Sweet Sunday: Cocoa-Coconut Cookies

I had a very proud moment not long ago when my almost four year old asked me, “Mama, what’s an Oreo?”  Of course that was followed by, “Can I have one?”  I have to say that my little ones are amazingly understanding when I explain that a certain food isn’t healthy or isn’t something we eat.  Either they really trust me or they know on some level that those foods make them feel bad.  Maybe a combination of the two.  I keep wondering when they are going to start to fight me on it though.  As I’ve mentioned before I do make exceptions for very special occasions, but I also realize that this can be a slippery slope and I have to draw the line somewhere.  A play date or a visit with a relative (while special) is not a special occasion that deserves cake and cookies every time.  There’s definitely a cultural perception that sugary treats are a right of passage for kids and it’s not always easy to “shelter” them from the constant offering of non-nutritive (a.k.a. junk) food or the marketing that perpetuates the idea that it’s “normal.”  One thing that helps is keeping homemade, sweet treats on hand on a pretty regular basis.  Consequently I’ve come up with an arsenal of semi-healthy recipes that I can pull out when I’m starting to feel like the Big Mean Mommy Who Always Says No. Continue reading

Zucchini Cookies

Like our beloved Sunshine Cookies, these sweet treats are something that you can feel confident serving anytime.  They are naturally sweet with a little help from maple syrup and raisins and they have the power of zucchini, a vegetable high in vitamin C, antioxidants and B vitamins.  Yes, I’m on a zucchini kick now, but my heart still belongs to kale!

For a dairy free version, leave out the butter and double the coconut oil.  You could also substitute gluten free flour (or any other flour for that matter.)  Try to substitute carrots for half of the zucchini for a slightly different flavor.

  • INGREDIENTS
  • 1/4 cup grass fed butter, softened
  • 1/4 C coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 C maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 C whole grain flour ( I used sprouted spelt)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 C grated zucchini
  • 1/2 C raisins
  • 1/2 C shredded coconut
  • 1/2 C nuts or seeds
PREPARATION
  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, coconut oil, syrup and vanilla until smooth and then beat in the egg.  
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves; stir into the butter mixture a little at a time. 
  3. Mix in zucchini, raisins, coconut and nuts/seeds. Cover dough and chill for about an hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet. Cookies should be about 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes in the preheated oven or until set. Allow cookies to cool slightly on the cookie sheets before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

 Eat Well, Be Well
April

This recipe was shared on Monday Mania with The Healthy Home Economist.

Snacking Without Barcodes: Sweet Treats

We all need a sweet treat now and then.  Even though I spent last week posting about how “evil” sugar is, I never said that we don’t indulge in the occasional sugar bomb.  We try to make it the exception instead of the rule.  Constant deprivation is no way to live and it rarely works in the long run, but if you plan ahead you can definitely catch those cravings before you end up at the 7-11 with a bag of M&Ms in hand.   These coconut macaroons are so easy and they make a good size batch.  The best part is they can be frozen so you can have them on hand in case of a sweet tooth emergency.

COCONUT MACAROONS

  • 4 eggs whites
  • 1/3 C honey (warmed to liquify)
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 2 C shredded, unsweetened coconut

Beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form and then drizzle in vanilla and honey while continuing to beat.  It may lose a little body.  Then gently fold in the coconut.  Again, you might lose a little body, but it should still be pretty firm.  Drop small teaspoon size balls onto your baking or dehydrator sheet.  Dehydrate at 150° for about 20 hours.  If you don’t have a dehydrator you can simulate this in your oven at the lowest possible temperature.

If you can’t handle waiting 20 hours you can bake them at 300° for half an hour, then 200° for an additional hour.  Just watch them so that they don’t get too brown.  I don’t like them quite as much this way, but they are still very good.

NOTE:  If you use egg yolks in your super smoothies, save the eggs whites in a glass jar in the fridge.  As long as no yolk gets in they will last quite a while.

OTHER SWEET TREATS:

Remember the key here is convenience.  Make these in advance and in bulk and package them in small containers or baggies for quick snacks.  Less is more.  Use mini muffin tins and drop small cookies onto the baking sheet so you have snack size portions.  You don’t have to eat them all now…freeze some for later.

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

Orange Dreamsicle Recipe

Orange Dreamsicle

I always like to keep some frozen treat around.  For whatever reason kids love frozen things.  I always have a tray of “icicles” in the freezer that I allow them to have anytime.  It’s really just frozen water…nothing added and great for the occasional mouth injury.  I rotate through a few different ice pop recipes for a less frequent treat.  Here’s a quick & healthy twist on a beloved dessert courtesy of my dear friend Mary!

First of all get yourself some good BPA free ice pop molds. Stainless steel ice pop molds are another option. They may last longer but are a bit on the pricey side.  Then figure out how much liquid the molds hold in total by filling them with water and then dumping that water into a measuring cup.  This total is what you base you mixture on.  Mine hold about 1 cup total (so 1/8 cup per pop).  The mixture below is based on my molds you might have to change it a bit.  It’s a 1:1 ratio.

Mixture: 1/2 C fresh squeezed orange juice (I guess you can use a good organic juice if you want to save time), 1/2 C plain, whole fat yogurt, 1/2 tsp vanilla, high quality stevia to taste.  (I’ll be posting on stevia and other sweeteners later but here is a great article to help you decide how to choose a good/minimally processed one).  When adding the stevia, taste as you go and add as little as you think you can get away with, while still pleasing those little food critics that live under your roof.  Freeze and enjoy!

Eat Well, Be Well,
April