It’s been two weeks since I’ve been home in the US and I already miss making treats. Cookies, bars, cakes, granola, cobblers… there was always something to be concocted and it was a breeze, or should I say piece of cake ;) in our—thanks to my lovely mother—well-stocked pantry and well-equipped kitchen. How I took that all for granted! Whipping up a batch of after dinner peanut butter cookies isn’t quite as simple when my current pantry has zero ingredients, and my kitchen not a spatula, mixing bowl nor cookie sheet. I know, poor poor me… :)
One of my first posts was my adapted version of Nikki’s Healthy Cookies from 101 Cookbooks, a “classic” healthy cookie of the blog world. Butter-less, flour-less, egg-less, and sugar-less, these continue to please as my go-to healthy cookie and friends still ask me for “that banana cookie recipe you always made.”
Well with time after time of baking these and my unending obsession with changing up recipes, I have for you my new and improved healthy banana cookie. It’s peanutty, banana-y, coconutty, puctuated with drops of creamy chocolate (or carob), and to me the flavors never get old. Substantial + healthy enough to eat for breakfast, ideal for a midday snack, and decadent enough to satisfy my sweet cravings…. what more do I need to say? :)
It’s been a while since I’ve made a good, wholesome, nutritious cookie — one that I can feel good about snacking on for a boost of energy first thing in the morning, or as a perfectly sweet treat after dinner.
As a self-professed cookie monster, I’ve embraced the art of “healthy cookie” making so I’d always have something slightly more nutritious than a box of nutter butters when the monster decided to come out. But lately my cookie baking has been less-than-healthy, and I’m longing for those guilt–free goodies of my past….
Some may laugh at cookies for breakfast, but to that I say simply compare the ingredients & nutrition facts to a your typical banana-nut bakery muffin and thennn we’ll see who’s laughing….
These pack serious protein from the egg, protein powder and nuts, a modest amount of healthy fat from almond butter, coconut oil and hazelnuts, slight sweetness from agave nectar, vanilla protein and cherries, and antioxidants from the cocoa nibs.
And in terms of taste, the sweetness contrasts with a peppery kick and tart cherries, nuts and nibs provide bits of crunch, the whole wheat and oats lend a dense and hearty chew, and the gentle scent of vanilla reminds you that you’re nibbling on a delicate little cookie. (For breakfast).
A cookie as balanced in nutrients as it is in texture and flavor. What more could a cookie monster ask for?
Cherry Hazelnut Power Cookies, adapted from the 17-Day Diet Book. Thanks Janet!!
makes ~18 cookies
- 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 T almond butter
- 1 T flaxseed or coconut oil
- ¼ cup agave nectar
- 1 egg or 3 ½ T egg whites
- ½ t vanilla extract
- ½ t almond extract
- ¾ cup whole wheat flour
- ½ t baking soda
- 1 t cinnamon
- ½ t salt
- ¼ t ground white pepper
- ½ cup vanilla protein powder (I use tera’s whey bourbon vanilla)
- 1 ½ cup rolled oats
- 1 cup dried cherries
- ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts
- ¼ cup cocoa nibs (optional)
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Not often does one get offered a giant bag of coconut flour because someone has just too much of it. So when my uncle offered me an extra bag he had lying around (my gluten-free aunt orders online in bulk because it’s cheaper), I was glad to take it off their hands :)
I left their home after dinner with arms full of goodies— coconut flour and bunches of collards and lettuces fresh from their garden. It’s been nice living close to them for 4 years of college; I never left without something yummy, usually homemade applesauce or jarred South Carolina peaches. mmmm.
Anyway, with more coconut flour than I ever thought I’d have in my possession (that stuff can be expensive!) I was dreaming up all the recipes I could add it to. And what did I settle on first? The classic chocolate chip cookie, of course. Except this one’s not so classic…
I knew my aunt had been on a search for the best tasting gluten-free cookies, so I thought I’d add a homemade recipe to the competition. And it’s not only gluten-free, but grain-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, and very low in sugar overall. The baked cookie certainly has a different texture than the classic—a bit more dense, soft, and dough-like—but delicious in its own way.
I absolutely love these cookies and could easily just eat balls of the raw dough as well. I know my aunt enjoyed them, and even if you’re not avoiding gluten you should give them a try! A soft, dense, chocolatey, coconutty, just-sweet-enough treat, without any of the guilt ;)
grain-free coconut flour cookies, adapted from girl meets life.
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- ¼ cup almond meal/flour
- 1/4 t baking powder
- 1/4 t salt
- 1 banana, mashed
- 1 T agave
- 1/2 T coconut oil
- 1/4 t vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup almond or soy milk
- 3-4 T dark chocolate chips (I use grain-sweetened or dark mini chips)
- other options: cocoa nibs, coconut flakes, chopped nuts
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I try my hardest not to buy processed snacks—both for the processed factor as well as the ingredient factor—because even “health food” companies and organic snacks from Whole Foods use lots of added sweeteners, fats, and refined flours. But I simply don’t have the time to bake fresh granola bars and healthy muffins every time I reach for a snack.
My lack of time for baking has led me to experiment with a quick-to-make, easy-to-eat, and sweet-tooth-satisfying treat. After a few attempts (eh ok.. maybe like 6 in the last two weeks ;) I’m proud to give you my new favorite go-to treat: bliss balls.
I can put them together in 5 minutes tops (and I’m especially slow in the kitchen so this is incredible for me), they don’t get dried out or stale since they live in the freezer, and they leave you with one (just one!) dirty bowl. But best of all… the dense, peanut buttery flavor interspersed with bittersweet chocolate bits is exactly what my sweet tooth craves. Plus I’ve always been a dough girl… who needs the oven when you can eat spoonfuls of the gooey dough?! (egg-free, Mom!)
Oh, and I almost forgot – not only is this a guiltless recipe, it’s a very nutritious one. Whole grains, a good boost of protein and fiber from the peanut flour, antioxidants from cocoa, just a bit of healthy fat, a touch of fruit, and no refined sugar to be found.
…Bliss in a ball :)
Freezer bliss balls, inspired by these
- ¼ cup peanut flour
- ¼ cup whole wheat flour (gluten free options: use oat flour, coconut flour or almond meal)
- 2 T erythritol, or other granulated sweetener of the unrefined variety (depending on your tastes you may want to add more – I don’t like mine too sweet)
- dash n’ a half of salt
- 1 T smart/earth balance, softened (or coconut oil)
- 1 T unsweetened applesauce
- ¼ t vanilla extract
- ¼ t maple extract
- 1-2 T vanilla soy milk
- 1 t honey (optional – I added this at the end for a bit more sweetness and to help bind the dough)
- ¼–1/3 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips (or try mini choc chips, chopped chocolate, cocoa nibs, carob chips..)
Whisk together flours, sweetener and salt. Add butter, applesauce + extracts and combine with spatula to form thick dough. Gradually add milk til you have the right consistency. Batter should be thick and hold up well. If you add too much milk, add an extra spoonful of peanut flour. Mix in chocolate chips.
Spoon into balls/blobs, flatten, sprinkle with sea salt, & freeze for on-the-go-goodness. They’ll thaw in about 60 seconds into a sweet dough ball of bliss.
Makes 12 small cookies. (Since I made these several times to perfect them, I kept the batches small. Feel free to double or triple the recipe :)
*Update Sept 2013: I now usually triple this recipe (so that they last me more than 2 days!). I use 1 cup peanut flour and 1/2 cup coconut flour (omitting the wheat flour altogether) and about 2 T coconut sugar along with enough stevia to make it sweet. Coconut flour is very absorbent so if you use it, you may have to add another Tbsp or two of applesauce.
I don’t know why I’m still surprised when I bake a dessert with beans… and it comes out amazing. I mean I already showed you my success with the beet-bean brownies and the deep dish cookie pie, but somehow the concept never fails to fascinate me. Beans?! Not only are they what I often consume for protein in my meals—being low in fat and super high in fiber—but they can be used to replace a majority of the flour and butter in baked goods! I think what gets me most, though, is that they’re not simply a healthy substitution; beans make things like cookies and brownies so incredibly rich and fudgey and moist. I may never bake without beans again!
….I just won’t tell people this until after they taste my goodies :]
These rich chocolate cookies remind me of these double chocolate fudge cookies my mom used to make from a mix when we were kids. Everyone looved them, especially straight from the oven, all warm and full of gooey chocolate chunks. These bring me back to that same eye-rolling indulgent taste of fudgey bliss, but with a grown-up twist of spicy chiles, cinnamon, tart dried cherries… and of course our healthy little secret ;]
I also gave each cookie a generous sprinkle of coarse sea salt, which really brings out the richness and leaves you craving more sweet after each bite.
chili-chocolate-bean cookies, from My New Roots
- 1 ½ cups black beans, or one 15 oz. can
- 2 T coconut oil
- 1/3 cup organic cocoa powder
- 1/4 t coarse sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/4 t cayenne pepper
- 1/4 t cinnamon
- 1/3 cup maple syrup, honey or agave
- 2 eggs or 6 T egg whites
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate, or chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
I showed you the magic of beets and beans in brownies, and now I give you a decadent deep dish cookie pie….. made with chickpeas!
The use of beans in desserts is becoming more common to me so I was not too skeptical about this recipe. And the beans proved themselves once again. Mom and I made this one night while watching the Biggest Loser (nothing like eating a decadent dessert while watching people lose weight… but hey, at least this pie is somewhat healthy!) and I think her more skeptical taste buds were impressed as well.
We made half the recipe since there were only two of us, and put it in a smaller round pan (about 8-inch). Remember this is a pie rather than a crisp cookie, so it may seem gooey and under-baked – just let it be :] Then let it sit for 10 minutes after baking, seriously testing your willpower while wafts of sweet cookie aroma float past your nose. I know it’s hard. But then you can dish it up with vanilla ice cream and indulge in this dense, moist, half-baked fudgey cookie. Guiltlessly, of course!
healthy deep dish cookie pie, adapted from Chocolate-Covered Katie
this is the halved recipe that we made in an 8-inch round pan. Our pie was not too deep-dish as you can see in the photo, so use a smaller pan if you wish. If you want more servings, double these measurements and use a 10-inch round cake pan or springform pan, as called for in the original recipe.
* this is also gluten free if you use gluten free oats, and vegan if you use dairy-free chocolate!
- 1 can chickpeas or white beans (drained and rinsed well)
- ½ cup old-fashioned or quick oats
- 2 T unsweetened applesauce
- 1 ½ T canola oil
- 1 t vanilla extract
- ¼ t baking soda
- 1 t baking powder
- ¼ t salt
- 3/4 cups brown sugar **we used slightly less than ½ cup brown sugar, and ¼ cup erythritol [a natural calorie-free granulated sweetener] but I found it to be very sweet, so next time I’ll use ½ or 2/3 cup sweetener.
- ½ cup chopped dark chocolate (we used Scharffen Berger 70%) or chocolate chips
Blend everything (except the chips) very well in a food processor. Mix in chips, and pour into an oiled or parchment-lined round pan. Cook at 350F for 20-30 minutes, or until edges are crispy and golden. Let stand at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Best served warm with cool and creamy vanilla ice cream.
This post is linked to Allergy Free Wednesdays
The winter holidays at our house always revolve around food, whether we want them to or not. It’s always been a time to indulge – a time to make the Christmas cookies everyone’s waited for all year, a time for big healthy breakfasts and hearty, planned-out dinners. And as much as we all complain about the constant eating and having too much stuffed into the refrigerator, we all look forward to the lazy days of whipping up our favorite traditional recipes and new ones we’re eager to try.
This year we surpassed our typical homemade deliciousness with all kinds of handmade gifts. I don’t know what it was, maybe the our obsession with pinterest over the past year and all the inspiring ideas it presents. So we brought on the creativity and went wild with homemade gifts – or I did at least!
Tara worked on her laser-cut jewelry (which she has been selling lots of!), and made some adorable wooden painted wall hangers for air plants, which unfortunately I don’t have a photo of. Melissa and I spent a few days straight making t-shirt scarves inspired from pinterest, and she also made some adorable holiday-themed cake pops! I took on a hanging-plant-in-a-canning-jar project, created a bread baking book from scratch for my sister Tara (with many tasty sounding bread recipes I’ve collected around the blog world), made a couple photo calendars for family, and baked cookies and nuts and granola to package up all festively for gifts. Jamie made some beautiful (and so easy!) etched wine and drinking glasses, and Jeremy gave my parents some of his homemade “honey badger hard cider” and beautiful handmade maple wood cutting boards for several of us. Whew. That’s a lot of handmade goods, lots of time, and lots of love. It may be our most crafty Christmas yet!
Where it lacks in warmth and sunshine, it makes up in sweetness. Sweetness of the plethora of sugar and butter and chocolate in the kitchen, soon whisked and stirred and baked into treats of all flavors, from caramel to cinnamon, butterscotch to coconut, lemon and raspberry, maple, almond, and peppermint—let’s just say we have it all covered in this kitchen.
Am I cookied out?
What a silly question.
December is cookie month, and it only gets richer each year. This year I added to mom’s classic collection with a couple of my less-guilty recipes: raspberry-chocolate thumbprints and sugar plums, along with a few indulgent ones: dark chocolate cherry pistachio bark and cinnamon roll cookies.
Mom’s classics [and definitely not guilt-free ;] include peanut butter balls, mint squares, pinwheels, three-pepper spice cookies, seven-layer bars, lemon Christmas trees, toffee-almond triangles, cappuccino caramels, and extra-guilty saltine toffee :]
The cinnamon rolls were my favorite to make because they’re so pretty and nothing is more comforting than the smell of hot cinnamon buns in the oven. I had come up with the idea of creating a cinnamon roll in cookie form after last Christmas, and have since seen my idea come to life on a couple of different blogs! I decided to test the recipe of Baker’s Royale, mainly because the pictures were so mouth-watering. And the cookies turned out just so. They taste exactly like cinnamon rolls—I would argue even better. And because I refuse to follow any recipe exactly, I traded white flour for whole wheat, used Earth Balance instead of butter, egg white instead of yolk, and a bit less brown sugar for the inside swirl. So at least I could feel a little better about the ingredients, and they still came out crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, with that buttery-cinnamony-sugary swirled middle. Bliss in Christmas-cookie form.
Cinnamon Roll Cookies, from Baker’s Royale
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup plus 2 T whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 t cinnamon, plus 1 T for divided use
- ½ t baking soda
- ½ t salt
- ½ cup Earth Balance (or butter), softened, plus 3 T for divided use
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup light brown sugar, plus ½ cup for divided use
- 1 egg white
- ¼ cup applesauce
- 1 T of light corn syrup
- 1 t vanilla
For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2-3 tablespoon of milk
Place ½ cup butter, granulated sugar and ¼ cup of brown sugar in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until light in color. Add in egg white, applesauce, light corn syrup and vanilla and beat to combine. Turn off mixer.
Using a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon, fold in flour mixture until just combined. Dough may have some flour streaking. Do not over mix. Divide dough in half and wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Place remaining 1 T of cinnamon and ½ cup of brown sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Now divide cinnamon and brown sugar mixture in two; one for each portion of halved dough. Set aside.
Remove one wrapped dough. Dough will sticky so place it between two large pieces of wax paper and roll out dough to 1/4inch thickness. Using a pastry brush spread 1 1/2 tablespoon of softened butter on dough. Then sprinkle half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture on top and gently press it into dough (I didn’t use the entire cinnamon-sugar mixture). Roll up dough, beginning with long side. Place roll seam side down on plastic wrap and cover tightly. Repeat this once more with reamining dough and 11/2 tablespoon of butter, along with remaining cinnamon and brown sugar mixture. Place both rolled doughs back in refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.
Remove chilled roll and cut into ½ inch slices. Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
To make glaze: Sift powdered sugar and add in 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until drizzling consistency is achieved.
Drizzle tops of cooled cookies with glaze and let stand at room temperature until glaze dries completely. Store cookies in an airtight container or freeze to keep longer.
So it’s Christmas Eve, the sun is still out (maybe the first time in about a week), the family is all here, and we have more than enough cookies to satisfy Santa tonight.
This post is linked to: Sweets for a Saturday
Dates + apples + peanuts + almonds + cacao + oats + rice + coconut.
Talk about an impressive list of ingredients for a cookie!
I intended to title these “no-bake choco peanut puddles,” but while scanning my list of ingredients I realized something—how close to nature these cookies really are :] Fruits, nuts, grains, legumes… but not processed, refined, enriched, fortified or sweetened like everything in our grocery stores seems to be.
So you can truly feel good about eating these cookies—they’re full of natural and whole foods, which are naturally better for your health!
Besides all that wholesome nutrition, these guys are good. In every single way. They’re rich with a chocolatey peanut butter flavor, they stay soft straight from the freezer and thaw extremely fast. Know what that means?! Yep. Ice cream sandwich perfection. A little spoonful of vanilla bean cream in between two of these guys and you’ve got yourself one divine, richly satisfying dessert. Let it thaw a minute and the cookie and cream meld seamlessly into one another.
Vegans rejoice. Make them gluten free if you wish by using gluten free oats. And even the biggest sweet teeth on the planet [me] can indulge completely guilt-free. No refined sugar, no artificial sugar. Just fruits of the earth. And love.
No-bake choco peanut puddles, adapted from here
½ c pitted Medjool dates, firmly packed (about 6-7)
½ c hot water
1 T coconut oil
2 T unsweetened applesauce
1/3 c natural peanut or almond butter
2 t vanilla
¼ c + 1 T raw cacao powder
¼ t sea salt
¼ c almond meal
¼ c peanut flour
1 c oats (processed in a blender a bit)
½ c puffed rice cereal (processed in a blender a bit)
**edited 8/29/12: I took out 1/4cup earth balance / applesauce from my original recipe and added 1/4 cup more oats. This makes the dough less runny and easier to work with. You could even get away with adding more oats/puffed rice if you’d like a stiffer dough.