Basil Lemon Walnut Cookies

These delicious raw cookies use basil, normally a savoury herb, to increase the complexity of these easy cookies. Lemon adds a touch of sunshine to a walnut and honey base.

Basil Lemon Walnut Cookies

I recently attempted to do GAPS. Attempted is the key word.

For those who don’t know what GAPS is, it’s a protocol to heal the gut. This does not affect only digestive issues (bloating, constipation, diarrhea), but helps improve other health issues as well. The acronym stands for Gut And Psychology Syndrome, as Dr. Campbell-McBride developed the program to help her autistic son.

The idea is that an impoverished digestive system can lead to a myriad of health problems because the food you eat actually becomes toxic to your body. The diet starves toxic pathogens in the gut by not eating disaccharides (like sugar, grains, potatoes, etc), heals the lining of the digestive tract with lots of bone broth (gelatin and lots of nutrients), and replaces the bad pathogens with good probiotics. As the gut heals, you slowly re-introduce foods back in, but it can take anywhere from six months to two years.

It’s pretty intensive, but I wanted to try for a number of reasons for our family, including dairy intolerance, bloating, ADHD, and a few other behavioural issues. (GAPS can also help heal allergies and food intolerances.)

Basil Lemon Walnut Cookies

My husband and I did it for about three months, and the children ate GAPS when we were home but I didn’t try and limit their food selection when we went places.

I thought I would start when school got out for the summer, as the kids were getting all sorts of treats at school. What I didn’t realize is that almost every weekend during the summer we were often gone visiting friends or traveling. With toddler twins I’m not in a place where I can prepare tons of food beforehand, so I always thought, “we’ll start after x happens.” But then there was always something else happening after.

Another problem was just as I wanted to start, I ran out of bones. We order part of a cow every year, including the bones, and I ran out. It’s not that easy to find piles of pasture raised animal bones. So because we weren’t able to go whole hog at home, I didn’t feel like I could stop the kids from eating other foods when out.

As the diet is quite restrictive, it takes a lot of energy to come up with meal ideas. If we had had bones, I would have constantly made soup (not so great in the summer either), but I didn’t. So I found that I was spending so much energy on what I COULDN’T eat that I wasn’t able to put energy into what we should have been eating, namely probiotics.

Really good quality probiotics are very expensive, doubly so because they are not available in Slovakia, so we needed to eat fermented foods. That means I needed to make fermented foods, yogurt being out because of dairy intolerance. But I didn’t have any energy left to make fermented foods after figuring out what to eat for dinner.

So, we stopped. The conditions weren’t right at the moment, but I haven’t given up. When we get the bones from the cow this year, I think I’ll try again.

For right now, I’m going to concentrate on trying to make lots of fermented foods, and try to get my kids to eat them, and hope that the probiotics crowd out the pathogens.

Basil Lemon Walnut Cookies

The Recipe

I got onto a streak of using herbs in sweet dishes this summer. I think it started because I finally have herbs on my balcony this summer, right off the kitchen. Some creations I came up with were Watermelon Lemon Balm Sorbet, Cherry Mint Spritzer, and Strawberry Sage Popsicles.

I hand cracked these walnuts. Let me tell you, the value increases dramatically when you have to put so much work into obtaining the food!

I highly recommend first soaking and drying the walnuts. Not only does it neutralize the phytic acid, it gets rid of the bitter aftertaste that walnuts have. The cookies taste way better when they doesn’t have any bitterness. If you don’t have time to soak and dehydrate, you can soak and roast on a low heat, or at least quickly roast them at 350F/180C for five minutes, which helps but doesn’t eliminate the bitterness.

Basil Lemon Walnut Cookies


  • 200g / 2 cups walnuts (see note above)
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 generous tsp lemon peel, grated
  • 2 generous tsp fresh basil, finely chopped


  1. Heat oven to 350F/180C and when hot, roast walnuts for 5 min (see above).
  2. Pulse walnuts in food processor (or high speed blender) to a coarse meal. Be careful not to overprocess, as the walnuts will then release too much oil.
  3. Pour walnut meal into a bowl, add honey, grated lemon peel, and finely chopped fresh basil, stir with a wooden spoon until mixed.
  4. Form the mixture into balls by the teaspoonful, then flatten.
  5. Savour some quick delicious sweetness!

Have you tried a particular food protocol? Were you able to stick with it?

Shared at Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Real Food Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Platterwise Penny Thursday