Healthed-Up Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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I’ve been keeping these in my back pocket for months now. Not literally, of course. But the recipe!

During my pregnancy I decided I needed something healthier to indulge in when my cookie cravings were rampant. These are gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free and surprisingly delicious!

I wouldn’t recommend tinkering with the recipe a ton because it can be finicky. Oat flour can vary in its coarseness so if your dough seems way too wet, try adding a bit more. I love the nutty flavour it gives the cookies, especially coupled with coconut sugar, which gives a toasty flavour that reminds me of graham crackers. Also, don’t think about skipping the chilling or you will have a mess on your hands.

These cookies are super filling and delicious fresh out of the oven and dunked in milk. I do prefer them the day they are baked so I freeze the extra dough balls and bake fresh as needed. Give them a try the next time you need a healthier treat!

Healthed-Up Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes one dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, measured solid
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

Instructions:

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment or silicone liner.

Melt the coconut oil in a large mixing bowl in the microwave (or melt it on the stove and add it to a large bowl), then stir in the sugar until smooth. Chill mixture for ten minutes or so in the refrigerator until room temperature.

Once mixture is cooled, stir in the egg and vanilla. Then add the flour, salt and baking soda. Mix well until dough forms. It might seem a bit wet but this is normal. Stir in the chocolate chunks then drop tablespoons of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees and bake cookies for 6-8 minutes. The oat flour dries out quickly so don’t overbake! The centres should look a bit raw. Let cool, then store in an airtight container.

Notes:

Don’t chill the dough without scooping the cookies first unless you have time for it to warm back up. It gets really hard and you’ll have trouble scooping it after it’s cooled.

I like to flash freeze the cookie dough balls during the chilling stage and then store them in a freezer bag for cookie emergencies. Just bake the frozen dough balls for an extra minute!

I buy my coconut sugar and oat flour at Bulk Barn. You can also blend oats until fine to make your own oat flour.

 

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We’re doing the Whole30!

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I’ve been really apprehensive about sharing this (mostly out of fear of failure) but it’s been a big part of the last few weeks of my life so I decided it’s time to tell you about it!

There is no shortage of information available on the Whole30 and it’s something I’ve been interested in trying for a long time, but I never got serious about it until this past Summer. Without going into too much detail, I’ve had a lot of digestive troubles for years now and I’m really hoping the Whole30 can get me on track, either by giving my system a break so it can heal or by helping to uncover a previously undiagnosed food sensitivity.

In short, these foods are in:

Meat

Eggs

Fruit

Vegetables

Nuts and Seeds

Healthy Fats 

And these foods are out:

Dairy

Gluten

Grains

Sugar

Legumes

Alcohol

We eat this way for 30 days and then a reintroduction phase adds back in each eliminated food group to test for sensitivities.

We picked our start date and I’ve been researching, planning and convincing Tom to try zucchini since then. I can’t stress this enough: DO YOUR RESEARCH. There is so much to learn when eating this way. I read It Starts With Food and started reading the labels on absolutely everything, to see what I would need to find alternatives for. I started working Whole30 approved meals into our current rotation and testing out some new to us ingredients as well.

I knew preparation would be the single most important thing we could do before embarking on our Whole30 and I spent over a month before we started examining our lifestyle to search for pitfalls and things we could work on in order to be successful. Luckily I already meal plan each week and cook the majority of our meals so I knew it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to do it even more. We travel a lot and that is absolutely when our eating suffers the most. I knew that I would have to plan out every meal and snack, even the majority when we would be travelling to avoid being stuck without healthy options and forcing us off the wagon.

The night before we started I cooked several chicken breasts in the crock pot with salt, pepper, garlic powder and smoked paprika. After it was cooked and cooled, I shredded it so we would have an easy protein source at all times. Tom doesn’t love eggs and I knew that he would never eat them for breakfast every single day. I decided that although smoothies are discouraged on Whole30, avoiding burnout was probably more important. I decided we would alternate between eggs and a green smoothie for breakfast, so long as I included a lot of vegetables and less fruit into the smoothie. I saw this method recently where you make a huge batch and freeze them in single serving containers, putting them in the fridge to thaw the night before you want to drink them and I knew that would be an easy grab and go for us on week day mornings. I made a frittata, cut it into slices and put it into individual containers and also made and froze six smoothies. I also put together trail mix and made ranch dressing.

Another thing we had to take into account was Tom’s tree nut allergy. He has been tested for peanuts and is not sensitive so he is allowed peanuts and natural peanut butter on his plan as well as seeds. I will still be avoiding peanuts and peanut butter (can you hear me sobbing hysterically?).

So far I’ve been keeping track of our meals each day and plan to do recaps as we delve further into the program.

Wish us luck!

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“Good Stuff” Granola Bars

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When I first moved in with my Main Taste Tester I promised him I’d make him granola bars every week.

Um, let’s just say my follow through has been less than stellar on that vow.

Sure, I make him lots of wonderful things to eat. True, he never goes hungry. But granola bars are one of the things he regularly requests, always gobbles up and whines if he doesn’t have them on hand.

Recently I saw this recipe and was instantly feeling guilty about my track record as of late. When I saw how healthy they were (much healthier than his original favorite) I decided to give it a try, with several tweaks. They literally took minutes to get into the oven and with no added sugar, butter or oil, are incredibly healthy. They aren’t super sweet which my MTT loves but if you want them sweeter, try adding a bit of brown sugar or honey.

These are a cakey bar, rather than chewy or crunchy and they are already a new breakfast favorite in our house. They also make a great snack when you need some staying power to get you through and go great with an afternoon cup of tea.

Just look at all the good stuff in them!

“Good Stuff” Granola Bars

Makes 14 large bars

Ingredients:

  • 3 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ¾ cup oat bran
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • ½ cup unsweetened toasted coconut
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup salted chopped peanuts
  • 1 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment or silpat and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the mashed banana and vanilla. Then add everything else and stir until the mixture is thick and well mixed. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and press down well with your hands to pack the mixture down. Smooth the top. Bake for 25 minutes or so until firm and starting to become lightly browned. Cool for at least 10 minutes, then remove from the pan onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Once cooled, cut into bars and store in an airtight container.

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Spicy Curry Noodles

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One of the very first places my Main Taste Tester took me to when we first started dating has a dish just like this. It was a mild Friday night in November and the restaurant was one that he loved but I had never been. My favorite thing that I tried that night was what they called the Singapore Noodles. They are super thin, simply coated with a mildly spicy yellow curry sauce, and mixed with a bit of wilted spinach and some scrambled egg pieces. I loved them, and still love them although we only go there once in a while nowadays. Those noodles are still my favorite thing to pile on my plate when we stop by and I’ve always wanted to try and make something like them at home. I don’t even remember how I found this recipe but I knew as soon as I saw the photo that these would be a good stand in. The added veggies made it a little more substantial too. It beat my craving and made for a perfect light supper while my partner in crime was at wing night. Funny how so many years later, a certain dish just brings you back. Food = memories.

 Spicy Curry Noodles

Serves 4

 For the Stir-fry:

  • 4 ounces thin rice noodles
  • 1 tablespoon oil (I used sesame)
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup snow peas, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 cups spinach

For the Sauce:

  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger
  • Dash crushed red pepper

Instructions:

Cook noodles according to package directions. Wash and cut all the vegetables. Mix the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the peppers, green onion, snow peas, and curry powder; stir fry for 3-5 minutes. Add the spinach; stir fry for 2 minutes until wilted. The vegetables should still be slightly crisp. Turn heat to medium.

Drain the water from the rice noodles and add the noodles to the pan with the vegetables. Add a little splash of sauce – about 2-3 tablespoons – and stir fry. Gently stir the noodles, vegetables and sauce together to coat everything evenly. Once coated, remove from heat. Keep adding sauce in small amounts and stirring until the noodles are as saucy as you like. Serve!

 Adapted from: http://pinchofyum.com/stir-fried-singapore-noodles-with-garlic-ginger-sauce

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Vietnamese Rice Bowls with Caramelized Pork

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I always forget about stir fry. I don’t know why, because I love pretty much every vegetable and I’m always looking for healthy options to break up the weekly meal plan. It just keeps flying under my radar. My Main Taste Tester loves stir fry and it is one of the few foods that he likes to make, along with homemade burgers and chili. He is always challenging me to a chili cook off, and I feel like that’s finally going to happen this summer.  We are both super competitive when we make chili. Weird, and off topic. Back to stir fry. I saw a similar recipe on a food blog I follow recently and I thought it looked different than anything we’d had before. I made it last week for supper with several modifications and turned it into a rice bowl. After I served it, all I could hear were loud “MMMMMM” noises coming from my MTT’s direction. He’s been asking me to make it every day since and I’m already looking forward to it too. It’s done in 30 minutes, healthy, super flavorful and easy to switch up. I want to make it with shrimp next and I think quinoa or noodles would be great in place of the brown rice. I guess I win this round but the jury is still out on who makes better chili. Who wants to judge?

 Vietnamese Rice Bowls with Caramelized Pork

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry brown jasmine rice
  • 1.5 pounds pork tenderloin, cubed
  • 1.5 tbsp. sesame oil
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 inch nub fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 3 cups coleslaw mix (or diced cabbage and carrot)

Instructions:

 Cook your rice according to package directions (I cooked mine the night before to make things extra easy).

 Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the pork and season it with salt and pepper. Heat until cooked through and browned, and set it aside. To that same skillet, add onion, ginger and garlic and sauté about 5 minutes or until soft.

 In a medium bowl combine chicken stock, brown sugar, soy sauce, cornstarch, lemon juice and crushed red pepper. Stir together and pour into the skillet with the onion, garlic and ginger. Bring it to a boil and then simmer 10 minutes or so until thickened. Add the diced pepper, coleslaw mix and cooked pork. Stir-fry for 5 minutes or so until veggies are soft but still crisp. Add this mixture to the cooked rice and stir together until well combined.

 Serve!

 Inspired by: http://www.howsweeteats.com/2014/05/30-minute-vietnamese-caramel-pork-stir-fry/

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