Cinnamon Crunch Tea Cookies (Low carb, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free)

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With Valentine’s Day coming up, there’s nothing more touching than the moment your special someone turns to you and says those three little words: “Eat this cookie.”

Because anyone that really loved you would definitely want you to eat these. That’s how you know the love is real.

And that’s what so great about Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t matter who your special someone is – fancy paramours, family, friends, your reflection in the mirror – we’re all allowed to embrace the gigantic amount of chocolate on sale for no reason in the middle of February. Plus: excuses to incorporate pink into food! I for one am SOLD.

Cinnamon (not chocolate for once) felt right for Valentine’s Day. Actually, cinnamon feels right for most holidays. And days. And mostly I just like putting cinnamon in everything.

Also in unrelated news, I recently had a coupon for $2 off clotted cream. And get this – my fridge appeared to have an empty space just about clotted cream jar size!! Complete coincidence.

Cinnamon (of the popular ‘Cassia’ variety) actually has a fairly long history of health benefits, too! To name a few:

Add that to a festive soiree of low carb nut flour, healthy fats, free from gluten, dairy (well, minus the clotted cream) and OF COURSE no added sugar, and we’ve got ourselves a winner!

HENCE: cinnamon crunch tea cookies. Crunchy on the outside, all sweet ‘n’ spicy – but soft and light on the inside. It practically melts in your mouth.  They taste fabulous as is, but then I went and glazed ’em. Honestly, because I wanted – no, NEEDED – pink somewhere. Add a spot of tea, a dab of jam, and a dollop of clotted cream (please do this if dairy doesn’t kill you), and you just guaranteed those three little words will lead to something even better. You know what I mean. Actually eating these cookies.

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Cinnamon Crunch Tea Cookies (Low carb, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free)

Recipe adapted from Mom’s Own Words and recommended by my friend Lindsay, who is a genius and a true visionary.

Yields: around 12-18 cookies (depending on how small or large you make them)

Ingredients: 

Cookies:
4 large egg whites, beaten until just frothy
2 cups almond flour or any nut flour (I used Honeyville walnut flour)
2/3 cup granulated sweetener (I used Swerve)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract

Filling/Topping:
2 tbsp granulated sweetener
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (more or less depending on how ~spicy~ you like it!)
1 1/2 tsp sugar free brown sugar substitute, optional (I used this)

Glaze:
1 tbsp hot water or milk of choice, more or less depending on the consistency you want
1/4 tsp vanilla, or other extracts
1 /2 cup powdered sweetener
1-1 1/2 tbsp softened cream cheese, optional (I used this dairy free spread just for kicks)
Red food coloring, optional (IS IT REALLY OPTIONAL??)

(NOT) optional, for topping:
Clotted cream
Reduced sugar/sugar free jam or jelly of choice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients, and mix well to create a batter.

In a small bowl, whisk together filling ingredients. Sprinkle just under half of filling into batter and mix in, but do not fully incorporate, so that it remains streaky.

Use a tablespoon to drop 12-18 evenly spaced cookies on the lined pan. Sprinkle with remaining topping.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes until cookies begin to lightly brown and slightly bounce back at the touch.

For the glaze, whisk cream cheese (if using) and milk or water together until smooth. Beat in powdered sweetener and vanilla extract until combined. Add one or two drops of red food coloring for perfect pinkery! Pipe or spread over cooled cookies. Delicious served warm or cooled!

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Nutritional Info (As 15 servings, calculated with almond flour and glaze, and without toppings):

tea cookie nutrition

14 Healthier Recipes For Your Super Bowl Sunday (Low carb, paleo, vegan, sugar free)

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Being that I am a patriotic, warm-blooded American, it would only follow that of course I love football. I am saying this with a backdrop of the American flag billowing valiantly behind me. There is also a bald eagle.

There may be naysayers who doubt this claim, asking strange questions like “But what about the time you asked who was winning an hour and a half before the game even started?” Ha! Well – “Or what about when you asked how many quarters were in a game?” UHH I CAN EXPLAIN- “Or when you-“

ok FINE YOU CAUGHT ME AND MAYBE I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT FOOTBALL. But. I do love the Super Bowl. Wanna guess why? HINT: It starts with ‘f’ and ends with ‘ood’. GIVE UP YET?

Yes, and no one is surprised. The Super Bowl has given rise to some truly fantastic snackage over the years. And the excuse to make and inhale all of them in short order (like I even need an excuse).

It has come to my attention, however, that many are justifiably hesitant to participate in this nationalistic tradition of Super Bowl snacking, since most traditional Super Bowl fare is not exactly the epitome of healthy eating. And that just ain’t right. So here’s a little collection that covers some of our favorites: low carb, gluten free, paleo, vegan – NO ONE GETS LEFT BEHIND.

Recipe links below! And remember, with a few simple substitutions (vegan cheese products, switching out proteins, using alternative sweeteners) most of these recipes can easily be adapted to dairy free, vegan, or sugar free if not already!

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Buffalo Salmon Avocado Salad here at The M’Academia Nut

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Football Deviled Eggs at Full-Thyme Student

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Mini Bun-less Cheeseburger Bites with Thousand Island Dip from Sugar-Free Mom

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Buffalo Spiced Cocktail Nuts at All Day I Dream About Food

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Zucchini Nacho Chips from Keto Adapted

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Crunchy Cucumber Rolls with Herb Cheeze from Nutrition Stripped 

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Quick and Easy Guacamole from KetoDiet

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Loaded Mexican Nachos – Paleo Style from Primally Inspired 

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Kickin’ Chili from Peace, Love and Low Carb

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Jalapeño Popper Dip from Simply Gourmet (TIP: leave out the cracker crumbs for a lower carb topping!)

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Vanilla Cinnamon Chia Seed Pudding at The M’Academia Nut

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Peanut Butter & Chocolate Truffles from I Breathe I’m Hungry

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Avocado Chocolate Mousse – Two Ways! from Chocolate-Covered Katie

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Cosmopolitan Jello Shots from All Day I Dream About Food 

Pumpkin Spice Butterscotch Blondies (Low carb, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free)

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I think I may fit the criteria for a basic fall girl. I realized this recently while excitedly purchasing a seasonal caramel apple tea and babbling endlessly about the brisk autumn air and oversized sweaters.

Witnesses have confirmed I appeared to be wearing leggings and a puffy faux-fur lined vest at the time.

It was, then, no surprise that the notorious pumpkin spice essentially took over my entire life and has continued well into the winter, which brings us now to this fine recipe featuring all the seasonal elements you JUST MIGHT EXPECT FROM ME. You can take the girl out of the fall, but you can’t take the fall out of the girl.

But of course, with some extra credit: grain free, sugar free, low carb, easily made dairy free, with healthy fats and proteins from both almond flour and almond butter!

What we got here is some dense, gooey, butterscotch-y blondies featuring notes of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg – I regret nothing!! And actually, go make this. You probably won’t regret anything either.

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Pumpkin Spice Butterscotch Blondies (Low carb, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free)

Recipe adapted from All Day I Dream About Food

Yields: around 30 squares

Ingredients: 

2 cups almond flour
2 tsp pumpkin spice mix
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup natural almond butter (or any mild-flavored nut butter)
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, softened (Earth Balance Buttery Sticks or Melt Organic Spread would also work for dairy free)
1 cup sweetener (I use Swerve)
4 large egg whites, or just under 3/4 cup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 – 1 1/2 tsp butterscotch extract (I use Frontier)
1/2 tsp liquid stevia extract (I use Sweetleaf)

Optional:
1 tbsp sugar free brown sugar substitute (like this)
1 tsp maple or molasses flavoring OR 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°F and grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, pumpkin spice, baking soda and salt.

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WASTE NOT.

In a large bowl, beat almond butter, butter and sweetener until smooth and well combined.

Beat in egg whites, vanilla, butterscotch and stevia extracts until well combined.

Beat in almond flour mixture until fully incorporated; spread mixture in prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a knife or an offset spatula.

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Stirring this counted as my entire year’s worth of arm reps.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes (less for a gooey consistency, more for a cakier consistency), until just set. I’ve found that the edges will be done before the center, which is fine – they’ll just be a little lighter and cakier.

Remove and let cool at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

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Nutritional Info:

Calculated with 1 tbsp brown sugar substitute, without molasses.

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Scholarly Speculations: New Federal Dietary Guidelines – The Good, The Bad, and The…Sugary?

New federal dietary guidelines announced on Thursday urge Americans to drastically cut back on sugar, and for the first time have singled out teenage boys and men for eating too much meat.

Source: New Dietary Guidelines Urge Less Sugar for All and Less Protein for Boys and Men – The New York Times

Sometimes I think I’ve got a real beef with the Department of Health and Human Services. (Eh? EHH?? GET IT? BECAUSE BEEF–ok.)

I think the main issue is here is trying to prescribe a One Size Fits All diet to an incredibly vast, diverse population like the great melting fondue pot of America. The FDA or HHS puts out new guidelines and then everyone panics because it bears no resemblance whatsoever to their own diet. And then come in the complaints and lawsuits from the Eat Seven Hamburgers A Day lobbyists, who say that 64 oz. of beef in one sitting isn’t bad for everyone, it’s actually good for everyone! Because of a study they sponsored! And let’s not even mention the Vegans Who Won’t Eat Anything Cooked Over 117° club.

It’s easy to demonize one particular thing to get your point across. Take saturated fat, for example. These most recent guidelines recommend consuming “less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats”. This isn’t new. Saturated fat has pretty much been the ugly stepsister of “monounsaturated” and “polyunsaturated” fats for years. Get it pounded into your head long enough, and why wouldn’t you believe there’s nothing redeemable whatsoever about saturated fat?

But not all saturated fat is the same (coconut oil, anyone?). And what about all of these large, exhaustive studies showing no evidence of saturated fat increasing heart attacks or other cardiac events? HMMM. The same goes for limiting cholesterol, or sodium – I could go on.

But you have to look at things individually (how does saturated fat fit into your personal dietary needs?), understand that no one dietary element exists alone in a vacuum (saturated fat often accompanies good animal sources of protein, or calcium in cheeses), and make an informed decision from there.

That being said, I don’t mean to vilify this entire study – high fives all around for FINALLY recommending we limit added sugars. That’s a great start! While it’s important to be cognizant of all sugars present in a food, added sugars are especially nefarious. I mean, America really likes adding sugar to everything. Your peanut butter, your mayo, even your friggin’ CHICKEN STOCK. Seriously. We add sugar to so much crap that a fresh orange off the shelf doesn’t taste “sweet” enough. So we grab an Orange Fanta instead. It’s not even our fault – it’s just what we’re used to.

Sugar, like all carbohydrates, are the body’s easiest source of fuel. When you need a midday pick me up, you might reach for something with easily digestible carbs to give you a quick boost. Simple carbs are also found in fruits, veggies, and dairy products. But these have fiber (the good stuff!) and protein that slow the process. Syrup, sodas, that Snickers bar – they don’t have those. Their sugar is added, goes directly to your brain’s reward center, and half an hour later provides a thrilling sugar crash that has you craving even more sugar. So fun!! And useful!! Definitely what you wanted!!!

And it’s easy to hide added sugars in plain sight. For example: you decide to try some almond milk. You’ve heard all the good stuff: high in calcium, lower calories, healthy fats. So you grab a half-gallon of the ‘Original’ variety, smugly pour yourself a glass, and then take a look at the ingredients: almonds, water, evaporated cane juice…

–WAIT A MINUTE. THAT’S SUGAR. Just because it’s hiding behind another fancy alias, it’s still sugar. Dextrose, cane syrup, maltodextrin – all of those are sugar, even if it doesn’t directly call it that. Almonds have naturally occurring sugar, yes. But this was added. Why? Because we can, apparently.

So keep an eye out for ‘unsweetened’, or ‘no sugar added’ varieties – and in the meantime, a study like this might change the way we label our foods. And heck, grab that Snickers if you really want it. Just know exactly how it can affect you, and go from there.

And finally, yes – teenage boys could probably benefit from occasionally switching out that hamburger for a salad. Sorry about that, Eat Seven Hamburgers A Day lobbyists. Better luck next time?

Raspberry Linzer Cookies AND Bars! (Low carb, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free)

 

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Cookies. So classic. So RELIABLE. Every time I need to make a dessert, I think, “Cookies. So classic and so reliable. Why do I never make cookies?”

And then I make the cookies and I’m like “ok THIS is why I don’t make cookies.”

Look. It’s nothing against cookies as an actual dessert. It’s everything against the rolling and cutting and re-rolling and re-cutting and getting the thickness just right and then having to eat all the extra ones you burned (well, that part’s ok) because you decided to guess what “1/4 of an inch” actually looked like.

(………burnt cookies not featured.)

But I wanted to be like a fancy Viennese pastry chef and make those pretty little Linzer cookies – or die klassischen Linzer Augen, AS IT WERE. I also knew this would take me approximately several hundred years to do because cookies are a high-maintenance dessert and I refuse to hear otherwise.

So for those in the “aggressively lazy” camp (this is a running theme you can always expect here), I thought: what if you made Linzer cookies but instead of cookies they were bars? Ideal! And THEN I discovered I wasn’t even the first to have thought of this! Super ideal!!

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But then I made both anyway, because it was just so exciting. I don’t think that actually saved me any time, in retrospect, but it meant there was a lot of sampling and I’m ok with that.

Simple and healthy ingredients, dairy-free adaptable, perfect for the holidays and also every other day. Oh, and did I mention? LESS THAN SIX INGREDIENTS. As I always say, lassen Sie es sich schmecken!

Recipes and nutritional info for both cookies and bars below:

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Raspberry Linzer Cookies (low carb, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free adaptable)

Recipe adapted from I Breathe I’m Hungry

Yields: About 32 cookies

Ingredients: 
Cookies:
1 cup granulated sweetener (I used Swerve)
4 cups blanched almond flour
3/4 cup butter or coconut oil, melted (Earth Balance Buttery Sticks or Melt Organic Spread would also work for dairy free)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Filling:
1 cup sugar-free or reduced sugar raspberry preserves
1/8 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional, but helps filling set and hold together)
Powdered sweetener, for dusting

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or spray with oil.

Combine the sweetener, almond flour, butter/oil/spread, and extracts. Stir together until a crumbly but firm dough forms.

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Roll dough out onto parchment paper until about 1/4 inch thick.

Cut using a Linzer cookie cutter or a medium round or fluted cookie cutter, then using a smaller round, heart, or star shape to cut out the center (or honestly just buy this). Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 8-12 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges.

Allow to cool to room temperature. Spread raspberry preserves filling on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust the top of the cutout cookies with powdered sweetener, and press the flat sides together, with the raspberry preserves in the middle and the powdered sweetener on the top.

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The Ghost of Cookies Past.

And now for your bars, as promised:

Raspberry Linzer Bars (low carb, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free adaptable)

Recipe adapted from I Breathe I’m Hungry

Yields: Around 30 squares

Ingredients: 
Crust:
1 cup granulated sweetener (I used Swerve)
4 cups blanched almond flour
3/4 cup butter or coconut oil, melted (Earth Balance Buttery Sticks or Melt Organic Spread would also work for dairy free)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Filling:
1 cup sugar-free or reduced sugar raspberry preserves
1/8 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional, but helps filling set)

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F and line a 9×13 with parchment paper, or spray with oil.

Combine the sweetener, almond flour, butter/oil/spread, and extracts. Stir together until a crumbly but firm dough forms. Press about 2/3 of the dough into the pan.

In a separate bowl, combine the raspberry preserves, almond extract, and xanthan gum (if using).

Spread the preserves mixture evenly over the crust, and then crumble the remaining crust mixture over the top of the preserves layer.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 28 – 30 minutes or until golden brown and firm.

 

Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting into 2 inch squares. Voila!

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Nutritional Info:

As calculated with sugar free raspberry preserves:

linzer bar nutrition info

 

Seasonal Baking Extravaganza – A Preview of Upcoming Healthy/Low-Carb Recipes!

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Could anything be more exciting?! Let me explain: a veritable smörgåsbord of healthy delights awaits you in short order. An extravaganza!

 

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The aforementioned smörgåsbord and/or extravaganza.

I’ve only just now emerged from the colossal heap of disposable baking pans burying my kitchen. I feel like an avalanche survivor. And with me, I bring a trove of seasonal recipes for everyone to enjoy over the holiday, New Years, and beyond!

If you’re looking for some healthy low-carb eatin’, this lady’s got you covered. Blondies, bars ‘n’ buttercreams, tell ya what. Keep an eye out for recipes coming out over the next few weeks!

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Ah, the textures of the season.

Didactic Digressions: “Spring sure is real pretty” Edition

 

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I’ve been noting with some suspicion that the outside’s been looking kinda real…pretty all of a sudden. My finely tuned eye has been detecting that some colors do not appear to be…gray? And there is a strange glowing orb in the sky that I believe may have something to do with it. I’ve tried calling the White House about it several times but they keep hanging up on me.

I’m just saying, it’s suspicious. So I went outside and took a bunch of pictures, which I will now share with you in the hopes that together we can identify what on Earth is goin’ on here. (P.S. Click for full-size in glorious technicolor!)

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What’s so great about this tree is that it’s actually TWO TREES THAT ROMANTICALLY GREW TOGETHER so it’s got two different kinds of flowers.

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Out. Of. CONTROL.

 

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Please enjoy this beauty before it craps out petals all over my car which is conveniently parked underneath.

Fancy collage!!

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IS THIS REALLY NECESSARY

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is this real life

I took way too many here’s another collage so you can stop scrolling.

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The Bleeding Heart. Probably writes bad poetry in its high school notebooks.

Oh and a tulip:

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I’ll keep you guys posted as I look into this. Until then, I recommend ENJOYING THE SPRING HURRAAAAYYY!!