Every day it feels like there’s another revelation from the scientific community about the impending doom of climate change. And every day I get up on my soapbox to promote bamboo as an antidote to deforestation, an alternative to disposable plastics, and a remedy for global warming. Indeed, bamboo can do many incredible things to address and ameliorate the ills of the modern world. But sometimes it’s necessary to turn away from the doom and gloom and seek refuge with a restorative batch of bamboo cookies.
Bamboo cookies are one of a host of culinary products that can be made from bamboo flour. A substitute for ordinary wheat or grain flour, bamboo flour is a dry powder meal made from ground bamboo shoots. As a gluten-free alternative, bamboo cookies and other baked goods have a variety of health benefits. And it’s one more way to take advantage of this exceptionally fast-growing resource.
What are bamboo cookies?
Surely, you already know about chocolate chip, oatmeal, and cinnamon cookies. But bamboo cookies? Is this some kind of joke, a left-wing conspiracy, or an Alice B. Toklasian euphemism?
No, bamboo cookies are for real, and they can come in just as many flavors as the ordinary (and extraordinary) cookies you’re more familiar with. The only difference is that bamboo cookies are made with bamboo flour. You can mix this, as you would any other flour, with eggs, milk, butter, spices, nuts, and so on, according to your tastes and dietary restrictions.
Gluten-free flour and bamboo baked goods
The chief distinction of bamboo flour is that, unlike most grains, it contains no gluten. Most flour is made from the ground seed of an annual grass like wheat, rye, barley, spelt, etc. Some grains have more or less gluten than others, and some, like rice and sorghum, have none.
Bamboo flour is derived from the fresh, young shoots of bamboo, which are dried and ground into a powder that resembles any other flour. Bamboo is a grass, like the other grains, but the flour comes from the stalk rather than the seeds. And in any case, it contains no gluten, which makes it an excellent alternative for those with a gluten allergy or sensitivity. Bamboo cookies are keto friendly!
As with other gluten-free flour, including almond and rice-based, bamboo flour does not rise especially well. So baking a fluffy loaf of bread can be a challenge. But a wide assortment of other products are perfectly feasible. Bamboo and other gluten-free alternatives are great for things like cookies and crackers, or pizza and flatbread. There are even companies making bamboo spaghetti now.
Benefits of bamboo cookies
In addition to being gluten-free and low in carbs, assuming you don’t add too much sugar, bamboo cookies can have a wide range of other benefits. At least in Asia, people have been consuming bamboo shoots for many centuries. They offer a readily available source of nutrition, including protein, vitamins, and trace minerals.
According to the Bamboo & Cane Development Institute (BCDI), a government agency in Tripura, northeastern India, bamboo cookies can provide a significant immunity boost. The region has long been aware of bamboo shoots and their health benefits, making them a common ingredient in local soups and curries.
In 2020, near the height of the COVID pandemic, and in conjunction with World Bamboo Day on Sept.18, the BCDI launched a concerted campaign to produce bamboo cookies and distribute them as a potent immunity-boosting remedy. As Tripuri’s Chief Minister proudly proclaimed, bamboo shoots have the capacity to regulate cardiovascular issues and hypertension, and they’ve also been used to treat gastric ulcers and asthma.
Furthermore, they prepared these cookies with reduced sugar to be low in calories and safe for those with diabetes. Some even said that the cookies had anti-viral, anti-cancerous and antibiotic properties, although these claims have yet to be reliably verified.
Sourcing ingredients for bamboo cookies
Bamboo flour is not easy to find on the shelves of your local grocery store, but you can shop for it online. Check Amazon, where you’ll find bamboo flour sold by the kilo.
The people of Tripuri State claim to have some of the best bamboo shoots in the country, collected from the native species Melocanna baccifera, which has unusually well-developed roots and vigorous shoots. In most cases, commerical bamboo flour comes from Moso bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis) from China. But this commodity is growing in popularity across India and Southeast Asia.
If it’s truly healthy cookies that you want, then don’t skimp on the other ingredients. Use only the highest quality oats, raisins, nuts and sweeteners. Choose organic, non-GMO and fair trade whenever possible.
Better living with bamboo
If you enjoy bamboo cookies, you’ll love them even more with a hot cup of bamboo tea. And while you’re at it, why not take a look at some of the following articles for a stroll through the lighter side of bamboo living?