Not your Mom’s Soft Sugar Cookie

It’s a big day for my blog.

Why? Because today is the first day that I have created an entirely original recipe! My blog adventure started with inspiring folks like Katie and Mama Pea who have mastered the art of creative baking and satisfying the world’s undying sweet tooth! Each and every post planted a seed that has culminated into this blog. All my posted recipes so far have been adaptations. This is how I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work. A huge thank you to all you food bloggers out there; you’re inspiring people like me each and every day!

This one’s for you. 😉

How many of you recognize these puppies?

The all too familiar soft sugar cookie that sneaks up on us with every holiday imaginable. Grocery stores carry them for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July, ect. There’s nothing quite like biting into a light white colored cookie with that sweet and creamy frosted topping. They also have a special place in my heart for a very different reason.

That’s my Mom. She’s as cool than she looks (which is very cool)! And she’s a soft sugar cookie baking queen! It’s a recipe that’s been handed down since my great-great-great grandmother started making them. I’ve looked forward to those cookies every year (Mom only makes them for Christmas) until my health complications got in the way about 6 years ago.

So here I am, making a cookie that takes me back to childhood: kneeling in front of the oven, waiting to munch on a too-hot cookie with melted icing because they taste that good. Today’s recipe encapsulates that moment without dairy, eggs (vegan option), grain and gluten, as well as any refined or liquid sugars.

not your mom’s soft sugar cookie

serves 8 mom size (large) cookies

  • 1/2 cup almonds, ground to a meal (almond flour creates similar results)
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot powder
  • 3 tablespoons PB2 (added for a peanut butter flavor, omit if you like.)
  • 5 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 capful vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 egg (or for vegans: 1 tablespoon flax meal and 2 tablespoons water)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grind your almonds in the food processor. I made a “chocolatey-chip” kind of cookie and added a tablespoon of cacao nibs along with the almonds to grind. Once ground to a bread crumb size consistency, add in your arrowroot powder, PB2 (optional), and medjool dates. Run the food processor to mix together well. Then, add in the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut oil, egg (or flax egg). Run that processor again until the dough starts to ball up and spread out along the sides of the container.
Prepare your baking sheet with Pam, parchment paper, or silicon baking mat (my favorite).  Get your hands wet with water; this dough is sticky and believe me, it will be a cinch to lay the cookies out this way. Ball up the dough and flatten onto the baking sheet.
Baking time varies: it took my first batch 13 minutes, and my second batch 10 minutes. Set the timer for 11 minutes and check. Cookies should be lightly golden brown along the edges.
Let cool for 5-10 minutes.

These cookies are so moist and soft. What inspired the title for this recipe was that they taste exactly like my mother’s sour cream cookies! Otherwise, this post would have just been “An Amazing Soft Cookie recipe.”
Beginner’s luck? I hope it’s not going anywhere! 😉  

Frost them however you’d like! I found these cookies way too delicious to not eat right away. The flavor combinations are endless:
peanut butter (substitute the coconut oil for fresh ground peanut butter), double chocolate (3 tablespoons cocoa powder with 1/4 cup chocolate chips), snickerdoodle (add ground ginger, nutmeg, and extra tsp of cinnamon)…

What flavor would you try? How would you frost a sugar cookie? What’s your favorite childhood dessert?

Not your Mom’s Soft Sugar Cookie

6 Rules for LIFE

Whole Living, a magazine I’ve grown fondly for, introduced their January issue with a Detox plan that will get your body in shape for the new year.

There is a list of 6 things you should cut during this period, and I’d like to share them with you.
I’d also like to tell you why it would be beneficial to cut these for life, not just for detoxing.

processed food & drink

This one is a tough one, yet it is vital for health and longevity. Almost anything in a bag or package is processed. Use your common sense: if it needs a food label with ingredients, it’s probably best to avoid it.

added sugars

Sugar is everywhere. Our bodies are relatively new acquaintances with this food, and most likely still learning how to properly digest and utilize it. Not to mention the dozens of health issues linked to consumption of sugars; refined or not.

dairy

About 75% of adults have lowered lactase levels, and this means that our ability to digest lactose lessens as we age. Your digestive system deserves a break!

gluten

It’s been surfacing in the news and mainstream media this year for a reason. Celiac disease and gluten intolerance may be a result of evolutionary changes in our digestive tracts, or a reaction to the mass production of gluten grains (GMOs, ect.). Either way, replace bread with rice and chips with popping corn. There are many foods that are carbohydrates and free of this troublesome protein.

caffeine

Whole Living states, “It’s a false energy booster that can mask lack of sleep[…]coffee is also highly acidic, which makes it tough for the digestive system.” If you’re like me, and have suffered enough switching from caffeinated to decaffeinated coffee, try chai tea or earl grey tea. They are both rich, earthy teas that will give a little caffeine and big flavor. (They both go great with a little almond or coconut milk!)

alcohol

This is a processed food whether you’d like to admit it or not. For this reason alone, I have cut my consumption of it to a half glass of wine once monthly (even bi-monthly). Your liver does not need more stress from having to refine and digest this stuff, as well as your waistline. It is the most calorically dense food per gram!

It can be very easy to talk about how each of these things is bad for you and why you should avoid or completely eliminate them from your life. There’s a completely different feeling associated with living each of these truths. Even if just one or two really stand out to you, every step toward wellness is a step toward a longer life and happiness!

What are your healthy living “pitfalls?” Do you have any health goals?

I feel like my pitfall is eating too much of the “healthy junk food.” I will make a batch of no sugar, no filler and low calorie chocolate but end up eating more of it than I should. I suppose my health goal is to get a handle on portions and make sure I am compensating when I overdo it.

6 Rules for LIFE

Confused Cinna-Rolls (Dairy-Free, Paleo)

I thought my days of cinnamon roll goodness were over.
Cinnabon was a name that I needed to learn to forget. Like it was in an ancient language no one could translate for me.

Ever.

This love for cinnamon rolls was not normal. And I grieved for my losses.
UNTIL TODAY. Ladies and gentlemen, I am introducing to you the next best thing (because, honestly, nothing satisfies quite like the real cinnamon roll): A Paleo-friendly, dairy-free, grain-free cinnamon roll! Don’t let the appearance fool you. It’s pretty spankin’ good.

Enough to spank my oven for being so good to me.

Moving right along:

a confused cinnamon roll

(See what I did there?) Serves 5

  • 1 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1/8 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Generous pinch of sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Combine these ingredients in a big bowl with a whisk. Gather 3 medjool dates, pitted, and chop into little chunks. Set these aside.

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon (I used a capful) vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 egg

Combine these ingredients with your whisk in a separate bowl. Pour into the dry ingredients and lightly mix until combined. Here’s the fun part: I wish I had taken pictures of this process. Lay parchment paper on a cookie or baking sheet. Use a spatula to drop the sticky batter onto the paper, and flatten to about 1/4 inch thick in a rectangular shape. I couldn’t get it perfect, so I wet my fingers and used them to uniformly shape the batter.

Lay your chopped dates through the center of the batter longways. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of them.

Lift the parchment paper and fold the batter over itself, but only about an inch in. I had to use a pastry cutter (rather, my boyfriend had to!) to coerce the dough to roll into a cylinder shape. (Note: I grind my own flours, and they tend to be much coarser and denser than store-bought. Keep this in mind if you use pre-ground flours; this could be easier for you!) Once it looks like a log, place it in the oven for 20 minutes.

Pull the dough out of the oven. It should be crispy all around the edges and easy to cut into 5 rolls. Lay them on their sides so one side is exposed. Bake for 3-4 more minutes.
P.S. I ate these straight from the oven. And it was good.

P.P.S. There is an optional glaze for these bad boys: 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup. I haven’t tried it, but if you do let me know how it goes!

Today, many sites have “blacked out” in reponse to SOPA and PIPA. What are your thoughts and concerns with this? How do you think the responses will be over the next few days?

Confused Cinna-Rolls (Dairy-Free, Paleo)

The Food Pyramid is Ridiculous! (And more common sense)

“Unfortunately, like the earlier U.S. Department of Agriculture Pyramids, MyPlate mixes science with the influence of powerful agricultural interests, which is not the recipe for healthy eating.”  USDA has not provided commentary.

Within a short span of less than twenty years, our dietary guidelines have changed twice. The basic source of information that supports our choices in food has proven to be confusing, disproportionate, and even carelessly designed. Our basic food pyramid was introduced in 1992– a carbohydrate based map of what to eat.  Above that generously sized carb-wedge were fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, and (finally) sweets being the smallest wedge. Many of us grew up filling in triangles in grade school to show we knew what to eat and how much of it.

Little did we know that what we were learning was a hideous representation of human health and well-being.

Call me a dramatist, but we all know the consequences we have been facing as a population since 1990: cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, kidney/liver failure and transplants, liposuction and lap-band surgeries. We have endured all of the “ends” to our means. The government began to notice this too, and in 2005 created a new food guide pyramid— featuring someone running up the pyramid. I assume this has to do with encouraging physical activity. Each food group has a wedge in the whole pyramid, but are not stacked. Their thicknesses differ, and that is where the proportions are represented. Many people began to feel confused about this concept, and it was quickly scrapped in 2011 for our latest attempt at health: MyPlate.

Visually, this is the most simple and elegantly designed concept so far. It illustrates a “real-life” situation that many people can compare their own plates to. I believe the reduction in carbohydrates is in response to many of the scientific claims that prove carbohydrates are puffing us up, not fat. Personally speaking, I don’t know how you can incorporate fruits into every meal like that. On the flip side, at least it’s fruit and not sweets.

By the way, where did our fats go on this plate? We all know how much I love naturally-occurring fatty foods (like coconut oil and avocadoes)! Science is proving again and again that this does not harm our health. Excess carbohydrate and sugar does.

Frankly, with such a diversion as this MyPlate is, we are still avoiding the real issue here: that we don’t know how we should eat.

Oldways: Health through Heritage is a group that has adapted the food pyramid to not be a “one-size-fits-all” approach. They have creatively combined differing cultures like Latino, Asian, and African into complimentary food pyramids and dietary standards. This caters to the science behind nutrition: something I feel is what’s needed if we’re going to take this food thing seriously. Our bodies are a biological excitement for scientists all over the world, and they work hard to find the answers to life’s mysteries.

Someone is telling you what to eat and how much to eat. Where’s the fun in just being told? In asking “why,” we invite learning and begin to solidify our beliefs.

How do you feel about the food pyramid and its changes? What does the picture of health look like to you? If you could make your own perfect food pyramid, what would it look like?

The Food Pyramid is Ridiculous! (And more common sense)