Tag Archives: almond butter

Ooey gooey vegan double-chocolate hazelnut brownie cookies

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Is it wrong to crave cookies after yoga? I always feel so blissfully cleansed after class, like all the crud has been wrung out of my body and soul. So you’d think I’d reach for something simple and healthy, like a celery stalk. But no, within an hour, I go from serene yogi to Cookie Monster. But hey, what if cookies can be (almost) as good for you as celery? Mmm, Cookie Monster like!

There’s nothing that satisfies my cravings like these amazing, quick-to-make, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth, double-chocolate hazelnut cookies. They have the delectable consistency of brownies and they taste so rich an sinful…but they’re deceivingly healthy. This delicious recipe from my friend Bonnie will bring out the Cookie Monster in you, too, and since these bites-of-heaven are high in protein and there’s no flour or oil, there’s no harm in eating a few (or 10) in one sitting.

I just made a batch for a vegan potluck that’s happening after my friend Toni Cupal’s Jivamukti yoga class tonight, and after everyone has a taste, I have a feeling that I’ll get to see a few other yogis turn into Cookie Monsters. And I hope you do, too.

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Double-Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie Cookies (Vegan and Gluten-Free!)

From fridge to table: 15 minutes
Makes 3 dozen irresistible cookies

2 tbsp ground flax
6 tbsp warm water
1/3 cup Dutch process cacao powder
1 cup almond butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar (or you can substitute raw coconut crystals for a healthier alternative, but the cookies won’t be as ooey gooey…but they’re still yummy!)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
1 cup vegan chocolate chips (Safeway carries “Chocolate Dream” now – hurray!)

Preheat oven to 350.

In a little bowl, mix the flax and water and let it sit for a couple of minutes. (This mixture is an egg replacement, and it’s awesome).

In a large bowl, combine the cacao powder, almond butter, baking soda, salt and flax/water mixture. Mix until well combined, then toss in the hazelnuts and chocolate chips and mix until thoroughly blended.

Drop little spoonfuls of the cookie dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. No need to shape or flatten them – they melt into pretty little disks while baking. Bake for 11 minutes. Try your best not to eat them right when they come out of the oven since they will be the approximate temperature of molten lava. But feel free to devour them once they cool a little bit. Enjoy!

 

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Tasty Tropical Breakfast Bars (vegan and gluten-free)

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m obsessed with making breakfast bars. They’re just so dang simple and quick to make, they’re delicious, and they’re a fabulously healthy treat to have hanging around for those times when you need to a meal-on-the-go, be it around breakfast time or anytime, really. And they save you a lot of money too since they’re way less expensive than store-bought breakfast bars. Thanks to the addition of almond butter (which is one of the greatest super foods around – almonds lower bad cholesterol and they’re packed with protein and calcium), dried fruits, nuts, and crunchy granola, these bars really do deliver a nice boost of energy and nutrition, so they’re fantastic as sports bars, too. If ‘almond butter’ sounds bizarre to you, don’t worry – it’s just super finely ground toasted almonds; it has about the same smoothness and texture as peanut butter.

I decided to chef up a breakfast bar with a totally different consistency and flavor than the last energy bar recipe I posted – this one is denser, not-so-sticky, has a nice crunch, travels really well and features the delicious flavors of the tropics: pineapple, mango, ginger, coconut and cashews. Yum! In honor of my neighbor friend Jamie who is experiencing her first week of college (and her first taste of homesickness), I created this gluten-free, vegan Tasty Tropical Breakfast/Energy Bar recipe.  I know she’ll love them, especially in contrast to nasty dorm food, and I bet you will, too. According to Jamie’s mom, who taste-tested these bars for me: “Wow, these could be sold in stores!” Pretty nice endorsement! 🙂 John also loves, loves, loves these bars, so much so that he has requested that they become his breakfast staple every day of the week.

Special thanks to Rhonda for convincing me to try brown rice syrup as the sweetener and binding agent for these bars – it works like a charm and it’s really healthy, too! Hurray! Brown rice syrup is a far better sweetener than table sugar, and even honey, since it’s a complex carbohydrate and has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar. It also tastes delicious, especially in these bars, since they add a caramely hint. Give them a try – I know you’ll like them!

Tasty Tropical Breakfast/Sports Bars

Servings: 25 bars
Prep time: 25 minutes
Chill/set time: at least 3 hours

1.5 cups dried tropical fruits, finely chopped (I recommend a combination of pineapple, mango and a little bit of unsweetened coconut)
1  cup roasted unsalted cashews, chopped
4 cups granola clusters cereal (I used Trader Joe’s “Just the Clusters with ginger, almond and cashew granola”)
a handful of crystallized ginger, chopped (optional)
3/4 cup almond butter
1/3 maple syrup
1/3 cup brown rice syrup

Heat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 9″ square baking pan with olive oil.

Blend together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then, in a saucepan over medium high heat, stir together the almond butter, maple syrup and brown rice syrup, stirring constantly. When it begins to bubble, stir it as fast as you can and when it thickens, remove from heat and dump it in the bowl with the dry ingredients. Immediately mix it thoroughly. Scoop into your prepared pan. Press it down firmly with the back of a spatula – really put your weight into it to squish it down.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges become golden. Remove from oven and once again, press it down firmly with the back of a spatula.  Refrigerate it for at least 3 hours to allow it to fully firm up before you cut it. Once ready, turn it over onto a cutting board and with a sharp knife, chop into 24 bars. Enjoy!

This is what it looks like when you pop your breakfast bar concoction out of the pan. If you press it really well, yours will come out perfectly!