Global Holiday Treats… A Twist


It’s that time of year again. I’m trading in hours of sleep for hours of heart-filled cookie prep. Making edible treats for my coworkers, neighbors and friends (in place of more junk) is one of my favorite parts about the holiday season. Cooking for others is a practice of generosity that helps me appreciate all that I have. As I zen out to the rhythm of  stir, pour, mash, taste, pour, stir, I slow my thoughts and my body. Plus, I get a chance to play with foods from around the globe. So, as Rubina brings us handcrafted products from all over the world, I’ve been inspired to shake up my holiday treats with global flare. See four of my favorite globally inspired treats below.

1. Quinoa cookies

IMG_1927 IMG_1873

In the highlands of Bolivia and Peru, quinoa is a treasured crop. It not only provides crucial nutrients such as iron and amino acids, it is an important economic commodity. As quinoa has become popular outside of these countries, many quinoa farmers have shifted their agricultural practices to meet consumer demand. For some, this has resulted in  a loss of traditional farming methods. For others, it has generated cherished income. Other income generating commodities in this region are llamas and alpacas, which women throughout the Andes have incorporated in their traditional handwoven textiles. Jump to recipe

1. Coconut banana rice pudding


Photo courtesy of

This sweet dish is inspired by a Cambodian New Years treat in which banana wrapped in sticky rice is grilled inside banana leaves. The recipe below mimics this traditional treat, but its ingredients are more accessible for those of us stuck stateside. One of the many traditional crafts practiced in Cambodia is Ikat. Ikat is created by dying threads prior to their weaving in order to create often elaborate and intricate patterns of woven textiles. Jump to recipe

3. Buckwheat Chanukah cookies:


These gems were inspired by my Bubbie’s (yiddish for Grandmother) traditional eastern European dish, Kasha and Bows.  When my Bubbie immigrated to the US as a survivor of the Holocaust, she and her family survived off the income of my grandfather’s tailor shop. Now, when I visit craft collectives around the world, I have a greater understanding of my grandfather’s challenges and triumphs. My family has a long tradition of handcraft – from my Zayde’s tailoring expertise, to my mom’s knitting obsession. Jump to recipe

4. A Healthier Ladoo:


When I was living in India, I loved going to sweet shops and sampling the multicolored desserts. Most of the sweets in Gujarat are combination of nuts, dry fruits and spices laden with ghee and jaggery (sugar cane solids). They are perfectly shaped and painfully sweet- some are encased edible silver foil and others are artfully colored with food dyes. Sometimes, I made “American ladoo” to bring to the office – I rolled oats in peanut butter, raisins and coconut shreds, and then dipped them in chocolate. They were a hit with my coworkers. Now that I’m back in my own kitchen in the US, I’m often inspired by Indian flavors and cooking methods. While I try to recreate the flavors and textures that I miss so much, mostly I aim to channel India’s food energy  – the attention that people give to food preparation, presentation and digestion. In the US, we eat things that are quick and convenient, but in rural India, where I was living, processed foods were hard to come by. The version of ladoo below was inspired by flavors of India and recreated for a vegan, whole-foods lifestyle. India is known for its variety of traditional crafts including blockprinting, bandhani (traditional tie-dye), leather work, embroidery, weaving, etc. And most handcrafts are tended to just like the food is prepared – with care, precision and heart! Check out Rubina’s Dazzle Clutch made by traditional leather embossers and hand-painters of the Shantiniketan community outside of Kolkata, India. Jump to recipe

Quinoa Cookies


  • 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbs sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ginger powder, cinnamon, clove powder an/or nutmeg
  • 1/2 c coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 c agave nectar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 c cooked quinoa (I use tri-colored quinoa)
  • 1 c rolled think-cut oats
  • 1/2 raisins
  • 1/2 c crushed walnuts


Preheat oven to 375° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices in bowl and set aside. With a fork or electric mixer, beat oil, sugar, agave, eggs and vanilla for about 3 minutes. Add flour mixture and beat. Stir in oats, quinoa, raisins and nuts. Spoon onto baking sheet in 2 inch balls about 1 inch apart. Bake for 15-20 minutes until brown on the edges.


Banana Rice Pudding

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbs sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 12 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • 3 large bananas, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Soak the rice, cinnamon, cloves and salt in the water in a heavy saucepan for 1 hour. Then, bring to boil, uncovered, and lower heat. Let cook until water is almost evaporated. Meanwhile, beat egg, milk, condensed milk and vanilla. Stir in bananas. Add mixture to rice and stir over low heat until rice mixture becomes thick. This should take from 20 – 30 minutes or until liquid is absored to tield a creamy pudding. Let chill in fridge or outdoors – it will thicken once cool.

Chanukah Honey Buckwheat Cookies


  • IMG_18031 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 tbs sea salt
  • 6 dates chopped
  • 1/2 c hazelnuts chopped
  • dash of clove powder
  • 1/2 tbs vanilla

Mix flours together. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar, salt and butter until smooth. Add chopped dates, hazelnuts, vanilla and clove powder. Add flour and mix until dough forms. Form dough into ball and refrigerate for at least two hours.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into a sheet that’s 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to shape cookies. Place cookies at least an inch apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush glaze onto cookies before putting them into oven.


Bake for 10 – 13 minutes, until edges begin to brown. Let cool completely and enjoy!

Zesty sesame glaze:

  • 1/3 of a small avocado
  • 1/3 c honey
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tbs lemon zest
  • 4 tbs sesame seeds
  • dash of clove powder
  • blue food coloring

Mash avocado until creamy with the back of a fork (or blend in food processor) until fibers can no longer be seen. Stir in remaining ingredients.


IMG_0601A Healthier Ladoo

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup dried figs
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 tbs sea salt
  • 5 cardamom pods, crushed
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1/2 c raisins
  • 1/3 c unsweetened coconut shreds


Dump all ingredients except for raisins and coconut shreds into food processor, and run processor until a smooth oily paste develops. This may take a while depending on the food processor. If it gets warm, turn it off for a bit so that you don’t overheat the engine. Remove from food processor and mix raisins into paste. Roll into balls, and then roll balls in coconut shreds. Put in fridge to allow the balls to harden before serving. This version of the balls tasted a bit earthier than the original. I used only pumpkin seeds in the original version, which produced a creamier, smoother taste. Really, any nuts will work (any combo of fruity sweet and nutty fat is delish) – use whatever you have in the house.


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