Oatmeal Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

oatmeal cookies

Who loves cookies? Me! Me! Me! (Waving my arm around wildly).

Me and the cookie monster are like that (holding up my thumb and index finger with almost no light between them). I was even a little sad when he declared cookies a “sometimes food”. I mean, I agree with his message. But I think he succumbed to industry pressure…

So when I went gluten- and dairy-free, not to mention low sugar, cookies were a hard thing to sacrifice. I poured over GF, healthy cookbooks and websites to find satisfying treats. Some were failures, but some are so good I forget they are “healthy”.

This house favorite was adapted from the delicious Babycakes Covers the Classics cook book, using their Oatmeal Cookies recipe as a base. I switched out some of the flours to ones I keep in the house, left out the xanthan gum because I don’t love it and you don’t really need it in this kind of cookie, switched the sugar for Stevia, and added some good stuff like chocolate chips and peanut butter. I think it’s better for my tinkering.

I use sugar-free, gluten-free chocolate chips. Lily’s has good ones. They are a little expensive, but as Cookie Monster said, these are sometimes food. I used a Lily’s bar in the batch pictured above, chunked up, ’cause I was out of chips. Works just as well!

Can’t have peanuts, or baking for a school with a no-peanuts policy? Use almond butter, it adds similar richness.

Ready to try it? Here you go!

Oatmeal Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter cookies recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cups Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour
  • 1 cup Stevia
  • 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Oats
  • ¼ cup almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup melted refined coconut oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla abstract
  • ½ cup peanut butter (or almond butter, or whatever you like)
  • ½ cup sugar-free, gluten-free chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl – flour, Stevia, oats, almond meal, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Melt the coconut oil on the stove or in the microwave
  4. Add the coconut oil, applesauce, and vanilla and stir in well until a thick dough forms. Add the peanut or almond butter and stir until well mixed, then add the chocolate chips and stir again.
  5. Drop the dough by the tablespoon onto the prepared cookie sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake for 8 minutes, rotate the cookie sheets, and bake for 7 minutes more, or until golden.
  6. Let stand on baking sheets for 15 minutes before serving or you’ll burn your fingers off! 🙂

Makes 36 if you’re accurate with the tablespoon – I throw down bigger blobs, I get 24 from the recipe.

I hope you like them! Give them a try and send me a comment. I’d love to hear about it!

xoxo,
Sondra

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Walking the Walk

new juicer

I’ve been preaching a lot about the wonders of fresh squeezed green juice. I’m loving the effects of juicing on my body and mind, but not so much on my wallet. And to my shame I did not have a juicer of my own.

Until now.

I am the new proud owner of a retro chic Jack LaLanne Power Juicer that I found on Craigslist for $30.

It’s not the juicer I set out to buy. It’s been well used. It’s named after a retro fitness guru. (Although I do own a George Foreman Grill – maybe they can lift together.) And I need to use chopsticks to remove the blade because the former owner lost the tool. But the price was right, and now I have fresh juice whenever I want it. And for a lot less than the $6-7 a pop most juice bars charge.

There are a bewildering number of juicer options out there – masticating, single gear, twin gear. Spendy, super spendy, and “cost of a small car”. They all have benefits and drawbacks. Some work quickly and are easy to clean, but don’t get all the juice from your veggies. Some are very efficient but painfully slow. And some are just too far outside of most people’s budget.

In nutrition school I learned that the best juicer for you is the one you’ll use.

For $30, I know I’ll get my money’s worth from this little guy.

Welcome to my kitchen, Jack LaLanne!

xoxo,
Sondra

What do you juice?

green smoothie prep

There’s nothing like a fresh green juice, bursting with the flavor of organic vegetables – and maybe a little fruit.

Here are some of my favorite things to juice – what are yours?

  • Apples help protect your bones, prevent cancer, and even promote weight loss. A little bit of their natural sugar can help regulate your blood sugar.
  • Beets are a juicy, delicious root with tasty greens. The root is rich in folates, potassium, B vitamins, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium. The greens are full of vitamin C, carotenoids, and vitamin A. They help keep our mucus membranes and skin healthy, and boosts vision.
  • Carrots are full of antioxidants which can help prevent cancer. And the beta-carotene in carrots is converted to vitamin A, protecting our eyes and skin.
  • Ginger adds a spicy twist to your fresh juice while aiding digestion. Ginger also helps fight inflammation, colds and flu, and nausea.
  • Kale is rich in antioxidants as well as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and manganese, plus Omega 3 fatty acids that help fight inflammation. And kale’s natural sulfur helps your body detox!
  • Spinach is also rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and manganese – plus vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc and selenium. Spinach supports the immune system, vision, blood pressure, skin, the nervous system, and brain function.

Share your favorite juice — or smoothie — recipes in the comments. I’d love to try them!

xoxo,
Sondra

 

Chocolate Cinnamon Coconut Chia Pudding

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Last summer I got into chia pudding in a big way. I’d just discovered that chia seeds are food, not just pets, and started adding them into smoothies and sprinkling them on salads. Chia seeds are high in protein, fiber, and Omega 3’s, and don’t need to be ground before using. What’s not to love?

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My obsession started with a pumpkin chia pudding recipe on The Naked Avocado and snowballed from there. Her pudding is super easy–no cooking!–and delicious. I made it every week through the fall, until pumpkin season was over. Leaving me with a hole in my repertoire. And perhaps my heart. After using up all of my canned pumpkin, I moved on to other squashes and even tried using sweet potatoes. I tried fruit, and applesauce, and cinnamon. It just wasn’t the same. But then it hit me – chocolate!

Two great tastes that taste great together. Well, ok, one great taste, and another that'll soak it up.

Two great tastes that taste great together. Well, ok, one great taste, and another that’ll soak it up.

I’ve been on a no-sugar kick, which makes desserts a bit of a no-no. Anything I can make that’s chocolaty and sugar-free is a big win. And I had scaled back on my Chocolate Coconut Tahini Balls because of all the fat, so this was an even bigger win.

If you haven’t tried it, chia pudding is a little like tapioca in consistency. Which isn’t a great comparison, because I hate tapioca. I promise this is better. Chia seeds are small and black, smaller than sesame seeds. When you soak them in coconut milk, or any other liquid, they swell into fat black drops. Cool! Science! Then just add any sweet flavors that strike your fancy. The chia is neutral, it’ll pick up the coconut and other flavors. In fact, Chia Pod has productized chia pudding, so look for Chia Pods in natural markets near you. But my recipe is better. 😉

Chocolate Cinnamon Coconut Chia Pudding (gluten/diary/sugar free + vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 + ¼ cup light coconut milk, divided*
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp raw cacao
  • ½ Tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ Tsp Stevia

Instructions:

  1. Stir chia seeds into 1 cup coconut milk in a bowl or sealable container.
  2. Cover and store in refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours.
  3. Open container and stir – consistency should be pudding-like. If too thick, stir in additional ¼ cup coconut milk.
  4. Stir in raw cacao, cinnamon, and stevia. Taste, and adjust to your liking.
  5. Enjoy!

xoxo,
Sondra

*”Divided” means you’ll use the 1 cup and ¼ cup coconut milk at separate points in the recipe

Where do vegans get their protein?

pondering

During the course of my health coach training I’ve experimented with what feels like a million different dietary theories – Raw, Atkins, Hunter-Gatherer, Vegan, Blood Type, Mediterranean, South Beach, Zone, Macrobiotic, and Slow Food, to name a few.

By far the one I was most nervous about, in a “will I have enough to eat?” sort of way, was going vegan.

I was concerned about more than feeling full – I also had no idea where I was going to get my protein without partaking of our planet’s adorably delicious fish and animals.

My school’s blog provided some useful guidance, vegan classmates were generous with recommendations, and the internets provided the rest. Did you know there are a plethora of vegan foodie blogs? Though a startling number of the recipes are for desserts. We all know what happened to the last gal who suggested that we subsist on cake! Luckily there are real-food recipes as well. Thug Kitchen, Bunny Kitchen, The Sweet Life, Kris Carr, and This Rawsome Vegan Life are some of my favorites.

My favorite gluten-free bakery and café, Flying Apron, is also vegan, and their lovely menu was a nice start. Salads, soups, and gluten-free vegan pizzas, pot pies, and lasagna were all filling and made this seem doable.

So that took care of “will I have enough to eat?” Those recipes would more than cover three meals a meal, and snacks are easy – almonds, green juice, cut up veggies with hummus, a piece of fruit.

Which freed me up for my next anxiety. What about my daily nutritional requirements? Where is my protein supposed to come from?

Beans, seeds and grains provide a ton of protein!

It turns out the whole-food vegan world is chock full of protein, mainly in the form of beans, nuts, seeds, and grains. These little powerhouses contain all of the protein, fiber, and fat you need, and when combined with a rotating selection of fresh vegetables and fruit, ensure a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals in your diet.

Notice I say “whole-food vegan world.” Many vegans get a portion of their protein from soy products including tofu, soy milk, tempeh, soy yogurt, and soy-based faux meats. I’ve worked hard to reduce the amount of processed foods in my diet, so that seemed like backwards progress. It’s a personal choice. Manufactured foods usually have more sugar, sodium, and unexpected chemicals than you’d think, and the processing removes nutrients, so you can end up just as unhealthy on a vegan diet as your average American. Which kinda defeats the purpose, at least for me.

Ok, so I figured out where to find protein on a vegan diet – but how much did I need? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended dietary allowances for protein intake by age group. According to the CDC, adults need between 46- 56 grams of protein a day, small children from 12-19 grams, tweens around 24 grams, and teenagers from 46-52 grams of protein a day.** As an adult female who’s neither an athlete nor pregnant, my target is 46 grams.

Which is great, but how does an adult woman get 46 grams of protein a day from beans, nuts, seeds, and grains? After reviewing the nutritional information for everything vegan in my pantry, here’s a roundup:

  • ½ cup of cooked black beans:    7 grams*
  • ½ cup cooked lentils has:           9 grams*
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds:                     6 grams*
  • ¼ cup of almonds:                      6 grams*
  • 2 Tbsp flax seeds:                      3 grams*
  • ½ cup of uncooked quinoa:        12 grams*
  • 2 cups vegetable broth:              2 grams*

(* Estimates based on the packages at hand.)

Add these up and you’re more or less covered.

What can you do with these goodies? Make black bean patties from the beans, quinoa, and flax seeds (play around with this recipe); sprinkle the chia seeds into your daily smoothie; make a quickie warming soup with the veggie broth and lentils; and enjoy the almonds as a mid-day snack.

And there you go – your vegan protein needs are met! Deliciously!

xoxo,
Sondra

** You can find a lot more information about the recommended daily allowances of protein, and a handy chart, on the CDC web site.

Misadventures in Vegan Cooking: Cauliflower Pizza Crust

cauliflower

I have gotten used to some pretty weird things during the course of my health journey. Or things I would have once called weird. Lentils for breakfast. Maca root in my smoothies. Honey and cinnamon facials. Most turn out pretty well, or at least tolerable. Some are unexpectedly awesome. But despite their trendiness in vegan circles, I cannot get used to cauliflower. Or brussel sprouts. Or cabbage.

I am a good sport and keep trying them. At Thanksgiving a friend made a widely praised brussel sprout and bacon side dish with horseradish. I took a serving and ate all the bacon, and went back for seconds–of the bacon. After trying a few, the rest of my sprouts were hidden under my turkey.

Likewise, I just can’t get into the taste of cauliflower. Vegan food bloggers are in love with the stuff, posting recipes featuring it roasted, mashed, even in faux mac and cheese. But the most intriguing recipes are for cauliflower crust pizza. They promised sturdy crusts with no cauliflower taste. The photos are beautiful. Thin and crisp. Beautifully browned.

“We shall see,” I thought, and invested in a few $7 heads of organic cauliflower.

I tried two different recipes. The first attempt was a total mushy disaster. What we like to call “a learning experience.” The second try went a little better. I cooked and drained the cauliflower “rice” in advance, and seasoned the dough with oregano, garlic, and rosemary. It tasted a lot better and looked a bit like a Sicilian pizza (the square kind you make in a baking pan). But it still required a knife and fork, was not what I’d call crispy, and the leftovers were a mushy disappointment. Most importantly, I could still taste the cauliflower.

The third attempt…. Oh, who am I kidding? There was no third attempt. I am not that much of a masochist. I gave it a good college try and am willing to admit that it’s just not for me. The beauty of cooking – and of living well in general – is that not everything works for everyone, and that’s ok.

I’ll pass on this one. There are plenty of other vegetables for me to eat. The important thing is to experiment and find out what you like.

But if the idea of cauliflower pizza crust entices you, here are a few recipes to try:

Most importantly — keep having fun playing with your food!

xoxo,
Sondra

Curious about raw foods but don’t know where to start?

Wondering what all the fuss about raw foods is about?

My school, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, has created a handy-dandy free raw foods guide. It explains what people mean by raw foods and super foods, discusses the common ways to store them, and even has a few (okay, three) recipes.

Click the colorful banner and download your free PDF guide today!