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Unexpected Lessons: Science and Food Preparation

June 21, 2017

By Joanne Gardner, MS, RDN, LDN

Experimenting with Food Science and Nutrition

I have always been fascinated with food science. My first career aspiration, fueled by dreams of combining and concocting foods in delicious creations, was to work in a test kitchen. My undergrad degree was in Food Science and Nutrition, and although I really loved the lab courses the long hours of isolation in the lab prompted me to shift my focus to working with people. I still find the science of food fascinating, so when my Energy-To-Go cookies turned an unexpected shade of green I began to investigate. I easily found stories about green cookies on blogs and posts and the connection was clear; sunflower seeds contain a substance called chlorogenic acid which, in the presence of a base (baking soda) oxidizes and upon cooling turns this spinach-shade-of-green. I had replaced the nuts in the recipe with sunflower seeds, blended up into a coarse meal and sure enough, they were the culprits. The bloggers suggested reducing the baking soda and adding some lemon juice, which I did for the revised cookie recipe. They were delicious, golden brown on the outside and still spinach-green on the inside! If you want to bypass the green color, use cashews or almonds in the recipe. Happy experimenting!

Energy-On-The-Go Cookies Recipe

Makes 30-36 2 inch cookies
Per Cookie:  Calories: 77; 10 grams carbohydrate; 2 grams protein; 4 grams fat

¾ cup unsalted sunflower seeds, cashews, or almonds (either raw or roasted)
1 medium banana
½ cups rolled oats (NOT instant oats)
¼ cup peanut butter
½ cup gluten free baking mix or sweet sorghum flour
¼ cup softened organic butter
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ cup maple syrup
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ tsp. ground ginger powder
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup raisins (or currants, cranberries, chopped dried apricots, figs or dates)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper to make it easier to remove the cookies.
  2. Transfer the nuts or seeds to a food processor and process until finely ground. Pour into a medium bowl.
  3. Combine the rolled oats, flour, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon in the bowl with the ground nuts/seeds; stir to mix well.
  4. Place the banana in the food processor, and pulse until it is well mashed. Add butter, peanut butter, and maple syrup, processing until well blended. Add the egg and pulse until well mixed. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, pulsing a few more times.
  5. Combine the banana mixture with the rolled oats. Add the raisins or dried fruit. Mix all until well combined.
  6. Scoop with a tablespoon onto the cookie sheet. Allowing space for them to expand.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes until light golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


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