Archive of ‘Cookies’ category

Healthier Peanut Butter Cookies (aka Fresh Peanut Butter Cookies!) – A lower sugar, high protein version of classic PB cookies.

These peanut butter cookies are just like grandma’s, but changed up just a little to boost the protein and reduce the sugar. Oh, and they’re gluten-free. Make this one your new classic peanut butter cookie recipe!

Healthier Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten-Free, Low Carb)

You’re still holding on to that old recipe card, aren’t you? Hmm, well, did I tell you that the dough is made in a food processor, so preparation is a breeze? Yup, it’s true.

Making fresh PB in my Kitchenaid food processor, a Christmas gift I’ve finally gotten around to using. Much more powerful than my smaller food processor, it makes nut butter in minutes. Love!

Freshly Ground Peanut Butter

 
Did I mention you can grab all of the ingredients for these healthier cookies during your next trip to the grocery store? Also true.

Sorry, grandma. I love ya, but that cup of sugar and white flour have gotto go!

 
Made with real butter, freshly ground peanut butter, oat flour, and a mere 1/2 cup of sugar, these cookies have half the carbohydrates of your old favorite recipe…
Healthier Peanut Butter Cookies, pt. 2

…and ALL of the addictive, salty n’ sweet peanut butter cookie taste.

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Sugar-Free Sugar Cookies for a Healthy Christmas Treat (+ a GIVEAWAY!)

UPDATE: The giveaway is closed, and the winner has been contacted. Thanks for playing, everyone!

At the request of a reader, I wanted to share with you my sugar-free, gluten-free Healthier Sugar Cookies. That sounds like an oxymoron, right? Stay with me here. These cookies smell and taste just as good as the cut out cookies I’ve made every year since I was little using grandma’s recipe. The aroma of sweet cookie dough (i.e. buttery vanilla-y goodness!) filled the kitchen as I gingerly rolled out the dough.

Sugar-Free Sugar Cookies (Gluten-Free, Low Carb) for the holidays

I used my grandmother’s antique cookie cutters to cut the familiar shapes that remind me of so many past Christmases. The dough I worked with was sugar-free, but the steps for making the cookies, and the accompanying feelings of nostalgia were the same.

Healthy Chocolate Whoopie Pies are here! Sugar-free, gluten-free, and finger-lickin’ good.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Healthy Indulgences readers! School’s out and baking season is here. After a semester of new beginnings during which I moved back home to Florida and started my post-baccalaureate coursework, it’s time to get back in the kitchen and go on a baking spree. I’m trading in my calculator for my camera and ditching the library for the kitchen these next few weeks, bringing you holiday sweets and a couple of GIVEAWAYS!

Update: The lemon curd post and Gary Taubes summaries are on hold until the new year. We have many seasonal goodies to make over! Stay tuned…
To kickstart the baking bonanza, here are some sugar-free, gluten-free Healthy Whoopie Pies to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Gluten-Free Low Carb Whoopie Pies!

They’re all the rage, and perfect for an easy, kid-friendly holiday dessert. My version of these cakey cookie sandwiches with a sweet buttercream filling tastes every bit as good as the traditional dessert chock full of flour, sugar, and shortening! Made with ground almonds, a little oat flour, pure unsweetened cocoa powder, and natural sweeteners, you can feel good about indulging in these treats after your holiday feast. Actually, they’re wonderful any time of the year. In fact, you should make these right now. You need fuel to get through all that gift-wrapping and baking, right?!

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Kid-Friendly Indulgences: Healthier Gingerbread Cookies

This is my entry to Eat Christmas Cookies, an event sponsored by FoodBlogga! Check out all of the drool-worthy recipes there.
Healthier Gingerbread Cookies (Paleo, Low Carb)
Get the little ones into the kitchen with these easy-peasy healthy gingerbread cookies, dolled up with colorful sugar-free cream cheese frosting! These classic Christmas cookies are adapted from my versatile recipe for Honey Nut Cookies. The only changes are the addition of blackstrap molasses and lots of yummy spices to impart that distinct gingerbread flavor to these gluten-free, egg-free, low carb cookies! The texture is chewy and crispy all at once. They’re a bit different from traditional gingerbread, but just as delicious and fun to decorate.

A word about the food coloring: Don’t try to make it “all natural” by using the organic food coloring you see at the health food store. With good intentions, I bought some natural blue food coloring on sale for $3.99 (yow!). It’s made from “pure blueberry extract,” so I thought it sounded like it would be a healthier substitute for the artificial stuff. It dyed my cream cheese frosting a lovely brownish purple hue. If you want to go the natural route, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Gingerbread Santa and Rudolph, poking his nose in
Healthy Gingerbread Cookies, pt.3

Simple Nourishing Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 25 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters

Ingredients:
1 and 1/4 cups almond flour
2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter or nonhydrogenated shortening (for dairy-free)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon organic blackstrap molasses
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves (optional)
1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 275 (yes, 275) degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt butter and mix with honey, molasses, and vanilla until smooth. Add dry ingredients. Dough will be soft and sticky. Cut out two long pieces of parchment paper. Roll dough to 1/8th of an inch thickness (or thinner) sandwiched in between pieces of parchment paper. Peel off top sheet of parchment and flip dough from bottom sheet to the top sheet so that dough has been peeled off of both sheets of parchment, ensuring that it will be easier to transfer to cookie sheet. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and peel away bits of dough around cut outs, or flip cut outs onto cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 18 minutes. Let cool completely for about 10 minutes or so before moving to a work surface. Decorate with piped cream cheese frosting and bits of chopped raisins and dried apricots.

Simple Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz cream cheese or neufatchel cheese
1/4 cup of erythritol, powdered
Good-tasting pure stevia extract, to taste
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Drops of food coloring

Leave cream cheese at room temperature for 30 minutes. Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or Magic Bullet. Beat together cream cheese, vanilla, and erythritol for 1 to 2 minutes, or until very smooth and erythritol has mostly dissolved. Mix in stevia starting with 1/16 of a teaspoon, taste, and adjust sweetness level if necessary. Spoon frosting into separate bowls, and beat in drops of food coloring, wiping off the beaters after each color has been mixed. Transfer colored frosting into zip top bags and snip off the corners. Use immediately.

Poor gingerbread lady. :( She was too yummy for her own good!
Healthy Gingerbread Cookies, pt. 2

~1.6g net carbs per 1/25th of the cookie recipe

~13g carbs for the whole batch of frosting

Twelve Days of Baking: Honey Nut Cookies and How To Make Almond Flour

This is my submission to Kimi’s Nourishing Sweets and Treats event at her wonderful blog, The Nourishing Gourmet.

Honey Nut Cookies (Low Carb, Paleo)

Exams are over and I’m back in Florida, where the mood is festive despite the 80 degree beach weather. I’ve planned a bit of Christmas baking for you guys, so stay tuned! In addition to attempting to make over classic holiday treats like chocolates and gingerbread cookies, I’ll be mixing it up with a few original healthful creations that will hopefully tantalize your tastebuds just as much as familiar favorites. Once you get the hang of working with almond flour and alternative sweeteners, non-traditional baking gets a lot easier. Make these upcoming weeks, filled with office parties and decadent meals, nourishing for your soul and your body, with good friends and healthful food.

This first recipe calls for a bit of honey as a sweetener, which works so well with stevia to achieve the perfect flavor in these gluten-free, low carb Honey Nut Cookies. These cookies are also, incidentally, egg-free! I’m still waiting for my erythritol to get here, and thought it would be good to share some recipes that don’t involve it. Erythritol is all natural and delicious, but it is so expensive that in these hard times, it’s nice to have a more reasonably priced healthy option. If I am using honey, I make sure to use as little as is necessary to sweeten adequately, and just count the carbs. If you’re worried about the fructose content, just know that per serving, you’re probably not ingesting enough to worry about. I feel much safer using a bit of honey and blackstrap molasses here and there than artificial sweeteners. It’s a personal decision!

In the pioneering footsteps (hah!) of Ree Drummond, I’m doing a step-by-step photo spread for making these cookies. They are so simple that this tutorial really isn’t necessary, but my sister and I had fun killing time this first afternoon back home, bumming around the house for the holidays!

Let’s make some cookies, shall we?

First things first: We need to make almond flour, the star ingredient in a low carb healthy baking arsenal. It’s so flippin’ easy.

Tutorial: How To Make Homemade Almond Flour

Step One: Add sliced, blanched almonds to food processor. Refrigerate or freeze the nuts beforehand for the best results.
Sliced almonds in food processor

Sliced almonds in food processor

Step Two: Whizz ‘em up for a minute or two until finely ground.
Homemade almond flour

Homemade almond flour
Homemade almond flour

Pecans!
Chopped pecans

NuNaturals stevia
Nunaturals stevia!

Cookie dough!
Cookie dough

Scooping cookies

Cookie dough, patted and poked into cute rounds
Flattened cookie dough

Chewy Honey Nut Cookies

Chewy Honey Nut Cookies

Makes eight to twelve cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey (raw, if you can get it)
4 packets or 1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/16 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 275 (yes, 275) degrees Fahrenheit.

Chop pecans, and toast them for 12 minutes. Melt butter. Stir together all ingredients except almond flour and pecans. Mix in almond flour until a smooth dough forms, then fold in nuts until dispersed throughout dough. Shape into flat cookie rounds on parchment paper. Bake for 12-18 minutes, or until slightly browned around the edges. Let cookies cool and harden for a full 10 minutes before removing from parchment.

~6g net carbs per 1/8 of a recipe, 4.5g net carbs per 1/10th, and 3.5g net carbs per 1/12th

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!

Taking a Study Break with Chocolate Chip Cookies

UPDATE: I had a friend try these with Splenda, her preferred sweetener, and they turned out well. She said they could have been sweeter, but the sweetness level was just right for her taste.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I’m stressed, I bake. There’s something comforting about the mindless measuring, the systematic method of the steps, and of course, the instant gratification. Not that I’m too uptight this time of the semester. It’s just really nice to step away from my reading material a few moments for a sweet reward. Cookies fit the bill nicely!

After working and re-working this all natural sugar-free gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe, I am now satisfied with the results. Cookies without real sugars (including natural sugars–agave, honey, etc.) OR artificial sweeteners are a tough nut to crack! I really try to avoid both because of the metabolic response caused by sucrose and fructose (e.g. agave nectar!), as well as the artificial nature of manmade molecules such as Splenda. This may be an overly cautious approach, but being the science junkie that I am, stevia and erythritol seem like the safest options for now. If you like Splenda and other artificial sweeteners, and they help you to stay on your low carb plan, use ‘em. You’re likely healthier than you would otherwise be eating “real” sugar. You have find what works for you.

These fabulous cookies are flavorful, soft, and just sweet enough. The recipe was inspired by this wonderful basic cookie by Batspit at the Active Low Carber forum. If you can tolerate dairy, definitely use butter in this recipe for the most flavor. The slight cooling from the erythritol is not distracting, but “refreshing,” as my roommate and faithful tester phrased it in her lovely British accent. That was the problem with every cookie recipe I had tried before–the erythritol would make the pastry feel like a mint the minute it hit your tongue. Not very chocolate chip cookie-like. The key ingredient here is xanthan gum, so if you haven’t invested in a bag, do it now. I mean it! Grab your keys, drive to the health food store, and make a positive change in your life by buying this miraculous gluten replacer. It keeps the erythritol from causing its mischief, leaving you with a tray full of pleasantly sweet chocolate chip cookies instead of icy pucks.

Other reasons to buy xanthan gum: It thickens smoothies, ice cream, homemade salad dressings, keeps your gluten-free quickbreads from crumbling, and stabilizes whipped cream for longer term storage. A little bit of it goes a long way, so use a light hand or you’ll end up with barbeque sauce flavored pudding… not that I would know!

If you want to save time, pick up some 73% cacao chocolate disks from Whole Foods. I used El Rey’s Apamate Chocolate, but Dagoba makes a nice product as well. No, the chocolate isn’t super low carb, but you’re only using a touch of luxurious chocolate in these adorable drop cookies. Just remember that it’s not a healthy indulgence if you eat the whole batch at once! I recommend just baking these cookies as you’d like to eat them, both to aid in portion control and to experience them at their peak–warm from the oven. Like most gluten-free baked goods, you don’t want to wait around to indulge. A quick zap in the nuker can also restore these cookies to their former glory. Keep the dough in a ball in the fridge and pop a couple of cookies in the toaster oven when you need a sweet escape from the madness.

Flourless, sugar-free, dairy-free… flavor-FULL!
Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies, 2

BLOG PHOTOS choc chip cookies3

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 18 large cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted organic butter OR coconut oil
2 cage-free organic eggs
3/4 cup erythritol OR 1/2 cup preferred sugar-free sweetener
3 cups blanched almond flour (can replace 1 cup with unsweetened coconut)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon organic blackstrap molasses
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract (omit if you use Splenda)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (not necessary if you use Splenda)
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 heaping cup homemade chocolate chunks OR a chopped Lindt 70% cacao bar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Powder erythritol with sea salt in coffee grinder or magic bullet (use the flat blade). Melt butter or oil in mixing bowl with the microwave, using 15 second intervals. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Whisk in erythritol, sea salt, stevia extract, and blackstrap molasses. Pulse coconut flakes into a powder in magic bullet, if desired. Mix the rest of the dry ingredients together and stir into wet ingredients, adding nuts and chocolate chunks after the dough comes together. Shape dough into balls and squish on an ungreased cookie sheet with the clean bottom of glass–these cookies will not spread. If you are making the drop cookies, omit the blackstrap molasses and press chocolate drops into the tops of your cookie dough rounds, smoothing the edges with your fingertips if they crack.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until barely brown on the bottom. You don’t want to overcook these and dry them out! Let cool completely on the cookie sheet without touching, then remove from the pan and store in an airtight tupperware container. Nuke in the microwave before consuming for maximum enjoyment and gooeyness! Serve with unsweetened almond milk, flavored with a touch of stevia.

~3 grams net carbs per big cookie (with homemade chocolate chunks included)

Dairy-Free Option: Use coconut oil or palm oil based shortening (shortening NOT recommended, as it doesn’t add any flavor) in place of butter. Use full fat coconut milk in place of the cream added to the chocolate chunks.

Dainty little drop cookies wearing cute chocolate buttons. Aren’t they adorable?
healthy-chocolate-chip-cookies

Sugar-Free Milk Chocolate Chunks (updated recipe HERE):

Ingredients:
1-3.5 oz 85% cacao chocolate bar (Lindt or Ghirardelli)
3 tablespoons erythritol, powdered
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract

Preparation:
chop chocolate bar and add powdered erythritol. Microwave for 30 seconds on HIGH and stir. Mixture will be clumpy. Heat for 15 more seconds and stir until chocolate is smooth. Microwave in 10 second intervals to melt completely if necessary. Stir in stevia and pour into a pan lined with parchment paper. Quick set in the freezer for 10 minutes. Chop into chunks and store in a zip top baggy.

BLOG PHOTOS choc chip cookie bite