Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Healthy Cookie (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Now that I am trying to eating a mostly whole foods diet (meaning food that comes from real ingredients, not overly processed), I have found my biggest struggle has been giving up sugar.

Every ten years or so, it seems our information pendulum about what is healthy swings wildly.  We were told to avoid fat in the eighties and everyone jumped on the Snackwell's bandwagon.  Then came the no carb diet.  Now, scientists are discovering that fats are good and it is probably the added sugars that have been causing heart disease to sky rocket all along.  
A study released in February in the JAMA online magazine showed the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of sugar in the diet—and that was true regardless of a person’s age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index. Yikes!

A calorie is no longer just a calorie.  Sugar is just empty calories with no nutrients like fiber, vitamins, or minerals.  Take in too much sugar in your diet and it starts to crowd out the chance of you getting any real nutrients.

So why all the photos of cookies?  Because you can still make delicious, albeit slightly less sweet, treats with all natural, real ingredients.  Now that I have cut back on sugar, when I taste something with a lot of sugar, something like I used to cook all the time, it tastes sickly sweet to me.  OK, I will stop with the chatting and get to the cookies.  Because I wouldn't recommend anything unless it was delicious too!
I originally found this recipe at the Minimalist Baker but tweaked it to satisfy my palate.  It's very adaptable and easy!

Almond and Oat Chip Cookies

1 cup pitted dates (soaked in hot water 10 minutes and then drained)
1 large, ripe banana
3 Tablespoons peanut butter (use almond butter if you prefer)
1 Tablespoon raw cacao
1 cup almond flour
3/4 cup GF oat flour (or you can use rolled oats)
1/2 cup chopped bittersweet, dairy free chocolate

Combine dates and banana in food processor and blend well, pulsing if necessary to get it started.  You may need to scrape down sides a few times.  Add peanut butter and cacao and blend again.  Finally, add almond and oat flour and blend into a big sticky mess.

Transfer to mixing bowl.  Add this point, stir in your chocolate or if you prefer nuts or raisins or all of the above, go for it!  Chill for 15 minutes. 

Heat oven to 350 F.  Prepare a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Dough will still be sticky.   Just lightly wet your hands and that should help to keep them from sticking.  Scoop out tablespoon sized balls and use your hands to roll and then slightly flatten them.  You should be able to fit all the cookies on one cookie sheet because they don't spread out.

Bake 16-18 minutes and enjoy!  Makes 20 cookies.
 You can have your healthy cookies and eat them too!  No one will miss the white sugar, white flour, or eggs!

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