Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (grain, oil, and refined sugar free; vegan)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite season is Autumn. Even though it’s only August first, I’m already looking ahead to cooler weather, colorful leaves, and the tastes of spiced apple and pumpkin. The orchards are just starting to sell their summer apples, and I’m looking forward to the fall varieties that are barely a month away. I’ll be spending my fall days picking apples, making and canning applesauce and apple butter, and canning pumpkin for cookies and pies.

Autumn

While I wait longingly for apple and pumpkin season, I decided to pick up some canned pumpkin and create something fall-inspired. Boyfriend is kind of picky when it comes to my healthy cookies. He’ll never turn down a cookie, but he can usually tell that they contain something…non-traditional. These were not only well-received, he gave them 4 forks out of 5 (which he reserves for only the most spectacular of foods)!

Gratuitous gooey melted chocolate picture. You're welcome.

Gratuitous gooey melted chocolate picture. You’re welcome.

Ingredients
1 1/4 Cup Cooked chickpeas, well-rinsed
1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp Pumpkin
1/4 Cup Honey or maple syrup
1 tsp Baking powder
a pinch of Cinnamon
a dash of Nutmeg
a pinch of Salt
1/2 Cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips**

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a food processor and process until very smooth. Scrape the top and sides and process again until fully combined. With a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate the dough for 10-20 minutes until firm.

Form the dough into 1½” balls. Place balls of dough onto a Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Press down with fingertips or the back of a wooden spoon to flatten (about 1/2 inch thick). Bake for about 15-18 minutes.

These cookies will not rise and will generally hold their round shape. They have a soft, slightly cake-like texture.

**These can be made vegan by using vegan chocolate chips.

Adapted from Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites.

Spiced Applesauce Muffins (grain, oil, dairy, and sugar free)

Spiced Applesauce Muffins

I’ve been doing a lot of non-traditional baking lately. I’m feeling pretty confident with my non-traditional cookies, but I was missing things like banana bread, applesauce cake, and crepes. I started researching paleo cooking and discovered that they have some ingenious recipes for muffins, including this one for Grain-free Banana Muffins. With a few tweaks and a bit of experimentation, I managed to recreate my favorite Spiced Applesauce Cake in a grain-free muffin form. Hopefully you’ll enjoy these as much as I did!

These can be made vegan with chia or flax eggs. They can also be made with other types of natural nut butter (no added sugar or oil), although I prefer cashew because it is mild and doesn’t compete with the apple flavor.

Ingredients
1 Cup Natural cashew or sun butter
3/4 Cup Apple butter or applesauce (strained in cheesecloth)
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 Cup Apple, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until thoroughly combined. Pour batter into a greased mini-muffin tin.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. The muffins will rise during baking and will fall somewhat after they are removed from the oven; don’t worry, this is normal.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan; wheat, oil, and dairy free)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
I absolutely love to bake. I also love to eat the results. What I don’t love is the way most baked goods make me feel. Wheat brings on a major allergy attack reminiscent of the peak of pollen season and often starts an argument between my tummy and I. It is simply not worth it. When I first realized that I needed to cut out wheat, I thought that I would have to spend a ton of money and time learning to bake with exotic flours. I was beyond wrong.

My first clue that I was thinking about wheat-free baking in completely the wrong way was this recipe by Erin over at Texan Erin Baking. It didn’t contain flour of any kind and relied wholly on cooked chickpeas, a staple in my kitchen. Erin mentioned that she had tried an oatmeal variety, but they didn’t work at all. I kept researching and eventually came across this recipe on Carrots ‘n’ Cake. The recipe looked great, but I wasn’t thrilled with the ratio of oil and sugar to other ingredients.

Eventually, using the knowledge I gained from Erin’s cookie recipe and a few experimental variations, I came up with the recipe below. Thanks to both Tina and Erin for the inspiration!

Ingredients
1/2 Cup Cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 Cup Oat flour
1/2 Cup Rolled or quick oats
1/2 Cup Brown sugar (or 3 Tbsp maple syrup; if using maple syrup, reduce applesauce to 3 Tbsp)
1/2 Cup Unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Chocolate chips (or raisins)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place all ingredients, except chocolate chips into a food processor and blend until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Scoop the dough by tablespoons onto a silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool before serving. (I admit it…I can never wait. These are awesome straight from the oven!)

Peanut Butter Crunch Bars

Snack Time
In my quest for the perfect granola bar, I had a few failures. My first attempt for chewy peanut butter granola bars was a melty, gooey mess. However, they turned into a delicious, crunchy, peanut butter candy bar. I store these in the freezer for a sweet treat! Best of all, with only a little honey as a sweetener, these are almost healthy.

Ingredients
1/2 Cup Peanut butter
1/3 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Coconut oil
1 Cup Oats
3/4 Cup Shredded coconut
1/2 Cup Rice crispies

Melt the peanut butter, honey, and coconut oil in a medium sauce pan until fully combined. Remove from the heat. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Press into a parchment lined 9×9-inch baking pan and refrigerate for two hours. Cut into 12 bars, individually wrap with parchment paper or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Spiced Apple Granola Bars

Granola Bars
I love granola in all of its forms. I could probably live on the stuff if given the opportunity. I’m sure you could understand my disappointment when I realized corn (in all of ITS forms) was one of the foods making me sick. Just about every granola product in the grocery store contains some form of corn syrup. Every time I picked up a box of granola bars for Boyfriend, I struggled with my desire to sneak just one. The occasional failure quickly reminded me that my body was not impressed with my lack of willpower. There was only one solution: figure out how to make my own.

My first attempt at granola bars was a complete failure, although what began as a granola bar failure turned out to be a candy bar success. (Peanut Butter Crunch Bars will be posted tomorrow!) The second attempt was far more fruitful. I mixed these up in just a few minutes, popped them into the oven while I got ready to go to the gym, and pulled them out right before I left. They were cooled and ready to cut when I got home…and I immediately ate 3! At least I worked out today. That balances out my granola bar indulgence, right?

See the notes below the recipe for alternative flavors.

Ingredients
1 Cup Apple butter*
1 1/2 Cup Rolled or quick oats
1/2 Cup Pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 Cup Golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the bottom. Dump the mixture into the center of the pan; use a rubber spatula to firmly press the mixture into the pan. Bake for 35 minutes.

Allow to cool completely. Use the parchment paper to remove the granola from the pan. Cut into 12 bars. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

*If you do not have apple butter on hand, substitute 1 Cup applesauce**, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Any other fruit butter (including pumpkin butter) may also be substituted.
**Canned pumpkin may be used in place of the applesauce if substituting.

This recipe was loosely adapted from Pumpkin Granola Bars on Girl Makes Food!

Farm Fresh: Vegetable and Beef Stir-Fry in Peanut Sauce

I made this for Boyfriend to take for lunch, hence the sad tupperware.

I made this for Boyfriend to take for lunch, hence the sad tupperware.

I’ve been out of college for just over a year, but I still remember the days of monotonous dining hall food quite clearly. I have to admit that Bates College is better than most, but the same recipes week after week and month after month do get boring and old. Many of the students created a variety of concoctions to combat the boredom and the college eventually took notice, creating a ‘Bates Chef’ competition so the students could show off their creations and compete for the top prize. I had plenty of my own creations (chocolate crescents, garden pesto pizza, Chana Masala chicken wraps, etc.), but my favorite by far was the winner of ‘Bates Chef’ during my senior year. My friend and fellow psychology aficionado, Mikey Pasek, created a recipe for Peanut Sauce Tofu.

Garden Fresh Vegetables

Ultimately, his recipe inspired this one over a year later. Our CSA this week included beets, lettuce, carrots, summer squash, snap peas, potatoes, dill, and small cloves of garlic. I’ve been struggling to use all of the produce some weeks, but I hate throwing it away, so I’m trying to be much better about squeezing veggies into our meals whenever possible, and what better way to use a lot of vegetables than in a stir-fry? I would usually toss in a bit of sesame oil and teriyaki sauce into my stir-fry, but I was out. As much as Boyfriend tries to put up with my healthy cooking, I knew he wouldn’t go for straight up vegetables over rice so I needed another sauce, and that is where Mikey’s peanut sauce came to mind!

Sauteed Veggies

Ingredients
1 Cup Creamy peanut butter
1/3Cup Soy sauce
3/4 Cup Hot water
1 Tbsp Brown sugar
2 tsp Crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch Curry powder
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Sesame oil or butter
1 Cup Squash, cut into 1×1/2″ pieces
6 Small to medium carrots, cut in half
1 Cup Sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 lb Thinly sliced beef, optional
2 Cup Cooked Jasmine rice, prepared according to package directions
Toasted sesame seeds, optional
Minced chives, optional

In a small sauce pan, combine peanut butter, soy sauce, water, sugar, red pepper flakes, and curry powder over medium-low heat. Stir until fully combined and creamy; cover and set aside.

In a large skillet, add 1 Tbsp of the sesame oil and heat the pan over medium heat. Add the squash spread in a single layer, cooking over medium heat; turn it after 4 minutes. As soon as the squash is started, add the remaining sesame oil and the beef to a medium skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fully browned. When the squash is turned, add the carrots and continue cooking the vegetables for 4 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Add the snap peas and cook for 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat.

Add the beef and sauce to to the pan of vegetables and stir to combine. Serve over rice and garnish with sesame seeds and chives if desired.

Farm Fresh: Balsamic Glazed Beets

Yummy Beets

It’s been a hectic weekend. I know I mentioned that we were moving, and it finally happened. Last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, BF and I spent almost all of our waking hours sorting and packing. Despite our efforts at preparation, moving day was still chaotic. Luckily we had three big guys helping us. Boyfriend and Roommate are both strong guys, but between the three of us, we have a ridiculous amount of stuff! (Things with nicknames like “couchzilla,” “the horde of futons,” and “the La-z-boys,” yes…plural)

With little time to prepare for the move, we selected a small two bedroom apartment with a month-to-month term, which buys us time to look for exactly what we want…although the idea of moving again makes me want to run away from home and join a circus. Unfortunately, that left us scratching our heads while trying to figure out how to fit the contents of a three bedroom house with a full basement into a small two bedroom apartment with minimal storage. Suffice it to say that moving our belongings to the new apartment and a rented storage unit turned into two giant games of 3D Tetris.

As you can imagine, with the move less than 48 hours behind me, both my house and my life are in a state of disarray. And yet, somehow, I’ve managed to create not one, but two delicious recipes from our CSA bounty today. The first, Balsamic Glazed Beets was a show stopping side dish with dinner. I don’t have a forks rating for this one yet, but Boyfriend ate these and took seconds. Considering his relative aversion to vegetables, that is a huge endorsement! (I’m not a huge beet fan, but even I loved these!)

Beets are one of those polarizing foods. Most people either love them or hate them, with very little in between. Where do you fall? If you love them, what is your favorite way to prepare them? Let me know in the comments!

Trimmed Beets

Peeled Beets

Ingredients
8 Beets
Olive oil
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp Lemon zest
1 Tbsp Brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Trim the leaves of the beets, retaining about 1 inch of the stem. Scrub each beet, being careful not to break the skin. Place the beets on one half of a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Cover loosely with foil and tightly seal the edges. Bake for 1 hour and allow to cool until they can be handled, 20 to 30 minutes.

When the beets are cool, combine the butter, vinegar, lemon zest, and sugar in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat.

Remove the stems, roots, and skins. The skins should slip right off; if not, peel thinly with a sharp knife. Slice the beets. Bring the sauce to a boil for one minute. Add the beets and stir gently to coat.

Recipe adapted from Roasted Beets with Honey Balsamic Glaze by Elmotoo.

Farm Fresh: Swiss Chard Chips

Swiss Chard Chips

I’m a week behind on these Farm Fresh posts. Hopefully you’ll forgive me because we’re in the middle of moving and things are a bit chaotic around here. We got a ton of Swiss chard the first week of our CSA, and the second week brought more of the same. Although I love pesto, I already had 44 servings safely stored in my freezer, so I needed another way to use it all. I’ve been reading about kale chips for months, and I had a hunch that just about any leafy green (like Swiss chard) could be substituted successfully. As it turns out, my hunch was right on target!

Our week 2 CSA: summer squash, new potatoes, radishes, cilantro, garlic scapes, chives, Swiss chard, and lettuce.

Our week 2 CSA: summer squash, new potatoes, radishes, cilantro, garlic scapes, chives, Swiss chard, and lettuce.

I feel almost guilty for eating the whole pan in less than 10 minutes. Then I remembered that I wasn’t eating calorie laden potato chips. These little green chips are sinfully delicious and heavenly healthy. I like a bit of spice with my chips. Let me know in the comments how you like yours.

Ingredients
8-10 Swiss chard leaves
Nonstick cooking spray
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp smoked paprika

Preheat the oven to 275° F.

Thoroughly clean and dry the Swiss chard leaves. Trim the stems and cut into 2″ pieces.

Lightly spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the leaves out on a cookie sheet and toss with olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, chili powder, and paprika.

Bake for 20 minutes. Gently turn the leaves over and continue cooking for 20 more minutes until crisp. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes…if you can.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites (PB and Nutella flavors)

Photo from www.texanerin.com

This photo by Erin of texanerin.com was all but irresistible!

I found an amazing recipe on Pinterest about two months ago for Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites (flour, oil, and refined sugar free). These awesome cookies use chickpeas, and since I think chickpeas are pretty cool little beans, this recipe was definitely pin-worthy…but since I don’t bake often they fell off of my radar. Then, about a month later, friend after friend shared these on facebook and I figured it was time to take the plunge.

The original recipe calls for natural peanut butter, but Boyfriend is allergic so I made my own cashew butter to use instead because I had a ton of cashews in the pantry. I hear it’s cheaper to make your own too (BONUS!). For instructions for making your own peanut or cashew butter, Erin over at Texan Erin Baking has a great tutorial here.

Cookies

When I made them the first time, I was instantly in love…warm, gooey, chocolatey…heaven. They’re not perfectly healthy, but they sure beat my old Tollhouse recipe and I think they might be even more delicious! After one successful attempt, I started wondering about all of the ways that this recipe could be modified and remembered Nutella. I’m still working on an oatmeal chocolate chip variety, a cranberry white chocolate variety, and a cocoa peanut butter chip (Reese’s) variety. Both the original and Nutella versions are below. Scroll to the bottom for the Nutella version.

Cookie Close-up

The original recipe had lots of hints and tips, including the following (plus a few of my own):

  • Chickpea flour won’t work
  • This will burn out less powerful blenders (I’ve done it successfully, but it requires lots of scraping and it’s definitely at the upper limit of my blender’s capabilities)
  • Do not add eggs, dairy, or flour to this recipe; it will not work
  • These are best eaten warm; to reheat them, put them into the microwave on high for 10 seconds.
  • These can be made dairy free by using vegan chocolate chips and homemade Nutella (store bought contains milk)
  • They can be made grain free by substituting the baking powder with 1 part cream of tartar + 1 part baking soda + 2 parts arrowroot
  • These can be made ahead, rolled into balls, and frozen for a quick treat later. Just place the desired number onto a cookie sheet and bake as described

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
1 1/4 Cups(230 grams) cooked chickpeas, well-rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter, cashew butter, or almond butter
1/4 Cup honey or agave syrup (or 30 drops Stevia)
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt if your peanut butter doesn’t have salt in it
1/2 Cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a food processor and process until very smooth. Scrape the top and sides and process again until fully combined. Add the chocolate chips and pulse the food processor a few times. The mixture will be very thick and sticky. Refrigerate the dough for 10-20 minutes until firm.

With wet hands, form the dough into 1½” balls. Place balls of dough onto a Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes.

These cookies will not rise and will generally hold their round shape.

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
1 1/4 Cups(230 grams) cooked chickpeas, well-rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
3/4 Cup Nutella (to make your own, go here)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a food processor and process until very smooth. Scrape the top and sides and process again until fully combined. Add the chocolate chips and pulse the food processor a few times. The mixture will be very thick and sticky. Refrigerate the dough for 10-20 minutes until firm.

With wet hands, form the dough into 1½” balls. Place balls of dough onto a Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes.

These cookies will not rise and will generally hold their round shape.

Sour Cream and Onion Sweet Potato Chips (Microwave)

Seasoned Chips

I have an admission to make: I love snack food. That probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise since most people love snack food, but for me it’s become a bit of a problem lately. Since I’ve gone on this wheat and corn free diet, my asthma and allergies are substantially better, but the number of available snack food options is significantly worse. Just about every product on the grocery store shelves seems to contain some derivative of one of these products. Can anyone explain to me why Sour Cream and Onion potato chips need to contain not one, but TWO different corn based products?

My first solution was roasted chickpeas. Did you know you can make them in the microwave in 12 minutes instead of the hour or so it takes in the oven without heating up your house in the middle of the summer? Amazing! (I’ll post more on that sometime soon.) Sadly, I can only handle so many chickpeas in a row before I start longing for potato chips again. I miss the perfect crunchy instant snack, but I do not miss the preservatives and additives or the unhealthily high fat content.

Luckily, I came across a couple of blog posts recently that changed everything. The first was for microwaved zucchini chips, and the second was for a dry mix for sour cream and onion roasted potato wedges. Finally, I found this post by bubbly nature creations for Sour Cream and Onion Veggie Chips, and I knew what I had to do! The combination of the tangy seasoning with the lightly sweet chips is perfectly balanced. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them as much as I do. They don’t taste like commercial Sour Cream and Onion chips, but they are definitely delicious!

Ingredients

Ingredients
1 Sweet Potato, thinly sliced
1/3 cup powdered buttermilk (found in the baking aisle near nonfat dry milk)
1 tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. Parmesan, finely grated (or the canned)
1/2 Tbsp. Onion powder
1/2 Tbsp Garlic powder
Spritz of oil, optional*
Dried Chopped Chives for garnish, optional*

On Parchment Chips

Mix the powdered buttermilk, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and Parmesan together in a small sized bowl. Place the sweet potato sliced in a single layer onto a parchment lined microwave safe plate and spray lightly with oil. Microwave slices of similar diameter together to prevent burning (larger slices will take longer than smaller slices). Microwave on high for up to 6 minutes, checking at 4 minutes and in 30-60 second increments thereafter until the veggies have started to brown. Wait until they brown a little (darken in the center) or they will not crisp up, but be careful not to over-brown or burn them. Sprinkle seasonings over potato slices (use a mesh strainer for this), and sprinkle with the chives if desired. These can be eaten right away or stored for up to a day.