Saturday, September 22, 2012

Allergy-Friendly Savorfull Box and MOMables Breakfast Cookies Variant

When my September Savorfull box arrived at my doorstep, I was ecstatic! This was my first month trying it out, and I could not WAIT! I had seen them on The Keeley McGuire Blog and Creative Food and contacted the company for more info. Savorfull is a monthly subscription service that sends you a carefully selected assortment of trial sized and full-sized allergy-friendly food items (usually peanut-free and/or dairy-free and also gluten/wheat-free.)
While we don't have any food allergies to worry about, the nut-free items would be safe to take to her nut-free preschool for her personal snack, or the boxes often include "ingredients" (flour, baking mixes, etc) I could use to whip up a class snack. [And by "whip up" I mean "flub in some way."]
And everything they choose is artificial-free too, which is what sold me on trying them out!

Little Z was super excited when I told her that this box was full of Z-safe foods. "No fake colors, no fake flavors?" Yep! "Hooray! Can I eat it right now?"

We got a full-size package of Better Batter gluten-free all-purpose flour (nut and gluten free, as well as vegan, kosher, and safe for Feingold I and II diets,) a 1-day supply of MILA Miracle Seeds, a full-size package of Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats (gluten-free and nut-free, but with possible nut contamination warnings,) and a single-serve package of Enjoy Life Vanilla Honey Graham cookies (free from the Top 8 allergens!)

The Savorfull box is only $15 per month, with no added shipping charge! That's a fantastic deal, especially considering that the Better Batter alone retails for around $11!
Are you interested in trying them out too?
Use code BITINGMYHAND for $1 off 1 month, $9 off 6 months, or $20 off a 1-year subscription!

What we did with it:
Z was super excited about the Better Batter... until I explained that it was a box of flour to MAKE cookies, not a box full of cookies! I let her have one of the Enjoy Life cookies instead, and she loved it. I saved the other one to put into one of her school snacks as a fun treat.

Well... I'm not ashamed to admit that other than the cookies, these sat around in my kitchen for a while. I couldn't figure out what to do with the MILA seeds, since I wasn't making smoothies any time soon. And the Better Batter and steel cut oats were ingredients, which I'm not so good with. Baking ingredients, at that. Even worse!
I finally thought to try the MILA seeds on my salad, which was a rousing success. They didn't make my salad feel all seedy, and added vitamins and fiber. Win!

I figured something oatmeal-y would be easier to do than something baker-y, so I started looking for ways to use up the steel cut oats. Crock-pot oatmeal was an obvious choice, but I was still a bit gun-shy from Hubby's attempt a while back. He went to a lot of trouble to find all the fancy ingredients, and seemed to need a lot of prep... and then the results were just "meh."

I found a recipe online for steel cut oatmeal cookies, but I couldn't see that they did anything special to make the oats not so hard and crunchy. So I decided to try the Breakfast Cookie recipe from the MOMables blog.

You'll want to go to the MOMables site for the full recipe, but here is the list of ingredients to get you started, along with notes about my substitutions.

MOMables Breakfast Cookies (with some changes)
1/2 mashed banana
1/2 c peanut butter or any other nut or nut-free butter. (I used SunButter so these would be safe to go in her preschool snack!)
1/2 c honey
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c ground flax seed (or an additional 1/4 c flour)
1/4 c nonfat milk powder or vanilla protein powder (I used unflavored soy protein powder from Fred Meyer's bulk section.) May need to add up to 2 Tbsp water if dough is too thick
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 c rolled oats (I used steel cut oats. Read below for more details.)
1/2 c dried cranberries or raisins (I used mixed chopped dried fruit. See details below)

Other than the oats, I started out putting all the dry ingredients together first and mixing them well, so I wouldn't have to worry about clumps of single ingredients floating around in my cookies! Then I measured and added in all the moist ingredients. Let me tell you. Having a push-cup measuring thingy for the honey and SunButter made this 153 times easier! (When shopping for one, be sure to find one that is dishwasher safe! Unless you enjoy handwashing everything. Freak.)

I'm not a fan of raisins in my oatmeal cookies (I prefer frosting on top!) so I scrounged around looking for something else to use. I was going to chop up some dried apples and white peaches from my June Naturebox, but darned if I couldn't find where I'd put them! So I ended up digging up some de-seeded Sunny Trails mix left over from an earlier box with an assortment of dried apples, cranberries, and tropical fruits. (Z would pick through and just eat the fruits and leave the seeds and nuts scattered around, so I pre-empted her and took out all the seeds and nuts and tossed them into my salads.) To get a full cup of dried fruit mix-ins, I added some Zingy Currants from the April box (I accidentally got two boxes that month, so still have some left!) and some dried cranberries and raisins I keep on hand for my salads.

Since steel cut oats need to be cooked about a bajillion times longer than regular oats, I set them to soaking while I got everything else ready. At first I added enough water to dampen them all, but then that seemed like too much, so I drained out the excess. After absolutely everything else had been done, I put them in the microwave, covered, and cooked them on High for 3 minutes. Then I added them to the mixture, scooped and smooshed the dough into cookie blobs, and baked!

I had to cook them an extra five minutes over what the recipe had said, since they didn't seem firm enough to be scooping off and setting on a cooling rack. Probably due to the extra water in the oats.

The Verdict:
They tasted great, but the oats didn't get to soak long enough. The cookies themselves were moist and chewy, and easy to eat one-handed. But I kept finding hard oat nodules in there, making them extra crunchy. Next time I'll either soak the oats for a few hours first (instead of just however long it took me to get all the other ingredients ready,) or boil them per the package directions until almost done.
I liked them just fine, and couldn't stop picking at them while they were cooling. Z, however, did not like them. I'm not sure if it was the crunchy texture, or that fact that they were billed as "cookies" but didn't taste like what she was expecting. She's never had an oatmeal cookie before, so she might have been thinking chocolate chip or Oreo. But she loves cinnamon, so I might try these again, and maybe add in some chocolate chips to entice her.

Some other changes I made: 
I didn't really use a measuring cup to dole out the dough. Or a wet spatula to shape it. I kind of eyeballed it with my mixing spoon and used it to mash and mold them on the baking sheet. Turned out just fine!

Instead of greasing the pan, I used parchment paper. Worked great!

After putting in the first tray of cookies, I decided that it had been too much work, so I figured I'd try baking them in muffin cups! I used a heart-shaped silicone pan and some mini muffin cups, to make school-snack-sized treats. I wasn't sure how high I should fill them, so I went kind of shallow, since they were spreading on the cookie tray and I didn't want them to puff up too much.
I ended up having to cook them quite a bit longer, and kept tamping the puffiness back down while trying to see if they were cooked enough yet. I eventually got tired of it and turned the oven off and wandered away. I kind of forgot about them, so they got a wee bit overdone. Oops. Held together okay, although one crumbled to bits coming out of the muffin pan (I had tried to take them out earlier, and that was the one that decided me they needed to go back in for a bit, so it was kind of doomed anyway.) Another one had a big hunk fall off, but otherwise they all transferred out okay.


*Disclaimer: I received the September Savorfull box for free to try out. I liked it enough I subscribed!

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