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Gluten-Free Healthy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

June 26, 2014

Gluten Free Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies 1 | Espresso and Cream

Lately I’ve really become captivated by the idea of simplicity and minimalism. It started with building a capsule wardrobe (more on that soon) and after I finished, I looked at my closet, so empty and uncluttered and scaled down to what I truly loved to wear and something started to click. In the past few weeks I’ve been digging and sorting through the junk drawer in our kitchen (does everyone have one of those?) and our pantry filled with kitchen appliances. It spilled over into the giant collection of magazines that I’ve kept for years; I tossed all but my favorite old issues of Gourmet and a few items of my own published work. I’ve been selling unused kitchen appliances and giving away cookbooks that I’ve collected over the years and just don’t have room to store. My house is starting to feel like a clean-running machine rather than a car loaded down with stuff.

A little voice in my head kept saying, “I need less.” “I want less!” You see, if I’m not careful I find myself getting caught up in the fallacy that I need more and more. I finish a much-needed living room remodel and start to fixate on other rooms in our house. Rooms that don’t really need to be updated, but something inside me whispers that if I just changed that one little thing, I would be happier.

So lately, when I start to think that I need more than I really do, I remind myself that I would rather spend my life living rather than managing my stuff and trying to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies 2 | Espresso and CreamI guess some of that simplicity-seeking has translated into my cooking at home, too. I’ve been baking with less sugar, imagining that’s probably the way that my grandma baked living on the farm all those years ago. It’s been nice, in this era of hyper-sweetened desserts, to sit down and enjoy a really simple, lightly sweet cookie that tastes like something you could eat every day rather than something you can only enjoy on a birthday or special occasion. And, I suppose, with each of these cookies only having 135 calories per cookie, you certainly could have one every day.

Gluten-Free Healthy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies
Serves: 15
  • 1 cup creamy natural peanut butter
  • ¼ to ½ cup brown sugar (I used ¼ for lightly sweet cookies, use ½ C if you want sweeter cookies)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup Chex gluten-free instant oats or other instant gluten-free oats of choice
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients until well combined. Roll dough into 15 balls, a little more than 1-inch in diameter. Use a fork sprayed with cooking spray to press a criss-cross pattern into the tops of the cookies.
  3. Bake on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray 8 minutes or until edges are set and just golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Cool completely on wire cooling rack, about 10 minutes.



Healthy Banana Pudding

August 5, 2013


If I had to pick one dessert to eat for the rest of my life it would be banana pudding. I haven’t always loved banana pudding, since I hated bananas for a good chunk of my childhood. But once I realized the error of my ways and discovered my love for bananas, I was head over heels in love with banana pudding. I still remember visiting my grandmother in North Carolina a number of years ago and being greeted with a huge aluminum casserole dish filled with the most delicious banana pudding I’ve ever tasted. It’s a food memory that will stay with me forever.

While I could easily eat banana pudding every day of my life, I try to show a little restraint by treating myself only now and again. It’s not exactly waistline friendly, until today! And now that I’ve discovered a healthier alternative to my favorite dessert, I’ve been enjoying it a whole lot more often.

Ever since I discovered the tastiness that is tofu pudding, I’ve been crazy about playing around with different ways to enjoy this healthy dessert. I have no idea why it didn’t strike me earlier to use my beloved tofu pudding as the base for a banana-flavored version. The base is made with tofu (silken firm tofu is a must, don’t sub anything else!) and two ripe bananas. Blend them together with a little cinnamon, vanilla extract, almond milk and stevia and you’ve got yourself a crazy tasty dessert.


Healthy Banana Pudding
Makes 2 generous servings
16 oz silken firm tofu
2 medium ripe bananas
1/4 cup almond milk or other milk of choice
2 packets stevia sweetener
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all the above ingredients together in a high powered blender or food processor. Blend until completely smooth. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until completely chilled. Serve with sliced bananas and cinnamon, if desired.

Happy Cooking!


California Style Tuna Salad (Mayo-Free!)

June 25, 2013


If we’re being totally honest, Tuesdays are one of my least favorite days of the week. Mondays have been redeemed by the fact that The Bachelorette is on TV, though I think this season is incredibly lame and am struggling to get into it. Anyone with me? By Wednesday you can say “the week is halfway over” and Thursday and Friday are filled with anticipation of the weekend to come. I’m still searching for something to love about Tuesdays.

I guess that really has nothing to do with tuna salad, other than the fact that on Tuesday I’m usually ready for an easy weeknight meal that I can throw together in just a couple minutes. When Joe and I get home from working out we’re both starving and need food now, so dishes like this are the perfect solution.

Up until a couple weeks ago, I was not a fan of tuna salad in any form. Since I hate mayonnaise with a passion, most tuna salads were out by process of elimination. And the idea of using yogurt in place of mayo in tuna salad really grosses me out. So what’s a girl to do? Consult my favorite cookbook, of course!

A couple months ago our book club at work went through Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook. I’ve talked about my love for Sprouted Kitchen blog many times on this site, and the cookbook did not disappoint, either. I was so impressed by the book at book club that I bought my own copy a few days later. I’ve been cooking my way through ever since, adapting the recipes to suit our tastes and the ingredients we have on hand. I’m pretty sure I made at least one recipe a week from the cookbook.

Anyway, back to the tuna salad! This recipe doesn’t contain any mayo and instead gets its flavor from coarse grain mustard and olive oil, a combination that I love. The original recipe doesn’t include avocados or tomatoes (I photographed sans tomatoes but added them in after) but I really liked the flavor and increased volume that they added to this dish. Joe and I have been eating this every week, usually with tortilla chips of some sort for dipping.


California Style Tuna Salad (Mayo-Free!)
Makes 2 servings
Recipe adapted from Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

2 cans (5 oz each) water-packed white tuna
2 tablespoons coarse grain mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 medium ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup sliced cherry or grape tomatoes (optional)
Juice from 1/2 of a lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of  the above ingredients. Stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips, if desired. The tortilla chips pictured above are the new Green Giant Veggie Chips I scored at work. They are fantastic!

Happy Cooking!


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free & vegan)

June 3, 2013


First up, the winners of the pancake giveaway! They are:
-Sarah (who likes her pancakes with syrup and Nutella)
-Jessica Honcoop
-Kristin Darhower
-Andrea (who likes to make healthy pancakes with whole wheat flour, oats and yogurt)

Ladies, shoot me an e-mail with your address to to claim your prizes!

Lately I’ve become increasingly interested in gluten-free, vegan baking. Not necessarily because I personally need to bake treats without gluten or animal products. But it feels like the next frontier in baking, a wide, undiscovered world of flours, meals and gums, among other things. Gluten-free, vegan baking challenges me, and everything I’ve come to know about baking. Since I was little I’ve been baking with all-purpose flour, eggs and butter. It’s incredibly challenging to break all my previous assumptions about what makes a quality baked good and play around with recipes that are entirely different in method and ingredients.

In the past, I’ve always felt that even the most successful gluten-free, vegan baked goods needed to come with a disclaimer. “This is a really good cookie recipe, for being gluten-free and vegan!”

But last week I finally arrived at an adapted cookie recipe that didn’t need a disclaimer. In fact, I think these cookies may have become my favorite cookie recipe. No disclaimer or excuses necessary. These Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are, plain and simple, my favorite oatmeal chocolate chip cookie; they hold their own when pitted against their butter and gluten-laden counterparts. And I’m sure that when you make them (please make them!) you will agree.


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free and vegan)
Makes 24 cookies
Adapted from the Baby Cakes Bakery recipe on the Bob’s Red Mill package
1 1/2 cups oat bran (make sure it is gluten-free)
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 cup ground flax
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or canola oil
5 tablespoons applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips (to make this recipe completely vegan, make sure the chocolate chips are vegan)

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.
2. In large bowl combine oat bran, all-purpose gluten-free flour, flax, sugar, baking soda, xanthan gum, cinnamon and salt until well combined. In small bowl combine oil, applesauce and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to try ingredients and stir until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Drop mixture by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheet, rolling between your hands into balls if you want the cookies to be uniform and round. Mixture will feel oily and may take a little effort to keep the dough in round balls. Don’t worry, that’s totally normal.
4. Bake 7 minutes. Rotate baking sheet. Bake 7 minutes more or until cookies are golden brown. Cool on pan 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Happy Baking!


Healthy Chocolate-Tofu Pudding (gluten-free and vegan)

May 2, 2013


Friends, I have great news for you. You can enjoy a huge chocolate pudding parfait for a little more than 100 calories per serving. Sound like a dream? I had to do a double take myself when I finally discovered a dessert that was vegan, gluten-free and had no added sugar.

For those of you who don’t like tofu, or hate the idea of eating tofu in sweet form, I can promise you that you won’t know the tofu is in this dish. The key to getting creamy pudding-like texture without the tofu taste is to find silken firm tofu, which is different than regular firm tofu. The silken variety has a milder taste and blends more seamlessly into this dish. I made the mistake of using regular firm tofu the first time around and just barely managed to swallow each bite.

I have found silken firm tofu in the non refrigerated section of my local Trader Joe’s, but have seen it in other stores as well.

So, while this might not take the place of a cookie when you are truly craving something decadent, it will totally hit the spot on a regular weeknight when you are looking for a dessert that is tasty but totally healthy. And packed with protein, too!


Chocolate-Tofu Pudding Parfaits with Raspberries
Makes 2 servings
1 block silken firm tofu
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 to 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk (can use cow’s milk if desired)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 packets stevia (can use sugar if desired)
Frozen thawed raspberries or fresh raspberries

Combine all the ingredients except the raspberries in a food processor. Process until completely smooth, scraping down the edges as necessary. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to eat. To serve, layer the pudding with the raspberries.

Happy cooking!

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