I love a healthy snack!
I love simple recipes! I love recipes that only require a few ingredients and that only contain staples I basically always have in my kitchen.
So today it was time to combine some of those staples into a relatively healthy (meaning not messing too much with the blood sugar levels) power snack / sweet / dessert / cookie. Yes, many different names, because you certainly could eat one or two of these Vanilla Macaroons/Cookies in any of those occasions. After your workout, after a light lunch or with a cup of tea. They are very flexible in being called different names and don’t mind. 🙂 They are actually quite dense and solid, so I’ll stick to the term cookies from now on.
So what makes this a ‘relatively healthy snack’?
It’s the fact that they are gluten free, lactose free, refined sugar free and that they contain lots of fiber (in the shredded coconut), healthy fats (again the coconut plus coconut oil and nut butter) and protein (contained in the protein powder and a little in coconut and nut butter). Little powerhouses, dense and full of nutritional value, sweet, chewy and very satisfying. Difficult to eat more than one or two. Which is a good thing!
It’s like this for me: when I eat ‘normal’ sweets, meaning that packed with refined sugar and often even with gluten containing flour, I can’t stop. Is it maybe the same for you?
In my case: there it goes, the whole bar of chocolate. Or an entire packet with cookies. They might be organic, they might contain less sugar, they might be made from spelt flour… still the same, one cookie – can’t stop.
Different the story with my homemade cookies or cakes or – like today – cookies! They are so nutrient dense and filling that I actually don’t want to eat them all up. I am satisfied after one or two and can stop! Wow! Actually a strange feeling for somebody who has always been ruled by those cravings for more of the sweet stuff! So yes, I have been a sugar addict! And with sugar addicts it’s the same as with any addict: you gotta avoid your drug completely in order to not get hooked again! What’s important to understand about this is that a rapid drop of the blood sugar (which happens a short while after we have eaten something like white bread or pasta or something sugary) lights up the region of the brain that is connected to addictive behaviors! So I am not making this up!
As little as 3-4 days without any refined sugar or gluten containing food are enough to feel more empowered and in control of my appetite, my cravings. And every additional day makes me more sugar-resistant. Every additional day helps me to develop a good sense of taste again and actually finding ‘normal’ sweets way to sweet and not delectable anymore.
But how do you get over those first 3-4 days without sugar?
It helps me a lot when I eat a lot of greens, so a green smoothie in the morning with lots of spinach or lamb’s lettuce starts me off in the right way. Whenever I drink those kind of smoothies regularly I feel less cravings and less hungry (and have a lot more energy!).
And I also feel better when I eat food that is rich in healthy fats and protein. Think avocado and egg for example. And of course it’s good to have some healthier snack options without refined sugars at hand. Enters the scene the mighty Vanilla Macaroon!
But before we get to the recipe let me do this:
Let me clarify a bit more what I mean with ‘relatively healthy’
Apart from the fact that we are all different and our bodies react differently to specific foods, my own experience and that of my clients has shown me that a balanced sugar free, gluten free and lactose free diet is beneficial for all of us.
So this healthy snack would hit the mark here. But the cookies do contain maple syrup, which is still a sugar. While it does contain minerals and is considered a healthier alternative to sugar, it still does spike blood sugar levels. With a value of 54 against a value of 65 for refined sugar, it is just a little lower on the glycemic index scale. That’s why I usually add some stevia in combination with honey or maple syrup or coconut sugar to my recipes. Stevia does not impact blood sugar levels and lowers the glycemic index of a dish as we use less of those other sweeteners. Its taste is not so great on its own though, that’s why I love it in combination.
But back to our cookie, which is a very dense little creature with its fat and protein content. Even if the fat content in it counteracts a little the blood sugar issue by slowing down or delaying the rise of blood sugar, that doesn’t mean we should eat lots of it.
As the old saying says: ‘a little goes a long way’!
This is totally true here!
And here it comes: if you have been reading carefully until here you might have gotten to the following conclusion already: if our bodies are naturally satiated when we consume small amounts of healthier foods, the risk to overeat them is relatively small. So it’s a good idea to always have some healthy snacks at hand, because in this way we don’t even get tempted to pop to the shop to get our cookie or chocolate fix.
We have our own healthy cookie + chocolate fix at home!
Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cookies
For the Macaroons
- 3 cups (210g) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 3 tablespoons protein powder (I used Sun Warrior Vanilla) or almond meal
- 1-3 tablespoons vanilla extract (taste test after 1 tsp to your liking)
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup + a few drops stevia extract (taste test)
- pinch of Himalaya salt
- 1/4-1/2 cup liquid (almond milk or coconut milk or even just water)
For the Chocolate Dip
- 50g dark organic chocolate
- 2 tablespoons almond butter (or other nut butter)
- 1 tablespoons coconut oil
Note: This dip will stay a bit soft on the cookies if not kept in the fridge, so if you want a fuzz-free version then just melt a little dark chocolate instead.
- Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit/170 Celsius.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a food processor, combine the shredded coconut, protein powder or almond meal, salt, and sweetener. Pulse a few times to combine.
- Add in the coconut oil and vanilla extract and process until combined and crumbly.
- Add in some of the almond milk very slowly and stop when you have the right consistency (not too crumbly, not too wet, mixture should together when you press it between two fingers). You may need to stop and scrape down the sides as you mix.
- Roll about 1 Tbsp of the mix into tight balls and place on the cookie sheet.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Let stand to cool.
- While the cookies are cooling, melt chocolate, cashew butter and coconut oil over low heat or even better in a double boiler.
- Dip cookies one at a time half into the melted chocolate. Place back on parchment with the chocolate on top. Once all cookies have been dipped put in the fridge to set and store.
Serve slightly chilled. These will keep in the fridge, in a sealed container, for around one week. You could even make these raw, without baking by the way! Just pop them into the fridge instead of the oven and you are all set!
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do! I’d love to hear how you liked them!
And if you want more recipes plus 5 great tips you can download my free collection of headache strategies.
Wishing you happy thoughts & happy (food) choices!