Glutenfree almond and coconut balls covered with chocolate

April 25th, 2015

When I decided to make these cookies in “no-sugar, no-flour, no-…bla-bla-bla” version I realized one thing: that even these cookies having none of the things I am trying to avoid (refined sugar, flour, gluten, yeast and animal proteins in general) are not suitable for us women who have had breast cancer. I have to admit I still know very little about it and this is a conclusion I came to by myself. I believe this statement is correct but I want to clarify it is not a discourse from some expert in the field I am simply reporting. I will explain you how I came to this conclusion.


In the first place, what I understood by listening to the conferences of Prof. Berrino via you tube, is that we necessarily need to reduce the amount of proteins we eat in order to fight but also prevent cancer. We are normally concerned with eating “enough proteins”, while the actual problem of our contemporary society is that we eat “too much proteins” (next to sugars, of course). Very often proteins are the main component of our meal. The Epidemiology Department of the Italian Cancer Institute of Milan is making studies already since 25 years about the relationship diet/cancer and these studies confirmed what the american Doctor Colin Campbel already stated in his book (that I still have to read, I admit) “The China Study”: a protein based diet, especially if coming from animals, stimulate cancer to arise. Coconut is coming from a plant, but, next to saturated fats (which is anyway good to limit), is rich of proteins. Because of this it has the advantage of having a low glycemic index even if its taste is quite sweet by itself. Of course, it is a perfect ingredient for sweets with a low glycemic index.

In the second place, participating to the DIANAWEB (an on-line research group activated by the Italian National Cancer Institute of Milan) I had the chance to access a series of documents that I would have rather preferred not to read :-). The one that really stab me to the heart is this one. One day I’ll talk about the whole document, but today I’ll limit myself in reporting that people that have cancer (and I presume also that have had cancer) should avoid tropical fruit. This because tropical fruit contains high values of polyamines, which stimulate the cellular growth (so they stimulates the growth of good but also bad cells). This is also the case of oranges (the juice in particular), bananas, kiwi… tomatoes (!), eggplants (!!), peppers (!!!). Other fruit has also polyamines but in a much lower amount. Wild berries contain just a little amount of polyamines, because of this they are the fruit we should prefer. There are no clinical studies demonstrating these thesis, but since cancer is greedy of polyamines it is logic to reduce its consumption.

Thirdly, I don’t feel pushing a lot the consumption of coconut since it does not grow here and it has to be transported from the other side of the world. Not only I think its consumption is not very sustainable, but it seems not very logical to me. At least, I start to realize the important of this issue… Unfortunately, however, coconut is really very tasty …

Did I say enough???

When I think about coconut, I think about my youth, the summer, the beach and I hear that sound that I always liked to hear: “COCCCOBELLOOOO… COOOOCCCOOO COCCCOBELLOOOO…”, that means “BEAUTIFUL COCONUT, BEAUTIFUL COCONUT…!”. There was, and probably still is, a men going around selling fresh coconut on the beach (at least along the adriatic sea). I always liked it better than an ice cream and, since I stopped eating milk products, I use coconut milk or cream much more often than before. So you can imagine how sad this news makes me. When, approximately 6 months ago, I was taking part to a rehabilitation course for people that had cancer (Herstel en Balans), after reading this article I had to cry in front of the group because I realized the path I choose is extremely hard… because I love to eat, and I love tasty food! Until that moment when I needed some “comfort food” which would be 100% plant based and – I though – 100% healthy, I was cooking a red thai curry. Now I know it is not totally true. I still cook it once in a while, but eventually not so often as I was used to. Maybe I should not publish this recipe on my blog because I could stimulate some (ex)breast-cancer-patients to eat coconut. I was thinking exactly this that saturday morning. Then I gave it a double thought.
For how much I really want to give all myself to stay here as long as possible, I also do not want to live the rest of my life as sick person. Especially if this means becoming sad and have the sensation you need to renounce to everything that might give you some joy. After all, even if there is no certainty, in theory I should be healed. Moreover, I was reflecting on a second issue. Only now – at the ripe old age of 40 – I am realizing that our body is an incredibly complex ensemble of things, worlds, systems and different realities that work together and that the most important thing to keep ourself healthy is having BALANCE. We can be very careful about what we eat, but if we do not exercise and we live constantly under stress, our healthy diet will protect ourselves only until a certain extent. For this reason, recently I tend to relativize. By this, I do not mean to say that I justify possible exception to the rules that, as you might have already understood, sometimes I indulge myself. But yes, I try to look at my life from 360 degrees and not only from one corner.
So, thinking back at this cookies, I know these are not the ones I can eat every day (because of this there are also categorized under “without limits”, still being “without nothing!”). The most important thing is becoming aware of it and, of corse, not eating them in big quantities… which is not always easy, at least for me! 🙂 Hopefully, through this post, some other woman who had breast cancer (and is willing to make a change to reduce relapse chances) will also become aware of this issue.
Anyway, I made this sweets for kids in occasion of a reunion of italian children in the Rotterdam Central Library. Probably the mothers have been eating more cookies than the children but this is another story :-)…


Ingredients (for approximately 70 balls of 2-2,5 cm diameter):

160 g of shredded coconut
140 g of almond flour
140 ml (extracted) juice of 2 small apples
1/4 tea spoon of vanilla essence
60g of coconut sugar
2 spoons of (golden) flaxseeds processed with a coffee grinder
50 ml water
zest of 1 lemon



.mix together all the ingredients and let them rest in the fridge for minimum 10 minutes
.make little balls and place them on a tray covered with parchment paper
.bake 25 minutes at 140 degrees
.let it cool and in the meanwhile take:

50g dark chocolate 70% (better 92%)
1 spoon of extra virgin coconut oil (optional)

.melt the chocolate in a bain marie and add the coconut oil (it gives glossiness but it is not compulsory)
.dip the cookies in the chocolate, then place them on a sheet of parchment paper at a safe distance
.wait until ‘the chocolate has cooled down and solidified
.keep preferably in the refrigerator before serving.
They are fantastic also as “raw cookies”. You could cover them with chocolate without baking them or roll them in shredded coconut, as we did with part of the dough.


Time 30 minutes preparation time, 25 minutes approximately baking time

Difficulty  low

Prevention and DIANA diet If you want to know more about the diet recommended by Cascina Rosa (National Cancer Institute of Milan) for women who have had breast cancer, click here (only italian). This diet is anyway suitable for all the people who want to adopt a more healthy lifestyle that will help prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases.

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