Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Easy AND Delicious AND Healthy Cookies :)

Hey just wanted to start off saying, SORRY guys I missed the DC challenge this month :((( I was all ready to get it done last minute as always and I even started and everything and the timing and stuff just didn't work out, I had to work and do a bunch of stuff and yeah, it just didn't happen, but I'll be sure to post it if I decide to retry. Really sorry, but I'll be back on track next month I hope and in the meantime, here's a post that I hope you all will love :)
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So we all love cookies, right? Yeah that was a rhetorical question because cookies are just...amazing. I love them way too much. However, there are several reasons why I don't make them too often. 1) I never seem to have softened butter sitting around ready to go 2) A lot of really good cookie recipes have way more steps and ingredients than I want to mess with for something that will most likely get inhaled 3) By change my sisters don't like them and eat them all...I have to eat them all...and whether they are tasty or not...I really do not need to make a habit of eating 4 dozen cookies. So, if you face these or similar cookie dilemmas, read on, there may be some hope for you! :D

I've dabbled with plenty of healthy cookie recipes before as well as "healthy" cookie recipes and most of them just haven't really stuck out to me. The truly healthy ones that could be confused with granola bars are okay, but they don't always hit the spot. Then there's the "healthy cookies" that might contain 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or rolled oats and besides that they are still loaded with refined white sugar and flour. Reeeeal healthy.

However, the recipes I am about to share with you combine the best of both worlds of "healthy" and "cookie". Oh yeah, they are also super fast and easy, which is AWESOME! They can also be messed around with to make them less or more healthy or whatever to fit with what you've got and what you do/don't like, etc.

First off, we've got Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies for ya! You may have heard of these or had them before or already be totally addicted with these because they are gaining popularity fast - and for good reason! However, if you are new to this addicting little things you may be surprised at the short, simple ingredient list and directions (see I told you!), but they really are that easy! My only advice on these is 1) I think using natural peanut butter makes these not only healthier, but also have a better taste and texture and 2) unless you like crunchy PB cookies (I don't!) then do NOT overbake these! You have to be patient when you take them out of the oven because they should be quite soft still, but they'll firm up just right if you let them!

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
§  2 cups peanut butter (preferable natural or homemade)
§  2 cups packed brown sugar
§  2 eggs
§  2 tsp baking soda
§  Halved or chopped peanuts for garnish

1.   Preheat the oven to 350 F. Beat the peanut butter with the sugar, then the eggs and the baking soda.
2.  Take tablespoonfuls of dough and form them roughly into balls, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet, then flatten them slightly and gently, but firmly push chopped of halved peanuts into them if desired.
3.  Bake 10-12 min, depending on how crunchy you want them. They will look very soft when they first come out, but do not over-bake them, they will firm up nicely as they cool. Cool at least 5 min on wire racks before serving.

YUM. Homemade peanut butter.
Now these are REAL peanut butter cookies!

Who needs shortening, flour, or hydrogenated oils?

These next cookies you may not have heard of before. Actually I'm sure you haven't because I pretty much made them up! Okay so I got the basic idea from a recipe from Clean Food. I'd like to think that I made these cookies way better though! Not only healthy, but also tastier! Feel free to mess around with this recipe as you like (that's what I did!). I tried to make a few helpful notes and alternate options, but the first option I give is the one I tried so I cannot promise that the other will work, but the recipe did give them as choices. The main thing I would be careful about is the oil. I used coconut oil because it is super healthy for you (yus!), these are coconut banana cookies (duh), and because it is solid when below a certain temperature so I thought it would mix in better than a liquidy oil. If you don't have/can't find coconut oil though, try out the oils or even just use butter if you don't need these to be vegan. Whatever you do, if you try these out please, please tell me how they turn out, I wanna know! :) thanks. Anywho, the recipe:

Healthy Coconut Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

§  1 1/3 cups brown rice flour
§  ¼ tsp baking soda
§  ½ tsp baking powder
§  ½ tsp salt
§  2 very ripe, medium bananas
§  ¼ cup coconut oil or sunflower oil (canola oil if you must)
§  ¼ cup honey or pure maple syrup
§  ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
§  2 cups almond flour (or other nut flour)
§  ½ cup or more shredded, sweetened or unsweetened coconut (depending on your own preference)
§  1 cup or more mini chocolate chips (I used an allergy-free brand that is vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, yeah you get the point, but you can use whatever you like)

1.       Preheat the oven to 375 F.
2.      In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients and set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the bananas until pretty well mashed, then add the coconut oil and beat until combined. Beat in the honey and vanilla then gradually mix in the dry ingredients until a soft dough is formed. Mix in the coconut and chocolate chips if desired.
3.      Scoop out small tablespoons of dough and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet. Flatten slightly and press more chocolate chips into the top if desired.
4.      Bake 10-12 min, until lightly browned. Cool at least 5 min on a wire rack before serving.

So I was pretty sure these suckers were
PERFECT for baking, not totally black, but
super soft and sweet and all right? But the
reviews I got back from the cookie experts
(aka the little sistahs) was that the banana
flavor barely came through, but they liked
them all the same. I of course couldn't be
a sampler because I'm allergic to bananas (sad
I know!) but I trust their cookie judgement.

I'm no expert on this stuff, but I
think it is super cool and I'm trying
to work more and more with it.
However, it IS expensive so I try
to be sparing, but I think it worked
well in this recipe even if I personally
couldn't try them.

Now THESE babies I DID for sure sample! I
was really thinking they might taste kinda
funny like special diet food from the store shelf
usually does, but NO MAN these were way
better than the usual chocolate chips I use
(which aren't all that good or anything, but
they taste like chocolate...) And if these guys
weren't ALSO super pricey I'd be using them
a lot more too, but I'm gonna have to hide them
away to be saved for my friends with special
dietary needs. I highly recommend though!

You can make these any size you want of

But I think they are just so cute when they
are bite-sized like this! You can't really tell,
but they were about the circumference of
a golfball, maybe a bit bigger.

For a health food I'd say they look pretty tasty :)

Maybe not THE BEST chocolate chip cookie,
but for a cookie that is truly good for you,
truly tasty, and can be enjoyed by all of your
friends with special diet needs too, I'd say
they're winners. You tell me!