12 Healthy Cookies, Treats and Giftables

It’s that time of year.  Lots of lists, lots of tasks, and hopefully a good dose of merriment to go with those lists and tasks.  I don’t know if it’s a sign of my age, but I’ve found that an increasing number of people on my gift giving list don’t really seem to want or need a present from me. They want my presence (which is flattering), and I’ve found over the last few years that if my presence is accompanied by something to eat, the greeting I receive is all the warmer.  In looking back through our posts, I see we have quite a collection of treats that are great to share with friends and family and that still provide some nutrition during this season of culinary madness (check out this post for some healthy holiday tips).

And so a bit of a roundup for those of you who are preparing to get baking, who need some ideas for gift giving, or who are invited to all manner of holiday celebrations at which you do NOT wish to arrive empty handed.  Healthier treats galore!

Perfectly Packable Gifty Treats

1. No Bake Brownie Balls (GF,DF)- dark chocolate taste, low sugar joy, great gift for a dark chocolate loving adult

2.  Healthy Pumpkin Cookies (GF,DF) – sweet enough to feel like a treat, healthy enough to do the bod some good

3. Sweet Potato Cookies with Walnuts and Dark Chocolate Chips  (GF,DF) – fantastically delish healthy cookies

4.Crancherry, Almond, & White Chocolate Cookies  (GF,DF) – slightly sweeter than many of our other cookies – a great starter cookie for a lifetime of healthier treats

5. Intensely Good Banana Bread Mini-Loaves (DF) – not your grandmother’s banana bread (which I’m sure is divine), this puppy packs some molasses for a spicy edge and an iron boost.  Lovely gifted in mini loaf pans (because WHO doesn’t want mini bakeware?!)

6. Healthier Holiday Fudge (GF,DF) – Oh yes, it’s that good. Nobody will call you a health whack for this one…

7. 2 Ingredient Caramel Fudge (GF,DF) - WHAT DID SHE SAY?!  Yes, 2 ingredients.

8. Roasted Chili Lime Nuts (GF,DF) – I’ve heard tell there are folks who prefer savory snacks.  Ok, I admit it, I’m even related to a couple.  A tin of these babies will knock their unsweet socks off.

9. Nut Butter Bliss Balls (GF,DF) – Pleasing normal treat eaters everywhere… or at least in parts of Tennessee and Maryland

If You’re To “Bring Dessert”

10. Cranberry Apple Pecan Crumble (GF,DF) – Easy for you, delish for everyone.

11. Cocoanutty Good Bars (GF,DF) – No it’s not your imagination, I served these bars as cake and it was a huge success.  Drooling a little, and I guess you didn’t need to know that.

12. Pumpkin Pudding (GF,DF) – Bigg Sis wondered what would happen if you stopped worrying so much about the pie crust… and it was good.

Well, there it is.  Now you have a pretty good idea what’s going to be going on at my house for the next few weeks.  Here’s hoping your house is full of delicious and healthful food and wonderful people.

Did She Say Chickpeas AND Chocolate?! (GF,V)

We’ve had quite a week here at Lake HolyCrap.  The twins started first grade on Monday and our search for a new furry friend reached its final, and extremely happy conclusion.  While the kids were at their second day of school, Mr. Little Sis and I responded to the call from a lovely woman who runs an animal rescue about a half an hour from us.  She thought we might be just the people for Baxter, an adult labradoodle mix.  We jumped in the car immediately and it’s been love ever since.

IMG_9838Baxter rode home with me yesterday and I had my first experience using a mobile groomer (for the dog, mind you).  I didn’t want to traumatize him by taking him somewhere else or leaving him for a couple of hours, so I found the nicest groomer who pulled into our driveway with a trailer that had everything she needed to get rid of our new friend’s matted dreadlocks and leave him much more comfortable and very, very handsome.  What’s a nervous new dog Mommy to do while a stranger is tending to her new charge in the driveway? Bake, of course. Continue reading

A Cookie By Any Other Name

A cookie is a cookie is a cookie, right?

I’ve known that is not true since I was very young.  Not to brag, but my mother baked when I was a kid.  Her cookies were better than any store bought cookie…. but not as good as bakery cookies (sorry Mom).  I preferred a good cookie.  Who wouldn’t?

Once she started working she didn’t bake as much but still being budget conscious, she bought the cheapest cookies available.  I thought they were really lame…. until my best friend would come over and be delighted to break into the cellophane wrapped goodies.  She didn’t get cookies at all, so she thought even the cheap-o, 3 dozen for $1, lame ones from the store were okay.  It’s what you get used to, isn’t it?

I also like to bake and I have always been a cookie person as opposed to a cake person.  Many of our friends can tell you that they looked forward to dessert at our house because they knew it would be really good.  Every person’s good.  Plain old good.  Good old good – sweet – good.  What you get used to good. Continue reading

Almond Lemon Jots

As Little Sis told you in her post of some fabulous cookies that include garam masala, that intriguing Indian spice blend, we, like so many of you have a strong Christmas Cookie tradition in our family.  I particularly loved making cookie press cookies with my Mom and Little Sis and sprinkling red and green sugar on top of the various shapes.  So what’s a sugar-busting, gluten free baker to do?  Apparently lots of GF bakers are using almond flour.  Well, almond flour is a bit over the top price -wise, but why not make your own?  Especially in the interest of making a healthier iced lemon cookie!

I placed a handful of raw almonds in the Vita-Mix at a time and ground them until a few chunks were still flying.  You don’t want to go too long or you will create gooey, pre-almond butter.  Then I poured it through a colander to remove the big pieces which I threw back in with some more almonds until I had enough almond flour.  (I used whole almonds, Detoxinista suggests using blanched, slivered almonds, but again… I’m cheap!)

This lot of almond pieces got dumped into a container with sweet potato, rice, raisins and cinnamon for the next morning’s breakfast!

sifting almonds

Now I was ready to adapt Detoxinista’s frosted almond sugar cookie recipe into Almond Lemon Jots.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, softened (or use butter instead)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 – 2 tsp. lemon zest (I say the more the better!)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Frosting: 2 tablespoons coconut oil, softened
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • pinch of salt
 Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together cookie ingredients

    lemon cookie dough - zest

    I doubled the recipe, so I used a LOT of zest.

  3. Drop by Tablespoon-ful onto a baking sheet, lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.
  4. Bake for about 8 minutes at 350F, or until the edges turn golden brown.
  5. Allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. For the frosting, cream together the coconut oil, honey, lemon zest and salt, until well combined. If the coconut oil starts to melt (it melts at temperatures above 76 degrees), briefly place the mixture in the fridge to help it set.
  7. Frost the cooled cookies, and let them set in the fridge for a more solid-frosting.lemon cookies lemon cookies - done
  I really like these cookies, and both my boys young and young at heart love these cookies.  The original recipe states you can also chill the dough and then cut out shapes by smushing out a bit on the silpat/ parchment and using a cookie cutter.  I’m afraid I don’t have time for pretty this year… I’m so glad to have time for yummy!
We hope you are enjoying this phase of the holidays.  It can be so overwhelming and so hard to stick with dietary goals.  Just remember, every meal and every snack offers another chance to make healthy choices.  Don’t beat yourself up over the slips.  Remember the Baby Steps and which we’ll be getting back to very soon.  Happy Holidays!

Spicy Sweeties – My New Favorite Cookie

While growing up, my sister my mother and I would all gather in the weeks before Christmas and produce cookies… loads and loads of cookies.  As we got older and moved out of the house, we still often found time to perform our ritual cookie fest.  In more recent years, driven in part by the distance between us and in part by a lack of interest on Mom’s part in making any more cookies (ever, thank you very much), my sister and I have satisfied our pre-holiday baking ritual in our own homes, with sporadic help from those around us, then sharing our holiday booty (er, cookies).  And so, for me (and my chief beneficiaries) Christmas has become inextricably tied to little baked yummies.

Having been pounding on the Sugar Busting drum for nearly a year now, this season of warm gooey sweetness brings a sense of disorientation and a little culinary dread.  What will I do about the cookie situation?  Will I renounce all the traditional goodies I’ve been making my entire life? Will I deny my family ALL the pleasure that a holiday tray of sweets can bring?  Will I hand out cookies in my annual gesture of neighborly goodwill?  Yes, probably; no, definitely not; and, we’ll see how much time I have.

In my desire to still have a treat-y Christmas, I’ve doubled down on my efforts to find baked goodies that I can feel good about giving my little people.  Turns out there’s a lot out there, including Big Sis’ fabulous fudge, but you know me, I can’t simply follow a recipe.  I tend to be inspired by a recipe rather than instructed by it, and this time inspiration was glorious. And so without further ado (because how much more rambling can you really take), I give you…

Spicy Sweeties (GF, V) – inspired by oatmeal and chickpea flour cookies on Taste of Beirut.

  • 3 1/2 c oatmeal
  • 1 c chickpea flour
  • 1/2 t salt, baking soda, baking powder
  • 2 medium bananas (very ripe)
  • 1 egg ( I used flax)
  • 1/4 c + 1 T maple syrup
  • 1 t + a dash garam masala (or to taste)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/8 c sunflower oil (or other oil)
  • 3 T tahini (or other nut butter, but the tahini is more delicate than most)
  • 1/4 c chocolate chips or chunks or however you like it
  • 1/4 c chopped pecans
  • 1/4 c shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350.  Grind 2 c oatmeal in food processor or heavy duty blender to make oat flour.  Add chickpea flour and salt, baking soda, baking powder and pulse to combine.  Transfer to bowl and stir in remaining 1 1/2 c oats.  Combine bananas, egg, maple syrup, garam masala, vanilla, oil and tahini either in bowl of standing mixer or in food processor.  (You can, of course also mix these things by hand – I am lazy and have angry finger joints).  The rest of the procedure here is pretty typical cookie stuff.  Add the wet to the dry and mix in whatever way you like to mix cookie dough.  When the dough is fully incorporated, add in the mixy bits and stir to combine.

Drop onto lined or oiled baking sheet with a scoop or tablespoon.  I put my usual dozen on a pan with no drama.  When the pan is full, use a fork (honestly my finger worked better) to flatten the cookies out.  Because there is no butter, they will not melt down the way many butter based cookies do.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until bottoms are brown and there is some browning around the edges.  Cool for a couple of minutes on cookie sheet and transfer to wire racks.  While they are delicious warm because ANY cookie with chocolate in it is yummy warm, the real fabulous complexity of these babies is best appreciated after cooling, when the garam masala shines through.  Delish.

Want to know what else to do with that garam masala? Try warming up with a great big bowl of spicy yum – mulligatawny soup for all!

When It Just Doesn’t Work, Add Chocolate

Some days it just doesn’t work. Okay, some weeks it just doesn’t work. Here at Lake Ouch My Head, we’ve had a week that really hasn’t worked. The twins have brought home the first bug of the season and while it’s relatively mild in actual symptoms (aside from the headache), it has had all of us feeling very tired, dopey and more than a little cranky. Cooking adventures have been poorly planned, poorly executed, and largely underwhelming. The lesson for me as home chef this week has been one of Lazarus meals – a quick resurrection in order to avoid wasting the ingredients and in order to avoid having to eat out because things have gone so far awry….

Looks like tofu, right? Chickpea flour, salt, water… go figure.

Earlier in the week I attempted some chickpea flatbread and while making it a little voice told me that the batter was too thin. THIS is the moment when things went wrong. I should have listened to the little voice. It was, in fact, too thin and the pan I cooked it in was too small. The end result?

Looked like tofu, cooked like tofu.

A VERY strange custard-like consistency that I managed to re-fashion like tofu for a lunch for me and Mr. Little Sis the following day. The children, having heard me dub it a mistake, would have none of it.

Another flub was less dramatic in its outcome, and in fact it wasn’t a flub, it was just a “meh” kind of dish. I made mid-week pancakes (we usually only have fresh pancakes on weekends, I make plenty, we freeze the rest for M-F) because the children had a day off from school. They roundly rejected the idea of pumpkin pancakes (that I’ve been drooling over everywhere on the blogoshpere) and so I thought I would attempt yet another homemade syrup substitute (insert dead horse for children to beat here). Remembering the date cream that Big Sis made and that I enjoyed so much, I rifled through the dried fruit in the pantry and came up with figs and cherries. That sounded pretty darned good to me. So I blended them together (1/2 c figs, 1/3 c cherries, approximately 1 c water, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a squirt of vanilla). I ended up with a fruit butter consistency with a, well fig and cherry flavor. It was yummy, but it didn’t knock my socks off. When I put it on my pepita pancakes (like my pecan pancakes, but with pepitas because that’s what I had), it was good, but not necessarily post-worthy if you get my drift. No major revelation here. Annoyed by yet another waste or at least poor use of ingredients, I racked my brain for a way to use this fig cherry butter. I ate a piece of fig cherry butter on toast while I considered my options. It was very good, but not stunning. And then it struck me. Fruit butter, a dwindling supply of baked goods in the house… cherries… chocolate. Oh yes.

Chocolate Cherry Bombdies (GF, V)

  • 3/4 c cherry fig butter
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (I used flax)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 T oil
  • 1 1/4 c buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 c oat bran
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3 c oats
  • 1/4 c chopped dried cherries
  • 1/2 c choc chips (I used semi-sweet)

Serious five year old whisking.

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix wet ingredients in large bowl.  Combine dry ingredients in another bowl.  Enlist a small person who needs something to do to whisk the dry ingredients (they really like whisks) and take really weird pictures while they do.  Add dry to wet and stir or use mixer until well combined.  Scoop into ungreased 9×13  baking pan and spread out.  Mine did not cover the entire pan.  If you like a thicker bombdie, use a square cake pan.  If your children are not watching, add nuts.  Mine were helping, so we went nutless, ahem.  Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.  Mine were in for 25 and are crisp on top and a little chewy in a good way.  My oven is admittedly a little wonky, so I suggest you keep an eye on yours starting at 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, cool in pan.  Cut into blondie sized bars and enjoy.  Resurrected baked goods.  Delish!

Camm (coconut almond milk mash) Cookies

If I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know that I am writing about last week’s cookies! (Course I had to tell you. I’m not very good at keeping secrets – you can ask Little Sis.)

My family has been on the road visiting other family, including Little Sis (yeah!), Step-daughter and 2 of my three wonderful step-grands, and we are now enjoying The Chautauqua Institute in New York with Dad and Step-Mom.   Little Sis kindly has posted in my absence and now I’m cooking in someone else’s kitchen…Luckily I have pictures from last week’s second endeavor to use the almond milk meal (AMM) leftover from making almond milk.  And most importantly, I took a photo of the write-on wipe-off board on my frig where I noted the ingredients…

Ignore the cumin – from an earlier endeavor :-)

In the past I have been an overzealous holiday cookie maker who then embarks on the dreary 12-step process of cookie-making recovery.  Despite having only made it to step 4 this year, I have been thinking about treats that can go in a lunch box and be eaten by my gluten-free husband.  Here is my attempt to make something recognizably treat-y from AMM.

CAMM cookies
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup almond milk mash
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. liquid sweet (I used 1 Tbsp maple syrup and 1 Tbsp. agave)
1 egg
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
dash salt and vanilla (I’d guesstimate 1/4 tsp vanilla for this small batch)

Preheat oven to 350
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
Mash together the AMM, butter, and coconut
add coconut, vanilla and salt
add beaten egg

Drop by spoonful onto parchment lined baking sheet

smash with a fork to flatten
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until getting a little crispy.
If you take them out too early (I tried taking them out at different times) they stay kind of mushy.
Cool on a rack and enjoy!!

As I contemplate my only child entering Middle School with the concomitant increased freedom and exposure regarding worldly foods and foibles, I am going to attempt to provide snacks in the lunch that will entice him to walk the straight and narrow – or narrow-ish.  It ain’t going to be easy my friends!  But my rapidly rising (in height, ability and attitude) 6th grader thought these cookies were awesome, so we’re off to a good start.