The Well Rounded Cookie [Vegan + Grain Free]

I believe that every cookie should bring you comfort, affection and joy. Sadly, not every cookie is made the same. Some are great to the lips but bad for the hips, some live in sin because of added preservatives and toxic chemicals and then there are ones that are wholesome, delicious AND guilt free making them the most well rounded batch of all.

Being gluten free, wheat free, grain free, vegan, preservative free and sugar free is impressive enough, but the quality I like most about these heavenly bites is that they’re low in carbs and won’t make your insulin levels rocket up! How’s that for a treat? 😉

This delicious cookie recipe brings together two of the most amazing foods in holy matrimony: coconuts and almonds.

I used Somama‘s organic and ethically sourced desiccated coconut which is an amazing product I picked up at a local health store in Cape Town. It’s perfect for baking and also great to have raw – sprinkle them on salads, desserts, homemade icing, chia seeds puddings or protein bars/balls.

It’s the magical intersection of their desiccated coconut and JK Gourmet‘s organic almond flour that creates a texture that is both soft, moist and slightly chewy and a taste that’s naturally sweet – without the use of any refined sugars! The coconut is also very subtle so even if you’re not a fan of coconut that much (which is absolutely NUTS!), you’ll probably love these cookies.

I hope these little cookies warm your home and heart for a long time to come.

Note to self: Share the cookies. 

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This is only 1/3 of the baked batch. Recipe below makes more, so don’t worry as there will be enough cookies for everyone! 

 What you’ll need:

1 cup + 1/4 cup of organic almond flour (unblanched)

1/4 cup of chopped unsweetened 100% dark cacao chocolate (can sub w/ homemade chocolate, cacao nibs or unsweetened vegan carob chips)

1/2 tsp of baking soda

1/4 cup of granulated xylitol (or stevia)

2 tbsp + 1 tsp of organic cold pressed virgin coconut oil, liquid

1/2 cup of finely shredded/desiccated coconut

1 flax egg (1 tbsp of ground flax seeds + 3 tbsp of water = let sit until “egg” like) – if vegetarian/flexitarian, you can use 1 large egg

1/2 tsp of vanilla extract or flavouring (alcohol free)

Combine all of the dry ingredients together. Add the vanilla and coconut oil to the flax egg. Then add dry ingredients with the wet ingredients and mix. Let the batter chill in fridge for a few minutes until set.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove batter from fridge and shape into small 1 inch balls. Press down slightly to flatten a bit (not too much as you want these babies to be moist!)

Make sure to keep the cookies at least 2 inches apart as they expand a little. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown.

Remove from oven and let cool on rack before devouring. Enjoy with a warm glass of almond or coconut milk!

Super Granol-Oat Nut Butter Bars [Love Grown Foods Style]

Do you love the taste and texture of granola bars but tired of seeing an abundant amount of sugars and refined carbs? Me too, guys, me too.  It frustrates me when I see health bars on shelves that call themselves healthy and nutritious only to read the label/contents and discover it was purely a marketing ploy.  Unfortunately, 99% of the granola bars that my grandma used to give to me for school, ’cause she thought they were better snack options, fall under this category. Some bars contain just as much sugar as chocolate bars! This makes snacking healthy challenging but when in doubt, make your own! I cannot stress this enough.

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I made these soft, chewy, vegan, gluten/wheat free, protein and fiber rich, healthier-for-you DIY bars in less than 15 minutes. There’s no baking required so makes it easier and faster to go right into our tummies!

One of the main ingredients in this homemade granola bar are the oats. Aka granol-oat! Oats, in moderation, is a low calorie grain that helps our bodies stay full longer and aids in sugar cravings by stabilizing blood sugars. They provide high levels of fiber and protein, generally lower in fat and contain unique antioxidants called beta glucans that reduce cholesterol and boosts defenses of the immune system against bacteria, viruses and parasites.

I had the pleasure of receiving a wonderful care package from Love Grown Foods which contained so many delicious and healthy products, one being their Super Oats Chia Nuts and Seeds! Now these oats aren’t like the other traditional oats out there. The nutritional benefits don’t just stop at simply the oats. The super stands for all of the superfood ingredients its loaded with: chia seeds, almonds, quinoa, amaranth, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts. They’re also uncontaminated which makes them certified gluten and wheat free making it appropriate for those with celiac disease to safely enjoy them too!

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From the minute you open the accessible package, you will see and smell the difference. A clean product that not only tastes fresh but also certified non GMO. No sugar or salt added (which makes me the happiest girl) makes it conveniently customizable and versatile for anyone.

Remember those sugary, not really good for you, granola bars we were just talking about? Well, here’s an easy peasy recipe that’s hearty, supercharged and can kick any granola bar’s butt to the curb!

For the Base – You’ll need: 

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp of organic pure unsweetened peanut butter or almond butter

6 tablespoons of coconut oil

1 1/4 cup of Love Grown Foods Super Oats

1/2 cup of crispy brown rice cereal (can omit and add more oats or use ground flax seeds or coconut flakes!)

1/4 cup of ground flax seeds

2 teaspoons of alcohol free vanilla

1 teaspoon of organic cinnamon

2 tablespoons of unsweetened almond milk

Optional: add in chopped almonds or seeds of choice, vegan carob chips, cacao nibs

Melt the nut butter, almond milk and coconut oil on medium low heat in a sauce pan and stir into a creamy batter. Remove immediately from the heat after melted! In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly. If you don’t want your bars too chewy, you can blend or ground the oats into a flour. Pour the melted nut butter mixture onto the dry mixture and combine well.

Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Press the mixture down onto the pan with your fingers or a spoon. Put in the frige for about 5 minutes until firm. In the meantime, move onto the topping….

For the Topping – You’ll need: 

1/4 cup of organic coconut oil (melted)

1/4 cup of unsweetened toasted carob powder (or raw cacao)

If your coconut oil is not in liquid form, melt it on low heat. This won’t take long! Stir in carob powder and mix well until topping sauce is made.

Remove the base batter from the fridge. Pour topping sauce making sure it’s evenly distributed. Refrigerate for half an hour or so until firmed up. Cut into desired squares. Best served at room temperature. Keep in an air tight container or individually wrap them in aluminum foil or cling wrap to have as on the go snacks! Keep refrigerated for a week or frozen for up to 2 months.

Alternatively you have the option to bake the base at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. 

 

Hearty Chia Seed Pudding

Happy weekend everyone! 🙂

It’s a beautiful day in Toronto. The sun is shining, the sky is deliciously clear and the wave of summer vibes is here to stay! One of the best things about summer is feeling good about waking up in the mornings. Warm and sunny mornings allow you to start your day right, wouldn’t you agree?

And what’s the best thing you can do for yourself in the morning? Eating a healthy and scrumptious breakfast. It’s easy to grab a bowl of sugary cereal or oatmeal with some full fat milk but in my opinion, there are optimal and more nutritional meals you can have instead. If you want to start your summer day off right, you should eat right. Plain and simple. So after I have my glass of water and warm lemon water to wake my insides up from a good night’s rest, I opt for a chia seed pudding with hearty add-ons.

The recipe I’m about to share with you is vegan and free of yucky ingredients that we definitely don’t want in our breakfast. It’s also low in sugar, wheat and gluten free, high in anti-oxidants, rich in protein,  contains healthy fats and filling!

As you probably know, chia seeds are considered to be one of the many amazing super foods that Mother Nature has to offer to us. Despite their size, chia seeds are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. They are loaded with fiber, protein and omega 3 fatty acids. It’s easy to use and consume – sprinkle them in salads, bake with them, add them to smoothies and juices and my favourite way: puddin-nize ’em! (I made that word up btw!)

Here are some fast food facts about chia seeds and why they should be a staple part of your everyday diet…

  • Provides a massive amount of nutrients with very few calories! Excellent for someone trying to lose or maintain their weight. It’s unique way of gelling with liquid helps to keep you full for hours. It’s also an excellent low carb food as most of the grams is fiber!
  • Ideal food to help balance blood sugar. It’s great combination of soluble and insoluble fiber combine to slow down your body’s conversion of starches into sugars. Eating chia with a meal or as a meal will help you turn your food into a constant, ready energy and fuel your body rather than giving you the ups and down cravings that weigh you down.
  • Chia is the richest plant source of Omega 3 fatty acids. By weight and gram per gram, chia has more omega than salmon!
  • Rich in anti oxidants (more than blueberries) and contains good quality protein!

So whether you want to lower your cholesterol or blood sugars, properly lose weight or have more nutritional foods in your everyday diet, chia seeds will help you do all of that. Did I mention they’re also gluten/wheat free and vegan? 😉

If you don’t like the taste of gelatinized chia seed (chia seeds with liquid), you can sneak them in your smoothies or juices for added nutrients. But seriously, you should try making a chia seed pudding! It’s perfect for a filling breakfast, mid day snack or even dessert!

Don’t underestimate tiny things!

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Here’s my yummy basic go-to recipe which can be easily customized to your liking:

1 1/4 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (homemade if you have!)

1/4 cup of organic chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon of organic vanilla extract, flavouring or bean pod (alcohol free please!)

1 teaspoon of xylitol or some stevia (optional)

Add all of the ingredients in a glass jar or bowl. Give it a quick stir. If using a jar, cover with a lid and shake like crazy to mix it all up. If using a bowl, let sit in the fridge and stir occasionally. Refrigerate until it becomes very thick and pudding like. You can do this for a few hours or overnight. For me, 20 minutes does the trick; plus my stomach is impatient.

Top with super essentials: tons of organic blueberries (I like them frozen!), raspberries, raw almonds and half a teaspoon of organic cinnamon. If I want to satisfy my sweet tooth, adding unsweetened coconut flakes, carob/cacao powder or chips and coconut milk does the trick! Enjoy! x

Model Friendly Healthy “Sugar” Cookie

#WHATHEALTHYMODELSEAT

I am very much a cookie person.

I love cookies. As you probably can tell from here and here. And now I have a new favourite recipe. This one is probably the most healthiest batch of cookies I’ve ever baked for myself. It’s a sugar cookie that has absolutely no sugar. I’m sorry guys, you already know how I feel about it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have cookies. That would just be plain ol’ cruel!

These soft cookies are grain free, soy free, gluten free, sugar free, wheat free, candida-friendly, vegan, preservative free and still good enough for Cookie Monster.

What you’ll need:

Dry Mix

1 cup of organic almond flour (I like JK Gourmet almond product)

1/2 cup of organic coconut flour

1 tsp of baking soda

1/2 cup of granulated xylitol sweetener (XyloSweet is the best for this!)

Wet Mix

3 tbsp of golden flax seed meal

1 tsp of raw apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup of organic virgin coconut oil (melted)

1 tsp of pure vanilla extract or powder (alcohol free)

1/2 cup of full fat coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all of the “wet mix” ingredients in one bowl. Let stand for a few minutes so that flax meal and liquid create a sweetened “egg-like” goop. Sift together all of the “dry mix” into another bowl. Combine both mixes together and blend until well mixed. Roll out dough onto parchment paper and use your hands to form dough into balls. If it’s not sticking together properly, add a tiny bit more coconut oil. Cut into desired shapes or press down on dough balls with hands for regular shaped cookies. You can sprinkle some more granulated xylitol on top if you wish! Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. These will come out really soft so be careful. Let cool for a few minutes before devouring with some almond milk!

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