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From Garden to Cookie


You know how the call to do chores often falls on selective-hearing little ears? When the video game and TV programs drown out their commitment to living in the real world? Well, the antidote to this—I have figured out by doing double-blind unscientific studies using neighborhood children and my 5-year-old son—is to suggest to your child that they play in dirt. Yes, this call to soiled action moves butts, my friends!

Gardening1 (1)

All you need to do is square off a section of dirt in your front or backyard where there is usually a lot of sun. Stray rocks or stones work very well for this purpose. With your child, remove any twigs, branches or other debris from the newly cubed plot. Hand him a small garden tool, like a mini-tiller or a small spade, and have him mess up the dirt until he’s covered in it. This is called aerating the soil (and giving mommy a huge load of dirty laundry to do).

Together, feed the dirt nutritious and organic food. Yes, mud needs its vitamins, too. So purchase some potting soil that has been enriched with the Recommended Daily Allowance of nutrients and minerals for plants and vegetables and bring it home. Then, have your kid throw this on top of the fluffy dirt. He’ll think it’s a lot of fun and will get more dirt on himself than when he was merrily tilling.

The, you’ll want to revisit to the nursery to pick out some tasty seeds that you can plant together. Or, if you’re like me, just buy starter plants that already have some vegetables and herbs on them so you don’t have to wait too long for product.

I usually buy tomatoes, dill, chives, thyme and basil. These are easy to plant. It involves digging shallow little graves and then filling them. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions and your kid will be pulling delicate herb leaves and cherry reds in a New York minute.

But wait—there’s more. Now you can fancy yourself a chef and make up a recipe (or use the one I provided) and incorporate all the freshly grown garden life into your pastry. Yes, it’s possible to make cookies and cupcakes with herbs. I’ve done it and so can you. Basil Lemonade Cookies, anyone?

I highly recommend you get your child a uniform (my son won’t bake without his apron) and then let him get his hands into all the ingredients, measuring and stirring to his heart’s content. This will give you a whole new mess but that’s what Swiffers are for.

Your kid will have to try what comes out of the oven because he’s invested in it. And he’ll want to know if it was worth missing an hour of 3D Nintendo video time. And it will be.

Basil Lemonade Cookies
Must Have

15 x 13-inch sheet of parchment paper
11/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
1/2 cup light buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon guar gum
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/4 teaspoon stevia powder
7 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons finely minced fresh basil

Lemon Glaze
1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 cup powdered erythritol
5 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Must Do
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 15 x 13-inch cookie sheet with parchment paper.
To make the cookies, whisk together the two flours, baking soda, guar gum and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle.

Microwave the coconut oil and coconut nectar in a 2-cup measuring cup for 20 seconds. Add the vanilla, lemon extract and stevia and stir to combine. Pour into the flour mixture.

Add the water to the flour mixture and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the basil.

Take about 11/2 tablespoons of the dough, shape it into a ball, and place it on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat until you have used up all the dough, placing the balls about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Flatten each gently with the bottom of a measuring cup.

Bake the cookies for 13 to 14 minutes, or until they are a light golden brown around the edges. Rotate the cookie sheet from front to back after 9 minutes of baking.

Transfer the cookie sheet from the oven to a wire rack and let sit for about 15 minutes before removing the cookies to cool completely.

To make the lemon glaze, mix together the coconut milk and turmeric powder in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 20 seconds. Add the powdered erythritol and lemon juice and stir until smooth and well combined.
Frost the completely cooled cookies. Keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.

DEBBIE ADLER ( opened her allergen-free, vegan bakery, Sweet Debbie’s Organic Cupcakes, in Los Angeles in 2006. She has appeared on NBC’s evening news, and has been featured in Pilates Style magazine and on InStyle online and E! Online. Her recipes have been published online by Food Allergy Research and Education, The Chalkboard, Life Goes Strong and She is the author of Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-free & Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery (November 2013, Harlequin) and lives in L.A. with her husband and son.

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