Morning or Afternoon Tea, Super Easy, Sweet

Weighing Worth / Coconut, Strawberry & Balsamic Cookies {dairy free, gluten free}

“To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.”
Simone de Beauvoir

I’ve always had a rather unhealthy view of weight, I suspect I’m not alone. I grew up in central London, surrounded by skinny. I went to private schools where statistics at the time showed that one out of every seven girls had eating disorders. I remember being thrilled when people told me I was too thin, believing that was the only acceptable size to be.

After a whole life of being naturally slim, with minimal effort on my part, I fell pregnant. And put on 30kg (nearly 5 stone, or 66 pounds). I wept with my sister one day towards the end of my pregnancy because she was trying to convince me to buy some clothes – I’d refused to go shopping for months. I also hadn’t had a hair cut, wasn’t wearing makeup and had stopped looking in the mirror. On one level I was happier than ever because we were finally having a child, on another level (that I was ashamed to admit to myself) I was filled with self-loathing for my physical appearance. I would look at pregnant women who had a delicate bump jutting from a still-perfect form and felt, in a place that I wasn’t admitting to anyone, that I was failing at being pregnant.

I was comforted that once I gave birth and started breastfeeding the weight would fall off. I’d join the ranks of yummy mummies and my success as a hybrid mother/attractive woman would be assured.

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Except it didn’t happen. I lost 8kg during birth, but no more. As I’ve written many times on this blog, my son’s been a poor sleeper for most of his life and so my body craved high-calorie food as a replacement for sleep. I’d also been diagnosed (utterly unsurprisingly given the lack of sleep) with mild post natal depression, a classic vehicle for a slower metabolism.

I felt ashamed that I was ashamed of my weight. As a right-on women’s lib modern thinker I make a point not to judge others for which hole their belt fills. But it became apparent that I was near-incapable of practising even a basic level of self care while I was overweight. Granted, I wasn’t helped by some in my community, but the truth is that in all the emotional growth and shifts I’ve had over the years, one thing I never challenged was my belief about thin being best.

I started work on self acceptance, on seeing myself as the same person I was before the added weight. But I couldn’t break through the feeling I’d lost my femininity and the shame that I couldn’t fit into jeans. And the truth, that I wish wasn’t the truth, is that I didn’t want to accept myself. My whole life has been geared towards being slim and I still struggle with the belief that self acceptance is the right and healthy way to think.

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Six months ago my son’s sleep improved. It took a couple of months to find my feet from two years of chronic sleep deprivation and then I started to change my eating habits and up my exercise. Four month’s on and I’ve only a few kilos left before I’m a weight I feel comfortable sitting in (although I could always go thinner, I need to be careful to follow my doctor’s guidance instead of basing my ideal weight on exiguous girls in magazines). I tried on a pair of jeans today that I couldn’t have gotten over my knees a few months ago and they fit — I was so excited that I wore them out for the day, even though I probably need to lose a bit more weight to do them justice. The goodies you get on this blog are almost entirely given away to friends and family these days (and my invitations have risen accordingly!). I test my recipes extensively before posting and taste constantly through that process, but other than that I’m pretty healthy.

Well, I say healthy, but is it? Really, my aim is to be thin. All other health benefits are secondary to my weight. Can I claim health-consciousness if it’s just a bi-product of my vanity? Logically I know that slim should be a side effect of health, not the other way around, and the feminist part of me snarls at my shallowness, but I just can’t seem to marry up my logic with my feelings.

I know I usually have a resolution at the end of my posts, and intellectually it’s clear what I need to be feeling, but I haven’t managed to walk the journey from my head to my heart on this one. Not yet.

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What I do have are these amazing cookies. They’re not a health food, I think we can all safely agree that’s not going to happen on this blog — and why should it? But they’re a small bite of incredible flavour. Sweet strawberry, creamy coconut and tangy balsamic vinegar all cased in a super light cookie made from egg whites and sugar. The Cheergerm & The Silly Yak reminded me last week that I’d been meaning to make some old school macaroons since I made the curd for my Lavender, Honey & Lemon Curd Madeleines. Being a sweet-toothed sort, I enjoy traditional macaroons (and if that’s what you’re looking for, I suggest you head straight over to Cheergerm’s page because her recipe’s spot on) but I’ve designed this version to lengthen the flavours across your palate; turning this childhood classic into a rather special grown up treat. Enjoy.

Save and print this recipe by clicking here

Makes 24

  • 2 egg whites
  • Pinch of sea (kosher) salt
  • 100g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 100g fine desiccated coconut
  • 1 tbl sp freeze dried strawberry powder (either buy, or make your own at this link)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • About 1 tbl sp balsamic vinegar glaze to finish (either buy, or recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 150˚C / 300˚F and line two baking trays with baking paper

Whisk the egg whites and salt in a medium sized bowl until stiff peaks form

Gradually beat in the sugar and strawberry powder

Gently fold in the coconut and balsamic

Using 2 teaspoons, shape heaped teaspoons of the mixture into balls and place on the trays, about 5cm apart

Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating halfway through

When the macaroons are dry and cooked, cool on wire racks before drizzling with the balsamic glaze

Store in an airtight container

Balsamic Glaze

  • 500ml balsamic vinegar

Pour vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer

Turn the heat to low and reduce the vinegar for between 30 and 40 minutes, or until it has become thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. You should end up with about 125ml

Remove from heat and allow to cool

If sealed in an airtight container and kept in the fridge, a balsamic glaze should keep quite happily for a year or more

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26 thoughts on “Weighing Worth / Coconut, Strawberry & Balsamic Cookies {dairy free, gluten free}

  1. These look gorgeous, very tricky, I thought it was chocolate but love, love the balsamic glaze and strawberry combo. A great grown up treat. Thanks for the shoutout Mrs ImperfectKitchen and for another thought provoking post.

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  2. Those cookies looks incredible. For all my difficulties with MH I am lucky enough to say I have never suffered with an eating disorder. I eat if I am happy and I eat if I am sad. I do understand where you are coming from as I went to a state girls school in London too during the era of heroine chic (Kate Moss, Jodie Kidd) and a lot of my fiends suffered with body image issues. I think if anything cooking and eating has always been an escape for me. Be proud of being a mummy. None of that other stuff matters. I had a miscarriage in March and that really does put things into perspective. Have a great week. Emma xx

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  3. Yummy, yummy, in my tummy
    Tasty morsels of gluten free munchies
    Oh I should stop, really I should
    But Suzanne makes them, like no one else could

    We all want to look thin, like the girl in the magazine
    So what do I choose, cookies or old jeans
    Suzanne, Suzanne! don’t battle like so
    Because you only need your approval to make you feel whole

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  4. When Tori Spelling said “I took off my baby weight the old-fashioned way. I like to call it the Just Keep Your F–king Mouth Shut and Eat Air Diet. It’s all the rage” (Yes I just quoted Tori Spelling, don’t hate me), I couldn’t help but love her candid outspokeness. Turns out she didn’t lose her pregnancy weight so quickly by careful diet, breast feeding and Pilates – like many other uber thin mothers suggest. She ate nothing. And I suspect there are many more closet air-eaters out there too.

    Even though I can see it is a ridiculous notion to hate your body after it has just produced a whole new body (I’ve been there too baby) the question is do you want to have a life or do you want to be hungry? Do you think those weathergirls, WAGS and whatever’s in the press are rail thin after baby because of pilates alone. No way. They’re hungry. Count on it.

    I’d say don’t be too hard on yourself and eat what your body needs (particularly when you’re tired) but if you’re anything like me, you’ll be hard on yourself anyway. Just eat more than air.

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    • Ha! That’s a funny quote. I’m definitely in the ‘careful diet’ gang – with a regular side helping of chocolate… I guess I was more trying to recognise that I have a healthy diet as long as it gets me slim – and questioning whether that can really be seen as healthy. May be I didn’t explain it very well in the post though!

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    • A dehydrator’s definitely easier, but you can also thinly slice the strawberries and place them on baking trays before leaving them in the oven on the lowest setting overnight. It’s an amazing ingredient, so glad you like the idea!

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  5. As someone who is an emotional eater and constantly watching my weight, your post really hit home for me. I’m not married or engaged yet, but I worry about gaining a lot of weight when I do reach that point in my life. I’m encouraged by your post and that you’re making such progress in your weight loss. The cookies look delicious too… Balsamic glaze on a cookie?? Genius 🙂

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    • I completely relate to the emotional side of weight, and the attention it takes away from other things. I hope you find some peace around it, I’ll let you know the secret if I ever do! And thank you for such a lovely comment about the cookies.

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  6. What beautiful photographs, and lovely recipes — as a sweets enthusiast, I might just have to try one. I love the photo of these cookies particularly, because I’m also an unabashed fan of the color pink, especially in my desserts.

    And, what identification do I have with you on the issue of weight. My word, I recall feeling that same sense of pride when several of my coworkers told me that I was too thin. Simultaneously, I knew that it was wrong. At my age now, I accept that this is a vanity that I’ll probably never let go. I prefer being thin and that’s that. Why do we have vanities — to survive — I don’t know. But I’m indulging this one and at this age, I think I might just have to live with it. Thanks for sharing your journey on this measure.

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    • Thanks! The colour’s also one of my favourite parts of these cookies.

      I really like that you see the thinking around your weight as an indulgence instead of a failing. It sounds much more human and loving the way you describe it. I think I’m going to work towards seeing it your way instead of giving myself a hard time in future.

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