Tag Archives: Gluten Free

Money Saving Monday–Welcome Back Courtney!

I’m back readers. Did you miss me during my vacation?

What’s that? You didn’t know I was taking a vacation? Shame! You’d have heard about it if you liked me on Facebook. Tsk tsk.

In reality, it wasn’t much of a vacation, since it was only a break from blogging. We were so busy, it was stupid. We had a lot going on. Here’s a recap for those of you not in the know:

We went to the zoo.

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I reunited with old friends, and saw some new ones.

We played hide and seek…kind of.

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I started a new job.

We celebrated Father’s Day with giant batches of brownies and our own…unique kinds of presents.

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We wore chef hats and fancy aprons.

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(Thank you Momma Kamper)

Olive made friends with some super heroes.

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I went to Comfest (giant festival we have in Columbus every year) for music, tie dye, and art.

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Someone turned five.

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And everyone ate pink cupcakes. Pink cupcakes that were AMAZING, I might add. Yes, you can have the recipe, but no, not today. I didn’t get to take any pictures of the process OR the cupcakes, due to the frightening speed in which they disappeared. I was enthusiastically told that they were the greatest thing I had ever baked. Later guys, you can have it later.

Besides, a whole week of comfort food and sweets and I’m done. When we grilled our dinner, we kept it simple–vegetables, corn, and baked beans. Easy, healthy, nourishing, delicious. Except there was just one problem. I didn’t have any dessert, energy, or cupcakes (those of you who ate more than one, I’m looking at YOU, jerks! Didn’t you know I was going to have cupcake breakfast?).

So we had apples. Because no matter how tired, broke, or sweet deprived I am, I always have apples, and they’ve never let me down.

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Grilled Apples
Serves Four
2 Apples
Cinnamon, to taste
Ginger, to taste
Blueberries, to garnish
Sugar (optional)

Cut the apples in half. Remove the core with a paring knife OR, if you’re my mother and managed to deeply cut yourself on tongs last week, a dull spoon, some elbow grease, and a lot of determination. A melon baller would probably also work fine.

Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon, ginger, and sugar, if using (you don’t need to, I think they’re amazing as is. But for a tart baking apple, a bit might help). Place the apples, cut side up, on the grill until they start to look soft. Turn them over for about a minute to cook the cut side. Remove from grill, fill cavities with blueberries while still hot, and then serve them to your family who ate waaaaaaaaaaaaay too many cupcakes last weekend, ate waaaaaaaaaaaaay too many chocolate donuts, and had waaaaaaaaay too many juiceboxes. Remind your significant other that apples are a dessert and no we do not need to go to the grocery store to pick up Swedish fish and no, you are not making him another batch of chocolate coconut fudge, and no, the fudge would not be healthier if you put peanut butter in it.

Seriously though, these are yummy, are nothing but fruit and spices, and are full of vitamins and nutrients that round out a meal perfectly. I’m not saying there isn’t a time for pink cupcakes or peanut butter fudge. But that time isn’t today.

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Because if she expects to be this fabulous all the time, she’s going to need the energy. She’s going to need apples.

Oh hell, who am I kidding. I need the apples.

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Money Saving Monday–Stay AWAY From the McDonalds Breakfast Menu!!!

Don’t do it readers! I mean it, stop, just stop! Back out of the drive-thru, go home, and eat a real breakfast. I’m not even kidding, stay away from there.

I have a myriad of reasons to tell you not to pick up breakfast on the way to work–donuts, hash browns, breakfast sandwiches and overpriced, overheated coffee (serious McDonalds, my tongue is on FIRE) being among them. Mostly, though? I want you to eat something better and save yourself a couple of bucks.

Fast food restaurants have these clever things called value menus, or dollar menus. Aren’t they smart? They make a semi addictive substance for you at a bargain in the hopes that you’ll buy more of it. If cigarette companies were allowed to do this without being taxed to high heaven, I would probably still be smoking. What you’re getting at your local McD’s though, is tax free…”food.” You can buy as much as you want, they can pocket the entire profit, and you get to feel sick and lethargic all day.

Hooray!

Guys, I have something better and quicker for you, so long as you’re willing to do a little preparation earlier in the week.

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I did not invent the tofu frittata. This is a thing vegetarian and vegan cooks have always made, and you can probably find other recipes for it all over the internet. I’m going to go ahead and tell you that this one is my favorite.

Why? Well, first off, you can pronounce all the ingredients. Go ahead, see what’s in a sausage biscuit with “cheese.” I’ll wait.

Disgusted? you ought to be.

Second, while I’m not a huge proponent of calorie counting, they are a whopping 48 calories a pop. Eat two. Seriously, you should probably eat two with some fruit and a piece of toast (mine was devoured while these were cooking). Besides, what these guys lack in calories, they make up in everything else. These are protein-alicious, so they will keep you full longer, and just one has 29% of your daily vitamin C, 16% vitamin A, 7% of your iron, and is a good source of apparently everything. Try using a nutritional analyzer on this recipe and you will be amazed. Eat two. Heck, eat three. You’re doing nothing but good.

Finally, these guys are pretty cheap in the long run. Sure, they require some fresh veggies, but buying good veggies this time of year is a snap. Give me a month and I’ll have most of the vegetable components coming straight from my garden. Plus, it contains my good friend tofu, which I’m sure you remember from this post. Some people will undoubtedly tell me that while tofu is cheap (less than three dollars for this particular block and cheaper at some stores), you can sometimes get eggs for less than a dollar. While I would love to explain that those eggs are probably gross (they are), instead, I’m going to counter practically: Yes, a dozen eggs may be cheaper than a block of tofu. However, to make the same amount of frittatas you will probably need the entire dozen, possibly more. If you’re trying to cut out the cholesterol by using egg whites, it will end up costing you even more. And if you’re using quality eggs that you know the source of? Trust me. It’s not cheap.

Besides, these keep you from making that dreaded stop through the drive-thru, which is rife with impulse buys and super hot, overpriced coffee (please, McD’s, just a couple ice cubes or something next time?).

Make these. They’ll keep in the fridge for a few days, are good cold or heated up, are good smooshed between toast, and are healthy. Enjoy!

Tofu Frittatas
Makes 12
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 Zucchini
1 Bell Pepper
1 BIG Handful of Spinach (or 1-2 cups)
1 14 oz block of soft tofu
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast (don’t remember this ingredient? Read this.)
2 tbs Unsweetened Almond Milk
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1-2 tsp Braggs or Soy Sauce
1 dash liquid smoke
pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Chop the veggies while you wait.

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Throw everything but the spinach in with the oil and saute till soft.

While those are sauteing, remove the tofu from its packaging and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. That’s right, no pressing required! Then crumble it into a bowl.

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Using an electric hand mixer, blend the tofu with the spices, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, liquid smoke, and almond milk until smooth…ish. It won’t be perfect, and that doesn’t matter.

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At this point, the veggies should be soft, so throw the spinach in with them and saute until wilted. This shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.

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Then add the veggies to the tofu mixture and mix by hand until everything is combined fairly evenly. I forgot to take a picture of it, but it’s not exactly rocket science, so you should have a handle on it. 🙂

Pour these into a very lightly greased muffin pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until they are set and the tops are a golden brown.

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Let these cool before you remove them. They are hot and a bit crumbly initially. That’s what makes them so wonderful though. They taste quite a bit like scrambled eggs and are easy enough to make a sandwich out of. They have some moisture, which is necessary because dry, crumbly tofu is…well, gross. All in all, these are pretty awesome.

They keep well in the fridge, and just pop them in the microwave the next day, slap them on some toast, and you’re ready for a health filled, wonderful day.

Besides, how many times have I told you to eat your veggies for breakfast? (Answer: Once, actually.) With these, you will be a crunchy rock star, and your greased out, sugared up coworkers/classmates/children will be jealous of your increased productivity. Yay!

Happy Monday, readers!

Is it the Weekend Yet?

Readers, you’re going to have to forgive my lack of posts recently. It’s been a long few weeks, and I am exhausted.

List of Crap that Happened Over the Course of Two Weeks
1. Heavy duty vegetable gardening
2. Unfortunate overgrowth of weeds
4. Four birthdays
5. Two Births…so six birthdays
6. Olive’s preschool graduation
7. Olive’s preschool picnic
8. Obscene heat
9. Three papers due
10. One test
11. A severe addiction to Angry Birds (how have I never played this before???)

List of Crap that Didn’t Happen Over the Course of Two Weeks
1. Immaculate eating habits. We’ve had a looooot of cake lately, and pot lucks at preschool mean we’re downing some dairy out of necessity.
2. Consistent exercise
3. Basic hygiene. Here is what I look like. I have not showered (…in three days…), I have not had coffee yet, and I have to go to my first workout since Monday. If you have a weak stomach, you may want to avert your eyes.
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I’m pretty lucky that this is Memorial Day Weekend. I know right now that I should tell you all about how important it is to remember those who died for our country (it is VERY important) and the sacrifices that some people make. In reality, though, I’m so pooped that the idea of lounging poolside all day tomorrow, seeing a parade on Monday, and eating delicious grilled veggies sounds marvelous.

Maybe I’ll eat them with a few of these guys?

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Fudge Pops!
Makes Six-Eight Pops
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp salt

Whisk together the cocoa and maple syrup until a thick paste forms. All the cocoa should be fully dissolved (which is why we’re using liquid sweetener). Add the milk and salt and stir until combined. Pour them into Popsicle molds and freeze until set (probably about three hours).

In order to get them out, depending on your molds, you’re probably going to need to use the old water and squeeze method of pulling them out. Nothing is more depressing than an empty Popsicle stick. Luckily, nothing is more yummy than a Fudge Pop!

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It’s drippy!

Make these for your next cookout and they will be a hit, or just make them for you and horde them. I usually don’t brag about calorie count to you guys, but they are right around fifty calories a pop. They also have calcium and whatever vitamins your milk is fortified with. If nothing else, you can feel good knowing that you can pronounce all the names of the ingredients.

So kick back, relax, and eat like twenty of these. You deserve them.

Money Saving Monday–Hungry? Ask For Your Kid’s Advice.

I’m not always a very good parent, readers. Sure, I get it right enough most of the time, or at any rate I haven’t done anything that would alert Children’s Services, but a good portion of Olive’s life has been me going, “Oh God!”

The day I brought her home I couldn’t figure out how to put a onesie on her. I had her sitting upright while desperately trying to keep her obscenely floppy neck from snapping in half (which is, naturally, what I assumed would happen) when my Aunt came into the room and took over. It was incredibly embarrassing and I felt absolutely terrible for subjecting my infant to what must have been the most horrible kind of pain. I may have been a bit over dramatic.

A few months later she caught her first cold. Infants can’t blow their nose, so I had to use the suction bulb. Olive HATES the suction bulb. She began to writhe and scream as I attempted to force the little tube up her nose. When I pulled out, a small drop of blood came out of her impossibly tiny nostril. I was positive I’d hit her brain. The doctor, thankfully, assured me otherwise.

Over the years I’ve made many a bad parenting move from ignoring her to letting her accidentally lock herself into a closet. To be honest, I’ve even dropped her a few times. I’m pretty much an incredibly negligent parent.

Every now and then though, I’m able to pull my head out of my own butt enough to pay attention to my kid and have a moment that’s not marked with bad parenting. This is good, because from what I understand she’s now at an age where she will remember our interactions. When she’s a grown up, I want her to look back on this time in her life and say, “I remember that time I told my mom I wanted banana flavored energy bars and we came up with a recipe right then and there,” as opposed to, “Man, Mom dropped me. A lot.”

Banana Nut Energy Cookies
2 Bananas
1/4 cup nut butter (peanut, almond, or sunflower butter are great choices)
1/2 cup almonds, ran through a blender or food processor until it forms a crumbly flour
1/2 cup oats (buy uncontaminated oats to make a gluten free version)
1 tbs cinnamon
1/4 cup dried fruit

Preheat oven to 350F.

Put the bananas in a bowl and let your fabulous helper mash the crap out of them. This can be as dramatic a process as she chooses.

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Once it’s mashed, stir in the nut butter. Then stir in the oats and almonds.

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“Can it have raisins mommy?” “Oh, well I suppose it would have to, wouldn’t it?”

Stir in raisins.

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It’s ok guys, we’re going to bake them anyway. Also, I’m fairly certain she remembered to brush her teeth.

Add a little bit of the mixture to the bottom of 12 muffin cups. This is easier and less messy than trying to shape them on a cookie sheet…in theory.

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Again, I’m going to bake them. She may have even washed her hands.

On the plus side, I did manage to teach her a few good habits.

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Bake for fifteen minutes, or until they look kind of like this.

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They come out chewy, nutty, fruity, lightly sweet, and four year old approved.

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They even look like energy bars, and they cost almost nothing to make.

The best part about these bars though, is that they are little hand friendly. I don’t have to worry about her over stirring something to create a horrible glutoney mess (learned that lesson), nor do I need to be afraid that she’ll accidentally pull the mixer out too soon and I’ll spend the next hour washing the kitchen walls (learned that one too). Instead of the drama, we just squished a bunch of ingredients together and hoped for the best, and they came out just fine. With any luck, Olive will, too.

Unless I broke her from all those times I dropped her..

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Oh god…

Rain, Rain, Go Away, or at Least Let Me Make it to the Grocery Store

Readers, sorry I haven’t been back sooner. I try to make Wednesday posts most weeks, but to be honest, I was just too excited about the fabulous weather we’ve had. You see, it’s been in the 80’s all week long!

This is a far cry from last Saturday which was cold, wet, and disgusting. It was not even normal “gross” outside, it was Cat in the Hat bad. I felt bad for Olive because I had no idea what to do with our time the entire day. I felt even worse for Mike because he had to go teach in it. I felt relatively fine for me because we had plenty of coffee and tea in the house, but I wasn’t leaving for anything, not even to pick up groceries for our relatively understocked kitchen so I could make my miserable, freezing family something good for dinner. It was gross out there!

Hey guys, I know it is wet, and the sun is not sunny, but I made soup, so shut up cuz’ it’s yummy. *

Note: A thank you must go out to my mother, without whom I would have no basis for how potato soup ought to taste.

Two Potato Soup
2 large russet potatoes, cut into bite sized chunks
1 sweet potato, cut into bite sized chunks
2 carrots, diced
1 Vidalia onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
6 cups vegetable broth
2 tbs olive oil, divided
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 dash liquid smoke
3/4 cup almond milk

In a large stock pot, cover the potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots with broth and bring to a boil. Let boil until the potatoes are very soft.

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While the potatoes are boiling, heat one tablespoon of the oil in the skillet. Add the onions and celery and saute until the onions are translucent.

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Unfortunately, I was out of celery and nothing was going to make me run to the store to pick some up. NOTHING.

Add the garlic to the skillet, and saute for another minute. Set aside.

By this time, the potatoes will be soft, so turn the heat down to medium, and using a slotted spoon remove about 2 cups worth of the chunks. Some carrots and sweet potatoes will get mixed in, it’s not a big deal, so just go with it. Put them in a bowl, and mash the bajeezus out of them.

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Add it back to the pot along with the sauteed onions, celery, and garlic. Stir until the soup has thickened and the blob of mashed potatoes has disappeared (You can, of course, choose to mash a few more potatoes if you want the soup to be super thick, though we thought it was perfect as it was). Add the poultry seasoning, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, and almond milk. Bring the soup to a simmer and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the top (this is optional, but delicious).

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Hey, that was easy!

This soup is perfect for gross days because it is so wonderfully warming. It’s comfort food without butter, full of potassium and vitamins, and tons of protein. It is the very best way to eat potatoes, and I love potatoes, so I should know. While it is loosely based on my mother’s recipe (which involved a secret ingredient known as “instant potato flakes”–sorry for ruining the secret, Mom!) and has a similar creaminess, the sweet potato adds a pleasant change of pace to this thick, savory, soup. I really wish Mike hadn’t eaten four bowls of it, because I would have liked seconds.

Oh well, even when it’s gross outside and I don’t have many groceries, I do usually have potatoes.

So I know it is wet, and the sun is not sunny, but soup can bring lots of good fun that is funny. *

*My apologies to Dr. Seuss.

I Really, Really, Really Love Chinese Takeout

I mean it readers, I do! In fact, EVERYONE in this house loves Chinese and would eat it every meal of every day if it weren’t for the penchant of American Chinese cuisine to fry everything. Are there veggies? Yes. Are there nutrients? Yes. Did the tofu soak up it’s weight in grease? Yes.

Some food, such as Indian, I’m willing to splurge on fairly regularly. Part of that has to do with the fact that in Columbus there are two 100% vegetarian Indian restaurants, so while I’m getting some extra oil, they’re very, very clear about what is and isn’t vegan, and I’ve never accidentally ingested meat at any of them. I wish I could say the same for the Chinese restaurants in the area.

Unfortunately, since we aren’t regulars at all of our favorite restaurants (I mean, it’s all you can eat vegan Indian food or a single order of General Tso’s Tofu for the same price, which would YOU pick more often?) they don’t memorize our dietary concerns. Also, sometimes the language barrier is just a little too tricky. I’m almost positive the “vegetable egg roll” I ordered last time had some pork in it. My body paid for that slip up dearly.

Most concerning, however, is Mike. Mike has an anaphylactic reaction to shrimp and other shell fish. Naturally, since we don’t eat anything that used to breathe or move, this isn’t usually a problem unless we’re at a restaurant that also serves seafood. Even then, most of the time a simple, “Hey, he has a shellfish allergy,” is enough to alert the kitchen staff that they need to cook his food on a different surface. No chef in his right mind is going to risk a lawsuit. Luckily, we’ve never had to use the Epipen I keep in my purse.

Sometimes, however, Chinese food can scare us. At least once a waitress has come back and said, “Oh! I forgot, that contains crab meat, but it’s just a little, you can barely taste it.” or “Oh, we cooked that in the same pan as the fried shrimp, but there’s no ACTUAL shrimp, so we’re cool, right?” No, no we are not cool and you’re lucky I don’t strangle you to death right now! Once, the item was nearly in his mouth when she reminded us. Needless to say, we don’t go to that restaurant anymore.

If we ever hoped to have Chinese food again without Mike needing an Epipen (or a defibrillator for the heart attack that waitress gave me), I needed to come up with something just as yummy that we could eat at home. And why not make it super cheap, healthy, and vegan while I’m at it?

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Vegan Fried Rice
4 cups cooked brown rice
1 lb soft tofu
1 12 oz bag of frozen stir fry veggies (you can substitute fresh if you’d like, and you can DEFINITELY add more vegetables if you want! The more the merrier!)
1 tsp Canola Oil
1 tsp garlic
2 tbs lower sodium soy sauce, or tamari
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs rice (or plain, if you don’t have rice) vinegar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ginger
pinch of red pepper (optional)

For those of you not familiar with the preparation of soft tofu, you’ll be delighted to find out it’s actually much easier and quicker than firm tofu. Simple drain the water out of the package, take a hunk of the tofu in your hand, and squeeze as much excess liquid as you can out. Repeat with the rest of the tofu, and crumble into a bowl. Tada, you’ve just pressed the tofu.

Heat the canola oil in a large skillet (wok if you have one) over medium high heat. Add the crumbled tofu and saute until heated through (about five minutes). Quite a bit of the excess water will disappear at this time. Add the frozen veggies, and saute until ALL the excess water is gone and the veggies are cooked through.

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While you’re cooking the veggies, whip up the sauce. Whisk together the garlic, soy suace, sesame oil, maple syrup, rice vinegar, ginger, black pepper, and red pepper (if using). Set aside.

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After roughly ten minutes, the veggies will be cooked and look like this:

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Add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, and stir in the sauce.

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Cook for about five more minutes, adjusting spices as you see fit. Perhaps you’d like some more fresh pepper? Or a sprinkle of sesame oil (I could drink that stuff, it’s so yummy. But you shouldn’t because it’s definitely oil!)? Personally, I like a bit more soy sauce, but since Mike does not, I add that privately to my own bowl.

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Yes, it’s as tasty as it looks. I totally didn’t slip pork or shrimp into it, either.

Tada! You now have Mike’s go to order at every Chinese restaurant! The tofu replaces the eggs (I mean it; even the texture is similar) and combined with the veggies makes a complete meal. Plus, it’s tasty!

We still had to put it through the ultimate test, though. I sent it to our resident expert on Asian cuisine for review.

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It’s a hit!

(Please ignore the pile of dirt from our seedlings that’s on our dining room table. It seems to not only be the food/craft/homework area of the house, but the only flat surface that receives a good amount of sunlight.)

Olive devoured her bowl in a matter of minutes, broccoli and all, and asked for seconds. Hooray!

This is easy, cheap, and really good dinner/packed lunch. Try it out the next time you find yourself reaching for a carryout menu. If nothing else, it won’t cost you ten bucks plus delivery, and it certainly won’t be grease soaked or shrimp tainted.

Happy cooking!

Ashley Week Part Four–You Deserve a Damn Cookie

Ashley is a trooper, guys. I’m not even kidding. During this week one of the worst things that possibly could have happened, happened, and she is taking it so much better than I would. I had a couple ideas in the old noggin for what her grand finale would be, but since she’s had two dinners and breakfast already, it’s time we tackle snack time, and not just any snack time, stressful snack time.

See, the problem with stress eating is that it’s the only time where you aren’t completely satisfied eating a piece of fresh fruit. You want something rich and comforting. Back in the day, I would de-stress with food like macaroni and cheese, or an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies. I’ve since found a nutritious alternative to the mac n’ cheese dilemma (not my recipe, sadly) but cookies, well, I’ve always just sort of let them be cookies.

But what if I told you that I found a way to turn a cookie into the nutritional equivalent of a high quality energy bar (think larabar) instead of a sugar laden sweet fest?

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“Withcraft!” screamed my readers.

Seriously though, if you guys make any of my recipes, make these. They’re delicious, amazing, and so good for you it’s downright stupid, and all of the ingredients are recognizable. This is also probably the simplest recipe in the history of cookies. Enjoy!

Energy Cookies
Makes 24 cookies
1 1/4 cup raw almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

First things first, we’re going to make us some almond flour. I want to tell you guys that I just magically know how to do this, but that would be a total lie. I learned about a week ago from this lady’s cookie recipe. Essentially, you just pop the almonds into a blender or food processor and pulse it until you have a fine meal. With luck, it should look like this:

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Add the rest of the dry ingredients and stir to mix. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and stir to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips and raisins.

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Drop by the spoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet.

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Bake for ten minutes, or until somewhat firm.

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Eaaaaaat!

Guys, these are AMAZING. They melt in your mouth and taste so decadent. My theory is the fat in the almonds replace the need for oils for flavor. Either way, they taste buttery, though they have no butter, and sweet, though they have almost no sweetener. You can feel free to omit either the chocolate chips (to have a more “oatmeal raisin” type cookie) or the raisins (to eat chocolate chip cookies!) but I really, really love the fruit and nut taste these cookies have.

My family LOVES them, and I’m glad because they taste like a cookie, but are essentially a handful of nuts and raisins mashed together. I win!

Prep and Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Points Plus Value: 2 (per cookie)

Ashley, come over and I will bake you a double batch of these for the week. You can eat a few in place of breakfast bars in the morning, or just have one or two as an afternoon snack. They are oh so good they will halt your sweet tooth and bring instant comfort.

Eat a damn cookie, guys. You deserve it.