26 Jun 2012
One of my favorite things to do (ok, one of my obsessions…) is to take a recipe and make it healthier. It’s a constant circus in my head, thinking about how I can recreate foods I’d love to eat so that they’re gluten-free, refined sugar-free and a little bit better for me.
It stems from years of being overweight and my love of baking. At my biggest, I was 5’ 5” and over 180 pounds. I was miserable inside my body. I would say things like, “I can’t eat chocolate cake. It’ll go right to my hips.” The truth was that the fat on my hips (and elsewhere…) had nothing to do with the one piece of chocolate cake. It was the junk I ate all day long that was causing my body to expand in all directions. I just couldn’t see it back then.
Once I lost the weight, I realized that my body was happiest with whole foods and regular exercise. I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t go back to eating the way I used to but I just couldn’t walk away from the kitchen. My compromise was to make my desserts, and all the other foods I love to eat, healthier.
Today I make eating and living healthy a habit. I feel best that way. When I eat a nutrient-rich dessert after dinner (or in the middle of the day) it doesn’t throw me off balance. I’ve found that living in that middle ground makes life easy.
This cookie recipe is a result of one of my baking brainstorms. I decided to put some of the foods l love to eat at breakfast into a cookie. Why not take oats, dried fruit, cereal, and flaxseed meal and whip it up into a hand-held treat?
A few notes about the ingredients:
Yeah, I used butter. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. Though I’ve been moving away from dairy, I still love to bake with butter and haven’t committed to let it go completely. It adds incredible taste and texture. If you’re dairy-free or just prefer to skip it all together, use non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening or coconut oil.
A little tip about flaxseed meal – you can buy it in the store already ground. It’s expensive, though, and due to the natural fats, will go rancid quickly unless stored in the refrigerator or freezer. A much more frugal option is to buy whole flax seeds and grind them yourself in a clean coffee mill. Once ground, store in the refrigerator or freezer. Whole flax seeds can be stored at room temperature.
Unsweetened carob chips are my refined sugar-free version of chocolate. I’ve been eating carob for years and love it. Chocolate chips are an easy substitution if you can’t find or don’t like carob.
What choices have you made that allow you to live a full, healthy, balanced life?
Oatmeal-Flax Carob Cherry Cookies
makes 3 1/2 dozen 2-inch cookies
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1 large egg, preferably organic
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups rolled gluten-free oats
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
1 cup unsweetened dried cherries, chopped
1 cup unsweetened carob chips
Fit a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, put the coconut palm sugar in a blender and process until powdered. Add the powdered palm sugar to the butter and beat for 2 – 3 minuets on medium high. Add applesauce and egg. Beat until combined. Mix in vanilla.
Add the Erewhon Rice Twice cereal to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until very fine. Add the brown rice cereal, arrowroot flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and sea salt. Pulse to combine.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in one addition. Beat until combined. Add oats and flax meal. Stir to combine. Add dried cherries and carob chips and mix just until combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Use a cookie scoop to evenly portion the dough. Space two inches apart. Roll the balls of dough and then flatten them out. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until the edges just start to get light golden brown. Let cool until set on the baking sheet, about 8 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
AmyCheck out my latest posts here