Oatmeal Chocolate Chip ‘Macaroons’

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No these aren’t really macaroons, but I had trouble coming up with a name for these babies. Are they cookies? Clusters? Balls? All sounded a bit off. They do have almonds and coconut so, why not put a twist on a macaroon. Don’t get confused with the Laduree macaron (mack-ah-rohn) you get in paris. These are a play on the  mack-ah-roon you most likely have tried at a passover dinner or at one of your g-free friends get togethers.

These clusters were created months ago while watching a pretty intense Montreal Canadians hockey game. For those of you reading who live outside of Canada, hockey is pretty much a religion here. We take it very seriously. There were lots of dudes and their ladies that were craving something sweet. I pretty much need no excuse to bake, so I went to to my mans (Zach) kitchen to see what he had in his pantry. I had been making him granola weekly at this point so I figured something had to work!  I pulled out oats, almond flour (that was there from cauliflower pizza making), chocolate chips, coconut, coconut oil vanilla, maple syrup and got started. I basically used my best baking judgement of the amounts I needed and mashed it in a bowl, formed it into balls and put it in the oven. What we were left with was a pretty amazing cluster of goodness that we polished off that night.

So ladies, if you are trying to get your significant other or male friend to eat a little healthier, I suggest you start with these. All the boys couldn’t get over how it was even possible that these cookies were good for you. One of Zach’s friends even called me the next day to personally tell me how good they were. He said, “why have I been eating unhealthy cookies all this time when I can just eat these?” Music to my fucking ears.

So these macaroons, cookies, clusters whatever you want to call them, are gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. They are packed with fiber, healthy fats, good carbs and are a really good snack to get your energy up after a long day or before a workout. The best part is that they are so easy to put together. One bowl, barely a mess (yay no flour), and bake in half an hour. Enjoy!
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Ingredients:

• 3 tbsp coconut oil + extra for greasing
• 2 eggs
• 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
• 1 tsp pure vanilla exract
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1 cup almond flour
• 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
• 2 and 1/2 cups large flake gluten free oats (not the quick cooking kind)
• 1/3 cup 70% cacao chocolate chips or 70% cacao chocolate bar chopped finely
• good pinch sea or pink himalayan salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet parchment paper and grease with coconut oil.In a pan or microwave safe bowl, melt 3 tbsp coconut oil.Transfer coconut oil into a large bowl and allow to cool.
2. To the coconut oil whisk in eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla.
3. Then add in cinnamon, salt, chocolate chips, almond flour and coconut. Stir until combined.
4. Add your oats one cup at a time and stir. If you find the batter is getting too dry then leave out 1/2 cup of oats.
5. Form palm sized balls (about 2-3 tbsp). Squeeze tightly so that the liquid inside the oats releases and allows them to stick together.
6. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden. After 15 minutes, turn the pan so they bake evenly.
7. EAT AND ENJOY <3
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One of my many taste testers, Kat, giving her approval.

One of my many taste testers, Kat, giving her approval.

Maple Cinnamon Roasted Almond Butter

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I can eat nut butters with a spoon, fork, hand, cracker… just about anything. Seriously, if you guys want your kids to eat more vegetables, its amazing what a little almond, sunflower seed or peanut butter can do to a boring carrot or celery stick. Add some dates, raisins or honey and you have a dessert that includes vegetables! Happy parents! Happy kids! Wahoo!

Some of you might be wondering why I talk about kids often. No, I don’t have children… but I do work in an elementary school. I have become a little mesmerized by what parents are sending in their kids lunch boxes. Not to say feeding a child is easy. A black seed, a creamy texture, a boring color are just a few complaints I hear from kids about why they “can’t” eat their lunch that day. After a long day at work, packing your child’s lunch is the last thing any parent feels like doing. Plus, you get questions, requests and complaints that could make your head spin. Thus comes in the packaged cookies, gummies and a few carrot sticks for good measure.

Don’t get me wrong. A kid deserves to be a kid. No child should live their life without ever trying a Kit Kat. When it comes to school however, kids need fuel. Theres no way around it… food fuels the brain. We wonder why kids these days have trouble concentrating. I suggest before we start prescribing medications we take a look at what kids are eating everyday. Lucky Charms for breakfast (has whole grains… must be healthy right? Mac and cheese for lunch followed by pizza for dinner. Brain food is lacking. Parents have to consider the sugar crashes, dairy pains and lack of protein lows. I have been doing lots of my own research on this topic everyday with the children in my classes and in observing and speaking with parents. I hope to find ways to make feeding and educating children more accessible and simple. Future project in the works! I am so passionate about this and I want to help parents and teachers any way I can!

So back to the nut butter…this maple cinnamon roasted almond butter is unreal. While those nuts were grinding in the food processor, I thought that this was maybe a little too much work when I can buy perfectly made almond butter in a jar. But I have to say, this combination of cinnamon and maple syrup was truly addictive. I had some on gluten free crackers and then eventually just took the spoon straight to the jar. With just a little bit of patience, you will save a couple bucks (nut butter can be really expensive).Furthermore, flavoured nut butters have lots of added oils and refined sugars. I will be working on some more flavour combinations in the future, but for now this is perfect to top on my porridge, toast, chia pudding, banana etc… Bon Appetit!
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Ingredients:

• 2 cups almonds
• 3 tbsp maple syrup
• 1 tbsp cinnamon
• pinch of sea salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven at 350. Spread almonds on a cookie sheet and dry roast in the oven on 350 for 10-15 minutes.
2. Place almonds in food processor and process for 10 minutes.
3. Add maple syrup, cinnamon and salt and process for another 5-10 minutes until the oils are released and the butter is creamy.
4. Store in an air tight container or jar.

Chef Tips

-Although it may seem that the thick paste will never ever turn into creamy butter… it will. You just need patience! You will see a little smoke coming from the processor… keep a close eye.

-I roasted my almonds prior to making the butter, but it isn’t necessary! It does give a nice toasty flavour though. I highly recommend.

-Adjust syrup/cinnamon to your taste. Add a bit at a time until it suits your taste buds. You are the chef!

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Rosemary Poppy Seed Crackers

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Its a lot easier to crack open a box of crackers and get snacking however, homemade crackers are an impressive fancy treat. These rosemary poppy seed crackers are an incredible addition to your table if you are having guests over. Instead of that predictable bottle of wine you bring to your friends, why not stack these up in a mason jar, or wrap in parchment paper with some twine. Gluten free, Paleo friendly and low carb, these almond and coconut flour crackers are tasty and filling. These crackers really call for a nice dip. I used my homemade hummus, but salsa and guacamole would be killer.

The biggest struggle I faced in making these crackers was pressing out the dough. The lack of gluten made the dough slightly crumbly (adding more water helps) and I couldn’t roll it out with my rolling pin. I left the dough in the fridge overnight which made it much easier to press out. I found my fingers were the best tool for pressing. Wet your fingers with ice cold water and press away until it is as thin as you can get them. If you prefer the crackers a bit softer (more like a bread) then leave the dough on the thicker side. If thats the case then you can also make this into a flatbread or pizza crust. Very versatile, enjoy everyone!
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Ingredients:

•1 1/2 cup almond meal
•1/2 cup coconut flour or all purpose gluten free flour
•1/4 cup nutritional yeast or parmesan (optional)
•2 eggs
•2 tbsp olive or coconut oil (liquid/melted)
•1 tsp sea salt
•2 tbsp dried rosemary
•4 tbsp poppy seeds
•4 tbsp water

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line and grease a baking sheet (large or 2 medium) with parchment paper.

2. Combine all ingredients except the water then slowly add the water until you have a firm dough.

3. Place in the fridge for at least one hour or overnight.

4. Smooth dough onto a baking sheet using a spatula or your hands (dip hands in ice cold water to prevent sticking.)

5. Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on your oven. You want them to be a golden brown with crispy edges. Check on them at the 10 minute mark and then bake for longer if necessary. It took the full 15 minutes for mine. I cut mine into squares right from the oven and then let them cool. Once they cooled I broke them into crackers. For a more rustic look, let the crackers cool completely then break apart with your hands. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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