Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Almond butter, chocolate chip cookies

Well, I'm back!

If you are thinking you must have missed a lot of entries this summer, you need not worry! (I know, it was totally stressin you out!)  I haven't done a THING with this blog for months! I have a feeling that's the way it's gonna go - all or nothin!!! Hopefully we are approaching "all"!  :0)

The last few days I have been playing with my camera instead of using it for work.  It's good I do this occasionally or I get stuck in ruts and forget to be playful with my images.  My play has consisted of taking snaps of things I love and putting the images into something a little more comprehensive, something that allows me to put the "parts" together that create a feeling for the "whole". 

Something like this....

or this...

Nothing like biting into a fuzzy, juicy, tender, cool peach and savoring the sweetness as it's juice runs down your chin!!!

I can taste it!

Below, you will see that I have been playing in collage mode with my recipe images as well!  Sadly, the images are not as big as I would like them but the recipe is as good as these cookies look!! Read on for this d-lish new cookie recipe!! This particular recipe is gluten and dairy free, but can also be made the traditional way with across-the-board substitutions.  It's so very easy and delicious, packed with vit. E - a powerful antioxidant - and protein, due to the almond butter, that you could ALMOST say it was good for you! But alas, a cookie, is a cookie, is a cookie, so, it's not that healthy!  

Interested?  If you're still not convinced, take a look at this!!

If you can pass that up, you've got more will power than me!

A new cookbook leads to fun new recipes and remaking them my way!!  Thanks to my older and wiser sister, I have a new cookbook! It's so beautiful!  I just LOVE a beautiful cookbook!!  Am I the only one!?? 

The recipes in my new cookbook are easy, use fresh ingredients, require minimal time, and taste absolutely fabulous!!  Curious!?  It's called Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone.  Some of you may have heard of him.  He hosts TLC's Take Home Chef.  Never seen it... so I didn't know him before I saw my sister's book... but I love his book and am his new greatest fan!!!

Surprisingly, (ha!) the first recipe I made out of this book is his Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chunks.  I, of course, changed things to fit my taste, items in my pantry, and love for my son - which requires an avoidance of dairy and wheat.  In this recipe, I use GF flours in place of all-purpose, coconut oil instead of butter, almond butter in place of peanut butter , and I cut down the sugar.  With half the substitutions, all or none, these cookies turn out delicious each time!

Let's talk about coconut oil....  I recall in the 80's, early 90's, when the recommended diet was very little fat with tons of carbs, that coconut oil was on the forbidden list.  In fact, it was so forbidden that simply thinking about it could cause a heart attack.  BUT jump ahead to the 21st century and now it's celebrated as the perfect replacement for butter.  What's up!? 

Honestly, I don't totally know.  According to my friends at wikipedia, it's something to do with the high saturated fat content which is thought to cause a rise in cholesterol.  That finding is actually very misleading and may have been a great cause of it's bad reputation.  The truth is, there is a large amount of saturated fat in coconut oil, however, a large proportion of that saturated fat is - in the form of(?) - lauric acid, which is found in breast milk and is thought to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL)... which, if I remember correctly from my college days, is the "good" cholesterol, thus giving you a better cholesterol profile.  So, although the fat is saturated it is of a type that actually decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease by improving your cholesterol profile.

The other reason it likely got such a bad rap 30 years ago, was because most of the coconut oil used in products and scientific testing was partially-hydrogenated coconut oil.  The hydrogenation process changes the chemical structure of the oil and allows it to create saturated fats and/or trans fats (which raises LDL and decreases HDL resulting in a dangerous cholesterol profile).

So, and this is a BIG "so", the coconut oil must be in it's purest form to benefit your health!!  No hydrogenation!!  We call this "virgin" coconut oil.  I'm guessing if it doesn't say "virgin" on the label, it's probably been in bed with some hydrogen atoms!  It's likely hiding it's scarlet letter somewhere on it's label!!  Be aware and watch out!!  Only buy coconut oil in it's purest form!

Side note: I am NOT a scientist and did very little research on this.  If you are confused or have heart issues, talk with your dr before using coconut oil.  Don't base your health on my simplistic report of what I read on wikipedia! (Did I really just have to make that statement to protect myself from sue-er happy people!?!)

For other uses of coconut oil, wikipedia once again gave me more info to enrich my life....  it can be used as a moisturizer; when used in hair it can prevent protein loss keeping hair healthy and shiny; it can be made into a bug repellent keeping "sand fleas from invading the body" (in case any of you are headed to the beach for a last minute summer vacation). Unfortunately it didn't say anything about preventing mosquito invasion!!  I'd be all over that in a second!!  

Moving on to the cookie recipe!! ;0)

Preheat oven to 365.

In a small bowl, mix together:
1 cup gluten free flour mixture 
I use whatever I have on hand and make my own mix. I find the ones already made have some type of flour (potato?) that makes baked food mushy and heavy.  Me no likely.  So, this time I used brown rice flour (1/2 cuppish) which makes things crunchy and light, teff flour (1/4 cuppish) for a nutty flavor, and finished off with coconut flour b/c I didn't have enough of the others or any other options.  It seemed to do nicely with the other two.  I would have preferred to throw some kamut in there for the added protein and flavor but I didn't have any.  Use what you like!
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl - I use my blender bowl - mix:
1 cup almond butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar

Once blended add:
8 TBS coconut oil (1/2 cup)
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBS honey
1 egg

Once blended add the flour mixture.

Mix until fully incorporated.
Then add:
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (a bit more if you can't help yourself!)

Mix it all together.

Drop in 3 TBS heaps on a cookie sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown and tops are cracked and dry-ish - centers should still be soft but not wiggly. Let cool on pan for about 5-10 minutes until you can carefully transfer cookies onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.  

Eat up and Enjoy!!