When you have a big ol’ sweet tooth like I do, giving up tasty treats loaded with sugar and carbs was really difficult. I had to find a substitute for my ice cream and chocolate habit. If the cavemen (which the paleo diet is based upon) knew about ice cream and chocolate chip cookies, I bet they would have eaten them!
I was lucky enough to find a recipe for tasty, healthy chocolate chip cookies that are diary free, gluten free, and soy free. I know you are thinking these are probably the worst cookies ever, but they actually are pretty dang tasty! Although they aren’t going to be oh-so-gooey-soft in the middle (you know the cookies I’m talking about), they still fill the chocolate/sweet void in my life!
The original recipe technically qualifies the cookies as vegan cookies, but they also meet all paleo requirements as well.
– 2 cups almond meal/flour (some other recipes call for coconut flour, but I’m only brave enough to try almond flour.)
– 1/4 coconut oil, softened (non-vegans or non-paleo eaters can use butter–I’ve tried both, and they both taste good.)
– 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (I was able to find organic, pure maple syrup without any preservatives or additives in it at Kroger. You could also try to find local honey, as most of those will not have preservatives either.)
– 1/4 tablespoon sea salt
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (Once again, you can find pure vanilla extract without any preservatives at …. you know where! Kroger!)
– 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (Enjoy Life chocolate chips are available in the organic section of most grocery stores. These chocolate chips are dairy, soy, and gluton free. This store directory also can help you find stores near buy that sell these chocolate chips in your state. Also, you can probably get by with 1/4 cup instead of a 1/2.)
-Preheat oven to 350F.
-In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond meal, salt, and baking soda, then add the coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract and mix well. (You need to use a spoon to do this and not an electric mixer; I found hand mixing works best.)
– Fold in the chocolate chips, then drop batter by rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Do not use an ice cream scoop as the original recipe’s pictures indicate–this will cause your batter to crumble. Use either a normal spoon or wash your hands and get dirty in the healthy batter!)
– Bake at 350F for 8-9 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. (Make sure you watch the cookies. I don’t know if I have a super oven, but my cookies usually only take about 6 minutes to get brown.)
-Allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then serve warm or allow to cool to room temperature. (It does take a few minutes for the cookies to “mesh” once they are out of the oven, so just try to be patient!)
One issue when you start the paleo diet is your body starts looking for those “carb” substitutes. I found my substitute in nuts, almonds specifically. Also, the other issue is I want to snack on something that isn’t fruit or veggies sometimes; what do I do… grab a handful of ground beef and chow down?! NO!
I needed a replacement for the pre-paleo “snacks” and carbs my body wanted. I looked to my handy granola bars, but you know what is in granola bars? Everything I can’t eat according to Mr. Paleo. Yeah, go check the ingredients. I’m not kidding…whole grain oats, sugar, canola oil, peanut butter, yellow corn flour, brown sugar syrup, soy flour, and the list goes on–can’t have any of it. Okay, so now I can’t eat even a seemingly “healthy” snack. What the mess?! On top of this dilemma, I was really tired of having almonds and fruit every morning. I needed to find something that would spice up my new paleo lifestyle.
So I booted up handy dandy google, and I found my answer: granola-free granola bars (I gave them this name instead of grain free granola bars because that just doesn’t sound appetizing to me). These are probably the tastiest HEALTHY snack I’ve ever encountered (and my significant other actually agrees too!)
Although I’ve linked to the original recipe (found in above paragraph) and she provided snazzy pictures, here is my adapted recipe for those who may be a little picky and on a budget:
– 2.5 cups assorted nuts and seeds (I used almonds and sunflower seeds. Almonds are the only organic nut I can find so far, and the sunflower seeds didn’t have any added preservatives or sugars.)
– 1 cup dried fruit (In the original, she uses rasins; however, I do not like rasins and most brands have preservatives. The only dried fruit without preservatives or sugar I found was prunes. Also, I cut up a dried fruit strip, which again contains no sugar or preservatives–compliments of the Stretch Island Fruit Co. for about $.59)
– 2 cups shredded coconut (I left this out completely because neither I nor my significant other likes coconut. Plus this is an additional cost.)
– 1/4 cup coconut oil (Pure coconut oil without preservatives, sugar, etc. was easy to find and not very expensive)
-1/2 cup honey (I found reasonably priced organic honey–no preservatives– at Kroger for about $3. Also, most sweeter paleo recipes call for honey too, so you can use it time and time again in your recipes.)
-Splash of vanilla extract (Seems simple enough. I did find PURE organic vanilla extract for the same price as the Kroger brand.)
– 1/2 Teaspoon salt (Most paleo recipes specifically call for sea salt, but I say use what ya got!)
– Generous sprinkle of cinnamon (No explanation here–all spices are okay for paleo people.)
– Some more cinnamon (Yes, do an extra dash for fun! They will taste yummy because of it!)
-Not in the original recipe: I did add a sprinkle of chocolate chips (Enjoy life brand, which are soy free, gluten free, and dairy free).
Roughly chop 1 cup of the nuts and seeds (I did this using the pulse setting in the blender because I don’t have the time/energy to chop a cup of nuts and seed). Place in a bowl.
Use your food processor (I do not own a food processor so once again feel free to use the blender and use the chop/mix setting) to pulse the other 1.5 cups of nuts and seeds into a finer “chop.” Add to the bowl.
Add your fruit. (I also cut up my fruit and threw it in the blender before adding it to the nuts and seeds…just for good measure. I also thought prunes were too big to add to the mix as is.)
Stir in the dried coconut. (Didn’t add this, so stir at your own free will)
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine oil, honey, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. Cook until the mixture bubbles, then pour over the fruit/nut mixture. (Super easy–takes all of a minute maybe!)
Stir to combine completely.
Press your mixture into a parchment-lined pan of some sort. Press HARD. (Use a smaller cookie sheet instead of a larger one because you won’t have enough for the entire sheet unless you double the recipe. Also, if you look at the original recipe, she suggests putting parchment paper over the bars as well so your hands won’t be sticky–great idea!)
Cool 2-3 hours, then remove from the pan and cut into bars. (Or put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes and ta-da!! TASTINESS!)
**I did keep my bars in the fridge once they were finished because the prunes have no sugar or preservatives; you have to keep them refrigerated. Also, if you use ingredients without preservatives be sure you eat it pretty quickly because there is nothing in it to PRESERVE it. 🙂 Happy snacking!!