August 4, 2013
Cookies. For breakfast. That’s right, folks: I’m giving you permission.
Now, I wouldn’t recommend indulging in one of these light, chewy bad-boys every day, but every now and then, it’s totally all right to take a break from eggs and nosh on a treat.
Speaking of breakfast, do you eat it every day? It’s the most important meal, you know.
Well…chances are, some of you out there raised your breakfast-advocating signs in gleeful support, while others casually pushed your spinny chairs away from the computer. According to the Huffington Post, more than 31 millionAmericans have nothing more than a cup of coffee or a sip of water in the morning: a truly sad statistic.
As the annoying mother-figure of my friend group, I’m constantly asking others if and what they ate for breakfast. I’m sure some of my friends have lied to me in the past so I won’t nail them for not eating in the morning. But seriously, breakfast is vital, and here’s why:
- You haven’t eaten in, like, forever. Let’s say you eat dinner at 6:30. You’re full when you go to bed and are ready for a good night’s sleep. If you wake up at 6:30 the next morning, you haven’t eaten in twelve hours. Although your leptin levels (signals that let your brain know whether you’re hungry or not) are down at night, they should rise again in the morning. You need new energy to start your day.
- You will be a zombie. In middle school, I’d recite the Pledge of Allegiance on the loudspeaker every Monday at 8:20 A.M., and teachers school-wide would be cursing at my loud peppiness. I assure you, it’s not just because I am an enthusiastic person. If you don’t put gasoline in your car, it won’t run very well, right? Your body is the same way. It’s very easy to spot who ate breakfast and who didn’t on a particularly miserable morning at school or work. Don’t be that guy!
- You’re just going to eat those calories later on. Admittedly, breakfast is my least favorite meal of the day. I don’t eat it because I love scrambled eggs; I eat it because it gives me energy and keeps my hunger at bay. If you don’t eat in the morning, your body will be desperate to find those extra energy sources come lunch, snack, and dinner time, and chances are, you’ll be reaching for a calorie-dense treat over a salad.
It doesn’t have to be the most nutritious thing ever: JUST EAT SOMETHING. Scramble or fry a couple eggs if you have time. Eat half an avocado with a spoon. Have leftovers from the night before or a big kale salad. Take along a cup of plain, full-fat yogurt with fresh berries or banana to work or school. Even some apple slices with almond butter will do. Just don’t eat a doughnut, OK?
Once in a while, reward yourself for eating well in the morning with a breakfast cookie. Hey, you deserve it!
First things first: preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a decent-sized mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of blanched almond flour, 2/3 cup of hazelnut flour, 2 heaping tablespoons of coconut flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and a generous pinch of salt. Break the big clumps up with your hands.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together 1 large egg at room temperature, 1/4 cup of raw honey OR maple syrup, 2 heaping tablespoons of full-fat coconut milk, 1 teaspoon of unfiltered apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon of almond extract, if you want. Once the mixture is one solid color, add in the dry ingredients, about 1/3 at a time.
When the dough is completely mixed, drop in 3 tablespoons of palm shortening OR softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Be careful to not over-mix!
With a spatula, fold in 4 ounces of quartered cherries (for me, about 15 decent-sized cherries) and 1/3 cup of chopped hazelnuts. Make sure the add-ins are evenly dispersed throughout the batter!
On a side-note, cherries are one of my favorite fruits. EVER. They not only taste great, but are also an excellent source of potassium and antioxidants and help to keep inflammation levels down. Do take care to buy organic ones, though, as cherries are on the Dirty Dozen list.
Using your hands, squish the dough together into a big ball. Transfer it to the sheet of parchment paper and flatten it down until it’s a little more than an inch thick. With a circular cookie cutter or the rim of a drinking glass, cut out each cookie by pressing down and using rotating motions to loosen. When you can’t cut any more, form the dough into a ball again and repeat.
You should wind up with 7 large or 8 medium cookies.
Bake until golden-brown on the outside and firm to the touch, about 25 minutes. Eat immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Warm in the toaster for 3 to 5 minutes for optimal crispiness after day one.
What’s your favorite breakfast treat? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!
Tags: breakfast, cherries, cookies, dairy-free, delicious, gluten-free, hazelnuts, healthy, paleo, treats
May 7, 2013
Sometimes, you just need dessert. No, not want, NEED.
Pizza? Eh, I can live without it. Chips and Cheetos? No problem. But dessert, especially chocolate…? Uh, I’m not giving either up anytime soon.
The quantity of sugar I used to eat was really what caused my weight to swell. Instead of having a little piece of candy or a bite of someone else’s dessert, I’d eat half a bag of those Dove dark chocolate squares or multiple slices of cake at sleepovers and parties. I craved the sweetness…and bad.
I went many months without eating dessert, saying no to squishy cafeteria cookies and pie at Thanksgiving. Eventually, I weaned myself off of sugar, like the good healthy disciple I am.
But that was no fun. I’d bake cookies or brownies for my parents or friends and never taste a bite! One day, I decided that enough was enough—I wanted dessert again.
Now, however, I consume my sweets healthfully. I bake completely gluten-free and mostly dairy free, sweetening only with small quantities of raw honey or coconut sugar. I have a reasonable portion on Saturdays and Sundays and save really decadent treats for vacation and special occasions.
I love making my dessert and enjoying it, too. And you know what? So can you! In my opinion, a homemade baked good here and there is an important part of any diet…just in moderation. So, if you’re looking for a tasty weeknight or weekend project, try recreating these two incredible desserts.
The biscotti were inspired by Gather, one of my new favorite cookbooks. (Yes, I chased the UPS truck to attain my copy.) If you haven’t already taken a peek, definitely check it out.
First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Do not use tinfoil, or else you will have crunchy silvery bits in your cookies.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 1 egg, 1/3 cup of raw honey, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract on medium (for me, about setting 4) until homogeneous, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine 2 cups of blanched almond flour, 1/3 cup of arrowroot flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. Break up any clumps with your hands.
Using a scoop or measuring cup, add about 1 cup of the dry ingredients at a time to the wet ingredients and mix until well-incorporated, about 3 minutes. Then, with a spatula, fold in an additional 1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder and 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips. (I used Enjoy Life, but you can also use 3 ounces of chopped dark chocolate.)
Dump all of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet and with your hands, flatten it into a 1-inch thick circle-ish-rectangle-thing. It doesn’t have to be perfect!
Bake until golden brown on top but not solid as a rock, about 20 minutes.
Allow the circle-ish-rectangle-thing to cool for at least 15 minutes, then slice it into eighths. Flip the cookies on their sides so the inside is facing up, and bake for another 15 minutes.
Once beginning to brown on the insides, decrease the oven temperature to 250 degrees. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want your biscotti.
Immediately upon exiting the oven, drizzle the cookies with some melted dark chocolate (I only needed about an ounce to give them a proper coating.) Don’t be stingy…be like Jackson Pollock!
You could always eat these biscotti with a strong espresso and call it a day, but I don’t recommend eating one without this chocolate mousse. It’s insanely easy to make; just do it!
In the bowl of a food processor, blend 4 eggs until airy and pale yellow, about 3 to 4 minutes. Because you’ll be eating the eggs raw, buy the freshest product possible, even if it costs a little extra.
While the eggs blend, melt 4 ounces of dark chocolate in a small saucepan or in the microwave with 30-second intervals. I used Alter Eco Blackout Chocolate, which is gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free.
To the eggs, pour in the melted chocolate, 2 tablespoons of strong decaf coffee (not caffeinated, or you’ll be bouncing off the walls), and 1/3 cup of palm shortening. Blend until the consistency of a thick sauce, about 3 minutes, then drizzle in 2 teaspoons of raw honey. Mix for 1 minute more before evenly dividing it between 4 6-ounce ramekins.
Let chill for at least 2 hours (preferably longer) before serving. Top with a dollop of coconut cream and/or fresh fruit to serve.
What dessert is your weakness? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!
Tags: baking, biscotti, chocolate, chocolate mousse, cookies, dairy-free, delicious, dessert, Gather, gluten-free, healthy, paleo
April 16, 2013
I made a list once of a bunch of the things I wanted to do in life. What was #1?
Visit the Nutella factory in Alba, Italy. Yes, it exists, and it’s apparently very hard to get into.
This chocolate-hazelnut spread is pretty awesome, but it’s also loaded with garbage. A two tablespoon serving has 21 grams of sugar, and chances are, you’re gonna want to eat way more than that. (My friends and I could easily polish off an entire jar in one sitting.)
These cookies, on the other hand, are baked with real, wholesome ingredients while capturing the Nutella-essence everyone loves. But be warned, though—they’re addictive, and you may want to eat the whole batch. Instead, share them with someone you love!
You can ZipList the recipe here.
A special thanks to Tammy Credicott and Adriana Harlan for the recipe inspiration!
To make these little guys, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of hazelnut meal flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and a pinch of salt. Sift in 1/2 cup of coconut flour and 1/4 cup of raw cacao powder, then stir to incorporate.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 1 egg, 3 tablespoons of melted refined coconut oil, 2-3 tablespoons of raw honey (depending on how sweet you want it), 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar, 2 tablespoons of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of unfiltered apple cider vinegar on low for 2 to 3 minutes.
Pour in half of the hazelnut flour mixture and mix on low until combined. When no more clumps of flour remain, add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix for an additional 2 to 3 minutes on low. The dough should be mainly dry while remaining a little sticky.
Scoop up about a tablespoon of the batter and, with your hands, gently squeeze it until it holds together and has a spherical shape. Place on the parchment paper and lightly press down in the center with your thumb. Repeat with the remaining dough. You should have between 10 and 15 cookies total.
Bake in the oven until the tops begin to turn brown and the cookie is firm to the touch, about 13 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool on the parchment for at least half an hour before frosting. Do not add the filling right away, or your cookie will literally crumble.
Speaking of the filling, you should make it while the cookies cool. In a food processor, crush 1/2 cup of hazelnuts until a paste forms, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add 1 tablespoon of refined coconut oil, then process for an additional minute or two.
Scoop the hazelnut “butter” into a microwave-safe bowl and add 2 tablespoons of refined coconut oil and 2.5 ounces of dark chocolate. Microwave in 30-second intervals until melted, about 1 minute and 30 seconds total.
Let the filling cool in the fridge until the consistency of butter, about 45 minutes. If it hardens too much, simply allow it to come to room temperature and stir every few minutes to soften.
Once the cookies and the filling are at ideal temperatures, fill the center of each cookie with an ample amount of chocolate-hazelnut goodness.
When filled, let the cookies sit out for at least an hour so the gooey center hardens a bit, then serve alongside a glass of coconut milk, nut milk, or raw grass-fed cow milk. These will keep in a cool, dry place for a couple of days or in the freezer for three months.
…but no way will they last that long.
What is your favorite chocolate dessert? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!
Tags: chocolate, cookies, dairy-free, dessert, gluten-free, healthy, Nutella, paleo