Sweets

Soft Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

Soft Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

One rainy, cold October day I found myself with a jar leftover pumpkin puree and a hankering for some fresh baked cookies. What cookie combo is more warming than rich molasses, spicy ginger and warming cinnamon?

This recipe uses simple ingredients that you probably already have AND all you need is one bowl! You’d never guess that they’re gluten and dairy-free!

The combination of pumpkin puree, almond meal and a touch of coconut oil makes these cookies super soft and moist. The molasses and coconut sugar add the perfect amount of sweetness to bring out the warming spices.

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Is molasses good for you?

Yes! Molasses is one of my favorite sweeteners because of it’s earthy, sweet, robust flavor. I always opt for blackstrap molasses because it has a much higher concentration of minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium compared to light and dark molasses. It also has a much lower glycemic index than most sweeteners, so it doesn’t spike your blood sugar as much.

How Do I Make Oat Flour?

Easy! Just put some rolled oats in a blender or food processor and process until it turns into a fine flour. I like to make a big batch and keep it on hand in my pantry for baking.

Can you substitute banana for pumpkin?

Most recipes that call for pumpkin puree can be substituted with banana. Just keep in mind the banana will add more sweetness, so you might want to cut back on the sugar.

What makes a soft cookie?

In general, soft-baked cookies tend to have more moisture and are baked at a lower temperature. Most soft or chewy cookies use more brown sugar or molasses as a sweetener because it contains more water/moisture than cane sugar. Using ingredients like pumpkin or banana will make a cookie softer because it also adds a lot of moisture.

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Soft Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

Makes about 14 cookies

Ingredients:
½ cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup blackstrap molasses
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup almond meal
1 cup oat flour
2 tbsp coconut sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, molasses, coconut oil, vanilla and egg. Add the almond meal, oat flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, baking soda and salt. Stir the batter until everything is thoroughly combined.

Scoop the dough in heaping spoonfuls onto the baking sheet . Use your hands to flatten them out as best you can until about 1/4-inch thick.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until the cookies feel slightly firm and the bottoms are golden.

Allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Soft Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

  1. Make sure you flatten the cookies to about 1/4 inch thick. It helps to use wet hands so the batter doesn’t stick to your fingers!

  2. Substitute banana for the pumpkin if you’ve gotten overripe bananas on hand.

  3. Nut allergy? Try substituting the almond flour with 1 cup oat flour and increasing the coconut oil to 3 tablespoons or more until the dough is moist enough.

  4. To make vegan, substitute one flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp water, let sit for 10 minutes).

  5. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days or in the fridge for up to 10 days.

German Apple Tart

German Apple Tart (Apfel Schnitten)

One of my favorite fall activities is wandering amongst the apple trees with Mt. Hood in the background and a hot apple cider in hand. There are so many amazing apple orchards in Hood River with beautiful views of the mountain, it’s magical!

We obviously came home with an abundance of apples and the only logical thing to do is to bake a healthy apple treat, am I right? This one was inspired by my momma! When we were kids, my mom would always make these German tarts with whatever fruit was in season. In the fall/winter it was apples or pears and in the summer it was peaches or plums (my fav).

The original dough is a super simple tart dough, but loaded with refined sugar and flour, so I ‘health-ified’ by substituting almond flour and coconut sugar. The texture came out soo good — crispy yet slightly chewy and delightfully nutty!

Pre-bake

Pre-bake

Post-bake :)

Post-bake :)

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What is a German Apple Tart?

I asked my mom what the German name was for the recipe and she said ‘Apfel Schnitten’. I googled it and a ton of different looking recipes came up. We called it German apple tarts as kids so that’s what I’m calling it! Essentially it’s just a pie-like crush topped with fruit and nuts and baked until golden.

Which apple is best for baking?

I prefer using tart apples like Granny Smith, Empire, or Elstar but a sweeter variety like Honey Crisp works well too. You want to use an apple that is firm and crisp. A lot of it is just personal preference.

How do you make an apple tart?

It’s simple! Just throw together a basic dough, roll it out, top it with seasonal fruit + nuts and bake until golden. It’s the perfect vehicle for vanilla ice cream :)

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German Apple Tart

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup almond meal
2 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 small apple, cored, thinly sliced
1 egg, whisked (egg wash)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 325F.

In a bowl, mix together the almond meal, coconut sugar, coconut oil, egg yolk, vanilla and salt. Use your hands to knead the dough to make sure everything is evenly mixed. Form it into a ball.

Place the dough on the parchment-lined baking sheet and press into a square shape. Use a rolling pin (or wine bottle!) to roll the dough out until it’s about ¼-inch thick.

Layer the apples on top of the dough and gently press them down. Use a brush (or a paper towel or napkin) to spread a thin layer of the egg wash on top of the apples (helps them get nice and brown). Sprinkle with cinnamon and top with chopped hazelnuts, if using.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges of the dough are deeply golden.

Serve warmed topped with vanilla ice cream! I also enjoy it for breakfast cold or warm with plain whole milk yogurt on top!

Tips and Tricks for the perfect German Apple Tart

  1. If you don’t have a rolling pin or wine bottle you can just use your hands to press out the dough, it just won’t be as uniform.

  2. Don’t press the apples into the dough too hard, just gently so that it makes contact. When it bakes, the apples will stick!

  3. The egg wash helps the apples to get a little golden, but you can skip this step, it doesn’t change the flavor.

  4. I used homemade almond meal (just almonds blended in a food processor). You can use store-bought almond meal or the finer almond flour (haven’t tried with almond flour but it should still work).

  5. I made the recipe to serve 4, but you can easily double it for a crowd!

  6. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Reheat in the oven or microwave.

  7. This will keep in the fridge for 1 week, but I promise it won’t last that long!





Maple Oat Cookies

Maple Oat Cookies

The most simple, delicious and healthy oat cookies EVER! It only takes 5 minutes to make the batter, 8-10 minutes in the oven AND uses only 5 ingredients that you probably already have! Bake them until the edges just start to turn golden brown, let them cool and then bite into the crispy edges and soft, maple oat center.

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I thought these up as I was enjoying  a rhubarb crumble at home and straight up eating the crumble topping with a spoon hoping no one would notice. There's no way I'm the only one who does this, it's the best part! I honestly believe that the ratio of crumble to filling should be about 2:1...maybe 3:1. 

How do you make your own almond meal?

I never buy almond flour anymore ever since I tried making it myself. All you need is a blender or food processor and some almonds. Pulse until a fine meal starts to form. 

What's the difference between almond flour and almond meal?

Almond flour is usually finer than almond meal and generally uses blanched almonds, meaning almonds that have been flash cooked so that the skins come off. Almond meal is the whole almond, giving you way more nutrition and fiber.

What can I use to replace almond flour for a nut allergy?

I always recommend that people try to use a seed flour in place of almond flour. You could try substituting oat flour or regular flour, but it will result in a much more dry cookie. Try pulsing sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds in a blender or food processor until a fine meal forms. 

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Maple Oat Cookies

Makes: 12 small cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup almond meal (see above how to make your own)
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, stir together the almond meal, oats and salt. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until a uniform dough forms.

Scoop tablespoon-sized cookies onto the baking sheet. Use your hands to flatten them (they will not spread), making sure they keep their shape. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges JUST start to turn light golden brown. Allow to cool for a bit so they hold together. 


Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Cookies

1. The cookies may not seem done, but will firm up as they cool. It's better to undercook them then overcook them, unless you like a super crunchy cookie. 
2. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks
3. For a nut-free option, substitute pumpkin seed or sunflower seed meal (details in questions above) 
4. These cookies make amazing ice cream sandwiches!
5. Double the recipe and freeze half for emergency cookies!

Berries n' Cream Popsicles

Berries N' Cream Popsicles

Summer is here and HOT as ever! These fruity, refreshing, creamy popsicles are here to cool you down and wake you up from the summer heat. All you have to do is mash up some berries, mix together some yogurt, assemble and freeze!

I used to LOVE the berry Creamsicle Popsicles as a kid -- an inner layer of vanilla ice cream with an outer frozen berry puree. Well those aren't so good for my lactose-intolerant peeps AND they're loaded with refined sugar and fillers. This healthier version has layer's of fresh, juicy berries and slightly sweet, tart yogurt for the perfect fruity, creamy combo. 

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Are popsicles good for you?

Not all popsicles are created equal. The popular mainstream ones like Creamsicles, Ice Cream Sandwich, Strawberry Shortcake Bars, etc... are all loaded with preservatives, sugar, and a whole slew of ingredients you can't even pronounce. It's so easy to make your own healthy versions at home where you can control the ingredients and amount of sugar you put in. If you don't already have popsicle molds, here are my FAVORITE POPSICLE MOLDS that come with popsicle sticks so you'll have everything you need! Totally worth the small investment!

How were popsicles invented?

I bet you didn't know popsicles were invented by an 11-year old boy named Frank Epperson in 1905. He had mixed soda powder with water and left it out overnight with below freezing temperatures and when he found them he devoured them so fast and declared them Epsicles. He then sold them around town and got Popsicles patented. Talk about a young entrepreneur! 

How long do popsicles last in the freezer?

These popsicles will last up to a year in your freezer, but, lets be real, would they ever last that long? NOPE.  

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BERRIES N' CREAM POPSICLES

Makes: 6 popsicles
Prep time: 10 minutes (plus overnight or 8 hours for freezing)

Ingredients:
1 cup blackberries (~5 oz)
1 cup strawberries (~5 oz)
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 tbsp maple syrup
Juice of 1/2 lime
Pinch of sea salt

Instructions:
Place the berries in separate bowls and mash them up with a fork. If they aren't super ripe or juicy, add a couple tablespoons of maple syrup, or to taste.

In a separate bowl, mix together the yogurt, maple syrup, lime juice and salt.

Get your popsicle molds out and start by filling them with a heaping spoonful of berries followed by a heaping spoonful of yogurt. Repeat this process until the molds are full. Make sure there are no air bubbles by pressing the spoon down into the molds, melding the layers together. Place popsicle sticks into each mold.

Freeze overnight or for at least 8 hours. To remove, fill a large bowl with warm water and dip the popsicle molds in for 3-5 seconds. Try and wiggle the popsicles out (if they aren't budging, dip them back in the water). 

Store in an airtight ziploc bag or tupperware container. 

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Popsicles

1. You can make popsicles with any fruit you have on hand. Berries, peaches, watermelon, kiwi, etc...
2. Throw the fruit in a blender for a smoother texture.
3. Don't have popsicle molds? You could always use muffin cups, paper cups, anything sort of cylindrical and small. However, they are worth the small investment if you plan on making them often.
4. Most popsicle molds come with a lid so that it holds your popsicle sticks in place. If you don't have this, it helps to partially freeze them and then slide the sticks in so they don't fall over. Nothing wrong with a crooked popsicle though!