Friday, July 25, 2014

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Peanut, Almond, or Sunflower Seed Butter)

When I was attending Bauman College for my Nutrition Consultant program, every week one student was in charge of bringing a snack into class for everyone to enjoy. After all, we were studying FOOD, so, we had to be really good at both eating it and appreciating it. And sort-of-kind-of-good at making it, right? 

My classmates brought a variety of healthy, impressive dishes: Roasted organic tomato bell-pepper soup, home-made vegetarian sushi, organic black bean and corn salad, homemade flax crackers with a sardine dip. These recipes packed lots of nutrients, flavors, and superfoods. 

And then, there was what I brought. At first, I did the traditional healthy thing. I made a lovely Brussels sprouts and sweet potato salad with toasted pecans. And then my second time, a smokey soup with lots of green vegetables (I love making soups). And then for my third snack, I brought kale sautéed in pasture-raised (of course!) bacon fat with chunks of salty, delicious bacon. I was starting to give into my roots, I suppose.

And for my last snack I baked. No one else had baked anything, and baking was sort-of associated with unhealthy in a way, since our minds went immediately to baked goods with lots processed ingredients. But I baked anyways.

Lets be honest. I'm a baker at heart. I always have been, and always will be. Growing up, every Sunday morning, I'd prance into the kitchen with my messy bed-head and get my arms elbow-deep in flour helping my Dad bake biscuits, cobblers, or pies. We'd listen to James Taylor and groove just enough.

Anyways, I baked a paleo-friendly bread for my dear classmates, and served it with raw, drippy, almond butter. I realized that every time I thought about which snack I would bring to class, I was getting so caught up in how healthy I could make something, that I completely lost my sense of enjoyment actually making it, and sharing it with others. And isn't that kind of what it's all about at the end of the day? So I embraced my roots. And my classmates loved the baked paleo bread, which was actually pretty darn healthy (in moderation, of course), as it was made of all minimally processed, unrefined ingredients. 

When we focus on eating strictly whatever we think is "healthy," it is easy to become obsessive to a point where we lose the enjoyment of food itself. 

As a Nutritionist, I see a lot of clients who are focused on eliminating certain things from their diets, or restricting certain foods. While eliminating may be necessary on the road to improved health, I think it's healthier, from a spiritual level, to not obsess over elimination and restriction. 

Because, I can bake if I want to. 

Gluten-free [Peanut, Almond, or Sunflower Seed Butter] Chocolate Chip Cookies
Paleo-friendly (if made without peanut butter, butter), gluten-free, & delicious 

2 cups almond meal (I buy Trader Joes almond meal because it is affordable)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup peanut butter or almond butter or sunflower seed butter; I used a natural, more-drippy, organic kind
1 egg
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate chips or your chocolate chips of choice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Melt the butter or coconut oil. Combine almond meal, sea salt, baking soda, vanilla, maple syrup, egg, nut/seed butter of choice, and melted butter or coconut oil. Mix well. Then, add in the chocolate chips and mix. 

Wrap dough in foil or plastic wrap and place in the freezer for an hour or so, so that the dough hardens a bit. Then, take out and scoop cookie dough balls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed with coconut oil. 

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Enjoy!

*I love eating these out of the freezer.
**These are not going to spread on the cookie sheet very much.

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