Holiday Indulgences: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy-Pumpkin-Chip-Cookies

Thanksgiving and holiday baking are on the horizon. My upcoming recipes will be incorporating my absolute favorite seasonal ingredient: pumpkin! Yes, it’s everywhere right now on the food blogs, but for good reason. Pumpkin embodies the taste of fall, with its smoky warmth, mirroring the auburn spectrum painting the leaves. It lends vibrant color and an air of comfort food to every dish it touches. Not to mention the health benefits! It’s low in carbs and packed with beta carotene. You may associate it with just desserts, but it pairs beautifully with caramelized onions and black pepper, making a mean dish of breakfast faux-tatoes (more on those later!).

Due to limited access to a real grocery store and fancy ingredients this semester, I am paring down my cooking arsenal and sticking to what I can find on campus. A bit of honey can do wonderful things for low carb gluten-free cookies. It acts as a binder, and complements stevia’s sweetness–a little bit of honey goes a long way. Yes, it is real sugar, but it is not heat processed, and low enough in carbs distributed throughout the whole recipe. As long as I count the carbs (6 grams per teaspoon), I am fine with honey and experience no cravings or portion control issues. Your tolerance may vary, of course!

One question I have received multiple times is why I don’t use agave nectar. I am certainly no expert, but it doesn’t seem like any food that has been boiled down for hours to concentrate its sugar can be considered healthful. There is no such thing as “raw” agave nectar, since you can’t use the sap straight from the plant. A second strike against it is that it contains a disproportionately high concentration of fructose, which causes a whole host of problems for the human body as documented in Good Calories, Bad Calories. Taubes sums up the research on fructose in an eye-opening chapter that will scare you silly of this “low glycemic” sweetener. Let’s have a look at the break down of components in natural sweeteners:

Raw honey:
38.5% fructose
31% glucose
12.9% maltose

Agave nectar:
90% fructose
10% glucose

I’ll be sticking to raw honey when I need a little of the properties that real sugar affords. Count the carbs for your daily total and be on your merry way. A bit of real sugar is not inherently evil for healthy individuals, when used responsibly.

Enough chatter… let’s talk cookies! These are not your momma’s pumpkin cookies. They are dense and moist, but NOT cakey! These are just sweet enough with a bit of rich chocolate in every bite, which nicely complements the spicy undertones. And the best part? They’re miraculously gluten-free (of course), dairy-free and egg-free. That means almost vegan, but I’ve heard that vegans care about bee welfare, too. Bless them!

What did I do for the chocolate chips? I’ll admit to being lazy and just breaking up a 70% Lindt bar, but if you are watching your carbs more closely you can use my homemade erythritol-sweetened chips. You could just use a chopped up 85% cocao Lindt bar if you can handle that intense chocolate flavor.
Low-Carb-Pumpkin-Chip-Cookies

Healthy-Pumpkin-Chip-Cookies

Pumpkin Chip Cookies (Dairy-Free, Egg-Free)

Yields sixteen cookies

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening (I use Spectrum organic)
2 tablespoons raw honey
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, pulsed into a meal
1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
3 squares Lindt 70% chocolate, broken into chunks
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Pulse coconut until it forms a coarse flour (using flat blade in Magic Bullet). Level off 1/4 cup. Pulse chopped almonds into a meal if you don’t have pre-ground almond flour. Break chocolate into chunks with your fingers. Melt shortening. Whisk in honey, pumpkin puree, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients, excluding chocolate, until dough forms a smooth paste. Mix in chocolate chunks. Dollop with a tablespoon onto greased aluminum foil or parchment paper, spreading and patting into flat cookie shapes (these don’t spread). Bake for 15 minutes, then move cookie sheet to top oven rack and bake for 5 more minutes. Let cool completely on cookie sheet. Store in plastic baggies lined with paper towels.

~3.5g net carbs per cookie

Sugar-Free-Pumpkin-Chip-Cookies

Preview:

Chocolate Pie w/Peanut Butter Cookie Crust (Dairy-Free)
Sugar-Free-Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Pie

What are you cooking up for the holidays? Leave a comment and share!

  • Elizabeth

    Lauren, you are an evil genius.

  • Mee-Lise

    Truly, you are an inspiration!

    My latest thing has actually been canned pumpkin with 2 raw organic eggs, cinnamon, a couple tbsp dried unsweetened coconut, and a few drops Nunaturals liquid stevia all whisked together and chilled overnight for the next day’s breakfast or lunch. The coconut flakes really soak up moisture, which makes their texture – dare I say – a little like the rice in a rice pudding.

    I’ve committed to making low carb pumpkin pie with an almond flour crust for Thanksgiving. If I can make the cranberry sauce too, I can use natural sweeteners…

  • Anonymous

    You are making all my LC holidays yummy! thank you very much!
    Below are a few things I always make around the holidays…

    No-crust pumpkin pie, substituting Splenda and Erythritol for the sugar and cream and water for the evaporated milk.

    I also make "sugared" & spiced pecans using Splenda and Erythritol instead of sugar.

    Cranberry sauce with fresh berries, splenda/erythritol,(stew til berries pop) and then remove and stir in SF apricot jam.

    Penny

  • Sophie

    Your blog is always so informative :), I didn’t know that about agave nectar or raw honey! Both the cookies and pie look incredible (I’m a huge fan of anything with pumpkin or chocolate during the holidays), you are the most creative baker I know! It’s good to have you back again :).

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  • Jucy Lin

    Lauren, I tried the pumpkin tart and it was deeeelicious!! This blog is amazing :)

  • Jucy Lin

    and by pumpkin tart i mean chocolate pie with peanut butter crust ;)

  • Alisa

    Those look great! I haven’t had a lot of success with stevia in baking, but might have to give this a try.

  • bethinNC

    So glad to see you back with some new recipes!

  • bethinNC

    Oh, and for the holiday menu:

    -Turkey (hormone/antibiotic free of course!)
    -Ham (ditto the above)
    -Green beans with ricotta and swiss cheese (pre-made at our local co-op grocery. Just heat and serve LOL).
    -Cranberry sauce (tried some w/ erythritol the other night and it was good).
    -Scalloped turnips with carmelized onions (made this last night for the first time. Yummmmmm.)
    -some sort of stuffing…possibly a sausage stuffing or figuring out how to make oopsies work.

    -dessert…LC pumpkin pie, LC cheesecake, or a combo :)

  • Sherrie

    Lauren, these look sooo good!!!!

  • Jennifer

    Can’t wait for your chocolate pie recipe! Looks good enough to lick the screen!!

  • Diana

    Hi Lauren, I can’t wait for you to come out with your delicious low card delights!!! Hurry!! LOL!!

  • Brian

    These look good! Is the oven temp right? 275?

  • Lauren

    Elizabeth – You made me blush! Thanks for the kind words!

    Mee-lise – Your pumpkin concoction sounds so delicious and comforting! LC rice pudding, eh? You are so creative. Stay tuned for almond flour pie crust… :)

    Penny – Care to share how you make those pecans? They sound fabulous. I’m guessing your holidays are going to be delicious!

    Sophie – Thank you! I get so much inspiration from your blog. With the pretty pictures and layout its so much fun to look at!

    Lucy – Thanks so much for commenting, girl. You can sample my blog creations any time. :D

    Alisa – Stevia is tricky to work with, but you just have to get the hang of it! It works really well with erythritol.

    Beth – Glad to see you back! Those green beans sound TO DIE FOR! I am jealous.

    Sherrie – Thank you! I have my eye of some of the delicious recipes at your blog.

    Jennifer – Thanks! I’m watching out for some holiday recipes from you.

    Diana – Haha, thank you!

    Brian – That oven temperature is correct! Honey requires a low baking temp. :)

  • sarah

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed

    reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Sarah

    http://www.thetreadmillguide.com

  • Sally Parrott Ashbrook

    Yum, those cookies look and sound excellent.

  • Anonymous

    Can lard be used to substitute for shortening?

  • Lauren

    Sarah – Thanks for stopping by!

    Sally – They are yummy and easy! Try them. :)

    Anonymous – I haven’t worked with lard, but have heard that it is similar to shortening. Give it a shot!

  • Cantering Cookies

    Lauren,
    I love how you use natural sweeteners and wholesome ingredients… it’s hard to find that in gluten free recipes sometimes.

    I Just made a batch of these cookies. They are really yummy! I substituted some canola oil for the shorting as well as using “enjoy life” chocolate chips in place of the Lindit bar. They turned out great! This recipe is defiantly a keeper. =)

    Does anyone know if these cookies freeze well?

  • Lauren

    Mmm, these look amazing. Just one thing. I thought that Lindt Chocolate wasn’t gluten free, but I think I’ll check again next time =D.

  • Lauren

    Cantering Cookies – Thank you for sharing the results of your substitutions! Glad they worked out for you. I am unsure if they freeze well because they never last that long around here. :)

    Lauren – I was not aware of this! Thank you so much for catching that. I will look for a certified gluten-free dark chocolate.

  • Barbara

    I froze these cookies and they turned out wonderfully! I think they might even taste better when they are still frozen, either that or I’m just to impatient to let them thaw! =)

  • Anonymous

    Finally….I found gluten-free and sugar free recipes that don’t use agave. God Bless You!!

  • Anonymous

    Where can I find the recipe for this delicious looking chocolate/peanut butter pie??

  • Babs

    Lauren, thanks for the heads up on the agave-didn’t know. Will pass on the info to my family. And, can’t wait to try these Pumpkin CC cookies.

  • Tammy

    FYI, your info about agave is incorrect. In the products labeled "raw" they are heated to 138F to evaporate the water. They are not boiled (boiling is 212F). I have reactive hypoglycemia (the "eat and sleep" diabetic disorder). If I eat carbs, I overproduce insulin and fall asleep. Sugar, honey, date sugar, etc. all make me fall asleep. Agave is the only sweetener that doesn't, and it is such a blessing to diabetics as well as those who don't want to stimulate their pancreas to produce insulin. I can't figure out why there's so much misinformation out there about agave, but it seems to stem from a study done on high fructose corn syrup, which is bad bad stuff for anyone. The word "fructose" seems to be a scary buzz word now, but if you can eat an apple, you're eating fructose. Same with agave. Just my two cents. I love the recipes here and am adapting them for my use. Thanks!

  • Tammy

    Sorry, forgot to say that pumpkin is high on the glycemic index (making me fall asleep), so I substitute squash, such as butternut, Hubbard, acorn, etc. I think it even tastes better than pumpkin, YMMV. :) Trader Joe's sells canned butternut squash.

  • Cat

    Do you think you can substitute coconut oil or Earth Balance sticks for the shortening and get your same results? Thanks!

  • Lauren

    Cat, I think your substitution would work well. :)

  • Cat

    Thanks so much for getting back to me Lauren! Your recipes are so creative and awesome!! :)

  • Anonymous

    i'm new to all this and was wondering if you count calories or how much food you eat on a normal day? do you just eat until you are satisfied?

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    Those brought me back to my earlier days when my grandmother baked tons of cookies for us. She loved to cook and she was always willing to feed the whole neighborhood!

  • Anonymous

    Do you ever use Truvia in you recipes? I was wondering how to substitute it since it combines stevia and erythritol and would be easier than trying to get "good-tasting" stevia and constantly combine the two ingredients. Thanks!

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  • Ashley

    These are good but have a strange texture. I wonder if there is a way to make the texture more smooth. Maybe if the coconut were ground more.

  • Anonymous

    I was wondering if you could subsitute coconut flour for the coconut meal for a fine texture?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12992918908739085132 Lauren

    Hi Anon, that sub would probably not work because the coconut flour would dry out your cookies. ;)