Believe it or not, the holidays are almost here! I had this transformation in attitude recently, like three years ago or so, going from being cynical about Christmas, and the such, to craving it. Now I listen to Christmas carols in July, but only for like a day, so that I get a taste of what’s coming without entirely spoiling the surprise factor. Though apparently I’m not the only one restlessly counting down the days until December: Selfridges, a London-based department store has this past year started selling Christmas paraphernalia in… August.
Assuming this overhasty trend will continue, you’re reading this post rather late, should’ve been all over it back in May!
(I’m having second thoughts about my whole metamorphosis toward Christmas, the coffee shop I’m at is playing “Feliz Navidad” for, I think, the third time since I’ve started writing this.)
Tardy or not, your intentions are pure: You are looking for healthy cookies you could guiltlessly stuff Santa with. Rejoice! These gluten-free coconut-flour chocolate chip cookies are they!
Seriously though, how can kids who are at times astonishingly ingenious be so unforgivably gullible, enough so that a whooping 80% of them unquestionably and unconditionally believe the rather patchy Santa myth. (It’s healthy apparently, their innocent belief.) Would it be as harsh as drinking absinthe for breakfast, straight, to ask a rugrat to reconsider their Santa stance in light of, for example, the following sobering calculation:
“There are just over 526,000,000 Christian kids under the age of 14 in the world who celebrate Christmas on December 25th. In other words, Santa has to deliver presents to almost 22 million kids an hour, every hour, on the night before Christmas. That’s about 365,000 kids a minute; about 6,100 a second. Totally doable.”
Don’t. I’m joking.
Irregardless, were Santa real and did factually deliver presents to half-a-billion or so dwellings, these cookies would give him the much-needed kick without raising his risk for diabetes.
Made primarily out of coconut butter — which is stupidly easy to make at home — these guys satisfy the most demanding of chocolate-chip-cookie cravings while curbing unwanted evils, like sugar highs and post-munchie stomach distresses.
Complimenting the coconut butter is coconut flour. Despite the coconut bias, the final treats taste balanced, the tropical nut subtle and not overpowering, letting the chocolate chips shine through. Sweet, but not overbearingly so, and velvety soft (wish they were crunchy!).
They also brown so picturesquely. And since they only need to bake for around 10 minutes, I sat through their entire development, in front of the radiating oven window, my forehead against the oven’s harmlessly cool to the touch door, seeing the tablespoon-size heaps balloon to double their size (wishing you could see such plants action in real time).
These cookies are so much the real deal that they’ll have you think of the original flour-based kinds as being ersatz. Experiment with sizing — and let me know if you come up with a way of making them crunchy!
Recipe has been adapted from Ambitious Kitchen, thank you Monique!
- ¾ cup (175 mL) coconut butter
- ¼ cup (60 mL) honey, organic
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup (60 mL) coconut flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup (75 mL) dark chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a food processor, or mixer, combine coconut butter, coconut oil, and honey.
- Add eggs, process again.
- Add coconut flour, baking soda, and salt, process again.
- Gently fold in chocolate chips.
- Spoon dough onto cookie sheet (use metal spoon, warm it under running hot water after each scoop).
- Bake for 10 min, or until cookies turn golden brown.
Coconut oil is one of those miraculous products which boycotts streamline-overdependent capitalistic logic. The reason is its astounding versatility, its application recommended for everything from frying your fries to lubricating your intercourse. Talk about an infiltrating product!
On the other hand, lube too has an extensive list of unconventional uses, the weirdest being using it for loosening your locks and doorknobs.
Coconut butter is different than coconut oil. For one, it’s chunkier (so I wouldn’t use or recommend using it as lube, though, then again, maybe the graininess wouldn’t be all that undesirable). In some ways it’s more akin to peanut butter, in consistency and its use, making it an exquisite bread spread.
Add it to smoothies, curries, spread it lusciously atop anything edible, use it as a butter substitute to make banana bread — and definitely to make these gluten-free coconut-flour chocolate chip cookies.
Coconut butter, and likewise coconut oil, is super high in saturated fats (as is breast milk!) — 87g per 100g, or 90%. So it should be used in moderation, for sure, but important to know is that the saturated fat present is not the type which raises cholesterol levels, specifically, of the bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL).
The saturated fat in coconut oil and coconut butter is called lauric acid (which, again, is abundantly prevalent in breast milk!), a medium-chain fatty acid which is easier to digest than long-chain fatty acid (the latter of the two is the type which takes center stage in, for instance, butter).
Lauric acid increases the good HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol within your blood — of the two, this is the beneficial kind which helps balance cholesterol levels by removing excess LDL from your body, as well as speeds up metabolism (the basis for the coconuts-help-you-burn-fat-and-lose-weight argument) and positively affects your hormones and blood sugar levels.
One more interesting factoid about the lauric acid within coconut oils and butters, mainly, it has a high melting point (110.8°F / 43.8°C), the pure lauric acid itself does, but effectively, coconuts oil’s melting point is also rather high, around 75.2°F / 24°C — which explains why the oil and butter solidify in room temperature (right, they are ‘frozen’ at room temperature, since they ‘melt’ at 24°C), and super hard when store inside fridges, and, I suppose it follows, they’re indestructible when frozen (perhaps as strong as Thor’s ineradicable and unliftable hammer, hypothesized to be composed of “neutron star matter, the densest material in the universe outside of a black hole, [in which case the tool would] weigh as much as 300 billion elephants”).
Hefty stuff, coconut oils and butters.
Rich in antioxidants, will boost your body’s immunity, and, stupidly easy to make (so very much unlike these Millennium Math Problems, though solving one of these mind-benders will win you a million bucks, which this guy won and rejected, despite having no job, income, and subsisting on his elderly mother’s pension — that’s hard-boiled passion).
All it takes to make coconut butter is (organic) shredded coconut shreds, and a spoonful or so of oily coconut oil. Drop it all into a blender (or food processor — they are not, though this took me some time to admit to myself, the same thing, “they,” so reports Consumer Reports, “excel at different tasks”) and blend the #$&@! out of it. As easy as falling off a log. Don’t get frustrated when the coconut shreds collect around the bowl of the device — especially true when using the blender — and for dear life avoid the vortex of the blade, just pause, spoon the mass off the wall, and resume. And repeat. Eventually the dense paste will cave in on itself and be mutilated by the merciless whirlpool.
I buy my shredded coconuts from Karma Co-Op — but you can find Let’s Do Organic’s at Amazon, here, or, if you live in New York City, and are into co-ops, then consider getting your stuff at Park Slope Food.
What did you use your coconut butter for?
- 4 cups (1L) organic, unsweetened, coconut shreds — this will make around half the amount of coconut butter (2 cups, or 500 mL)
- 2 tbsp organic coconut oil, melted
- Place everything inside blender — or, better yet, food processor — and mix on low speed, or pulse. The mass will stick to the sides and avoid the blade (especially true if you’re using blender). Don’t get discouraged. Pause, scrape sludge off walls, and resume. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. The paste will eventually give in to the whirlpool.
- Once the white viscous syrup is in motion, let it orbit around the blade for a few minutes, until it’s smoother — though its final consistency is ultimately your prerogative.
- Enjoy on anything, and store inside lidded jars.
It’s apparently a secret of sorts of experienced bakers, that ideal bananas for baking are extra ripe. Spotty is not enough. Like totally black is the real deal.
So, armed with this knowledge, I shrieked from joy coming across a banana sale at a local grocery store. They looked ugly, like defunct, but you know, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure (like this woman, Teri Horton, who picked up what is supposedly a Jackson Pollock original for $5 at a thrift store — watch the movie! — which would make the piece worth a hefty$50 million).
The decaying treasure I found was going for $1 for five pieces — so I picked up 10 packs, or, in other words, 50 bananas. I attracted some attention, so that this girl in the store, seeing the enthusiasm with which I was stocking up my piles (balancing case upon case — no time for a cart), so she, alarmed by my eagerness, started briskly walking up, but catching glimpse of the decomposing state of the fruits I was hoarding (like a mad squirrel stuffing its face with nuts) abruptly walked away in confusion…
(On a serious note — dreadfully serious actually, like I had trouble sleeping after learning this depressing fact — if you’ve ever wondered why bananas are so much cheaper compared to other fruits, see this amazing banana documentary, titled “Banana Land: Blood, Bullets and Poison.” Watch it for free here, and donate toward helping cover production costs here.)
Now, if your bananas are bright and yellow like the sun, don’t worry, there’s a way to quickly ripen them. Basically, bake them at 300°F for 40 minutes. Easy peasy.
Turns out I’m not the only one who fanatically love’s baking banana bread. Coincidentally this is what ESPN’s host Sage Steele has to say about banana bread’s magical bonding powers: “My kids have told me how much they love it when I make the banana bread for them, and that’s all I needed to hear — even if I’m not there to actually serve it to them. My banana bread is my way of being home in spirit. And I’m finding more and more that the little things I do for my kids end up making ME feel great, too.”
See? Banana bread will make you a more compassionate person. And the recipe here should have you feel even better, because it’s naturally sweetened, and made with whole-wheat flour and oatmeal!
Our sense of smell makes us fall in love, so be strategical with this knowledge! Seduce your crush with the intoxicating smell of baking banana bread. A powerful weapon in the hands of a skilled person.
Full of healthy ingredients, and, what follows, not overwhelmingly sweet. To make purely vegan, avoid the egg — the banana bread will still hold firmly. Alternatively, use a flax egg. For gluten-freeness, use gluten-free flour, geez.
Please note, the recipe has been adapted from Ambitious Kitchen — thank you for the wonderful inspiration!
Dear readers: Any banana documentaries you’d recommend? Though honestly, any darn good documentary is fair game!
- Coconut oil
- 1 cup (250 mL) mashed bananas
- ⅓ cup (70 mL) unsweetened apple butter
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 cup (250 mL) almond milk, unsweetened
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1.5 cups (355 mL) whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup (250 mL) rolled oats
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup (125 mL) raw almonds, chopped
- ½ cup (125 mL) golden-brown flax seeds
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease 9-inch loaf pan with coconut oil.
- In large bowl, combine mashed bananas, apple butter, maple syrup, egg, almond milk, and vanilla, until creamy. In separate medium bowl whisk whole-wheat flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Combine contents of both bowls, mix lightly. Fold in almonds and flax seeds.
- Pour into loaf pan. Bake for 60-70 min.
- Remove from oven, let cool, and indulge!
You most likely don’t immediately associate zucchinis with desserts. I sure didn’t. And even if, least likely with a chocolaty kind, like brownies. The idea almost sounds oxymoronic! Zucchini bread, sure, viable, but zucchini brownies, less so, I think, like watermelon soup — which funnily enough exists!
On the note of soups, the oddest one I’ve to date come across must be deer placenta soup… how do you come up with that?!
Thinking about it again, zucchini brownies sound very normal. And truth be told, they are extraordinarily delicious. Shredded zucchinis, when mixed with chocolate and baked in the oven, become just the perfect texture, making your brownie creations soft- and light-feeling. Notably, these edible chocolate cushions aren’t just soft to the touch (which wouldn’t be fun for long! — though, playing with our food is perhaps something we should be doing more of), these treats are equally gentle on your stomach. It’s like quinoa pasta (which I’ve only tried eating for the first time ever last week) — you’re eating real spaghetti, but walk away from your meal without feeling drained because you just consumed a kilo of white flour. Same with these innocent little brownies — you get your sweet-tooth kick without your sugar levels exploding!
So, bottom line, zucchini brownies feel and taste like real brownies, without anything ostensibly zucchini-like about them, save for the health benefits!
(To really beat the point home, I’d be willing to bet hard-earned money that a blindfold test, where someone eats both zucchini brownies and brownie brownies, would prove the zucchinis totally undetectable.)
Back to feeling good about binging on zucchini brownies, part of what makes them so non-taxing on your health and the way you feel is that this recipe — kudos to Ambitious Kitchen for coming up with it — is that these treats are made without flour or butter! Typical store-bought versions contain unapologetic amounts of bleached flour, refined sugar and salt, GMO dairy, soybeans, and cornstarch. The effect of avoiding all of these nocuous ingredients classifies these goodies as totally gluten-free — potentially vegan-free too if you take it up a notch and use vegan chocolate chips!
Although remaining stealthily undercover, flavor-wise, the zucchini’s many nutritional health benefits are definitely worth blowing the whistle about.
These green cucumber-looking, irregularly-shaped, smooth-skinned cylinders (they’re available in yellow too) are part of the summer squash family. They’re very low in calories, being high in water and fiber content, and are good sources of potassium (heart-friendly, blood-pressure reducing electrolyte), as well as are rich in carotenes (especially the golden-colored variety of these cucumber-looking, irregularly-shaped, smooth-skinned cylinders), an antioxidant helping fight free radicals that accelerate aging and related diseases. Add to the list their ability to control cholesterol levels, high content of vitamin C, and bone-strengthening minerals like iron, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, and it turns out that thanks to the virtues of this otherwise imperceptible green fellow (unless you prefer the blonde type) you’re about to treat yourself to the world’s healthiest brownies.
Leaving off, some food for thought, did you know that the British terms for zucchinis is ‘courgette’?
- ¾ cup (175 mL) oats
- ½ cup (125 mL) all-natural unsalted peanut butter
- ½ cup (125 mL) unsweetened natural apple sauce
- ¼ cup (60 mL) maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ cup (125 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1.5 cups (355 mL) shredded zucchini
- ½ cup (125 mL) dark chocolate chips, divided into two portions
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Spray 8’’ x 8’’ square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Pulverize oats in blender or food processor.
- In a large bowl, mix peanut butter, apple sauce, maple syrup, and vanilla, until smooth.
- Mix in zucchini, cocoa powder, ground oats, baking soda, and salt.
- Gently fold in half of your chocolate chips.
- Pour batter onto baking pan and sprinkle remaining chocolate chips over top.
- Bake for 25-30 min.
- Cool brownies completely on wire rack, then cut into cute squares, and eat!