One Calm Cookie
Nerve-Soothing Almond, Lemon, Poppy Seed Bites
Story and Photo By Alexandra Hudson
As a certified clinical herbalist and holistic educator with a passion for combining therapeutic and pleasurable experiences, I like to find ways to make recipes more nutrient dense. To start, I note which parts include a fat or liquid, as herbs are easily infused into both of these. If a recipe includes flour, I might substitute part with raw powdered herbal roots such as maca, eleuthero, or ashwagandha. For seeds, I might include medicine-rich nettle or poppy seeds for a portion of the total seed volume. It’s a matter of pairing various parts of a recipe with medicines I seek to utilize.
As fall arrives, there’s so much that needs doing, and anxiety can run high. To help with this, we can incorporate herbs that are both nerve-tonifying and soothing into our food, playing with small doses to ensure the effect is desirable, and remembering that a little can go a long way. Some nerve-supportive herbs that will extract well into oil include chamomile, rose petals, fresh lemon balm, lemon verbena, wild lettuce, kava root, passionflower, and lavender blossoms, among others.
For this recipe, I infuse coconut oil or ghee with nerve-soothing herbs. You can use the following folk method for quick extraction: Melt 1 cup coconut oil or ghee in the top of a double boiler over low heat. Then stir in either 1½ cups of chopped fresh herbs or ⅔ cup dried herbs. Cover to keep in the aromatic volatile oils as the mixture warms over barely simmering water for a half hour, stirring every five minutes or so. When the oil is rich with flavor and scent, strain it through a cheesecloth or nut milk bag into a bowl and squeeze to press out the oil. The herb oil is now ready for use, or it can be saved in a jar to add to dishes that otherwise call for plain, unseasoned oil. If you used fresh herbs, a little water may remain in the final herbal oil, so it should be stored in the fridge to prevent spoilage.
Makes 20 1½-inch cookies
¼ cup herbal-infused coconut oil or ghee, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
⅓ cup maple syrup or honey
1–2 tablespoons lemon zest
1⅓ cups coarse ground almond flour, or nut flour mix of your choice
2 tablespoons coconut flour or herbal root powder of your choice such as ashwagandha or maca
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup poppy seeds
Edible flowers, almonds, or little pieces of dehydrated fruit for decoration
In a medium bowl, combine the melted herbal-infused coconut oil or ghee with the vanilla, almond extract, maple syrup or honey, and lemon zest.
In a separate bowl, stir together the nut flour, coconut flour or herbal root powder, salt, baking powder, and poppy seeds, then add to the oil mixture and stir until smooth. Refrigerate dough about 20 minutes to make it more workable.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and set 1½ inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. If the warming dough gets too tacky, splash some water onto your hands. This will keep the dough easier to work with.
Press edible flowers, almonds, or little pieces of dehydrated fruit lightly into the tops of the cookies for a delightful finish.
Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to develop a kiss of light brown and tops appear a bit dry. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet. If the cookies do not get eaten right away, store in an airtight container.
Alexandra Hudson is a certified clinical herbalist and holistic educator who lives on an urban farm in the Montclair Valley where she tends to land and her beloved community and offers sessions to clients. She offers classes through her business, Alchemistress, and with the Berkeley Herbal Center in Berkeley, where she trained as an herbal clinician. For more information visit alchemistress.world.