Sometimes caramel is the only thing that will do

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Three weeks. But who’s counting?! Not me, obviously…

Two weeks till I graduate, three weeks from today till I’m done done done! I feel like my posts of late are kind of like some version of a baked goods advent calendar until I’m done with my Master’s degree. Is that a thing?! Well whatever, I just made it a thing.

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I’m taking study breaks with baked goods! This week’s offering could  not be more different than the last post — that one was fruity and light, this one is shut-the-front-door dense, caramel-y, gooey, rich, and decadent (in the best way, of course). All while being paleo (it’s sweetened with maple so not strict paleo), vegan, free of the glutens, and full of healthy fats and real food! Because, well, because. Because real food is good for you! And it tastes better anyway, right? Right.

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Might I point out this also makes a great side dish for breakfast… alongside eggs and salad and leftover caponata. Don’t question. Just do it!

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Highly recommend to consume this in front of Monty Python and the Holy Grail with excellent company for full brain-rejuvenation effect and happy taste buds.

And that is officially all I got on the anecdote front. Brain is in maxed out mode, I think it’s time for bed. Yes, I know it’s 8:45 on a Friday night. Nope, I’m not sorry at all.

Happy Weekend!

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Vegan Salted Caramel Skillet Blondies

Vegan, paleo, gluten free, refined sugar free. Dense, fudgey, gooey, and delicious. Yield: 1 8″ cast iron skillet, which feeds however many you decide (1? 2? a dinner party? you do you). Lightly adapted from With Salt and Wit, here!

For the caramel:

  • 1/3 c almond butter
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1/4 c coconut oil, melted

For the blondies:

  • 1.5 c almond meal (or flour, also fine)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • heaping 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water)
  • 1/8 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1/8 c unsweetened applesauce
  • scant 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • heaping 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chippies

Preheat the oven to 350, and bust out your trusty little 8″ cast iron skillet! No need to grease it, such is the wonder of cast iron and the use of caramel under the blondie batter…

Mix the flax and water in a small bowl and let sit until gelled, about 5 minutes.

In a large liquid measuring cup (one of those pyrex ones works nicely) or other tall thing, vigorously whisk the almond butter, maple and coconut oil for the caramel until combined. You can do this in a blender if your almond butter is particularly thick — mine was runny enough to make a bicep workout feasible (and I decided I was too lazy to wash the blender later). Pour the caramel into the skillet and set aside.

In a larger bowl, combine almond meal, baking soda, sea salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Add in flax egg, melted coconut oil, applesauce, maple, and vanilla. Stir until combined (shouldn’t take too long). Toss in chippies and give it one last good stir. Pour the batter into the caramel — you may have to smooth it out a little, and it will cause the caramel to creep up the sides. All good!! The caramel forms a nice crust for the gooey blondies, which turn out almost like cookie dough. Don’t worry too much about it spreading out perfectly, I promise it will be delicious.

Bake until the top is firm and the caramel is crackly on the edges. I checked mine at 20 minutes, then let it go for another 5 minutes since the blondie wasn’t as firm as I wanted. Final bake time was probably closer to 30 minutes. It helps to bang the skillet on the stove a bit to get the batter and caramel to settle. Once done to your liking, remove from oven and let sit for a few before annihilating.

Absolutely delicious with paleo gelato, or whatever floats your boat! Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Sincere apologies for the strange coloration on the photo below; I have no idea what happened and sadly grad school nonsense takes priority over having a proper photo shoot for the last remaining piece of blondie. Le sigh. Three weeks!

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I think you need some cashew blondie barz in your life

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Barz. I’m all about the barz lately… they’re like cookies only faster and more bing bang boom. Which is great when I’m out of the house for 12 hours and get home and a) am starving and have to wrangle dinner and b) need something sweet besides chocolate.

And actually.

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I think these might be some of my best barz ever. They taste like graham crackers, kind of!!! And I do have a nostalgic fondness for graham crackers, which is undoubtedly why I find these so spectacular. Except that when I go to eat actual graham crackers, they are NOT as good as they used to be (cardboard, anyone?). Ugh. Processed food is gnarly… which means I don’t really eat graham crackers anymore (sad!) BUT WAIT! I can eat these bars instead and not only are they better tasting with WAY better ingredients, they are also fatter and chunkier than graham crackers and require a fork so I get more bang for my buck. Win win win.

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Not only do these barz have that great graham cracker taste, but they develop an excellent crust and this great dense, cakey texture. Too many superlatives. Just make these and eat them, promise you won’t be sorry.

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Also, Mother’s Day!! Happy happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful, strong mama. I love you to the moon and back!!

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Cashew Blondies

I call these cashew blondies, but really they are much more graham-crackery than they are cashewy. Definitely in a widlly good way. These can be gluten free if you want to sub out the whole wheat flour — I do tolerate wheat and I have enough restrictions right now, so I went the whole wheat route. They are, however, vegan and dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free, and full of healthy fats. Recipe yields 9-12 bars, depending on how largeish you cut them (I recommend large, these are too good to share), in an 8 by 8 pan. A Wait are those Cookies original!

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  • 1.5 c cashew meal*
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 c cashew butter (creamy, unsalted)
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed  + 6 tbsp water; let sit till gelled, about 5 mintues)
  • 1/2 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 runneth-over tsp of vanilla
  • 1/4 c avocado oil
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

*I make my own in a food processor. This one was roughly 1 c dry roasted, lightly salted cashews + 1/4 c raw cashews; check the saltiness of your particular batch and adjust recipe salt accordingly.

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan with avocado oil.

This is as easy as it gets. Make flax eggs and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together cashew meal, whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Toss in cashew butter, flax eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, avo oil and applesauce, and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread batter (it will be thick) into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top is firm (unless you really really like goopy cookie dough consistency, in which case take it out at 30. I did… bu then reheated the oven and stuck it back in for 10. Too goopytastic for my taste that night). Let cool completely in the pan, and store covered with foil in the fridge.

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Bacon and vegan things: All my eating proclivities in one post

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Ugh. It feels like it’s been forever and a year since I blogged last, but my stomach decided to take a little trip to the valley of the extremely irritable the last several weeks so I haven’t been cooking much of anything exciting.

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BUT!

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Brownies! Paleo maple bacon ones!

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I also made cookies for a friend last week that were similarly delicious except were vegan (no bacon) and gluten free and not chocolate. So not exactly similar at all except for delicious. And all treats should be delicious! These were a hot mess in the crumbly department but were tasty tasty so might I recommend crumbling them over ice cream? Or maybe straight into your mouth? Double fisted cookie crumbling into that big hole in my head sounds fantastic, who needs a plate?!

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And everyone knows that a four day weekend (Or three day. Or just any normal weekend) means that it’s time to go bop around outside and then come in and make dessert. Because weekends=dessert. Actually most things = dessert. Because… mmm treats.

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Also, one last side note… I get quite a few inquiries into my eating habits. Most everyone tends to think I’m a vegetarian, but that’s not exactly true. I choose not to have a label: sometimes I bake and eat paleo things, sometimes I eat vegetarian, and sometimes gluten free. I’ve experimented with lots of different ways of eating, and I like to mix it up… and I have lots of friends who are gluten free, or vegan, or paleo, and I like to make different things that are accessible for everyone. Also, I like to eat! I noticed as I was finishing this post that it’s a very accurate representation of the way I eat: something meaty and paleo, grain free, gluten free, and vegan. ALL delicious!

And Jessie and I have very interesting conversations. Apparently she thinks I’m fascinating, see exhibit A below…

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Paleo Maple Bacon Brownies

Paleo, gluten free, grain free, dairy free. Full of healthy fats and BACON so obviously you should make them. Refined sugar free, depending on the brand of chocolate chips you use. Yield: a small skillet or a loaf pan’s worth, 2 gratuitously obnoxious large servings or 4 sensible people servings (or you can just eat the thing out of the pan, to hell with proper plates because… picnic!)

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For the maple bacon:

  • As much bacon as you care to consume
  • maple syrup for brushing

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium until hot. Brush bacon with maple syrup and pan fry until it reaches your approved bacon-doneness (I like less crispy, feel free to make dead bacon if that’s your thing). Set aside and let cool.

For the brownies:

I used this one here by Clean Eating with A Dirty Mind, but I think these are my all time favorite brownies (so far. You never know). Both are very dark, not overly sweet, and super fudgy. Either way, they’re winners!

For serving:

Top brownies with crumbled bacon and some creamy vanilla ice cream/non dairy thing/coconut whip/whatever your favorite thing is. Live a little and eat them straight out of the pan in a park in the sun. You won’t regret it :)

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are the crumbliest things imaginable but they’re delicious so if you like crumbly cookies, defs give these a go. I prefer chewy cookies but I liked the consistency of these and they would be superb crumbled over ice cream. Gluten free, vegan, dairy free, refined sugar free. Yield: 19 cookies.

  • 2 c rolled oats
  • 1 c almond meal
  • 1 c millet flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • scant 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon (<–not a typo!)
  • 1/2 c melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 c maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I fit all my cookies onto one sheet because I have intense cookie cramming skills, but you can also use two.

In a large bowl, whisk together oats, almond meal, millet flour, baking powder and sea salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil, unsweetened applesauce, maple, and vanilla. Pour wet into dry and toss in chocolate chips. Stir to combine until fully incorporated, and drop heaping tablespoons onto the cookie sheet. Flatten the balls slightly since these don’t spread all that much (if at all). Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool for at least 10 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving them to a rack to cool completely.

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Green cookies. Because, obviously.

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Guess WHAT?!

I made cookies. And they’re GREEN!! Muahahah. Like you’re even a tiny bit surprised by this? Nope, I didn’t think so.

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But really. I’m studying for the GRE because I have to and it’s SUPER lame (because let’s be honest, who actually uses the math garbage that they put on there after high school?! That’s right, NO ONE. Remind me again why I have to re-learn quadratics and functions and wait, these are of no use in my everyday life, moving on). So to make my studying that much less icky I made myself green cookies!! Green things always make me feel better.

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I know this is horribly overexposed but I think it’s funny because the cookie looks like it’s levitating…. ooOOOooooOOOOoOooOo

Besides, these are really aggressively green. Artificial food coloring crap can take a backseat because this is soooo much more fun. Wouldn’t you rather the color in your food come from natural fun reactions?! This is what happens when baking soda/powder and the chlorophyll from sunflower seeds have a party in your cookies. When they cool, they turn green!! I like to refrigerate them to speed this along (besides I’m weird and I also like cold cookies)… and if you can refrain from eating them all at once (good luck), they get even greener the next day [the photos in this blog show them in varying states of green-ness… the ones on the blue plate are the next day after spending all night in the fridge].

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In addition to making green cookies, I did a number of other fun and delicious things…

bread at the beach with the boy… what more do you want?
bread at the beach with the boy… what more do you want?

Tea sandwiches. Because HIGH TEA!!! Crumpets!! And scones!! And no crusts!!

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And also creamy coconut buckwheat with turmeric-curry-cinnamon roasted chickpeas. Crappy photos but soooo delicious. I accidentally permanently stained a cookie sheet yellow, thanks turmeric.

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And also this. Frozen pb-banana ‘ice cream’ with a ridiculously good walnut-date-cinnamon-oat crumble [1/2 c raw walnuts, 1/2 c pitted dates, 2 tbsp almond butter+ pinch of sea salt+1/2 c rolled oats+1/2 tsp cinnamon+1 tsp vanilla spun through a food processor]. I couldn’t stop eating it, mildly problematic except not because delicious.

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Oh. One more thing. Are variables delicious? Last I checked, no. These cookies on the other hand? Absolutely yes.

See? Real food fun. Imminently more useful than bothersome little equations and silly variables.

I would much rather have green cookies than remember how to correctly diagram a factor tree, thanks.

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Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies

Grain free, gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free. Paleo? Maybs? GREEN! Full of healthy fats and good fiber. I made a half batch and ended up with seven cookies because I mistakenly thought the 1/3 c was a 1/4 c measuring cup…oops. I wasn’t sorry, it meant I got an extra cookie out of the bunch. I’ll include the full recipe here, for a yield of an even dozen. Recipe lightly adapted from Against All Grain, here!

  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1/2 c unsweetened sunbutter (mine is roasted, unsalted)
  •  6 dates, pitted
  • 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 c coconut flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 c dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine flax and water and set aside to gel. If your dates aren’t super squishy and soft, soak them in hot/near boiling water for a few minutes—I usually do this anyway so my food processor doesn’t complain as much. In your food processor, combine sun butter, dates, and applesauce and pulse until smooth. Add in vanilla, vinegar, and flax egg, and process until combined (I left a few chunks of date in mine, but it’s up to you). Add in coconut, coconut flour, cinnamon, and baking soda, processing until everything is fully combined. Take out the blade and stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheet, smoothing the edges with your fingers if you want (though I kind of like the craggy rustic look). Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool on the sheet for a few, then remove to a rack to cool further. They’ll start turning green once they start cooling, but they get to be a deeper green after about 2 hours. The next day they’re even better! Store in an airtight container in the fridge (I like plastic for these, glass makes them soft).

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Just because. Happy Friday!

 

Tarting (torte-ing?!) it up

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Holy moly.

Gooey chocolate deliciousness.

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But. If I didn’t tell you… could you guess what this decadent wedge holds? Well… if you know me, I’m sure you have a decent idea… just take  a minute to think it over and then get back to me.

Okay.

Did you think?

Did you guess vegetables?!

Because if you did… you’re right! And maybe the green peeking out of that first picture was kind of a giveaway… whatever. Get a little more specific: perhaps two servings of vegetables, and about two servings of fruit?! And it’s dessert. Cholesterol free, vegan, and delicious dessert. Make this for your friends when they’re skeptical that vegan = delicious.

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Besides, when I do things like this, I get to eat things like this as a reward:

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See? Life is all about balance (and trx handstands, natch). As Oscar Wilde so wisely said: “everything in moderation, including moderation!”. I do have to say though, this torte requires less moderation than usual since it’s so freaking good for you. Chocolate= antioxidants. Zucchini= veggie (veggie = by definition, healthy, obvs). Banana= potassium. Whole wheat flour = whole grain fiber. Almonds = healthy fats! Wheeeee!

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Chocolate Zucchini Torte

Recipe gratefully adapted slightly from Kohler Created, here! Next time I would perhaps leave out or reduce the oil, as the cake is definitely hydrated (you see I avoid that ‘oist’ word) enough with all the produce crammed inside.

  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 c canola oil
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground coffee
  • 1.5 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1/4 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 c zucchini, finely grated
  • 1/2 c dark chocolate chips

For topping: 3 tbsp brown sugar + 1/2 c chopped almonds

Preheat the oven to 360. Grease and flour a 9″ cake pan.

In a largeish bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and powder, and salt. In another bowl, combine oil, applesauce, sugars, vanilla, and coffee. Beat vigorously (use those biceps!) for a few minutes… or use a mixer. In a smallish bowl, mash bananas, then add water. Add bananas, beat to combine, then add milk.

Combine 1/2 c of the flour mix to the grated zucchini and chocolate chips. Slowly beat in the remaining flour into the banana bowl, until incorporated. Stir in zucchini and mix thoroughly. The batter should be thick (and delicious). Pour into the prepared pan, top with brown sugar+almonds, and bake for about 45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan before attempting to slice! This cake is even better the next day (promise!), if you can make it last that long…

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Transitory Friday obsessions and other musings.

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Friday things!!

1. I made these cookies. Again. For the second time in a week.

2. I’m finally not sore. It took me like four days to recover from my last set of workouts Monday-Wednesday, but hey. It was worth it! (Even though that involved being in ridiculous pain trying to hand people things across the cash desk or reach my arms over my head, but whatever. Reaching and handing are clearly unnecessary activities… riiiight?).

3. It is unbelievable how many times people come into the store asking: “sooo… my friend’s aunt’s cousin had these pants…. annnd they were, umm… black… do you have them?” … Really?!

4. My car’s back shocks are currently making the noise of the van’s horn from the movie Little Miss Sunshine. You know, like MmmmEMEMMEMMRMMBmmmbbBMBMMBMMM (that is exactly what horns sound like, by the way) everyyyyy time I go over a bump. I think it’s time to get this looked at…

5. I find this hilarious. Courtesy of Memphis Minnie’s bbq… om nama porkaya hahahah!

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6. Errrmeerrgeerrrddd my peanut butter jar is half empty. Someone rescue me.

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7. Kombucha. With chia. I’m obsessed.

8. I also made grilled pineapple and black bean quesadillas, with avocado and mango chutney. They were a winner, so you get a picture. I’m too lazy to post what barely counts for a recipe, so just chuck some pineapple on a grill pan and call it a day.

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Anyway. Without further ado, you should make these cookies! They’re stupidly easy and full of nutrients, without requiring an extensive list of ingredients or weird kitchen appliances. One bowl, one spoon, and maybe your food processor. Easy money. Gluten free+ lower in sugar+ higher in protein+ whole grain+ antioxidants from the chia+ mental well being from overall deliciousness= happy human.

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Absurdly Simple Peanut Butter-Chia Cookies

Yet another pb cookie recipe, I know I know, but hey. You can NEVER have too many peanut butter cookie recipes in my book. PB+chia is totally a power couple! Especially easy ones you can whip up when you desperately need a cookie. The recipe is ever so slightly modified from Cooking Uncorked, here! I got 15 cookies out of mine–you could easily have more if you made them smaller (though why you would ever do a thing like that is beyond me).

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Lezzzz do eeet:

  • 1 c oat flour (I pulverize a cup of oats in my food processor until fine)*
  • 1/3 c rolled oats*
  • scant 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1.25 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 c organic chunky peanut butter
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c chocolate chips

*gluten free if needed for a gf cookie

Preheat the oven to 350 and rustle up a cookie sheet.

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Process oats into flour, if needed. Combine dry ingredients… in a bowl. Chuck in everything else. Lick spoon and pb-measuring cup. Ensure that there is no smidge of peanut butter left uneaten (heaven forbid). Clean spoon. Use your well defined and nicely muscled biceps to stir everything together. Drop by heapingish tablespoons onto the cookie sheet. Lick spoon, lick bowl. Bake cookies for 7-8 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is! Let cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheet, then move to a cooling rack (or your mouth).

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Gluten Free Gremlins

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More gluten free goodness!

I revamped my FAVORITE cookies to be gluten free and vegan! (no really. These are actually my favorite peanut butter cookie. EVER. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made them—Kira can attest, I swear: these are what probably got me through my thesis last year. For reals. AMAZING. You see? So many capital letters must mean they’re fabulous).

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AND I did it without needing to buy anything extra special or expensive. Always a priority for me, as OH HEY student loan payment that deducted yesterday. Pshhh. Student loans. RUDE. Doesn’t the government know I have more important things to be paying for now that I’m finished with school? Ugh. ANYWAY. These cookies are cost effective and tasty! And I get to fling chia seeds all over the kitchen when I make them (not saying that happened or anything, or course not). And then the little seedies get to take up residence in my stomach with my symbiotic gremlins, and make them happy for several hours. Which means that in turn I’m happy. Wait. Pause. If it’s a symbiotic relationship I have with my gremlins, shouldn’t I be getting something out of it besides stupidly loud noises from my midsection?

Anyway. Make these cookies! They will make your gremlins happy (Don’t try to deny it and pretend you don’t have them, I know you do) with their healthy fats (pb), whole grains (oats and buckwheat), and mini seed nutrient powerhouses (chia), and chocolate (because chocolate makes everything better). And if your tummy is gluten sensitive, hooray! Buckwheat is naturally gluten free (despite having wheat in the name), and has a great nutty flavor. These cookies aren’t super sweet as posted, so increase the sugar a bit if you like a sweeter cookie (I’d say up to a 1/2 c).

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Peanut Butter Buckwheat Cookies

The original recipe post is here, if you don’t have a sensitive tummy or are vegan. Yield: 15 decently sized cookies.

  • 1.5 c rolled oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill certified gluten free)
  • 1/2 c buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp butter-type-stuff (I use soy free Earth Balance; whatever you like is fine), slightly melted
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 3/4 c organic peanut butter (mine has salt)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp flaxseed mixed with 6 tbsp water
  • 1/4ish c chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a smallish bowl, mix together flaxseed and water, and let sit for about 5 minutes to create a flax “egg”. In a bowl, whisk together oats, buckwheat, baking powder, and chia. In a larger bowl, beat butter and applesauce with the brown sugar until lighter in color and fluffyish. Beat in peanut butter, vanilla, and flaxseed mix until combined. Working in batches so you don’t kill your hand mixer, beat in the dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chippies. Drop by the heapingish spoonful onto the prepared cookie sheet—-I like to flatten and shape mine slightly, as they don’t spread (this also means you can get the whole batch on one cookie sheet, WIN). Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly golden.

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