, and mostly on days I need some baking therapy. Thankfully, William loves my cookies and also shares them at work. The tweaks have been quite small lately and because I’m a perfectionist, I’ve been slow to call time on this experiment. The thing about baking is that I do have a sweet tooth but I eat a lot more fruit than other sweet things and refined sugar often hits my system like a drug. It feels like a trip that I do not necessarily enjoy, even as the first hit goes down real nice and I initially want more-more-more. Then my body says please do not feed me this- you’re making my mind crazy anxious. It is why I don’t eat or share many true desserts anymore.

The practice of baking is good though because it repeatedly allows me to ask myself what do I really want before taking a bite. Do I want a cookie? If not, what am I desiring? Am I being a little too obsessive about health and putting negative labels on treats? Most of the time, I choose something else or have one cookie and an apple. Sometimes, I have three cookies or two giant slices of birthday cake and try not to overthink it. It is okay to indulge once in a while. My body needs more (care/support/kindness/food) than I ever aim to give it. Thankfully I’m learning to feel what it needs, honor that, forgive, and ignore the thoughts that lead to disorder a little more as time goes on.

It’s not always easy to know and trust my own motives. I’m learning. I fail a lot.

 

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Prior to starting this cookie project, I hadn’t had an oatmeal raisin cookie in years, basically because I’m a giant snob and have found only one person who makes gluten-free, dairy-free cookies I consider worthy of eating (ahem, me). William is also a cookie snob and he has no dietary constraints or prejudices about trying all the cookies. A few weeks back I decided to tweak another version and in the process found I’d ran out of the main type of sugar I was planning to use. Thus, this version was born. William decided it is the keeper recipe and after eating half the batch, he gifted me with what I consider to be the best anniversary gift by casually mentioning, You make the best cookies: the flavor, the texture, they’re perfectly baked, everything. And I know cookies. I eat a lot of them. 

Even if I like the idea of eating cookies more these days than actually eating them, I’ll take the compliment. I’ll take the practice of baking and experimenting, I’ll continue asking the tough questions, being open-minded, and being a little more open about the process.

 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, makes ~ 2 1/2 dozen

Recipe Notes: I used Greenwillow Grains organic + raw rolled oats and Willamette Valley honey and flax seed in this recipe. I encourage you to seek out your local producers and support them as often as you can. I also only experimented with my own flour mix. It is 70% whole-grain by weight and contains 10% buckwheat flour. Though it comes to a small amount, we really love the addition of buckwheat to cookies. Lastly, we found a more favorable result in using both honey and brown rice syrup. If you only have one or the other, go ahead and use just the one. Keep in mind that honey is slightly sweeter than brown rice syrup. 

1 Tbs. ground flax seed + 3 Tbs. water or 1 egg
2 cups gluten-free flour mix
1 cup rolled oats, gluten-free as needed
1/4 cup oats, pureed in a food processor
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup raisins

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the ground flax and water to form a slurry. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients and then set aside.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the oil, honey, brown rice syrup, and vanilla. Then mix in the flax slurry.
  • Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and stir together until combined. Then mix in the raisins.
  • The mixture should be a little looser than standard cookie dough. At this point it can be chilled for about 30 minutes so the cookies don’t spread too much, or baked directly and they’ll be a little larger and thinner.
  • Using a medium cookie scoop or a spoon, drop onto a baking sheet or stone and bake for 12-14 minutes, depending on your oven.
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