Monday, December 26, 2011

CCK-Inspired Double Chocolate Almond Cookies and Walnut Apricot Biscotti

Chocolate-Covered Katie is a great resource for "healthier" dessert recipes, and they are all vegan.  Usually the recipes call for spelt or whole wheat flour and I don't normally try to GFG-adapt them, but every once in awhile she does have a grain-free recipe.  This recipe in particular looked really great because she only used dates as the sweetener.  That is a rare find! 

Before I talk about the recipe, I want to go back to the word "healthier" in quotes.  What is healthy, or healthier?  Five years ago, even two years ago, I would have had a totally different answer for you.  And who knows, a year from now, I may say something else.  I know I used to characterize healthy as primarily something that was low-fat.  Funny how now my nutrition is made up of mostly protein, and fat!  Browsing recipes on Pinterest, I'm always struck by how many people use the word "healthy" to describe something that is anything but.  Sugar-filled pastries that use veg oil instead of butter, a high-carb pasta dish with some vegetables thrown in, or something with a reduced number of eggs, etc.  I always want to comment and be like, "what makes this healthy?"  which of course would be incredibly rude, judgmental, and condescending.  But all the same, it makes me think about what my definition of healthy is.  I'm still in the process of defining it.  But what does a "healthy" diet mean to you?  Has your opinion of healthy foods changed?  Do you have foods you eat now that used to be off-limits?  I know I do.  Fat used to terrify me.  Meat used to be something I only seldom indulged in.  It's just so interesting to experience such a marked shift in food perception.  Tell me about how your perceptions have changed?  What are some food myths you used to believe that you have now "unlearned"?

On to the recipe.  Here it is in its original form.  The post is actually a good read because the commenters get into a discussion about gluten-free as a fad or food trend.  A lot of folks on the thread start getting pretty preachy and judgy, talking about their opinions on whether it is truly a fad or not, making some assumptions and generalizations, and so on.  I am not about to chime in over there- but will say that while I do believe that gluten-free is becoming something of a more popular choice, I don't think you can call it a trend, or that I am following a trend by adopting a grain-free, and thereby gluten-free lifestyle.  There are some theories that I wholeheartedly believe to be true.  I believe that for many many people, maybe even all people, gluten is a toxin.  I believe that over time, many people will probably develop an intolerance to it, depending on how much of it you consume and what your genetic predispositions are.  I believe that the effects of your intolerance will aggregate over time and eventually it becomes systemic.  I believe that the ways it shows itself outwardly can be hard to pinpoint.  Maybe its GI issues, maybe its migraines, rashes, erratic blood sugar, and so on.  I believe that due to genetically modified crops in the US, that the amount of gluten in our grains has skyrocketed, which contributes to the huge rise in celiac disease we are seeing.  European countries that have been eating grain-filled diets for much longer than us have even higher rates of celiac disease- take a look at Italy, and Denmark, for example.  But they are theories, and they are my beliefs, not fact necessarily, and even if they were, we are all entitled to think whatever we want.  I just hope we can refrain from looking down on people who don't share the same belief system as ourselves, and that goes for all things, not just food! 

I got off on a tangent.  It just irks me when people make sweeping generalizations.  So to end on a lighter note this holiday weekend, make these.  I made them with sugar-free chocolate chips and grapeseed oil (does anyone else's coconut oil smell/taste kind of spoiled?  I think from now on I'm going to use refined coconut oil.) making them 100% sugar free.  I also decided to round out my sugar free baking with a few new ingredients, xylitol, erythritol, and some sugar-free vanilla syrup which I'll occasionally use in recipes that call for agave.  I already used it in a sugar-free, grain-free biscotti (recipe below), and some yummy protein-packed strawberry pancakes.  Recipes coming soon!  The xylitol I'm a little nervous about, but the reviews on amazon and iherb make it sound like the greatest thing since sliced (grain-free) bread!

Sugar-Free, Grain-Free, Vegan Walnut Apricot Biscotti

1 1/4 cups almond flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar-free vanilla syrup, or your liquid sweetener of choice
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup (or more) chopped apricot
1 tbsp arrowroot (or 1 1/2 tbsp corn starch if it doesn't bother you, but check to make sure it's gluten free)

In your cuisi, pulse almond flour, salt, and baking soda just a few times, then add in your syrup.  Process until it forms a ball.  Depending on what liquid you use, it may be wetter or drier.  Transfer to a bowl and add in your nuts and fruit.  Form into a big ovally looking log on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Take it out and let it cool for at least 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 300 and cut log on diagonal into strips.  Bake for another 20 minutes or so until it's browned and starting to crisp up.  Et voila!  Yummy sugar free biscotti!


  1. Wow I got distracted by that thread of gluten free on that recipe! LOL

    My idea of healthy has definitely changed over the years! I used to pretty much think if it was low calorie or low fat it was more healthy, but now I know that's not true!

    I have no problems with my unrefined coconut oil so far, but maybe I'm using it up too fast? I really like the way it smells.

    I just used up the last of my xylitol, and my personal opinion so far is this - too much of it definitely makes me gassy, and it makes things too sweet - it seems to wake up my taste buds, and I start to crave the sweet again. I'd be interested to see how it works for you!

  2. hi dawn! that is really helpful to know about the xylitol. thanks so much for the tip! i'll see how it works out, if i can convince myself to try it! let me know if you have any favorite recipes you've used it in, and happy holidays!