Rather than focusing on detoxing and depriving ourselves for our New Year's resolutions, I like to encourage people to make healthy swaps to their old favorites. Here are two ways to make your resolutions a bit greener and healthier: two healthy cookie recipes that you can enjoy all year long. Each recipe features just a handful of ingredients and the results are nothing short of extraordinary. Made with natural sweeteners and wholesome flours and little else, these are sure to please all the vegans, omnivores and gluten-free folks on your list.
The secret to these cookies is natural nut butters. These bring a ton of flavor but also work as the oil and the binder in these recipes, which keeps the ingredient list low. For the Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies (shown above)I definitely prefer almond butter, but for the Huge Chocolate Chip Cookies (shown below) I prefer tahini. If you've never used tahini before, it's a nut butter made from ground sesame seeds. It's thinner and creamier than almond butter, but creates a smooth delicious texture for the cookies. But, I've also tried this recipe with almond and peanut butter for great results. By 'natural' nut butters I mean those made from fresh ground nuts, with no additives. My local health food store has grinders to grind-your-own nut butters, and those are my favorite. Nut butters also have protein and fat, which help slow the absorption of sugar in our bodies, which means that these sweet treats won't make you feel bad 10 minutes after you eat them!
Here are some more notes about these wholesome ingredients:
- Maple syrup is used in both recipes here, both for the rich flavor and it functions as the only liquid portion of the recipe. Agave and honey would also work here, but as these sweeteners are thicker and tend to burn more quickly, you may get crunchier results. Unless you know a maple syrup harvester in your area, Whole Foods has the cheapest maple syrup in my neighborhood. I prefer the Grade B for a richer flavor, but Grade A works too.
- Almond flour, made from blanched, ground almonds, is a great grain alternative and is used often in gluten-free baking. The texture is light and fluffy and the flavor is mild and sweet. It cannot be substituted for any other flour. Look for almond flour in the bulk section of your favorite health food store or in packages from Bob's Red Mill.
- Spelt flour is my flour of choice for the Huge Chocolate Chip Cookies. It is an ancient grain related to wheat and does contain gluten, although many people that are allergic to wheat can enjoy spelt. It's a light textured flour that has a slightly nutty flavor and offers us an alternative from wheat, which most of us eat in abundance. No spelt? Substitute all-purpose flour, gluten-free all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour.
Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups almond meal
2 Tablespoons ground flaxseeds
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup almond butter
⅓ cup agave nectar or maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons almond milk (if needed)
- Preheat oven to 325º and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl toss together almond meal, flaxseeds and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together almond butter, sweetener and vanilla until smooth. Add dry ingredients into the wet and stir to combine. If it seems very dry add a Tablespoon of almond milk.
- Roll 2 Tablespoons dough into a ball in your hand and place on baking sheet. Gently flatten with your hands or a fork. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Let cool for five minutes on baking sheet, then enjoy! Makes about one dozen cookies
Huge Chocolate Chip Cookies
¾ cup tahini, peanut butter or almond butter
¾ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1¼ cup spelt flour
½ teaspoon 1/8 tsp baking soda
¼ teaspoon pinch sea salt
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare one cookie sheet with some parchment paper, or lightly grease with a bit of oil.
- Whisk nut butter, maple syrup and vanilla in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until well combined. Add chocolate chips and stir to combine (batter will be very thick).
- Divide dough evenly into eight dough balls. Flatten gently onto the baking sheet to about 1/2 inch thick. Bake for 13-14 minutes. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. Makes 8 large cookies (about four-inches around).