half-way healthy chocolate chip cookies

Half-way healthy Chocolate chip cookie

This was not the recipe I planned to share today, but when you have a (rare) baking experiment success, you change your plans immediately so other people can benefit. Plus, I’m in a celebratory mood because my little man turns one in a few days. Who doesn’t like to celebrate with cookies?

A recent Table Topics question revealed that both Tim and I have the same all-time favorite dessert… chocolate chip cookies! Not a huge surprise given the endless variations I’ve pinned on Pinterest and the fact that Tim has memorized the recipe for a single serving microwave cookie.

half-way healthy chocolate chip cookie

Our default cookie recipe is from my Auntie Lo. She concocted a recipe that makes a huge batch of soft, chewy cookies without fail. I introduced Tim to these dreamy cookies while we were dating and I now trust his AL Cookie making ability to let him make them himself (we’ve made them that often). But I digress from the cookie at hand.

We had a very savory dinner last night and wanted to cap off our night on the sweet side. Despite having just been to the grocery store, we didn’t have any Crisco (part of what makes AL Cookies so fluffy) so our default was out. I’ve been trying to eat as sugar-free as possible lately and have been waiting for an opportunity to try a less fatty mc fat fat cookie recipe.

half-way healthy chocolate chip cookie

I’m not anti butter but I remembered making coconut oil chocolate chip cookies last year and liking them, so I decided to start there. I love the precision required in baking. It’s part of the reason I prefer baking to cooking. If you follow the recipe, the product generally turns out perfectly. I’m not sure what happened last night, but I was making changes all over the place and *cue the angel chorus* the cookies turned out wonderfully!

These cookies aren’t sugar-free, but they’ve earned the title half-way healthy because they are made with whole wheat flour and a nutrient dense fat. The cookies are soft and beautifully domed with a lightly crisp exterior.  Chocolate and the faint hint of coconut contrast perfectly with the warm brown sugar and nutty whole wheat flour.

half-way healthy chocolate chip cookieA note about the ingredients/tools:

  • Coconut oil – The benefit of having pantry storage that is the same temperature as the rest of our house is that my coconut oil stays in a soft, scoopable state. Make sure your coconut oil is room temperature ish, not melted.
  • Whole wheat flour – I’ve been baking with 100% whole wheat flour for awhile. I love the hearty taste, but for whole wheat newbies, it may be jarring when you don’t bite into a white flour cookie. Try white whole wheat if you want a more traditional white flour taste.
  • Milk –  I used 2% since that’s what we drink. Any type of dairy (soy, almond, whole) will work.
  • Cookie scoop – If you make cookies with any frequency, you NEED a cookie scoop. They insure consistent size and a nice domed top. I used a large cookie scoop for these cookies, 1.5″ in diameter.
  • Silicone baking mat – I love my Silpat. Even, non-stick baking at its finest.  Parchment is a good substitute.
  • AirBake cookie sheet – Just in case you were wondering what kind of cookie sheet I use….

half-way healthy chocolate chip cookie

Half-way Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Author: Emily C. Gardner
Serves: 22-24 cookies
Soft, chewy chocolate chip cookies with the health benefits of whole wheat flour and coconut oil.
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened but not melted
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup (heaping) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the coconut oil, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  2. Add in the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Mix until just combined. The dough will be a little crumbly.
  3. Add milk and chocolate chips. Mix until the chips are evenly dispersed.
  4. Scoop dough into balls using a large cookie scoop. Place dough balls on a plate. Put plate of dough balls in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  5. Bake frozen cookie dough balls at 350 degrees F for 11 minutes, util the edges are just turning golden brown. The tops will appear a little undercooked.
  6. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes (You will be tempted to do otherwise, but don’t skip this!) then move to cooling rack.
  7. Store in an airtight container.

 

Advertisements

Caprese Egg Puff

Caprese Egg Puff

I consider myself some sort of green-black thumb hybrid. I excel at dealing with the dead things (weeding is therapeutic), but the growing/keeping alive part is intimidating. So, I count my gardening efforts this Summer to be a major success.

What do those gardening efforts look like, you ask? Resuscitating a vine whose bloom I was positive had faded, fighting the heat to keep two tomato plants alive, and nurturing a basil plant from infancy to flourishing adulthood.

Basil

The latter was my shining gardening accomplishment. Mostly because my mom was the one who actually discovered the vine wasn’t dead and there’s a distinct difference between alive and thriving when it comes to my tomatoes. But the basil plant, in it’s hot pink, dollar store beach bucket has gone from baby to burgeoning over the past three months and I am oh, so proud.

What makes the basil success even sweeter (herbier?) is that we’ve used it! Tiny slices made their way into cheesey eggs and crockpot marinara. Handfuls went into a delicious pesto we ate on homemade pizza.

My endless supply of basil prompted this new take on Chile Egg Puff. It’s cheesy, eggy foundation is the perfect base for endless variations. This particular version plays on the classic Italian caprese salad of mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil.

I nixed the chiles from the original, adding diced fresh tomatoes and tons of julienned basil in their stead. Out went the cheddar and in came the mozzarella.

Caprese Egg PuffCaprese Egg Puff

It may be sacrilege to the memories tied to the original Chile Egg Puff, but I might like this version better. Maybe that’s the basil pride talking… Either version has the same appeal – a protein packed, cheese riddled egg soufflé perfect for any meal of the day. Both egg puffs have been great to have around during No Sugar September.

A note about the tomatoes: I’m fairly particular about removing all tomato boogers before dicing. Cut tomatoes into quarters and run your thumb around the inside to loosen the snotty seeds. Discard and proceed with dicing your now booger free tomatoes.

To chiffonade basil: Stack basil leaves together. Roll into a little basil log. Place your basil log on a cutting board and hold in place. Slice through the basil log as thinly as possible. Separate all the tiny basil ribbons you’ve just created and resist the urge to throw into the air like they were dollar bills.

Caprese Egg Puff

Caprese Egg Puff
Author: Emily C. Gardner
The flavors of a garden fresh caprese salad puts an Italian spin on this delicious and hearty egg soufflé.
Ingredients
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour (whole wheat works great)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups (16 oz) cottage cheese
  • 4 cups (1lb) mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup basil, chopped (I used 1/2 cup, but I love basil…)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan, set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat eggs until light and lemon colored. Add flour, salat, baking powder, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, and butter. Mix thoroughly. Fold in tomatoes and basil.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until top is golden and center appears firm.
  4. Serve immediately. (Negotiable. I like it at every temperature. But, it’s the most soufflé like straight from the oven.)

 

Carrot Cake Oat Bars

Carrot Cake Oat Bars

I like to cook (a lot), but I love to bake. It’s true that I have an affinity for carbs in all forms, being able to whip up breads, cookies, and such is not the only reason I prefer baking. My perfectionist leanings thrive within the confines of a recipe. Where cooking is Picasso, baking is paint-by-numbers.

I like paint-by-numbers. Which is why I rarely deviate from a recipe. But some recipes just cry out to be adapted and made multiple different ways. I felt that way with homemade Clif Bars. Even though I only posted the Cinnamon Golden Raisin variety, I never made them the same way twice. There was a Chocolate Chip Coconut and a Trail Mix version, too.

These Oat Bars are the same way. I found the recipe on Pinterest, made it as per the recipe once, and then kept thinking of different flavor ideas.

The bones of these oat bars are a nutrient rich combination of rolled oats, whole wheat flour, and milk (of any sort). The need for butter in the original is eliminated by using unsweetened applesauce. They are sweetened with honey, making them perfect for No Sugar September and why I even found the recipe in the first place.

Carrot Cake Oat BarsSo, the Carrot Cake version? I had a ton of leftover carrot puree from stockpiling James’ baby food and wondered if it would be an acceptable substitute for the unsweetened applesauce in the oat bars. The idea snowballed from there…

Carrot PureeSidenote: Carrot puree is super easy to make (peel, chop, and boil two large carrots and then blend in a food processor), but I’d imagine canned pumpkin would be a great substitute in this recipe.

My mind immediately went to carrot cake (because I’ve been sugar deprived, perhaps?) and I played off the flavors and mix-ins that are traditionally found in carrot cake – cinnamon, nuts, and raisins. Now that I think of it, crushed pineapple would be a tasty addition, too, but that’s getting into Hummingbird territory and we can’t mix cakes now can we.

Walnut Grinder

Oat Mixture

Carrot Mixture

The end result of all this carrot oatiness is a dense, filling bar that is perfect to pack in a lunch, tuck in a carry on, or nibble on throughout the day. I’ve enjoyed mine with a slice of cheese or scoop of apple butter and a glass of milk. Tim takes them to work for an afternoon snack. They’d be amazing for a newly nursing mom who is in that eat everything, always hungry stage.

Carrot Cake Oat Bars

If you were wanting to make these a little desserty and still keep them refined sugar free, blend cream cheese and maple syrup together to spread on top and cut into squares.

And because I kept thinking of ways to adapt the original, I’ve got a Chocolate Peanut Butter version coming atcha soon. In the meantime, enjoy some Carrot Cake!

Carrot Cake Oat Bars

Carrot Cake Oat Bars
Author: Emily C. Gardner
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 8 bars
A nutrient rich, filling snack bar with no refined sugar. Enjoy them plain, with apple butter, cheese, or a little cream cheese/maple syrup frosting.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (any variety)
  • 1/2 cup carrot puree
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Lightly coat an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together oats, WW flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, baking powder, salt, walnuts, and raisins. (Be sure to separate the raisins to avoid gross raisin clumps in your bars.)
  4. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk milk, carrot puree, honey, egg, and vanilla until the honey is melted and all the ingredients are combined. It will be a lovely shade of peach!
  5. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  6. Put batter in prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool and cut into bars.
Notes
Any variety of milk or milk substitute will work. [br]I use an old fashioned nut grinder to get an even fine chop on my walnuts. [br]Pecans or almonds would be nice, too. [br]If you don’t have allspice, use 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg.[br]You could totally use currants or golden raisins instead of raisins.

 

Simple Blonde Granola

Blonde Granola

But if you call me Anne, please call me Anne spelled with an E. “What difference does it make how it’s spelled?” asked Marilla with another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot. Oh it makes such a difference. It looks so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced, can’t you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished. (Anne of Green Gables)

I feel the same way about my hair color. B-l-o-n-d looks dreadful and brusque, but b-l-o-n-d-e looks so much more distinguished and elegant. Either way you spell it, blonde carries a heavy weight around on its pretty shoulders. Blonde has a reputation for being light, airy, and shallow. But we all know plenty exceptions to the blonde stereotype, right?

For example, this granola. It’s light. It’s easy. But this Blonde also has substance and flavor that goes beyond its small ingredient list and fair exterior.

Blonde Granola

Blonde Granola

Now, I’m a huge granola fan, and in no way against the CrunchyPecanPumpkinFlaxWhiteChocolatePeanutButterRaisin type of granola. However, for my daily granola habit, I needed to exercise some restraint. And when we went sugar-free, I made a handful of not-so-delicious granolas that prompted me to create an everyday granola of my own with no refined sugar and a whole lot of flavor. I stripped down my Gingerbread Granola to make this simple blonde version.

Blonde Granola

You won’t find spices or brown sugar vying for your taste bud’s attention (or making your granola the more traditional brunette). It’s just old-fashioned rolled oats and sliced almonds getting a simple wash of maple syrup, coconut oil, and salt before spending some time under the dryer (um, in the oven).

The result is a pure granola goodness.

Blonde Granola

Don’t skip out on the salt. It lends a kettle corn, sweet caramely quality to the granola that is positively addictive. I’ve been enjoying mine on homemade pumpkin yogurt.

Blonde Granola

Simple Blonde Granola
Author: Emily C. Gardner
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 1 hour 15 mins
Total time: 1 hour 25 mins
Serves: 5 cups
Ingredients
  • 4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons maple syrup (110g)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (45g)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet (preferably one with sides) with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  3. In a large bowl combine oats, almonds, and salt.
  4. In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together maple syrup and coconut oil. Continue stirring until coconut oil is melted and fully incorporated with syrup.
  5. Pour over oat mixture and mix until all dry ingredients are moistened.
  6. Spread moistened mixture on prepared pan.
  7. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring two or three times throughout the baking process.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Chile Egg Puff

A hearty egg dish that’s part soufflé, part casserole with a southwest flare. It’s hard to go wrong with three types of cheese and green chiles.

Chile Egg Puff

My first memories of this dish were centered around the arduous task of picking the green chilies out of my square of egg puff. That was also the era of squeezing the innards out of zucchini discs to make it appear like I’d eaten at least some of it so I could leave the table after dinner.

I’m pleased to report that my chile picking, zucchini squeezing days are over. I’m not sure when or how it happened, but I have since grown out of any picky eating habits. I welcome every little green speck in my Chile Egg Puff square.

Chile Egg Puff

Chile Egg Puff

Chile Egg Puff was a ubiquitous dish at any celebratory breakfast or brunch growing up. We legitimized our sweet, carb laden offerings with a pan of protein by way of the eggs and cheese in Chile Egg Puff. (Pay no mind to the melted butter that goes along with it…) And that’s pretty much still the case. Because, really, who wouldn’t want to nibble on a square of cheesy eggs flecked with green chilies?

This baked egg concoction has become a breakfast staple in the Gardner household outside of holidays. It’s simple, filling, and tasty. And with one simple substitution, it’s No Sugar September approved!

Chile Egg Puff

As indicated by its name, Chile Egg Puff does indeed puff when cooked. It comes out of the oven resembling a soufflé and has a delicate texture. The Puff becomes more dense as it cools, but is seriously delicious at ANY temperature. Not only is it a perfect breakfast/brunch dish, Chile Egg Puff makes a great lunch with carrot sticks or pickles and is a quick dinner with a side salad.

Since using whole wheat flour didn’t effect the flavor or texture, I’m guessing you could use oat flour to make it gluten free. I like using a mix of cheddar and monterey jack but any cheese you have around will suit. I’m actually dreaming of a Caprese Egg Puff with mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil…

Chile Egg Puff

Chile Egg Puff
Author: Emily C. Gardner
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 10-12
A hearty egg dish that’s part soufflé, part casserole with a southwest flare. It’s hard to go wrong with three types of cheese and green chiles.
Ingredients
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups (16 oz) cottage cheese
  • 4 cups (1lb) shredded cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cans (4 oz each) diced green chiles
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9 x 13 inch pan, set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat eggs until light and lemon colored. Add flour, salt, baking powder, cottage cheese, shredded cheese, and butter. Mix until smooth. Stir in chiles.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until top is golden and center appears firm.
  4. Serve immediately. (Negotiable. Like I said, it’s delicious at any temperature.)
Notes
Since using whole wheat flour didn’t effect the flavor or texture, I’m guessing you could use oat flour to make it gluten free. I like using a mix of cheddar and monterey jack but any cheese you have around will suit.