Tag Archives: refined sugar free

two favorites: {holiday cookies}

since baby #3 is due any day now (actually, she was due three days ago…), i figure i’d better blog while i can. this is a post i’ve been looking forward to sharing, because it features my favorite baked good: COOKIES.

i hope you’ll enjoy these two cookie recipes; these are my go-to cookies, and as a bonus, are both suitable for the holiday season!

1)  cranberry coconut cookies


these are a spinoff of “dina’s delightful cookies,” featured on elana’s pantry (one of the best recipe blogs EVER!). they are so wonderful – they have the taste/consistency of shortbread cookies.


1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/4 cup almond flour or favorite GF flour mix (or a combination of both, which is my personal favorite)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 cup frozen or fresh cranberries


after toasting walnuts on the stovetop (til aromatic and browning), place walnuts and cranberries in a food processor or blender and quickly pulse until ingredients are pea-sized. next, mix wet ingredients: coconut oil, maple syrup (or honey), and vanilla. separately combine dry ingredients, including the walnut/cranberry mix. stir dry into wet ingredients, mix well. form dough into 1″ balls, flatten slightly with the palm of your hand, and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

2) peppermint chocolate cookies

these require very little modification from sarah’s gluten free vegan chocolate chocolate chip cookies, so i’ll simply refer you to her site for the recipe. the only changes i made were as follows:

  • i used 1/2 cup coconut sugar in place of the brown sugar, and omitted the cane sugar.
  • i used almond milk instead of coconut milk.
  • i replaced 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract with peppermint extract.

these come out soft and fluffy, with a perfect balance of chocolate-peppermint flavor.

i’m also working on a cut out “sugar” cookie recipe that i hope to be able to share with you before the new year…stay tuned!

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berry-filled {cinnamon rolls}

these berry-filled cinnamon rolls were inspired by some mouth-watering photos by veggie and the beast.

as you may or may not know, baking yeast breads with gluten free flour and no eggs is extremely tricky, and is rarely as pretty as the pictures you see on her site (you’ll see my proof below). but if you’re in the predicament of avoiding eggs, dairy, gluten, and refined sugar but still long for the occasional breakfast treat, bear with me, and try to look beyond the outward appearance — i promise their taste will overshadow any unattractiveness you see on the outside. actually, the end result is not too bad, if i do say so myself…


{dough ingredients}

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup ghee, cut into chunks (if you unable to tolerate ghee, any butter substitute would work)

3-1/4 cup gluten free flour mix (see my post about pancakes for my recipe – double this, b/c you’ll obviously need more than the 2 cups the recipe yields)

2 tablespoons instant yeast

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 flax “egg” (1 tablespoon flax meal whisked with 3 tablespoons warm water – allow to sit for 5-10 minutes)

{filling ingredients}

2 tablespoons ghee, melted (or other butter substitute)

1 cup fresh raspberries

1 cup fresh strawberries

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

{glaze ingredients}

1/2 cup maple syrup

4 teaspoons almond butter

a few dashes of cinnamon

(glaze recipe from this no sugar cinnamon roll recipe)


warm the almond milk over medium heat until it starts to boil. remove from heat, and stir in ghee. let it sit and cool a bit while you prepare the dough mix. in a stand mixer bowl, start by whisking together all of the dry ingredients for the dough, and then add your wet ingredients, including your almond milk mixture and flax egg. add the hook attachment to your mixer, and knead on medium speed for a few minutes (3-5). if your dough is too dry and won’t come together, you should add some water, a couple of tablespoons at a time (i only had to add 2-3 tablespoons). after 3 or so minutes, your dough should hold together and be soft to the touch. cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise for a half hour.


meanwhile, mix all of the filling ingredients together (except the ghee) in a small saucepan on high heat for about 7 minutes. the mixture will boil, which helps it thicken as it should. be sure to keep stirring as it boils. if you don’t like a lot of seeds, you can then put the filling in your vitamix or other high speed blender for a minute or two to create a smooth filling.


roll out your dough into a large rectangle (about 16″ x 12″).  i like to use cling wrap to roll my dough — simply tape down a large rectangle of it to your countertop, put your ball of dough on top, and then put another rectangle of cling wrap on top before rolling out with a rolling pin to your desired size. remove the top layer of cling wrap, and then spread the butter substitute (or brush melted ghee) onto the dough. add your berry filling, distributing it evenly across the dough.


roll your dough carefully, and then, using a serrated knife, slice into 8 pieces. place them into a greased (i used coconut oil spray) 8″ or 9″ round cake pan. WARNING: as you roll your dough, much of the berry filling will likely ooze its way out onto your cling wrap. my parents taught me not to waste my food, so i spooned up the excess filling and spread it on top of the cinnamon rolls.


cover, let rise for another half hour while you preheat your oven to 375.

NOTE: these gluten and egg free cinnamon rolls do not rise a whole awful lot, so don’t expect them to double in size or anything. you’ll notice they spread much closer together than in my photo above within that rise time.

bake for about 20 minutes. while they’re baking, use a small saucepan over low heat to whisk together the glaze ingredients. you can immediately drizzle the glaze onto the cinnamon rolls once you remove them from the oven.

hope you enjoy them as a special treat like i did!

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post-christmas post, part two {christmas day brunch}

*note: my one regret about my brunch this year is that the menu was heavy on sweet-tasting items. i say that now so that you can be forewarned about what you’re about to see/read…while everything turned out equally tasty, everything also turned out almost equally sweet, which to me, is not acceptable. so my advice to you is to try any of these wonderful recipes anytime, but do not serve them all together as i did.

i stuck to the menu i’d mentioned in my previous post:

pigs in a blanket
pumpkin cinnamon rolls
apple chicken sausage
coconut fruit salad

all of the above are of course gluten, dairy, and refined-sugar free. normally, i’m also egg free, but for this special day of the year, for the sake of the pigs in a blanket, i allowed the use of one egg.

so let’s talk pigs in a blanket. anyone who knows me well knows that i despise hot dogs, even the kosher, organic, etc… varieties gross me out. but for some reason that i can’t explain, i’ve always adored pigs in a blanket, but i reserve them as a special treat, and what could be more special than an annual celebration such as christmas?

i had tried this recipe for gluten-free yeast rolls, which turned out great, and thought that the flavor and texture of these rolls lend themselves perfectly to pigs in a blanket. now i can say with 100% certainty that it’s true — these kolache-like rolls, rolled around these applegate organic little cocktail franks, creates the perfect pair.


pigs in a blanket (gluten, refined-sugar, dairy free)

1 packet yeast
1/8 cup warm water
1/4 cup maple syrup

1-1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum

2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch

3/4 cup warm unsweetened almond milk (scald, then cool)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 tablespoons spectrum vegetable shortening

16 applegate organic little cocktail pork franks

melted ghee, about 1-2 tablespoons

mix water and maple syrup with yeast – rest til foamy.
combine flours (brown rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch), then take 1-1/2 cups of that mixture and stir in the xanthan gum.
pour all ingredients (1-1/2 cups flours with xanthan gum, yeast mixture, and milk, salt, egg, and shortening) into large mixing bowl, mixing on medium speed til all ingredients are incorporated, occasionally scraping sides of bowl. add flour as needed, til dough is smooth.

turn dough onto lightly floured surface, using excess flour mix. divide dough into two evenly-sized balls, then using plastic wrap placed over the dough, roll balls into two flat circles. using a pizza cutter, slice each circle of dough into 8 sections, resulting in 16 total wedges. place your franks on the wider end of each wedge, then roll dough around the sausage, ending with narrow tip of dough. place all 16 rolls in a 9×13 dish, cover, and let rise about an hour, or overnight in the fridge. *note: mine did not rise very much, but when i baked them, they fluffed up nicely.

brush with melted ghee and bake at 450 degrees for approximately 10-12 minutes.


next came the pumpkin cinnamon rolls, which, i’ll be honest, were delicious, but extremely messy to make. i followed the manifest vegan’s recipe as closely as possible, but did have to make a few changes:

pumpkin cinnamon rolls (gluten, dairy, refined-sugar free)

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk, warm
2 packets yeast

1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup almond flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup corn starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

5 tablespoons melted ghee
1/4 cup coconut sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon

i prefer mine without icing, but if you want a nice icing recipe that’s gluten, dairy, refined-sugar free, i suggest this recipe for vanilla frosting (scroll to the bottom of the page) from comfy belly. i’ve made it a few times like this:

1/2 cup spectrum shortening
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
splash of unsweetened almond milk

blend together, use at room temperature.

as for the dough…
mix warm milk with yeast, let sit til foamy. then combine with all other wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. separately combine dry ingredients, then slowly add to wet ingredients til a stretchy dough forms. you may have to add up to a cup more flour (of your choice – i recommend brown rice or almond flour if you don’t have extra of the entire flour mix set aside).
place dough on sheet of plastic wrap, then place another sheet on top, then roll into a large rectangle. the dough may seem really sticky and slightly runny, but don’t worry, once you bake it, it’ll be well worth the mess.


spread melted ghee on rectangle of dough, then sprinkle coconut sugar/cinnamon mix on top. using the bottom layer of plastic wrap as a guide, roll the dough into a large cylinder, then slice into about 8 pieces. place them in an 8″ greased pan. cover, and let rise until double, about an hour. bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. top with icing if you so desire.

apple chicken sausage came next, and this recipe really required absolutely no tweaking. i used chicken thigh, and just 1/2 a tablespoon of maple syrup. YUM.


FINALLY came the coconut fruit salad, which has become a staple around this house, at least for large-group gatherings. it’s sweet enough to work as dessert on its own, or to serve as a side, as i did on this occasion. and it’s extremely easy.

coconut fruit salad (dairy, gluten, refined-sugar free)

1 can chilled coconut milk (allow to chill overnight for best results)
1/8 cup maple syrup
4 tablespoons unsweetened, dried coconut flakes
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
seasonal fruits, diced into small pieces (i used pears, bananas, satsuma mandarins, and blueberries — my supermarket was out of organic grapes, so i went with organic blueberries even though they are not technically in season)

taking just the cream top from the can of coconut milk, blend in a medium sized mixing bowl with a hand mixer on medium-high speed til fluffy. then stir in maple syrup, coconut flakes, vanilla, and your chopped fruits. a lovely, light fruit salad — people can’t believe that it’s dairy free!

all in all, each of these items was a huge success, but as i stated, should probably never be served all together again because you might experience sweetness overload like i did.

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post-christmas post, part one {christmas eve delights}

our still fairly new family continues each year to try and establish our own family traditions for the holidays. some are already set in stone, such as the annual visit to the christmas tree farm, the decorating of the tree as we listen to sufjan stevens’ christmas albums, and allowing the kids to open one gift on christmas eve. as far as food goes, this year and last i was designated as the christmas day brunch chef, while my husband took care of christmas dinner (which this year happened on christmas eve). a little later, after our christmas eve dinner, we sipped on homemade hot cocoa and marshmallows and ate popcorn while we watched a family-favorite christmas movie.


our homemade hot cocoa was made according to this recipe, which is extremely simple but delicious and rich, just like the recipe’s author claims.

{dairy and refined-sugar free hot cocoa}

put one can of (full fat) coconut milk, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and 1/4 cup maple syrup in a 4-cup glass pyrex dish. whisk. then slowly add about 2 cups of boiling water, and whisk again. finally, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and stir one last time.

i don’t know about you, but marshmallows are an absolute necessity in my hot cocoa, but knowing how packed they are with refined sugar, i assumed i’d have to skip on them from now on. just out of curiosity, i searched various blogs and websites for refined-sugar free marshmallows, and lo and behold, stumbled upon this recipe for honey marshmallows! i cut the recipe in half, but followed everything else to the letter, and the result was A-MA-ZING. simple ingredients, simple recipe, resulting in a fluffy, delightful treat.

{honey marshmallows}

place 1/4 cup water and 1-1/2 tablespoons (or 2 packets) of gelatin in your mixer bowl. let that rest while you bring 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and a pinch of salt to boiling in a saucepan over medium-high heat. if you don’t have a candy thermometer (as i don’t), you’ll have to carefully watch your boiling mixture, and just when it starts to look clear and syrupy, remove it from heat (this takes about 5-6 minutes from the time it starts boiling). if you wait too long, it turns brown and you end up with a burnt flavor, which is less than desirable when you’re looking for a light and sweet taste. slowly pour mixture into your mixer bowl with the gelatin as you begin mixing on low. gradually increase mixing speed to high, and let it work its magic for about 7-8 minutes, until you see a white, fluffy mixture before your eyes.



spoon mixture into parchment paper-lined 8×8 dish, and use the parchment paper folded on top of the mixture to smooth the top. leave it sitting for several hours (i left mine overnight), allowing marshmallows to set. when they’re ready, turn them out onto a cutting board and cut to desired size/shape. my son used a candy cane shaped cookie cutter to cut out a few, then sprinkled with red sugar sprinkles, and gave them to some friends (plus, ate a couple himself, of course). what a fun once-in-a-blue-moon treat!

post-christmas post, part two, regarding christmas day brunch, up next…

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pumpkin almond butter {brownies}

yep, that’s right, another chocolate post.

but who can refuse an ooey-gooey-cakey-brownie??


…especially when it’s essentially guilt-free, with no refined sugar, and some added nutrients from a little pumpkin and almond butter?

i’d tried civilized caveman’s recipe for blueberry banana brownies a few ways, never with the blueberries simply because dried blueberries are not something i keep on hand:
1) just as he prescribes, minus blueberries = i found the banana flavor a little too strong for my taste, but that probably just means my banana was a bit too overripe
2) sub sweet potato for banana = tasty but slightly dry
3) sub canned pumpkin for banana = BINGO.

*but first, let’s talk chocolate chips. you may remember that i posted a homemade chocolate chips recipe a few weeks back. i stand by this recipe, but when it came time to make these brownies, i discovered i had no coconut oil, so i was in a state of panic for about…half a minute. then i came across this recipe, which calls for palm oil shortening rather than coconut oil. the only change i made to the recipe is that i used only maple syrup (no stevia) to sweeten the chips. they came out slightly bitter, but i sort of prefer them that way. if you prefer sweeter chips and would like to try this recipe with no stevia, i’d suggest adding up to 1/4 cup more sweetener (maple syrup, honey, etc..). p.s. this recipe makes a lot more chocolate chips than mine, which is a nice bonus.

once you have your chocolate chips set and your egg substitute (i used ener-g egg replacer) ready, this pumpkin brownie recipe is really quick and easy:

1 cup almond butter (i prefer justin’s)
1 ener-g egg
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup homemade chocolate chips (see *note above)
1/3 cup canned organic pumpkin

beat the almond butter on high with a hand mixer til it gets a nice smooth, lighter consistency than when you started, about 2-3 minutes. add your “egg,” syrup, vanilla, and continue to mix. slowly add cocoa powder, then salt and baking soda, and mix til all ingredients are incorporated. stir the chocolate chips and pumpkin in by hand, then pour into an 8×8 greased glass baking dish, and bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

the pumpkin flavor is very subtle, but present enough to appreciate that cozy fall/winter flavor it provides. the chocolate and almond flavors really star here, and we know that’s not a bad thing.

stay tuned to hear about the successes and failures of my christmas day brunch.

the intended menu:
pigs in a blanket (gluten-free of course)
gluten free, refined sugar-free pumpkin cinnamon rolls
apple chicken sausage
coconut fruit salad

happy holidays to you and yours!

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chocolate. hazelnut. {cookies}

tonight i had a craft night with some girlfriends, so it gave me the perfect excuse to try a new recipe. obviously, i knew i had to use a reallllly reliable source, so i stuck with one of my favorite blogs: stir it up. lo and behold, what do i find but a recipe for some amazing chocolate cookies (gluten, refined-sugar free, etc.. of course). i did have to make a few alterations since i can’t have eggs (not even the whites of an egg), and since my homemade chocolate chip recipe yields roughly 1/2 cup instead of the whole 1 cup this recipe calls for. as for the sweetener, i wanted to try to stick with maple syrup only (i don’t love the taste of stevia, and i’m trying to avoid the other sweeteners, even honey, which seems to upset my stomach). i also had this random bottle of hazelnut oil sitting around in my pantry that got me thinking back to the days of nutella, and figured, why WOULDN’T it work in a chocolate cookie??

i’m glad to say these cookies, ahem, rose to the occasion (pun intended). they didn’t fall apart on me either, which is impressive especially considering i subbed ener-g egg replacer for the egg whites. AND, they were plenty sweet with just the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and 1/3 cup maple syrup.

so here you have it, a new favorite. my taste-tester is also a fan, both of the dough (which we both enjoyed perhaps a little too freely since there was no raw egg…) and the finished product:

2-1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon hazelnut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
5 tablespoons melted ghee
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 batch homemade chocolate chips (approximately 1/2 cup)
2 ener-g “eggs” (i recommend letting the mixture sit out for at least 10-15 minutes before using)

mix all your dry ingredients together. then mix all your wet ingredients together (tip: if using the homemade chocolate chips, you are probably aware of how easily they melt, so you can actually save yourself a lot of time if you don’t already have some made into chips, and just pour the chocolate chip ingredients – before piping – directly into your bowl of wet ingredients). add wet to dry, mix well. using a portion scoop, place dough onto a cookie sheet (you should probably line it with parchment paper as the original blogger suggests unless you’re using something like all-clad like i am).

bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes. as with any other baked good made with almond flour, it’s important to let the cookies rest/cool without so much as touching them, for at least 15-20 minutes (ideally at least half an hour) before removing from the pan. this helps prevent breaking.


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pumpkin donuts. cream filled. {with chocolate}

right now i’m thankful for the spunky coconut.

you know how sometimes you just have to try a recipe IMMEDIATELY, even if it means a lot of tweaking and improvising (in other words, gambling)?

yep, that’s what happened when i stumbled upon this recipe last week: the spunky coconut’s mini boulder cream doughnuts, and they were really tasty, but i had a couple of issues (my fault, not hers):
1) i have a personal preference for almond flour. just not a huge fan of the flavor of coconut flour (although i love everything else coconut).
2) the donuts burned slightly on the bottom (this was due to my negligence – i was not watching the oven closely, AND i didn’t calculate the difference in cooking times due to smaller scoop/donut size)
2) no coconut cream concentrate for the filling and chocolate frosting.
3) my blender is out of commission, so i only had a food processor to work with if i wanted to try her friend’s recipe for homemade coconut butter .
4) no psyllium husk powder.

so let’s start with the coconut cream/coconut butter. i decided to attempt the homemade coconut butter with a food processor, regardless of the warnings not to do so. sure enough, the processor just doesn’t smooth it out enough, so i tried adding some canned coconut milk to the mixture, and it worked wonders! i still have tiny chunks of coconut in my coconut butter that i’m sure aren’t supposed to technically be there, but since i love coconut, i almost prefer it that way. BUT, when it came time to make the chocolate frosting, imagining the chunky texture in my frosting was a little bit off-putting, so instead i used chilled canned coconut milk (just the top, really creamy part skimmed off the top), and kept everything else identical to the original recipe, which all resulted in a lovely, light, creamy, chocolate frosting.

so then i found myself with enough leftover cashew milk (also made according to kelly’s instructions), and canned pumpkin that i just had to have a do-over.

take two, with almond flour = perfection.

so here you have it, my rendition of some amazing tiny cream-filled, chocolate covered pumpkin donuts:

{donut ingredients}
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup kelly’s homemade cashew milk
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons melted ghee
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
*1 cup almond flour, 1/4 cup coconut flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch

{coconut butter turned cream filling ingredients}
2-1/2 cups dried shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
canned coconut milk (til desired consistency is achieved)

{chocolate frosting ingredients}
chilled canned coconut milk
1-1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for donuts:
place all ingredients in a food processor (*except flours and starch), and mix well. add your flours and starch. hand mix with a spoon or whisk. you should have a thick batter that holds together easily when you scoop it onto a cookie sheet. if the batter is runny, add more coconut flour. i used kelly’s method of using an ice cream scoop and made 10 small donuts (about 2″ across). by the way, you really should use a scoop so that your donuts provide room for the filling. bake at 375 for approximately 18 minutes. let cool for at least 30 minutes before removing from pan.

while baking and cooling the donuts, you can make your filling:
place everything except coconut milk in a food processor and mix well. you’ll need to scrape the sides down frequently to ensure you’re incorporating all the ingredients. as i stated before, when you use a food processor instead of a blender, you’ll see that you won’t achieve a super-smooth consistency, but add coconut milk gradually (a couple of tablespoons at a time) until it forms a creamier, icing-like, moldable texture. set aside.

chocolate frosting:
after chilling your can of coconut milk for at least 24 hours, carefully skim the top, creamy portion off and into a small mixing bowl. add all other ingredients, and blend with a hand mixer. add more cocoa powder and/or honey to taste. you can also add more coconut milk (the runny part) or water if you want a lighter, or runnier consistency.

{putting it all together}
take a pastry bag with a large round tip and pack with the cream filling. insert tip into side of donut and squeeze filling into donut.
place a spoonful of frosting onto each donut.

if you’re impatient as i am and you assemble your donuts at the 30 minute cooling mark, you may find as i did that your filling and/or frosting melts a bit, and you have in your hand a delectable, fluffy, warm, “finger-lickin'” treat. but you won’t hear me complaining about that.

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