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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Soy-Free)

Before I get into what this post is really about, it would be rude of me to leave you hanging on how my vegan gluten-free Thanksgiving went down. I am happy to report that it went off without a hitch! Hallelujah! Sure, I had a lot of explaining to do, but I didn't mind it because any way I can bring consciousness to a healthy, compassionate way of living I will gladly do it. Thanks, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, for doing this in such a major way. I know that it is my purpose here on this earth to spread the knowledge of true health, wellness and healing so that people can live their fullest, healthiest, most authentic lives, so that the environment can thrive and so that animals can live peacefully and happily for as long as they are meant to.

In other news, I love a good cookie. So, when I transitioned to a healthy, mostly plant-based diet, I thought I'd have to give them up or sacrifice taste. Luckily, I avoided having to do either of those because I found a healthier alternative that tastes just as good and more importantly, doesn't bring about a rapid sugar high or a heavy feeling afterwards. I've talked extensively about the dangers of refined sugar on these two blog posts if you'd like to read more: brownies & chocolate cupcakes.

Back to the cookies. They passed "the dad test." That's all that needs to be said, really. He LOVED them, so much so that he actually asked me if I could make more of them because he knew they disappear so quickly. As I've mentioned in past posts, him approving of a vegan, gluten-free, healthy anything is a huge deal. He is the perfect guinea pig, lemme tell ya, because the words "vegan" and "gluten-free" were so foreign to him until I changed my way of eating. My dad tells me the truth and I can just tell if he really likes something or doesn't. 

These cookies are fantastic because they are so super easy to make and they're just so darn tasty without all of the refined sugars and heavy dairy products. Even though there is pumpkin puree in these cookies, you can't really taste the pumpkin, only the very subtle pumpkin pie spice. Even still, pumpkin is really good for you. It contains vitamins A, C & E, the minerals iron & potassium, antioxidants like carotenoids, and fiber. Check out more on the impressive health benefits of pumpkin in this post and you might as well try out the pumpkin spice steel-cut oatmeal while you're at it! It's the perfect breakfast on a cold morning. All of pumpkin's health-boosting properties are wonderful and all but I also needed a reason to use up all of the pumpkin puree lying around. Does anyone else have that problem? It's a good one to have.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
YIELD: 28 cookies

• 3/4 cup raw almond butter
• 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
• 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chunks (you can also cut up your favorite dark chocolate into chunks - this kind is my very favorite)
• 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs raw coconut nectar (you can also use pure maple syrup if that's all you have)
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1/4 tsp sea salt

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients, except for the chocolate chunks, and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chunks last. Add more sweetener if desired.

3. Using the tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop the cookie mixture onto the baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes for softer cookies or 18 minutes for firmer cookies. (I like them best after 18 minutes in the oven - the center is still soft and the outside is crispy!)

I hope your holiday season has been stress-free so far! I've been doing most of my shopping online since Dallas weather decided to have an insane ice storm this week. The roads were so icy and slick that we had to stay in all weekend and many schools have been closed or have had delayed starts for 3 or 4 days. We're just not prepared for this type of weather, especially considering it was in the 70s last week and dropped into the teens this week. Hopefully I can venture out this weekend and get more shopping done. 

Stay warm and cozy, my friends, and enjoy this time with your loved ones. One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to reflect back on the year and acknowledge my accomplishments and areas for improvement as well as goal-setting and action plans for the new year. I also try to disconnect from technology more often during the holidays to really stay in the present moment of real life.

If you're feeling stressed, like most people are during this time of year, I suggest doing some yoga or your favorite type of exercise, light a candle or incense and meditate, read, watch a movie, cuddle up with your pets and/or your significant other, or anything that relaxes and rejuvenates you, and think of all of the things you're grateful for instead of focusing on what's troubling you. You can't always control your circumstances but you can always control how you feel about them. Stay tuned for my most favorite entree I've ever made coming next week... another one that passed "the dad test" with flying colors. ;-)

"Nourishment extends beyond our diet. Truthfully, we are nourishing whatever we give our time and attention to. Positive or negative. Take a bit of time to observe your life in totality. What are you nourishing?" @Vegnspiration (Instagram)


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