Whole Grain Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whole Grain Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

It’s been a while since my body told me, definitively, that I need to slow down and take a breath. I finally reached that point last Wednesday.

In the midst of a comically stressful week, my body succumbed to one of the worst colds I’ve ever had. It felt as though I had been hit by the sickness bus. My head hurt, my back hurt, my body ached, my nose itched, and my sneezes were so intense that I saw my dog’s entire body jump with each expulsion, as though levitating from the energy coming from my mouth.

Every moment I spent vertically made me feel worse. My body forced me to slow down, sleep a ton, and finally watch Frozen. Totally worth all the hype, by the way.

Whole Grain Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

When I felt well enough to move like a normal human, I decided to bake cookies for myself. Most of my baked goods are made with others in mind. I always know I’ll enjoy them as well, but my main thought when baking will be, “My family will love these,” or “I can bring these to work/my friend’s house” etc. This time I made cookies just for me, specifically to my tastes and food preferences. Sure, I’ve shared with friends and family when they’ve been around, but this particular batch of cookies has made its home in my little glass cake stand on my kitchen counter, and is primarily being consumed by yours truly. These cookies make me happy.

It was a small step in self nurture, which is something I’ve kind of been lacking lately. I have no qualms about making myself feel better with food. It is what it is, and it’s pretty tasty.

Whole Grain Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

These cookies are made without refined flour or sugar, but they’re also made with a hefty amount of brown butter and dark chocolate. Since I’m a bit of a whole foods advocate, but also a brown butter and chocolate advocate, all of these ingredients seemed appropriate.

Whole Grain Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

I used spelt flour, because I love its subtle nutty flavor, but you can definitely swap whole wheat pastry flour, or unbleached all purpose (if you’re not concerned with the “whole grain” thing). Almond meal adds moistness and a light almond flavor to the dough, while old-fashioned oats bring a bit of texture. If you don’t have sucanat (dried sugar cane) on hand, I suspect you could swap it with brown sugar, since the flavor is very similar.

These cookies are thick, chewy, and stay soft for days. I like heating them up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds before devouring, because melted chocolate chips make life better.

Whole Grain Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

Take care of yourself. Make some cookies.
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Chai Spice Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (Vegan)

Chai Spice Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (Vegan) | Veggie and the Beast

So. I made myself a vegan birthday cake. If you knew me in real life you’d realize how funny this is. If you knew me in real life you’d know that birthdays are a BIG DEAL in my family, and they are usually wrapped up by diving head first into a bucket (literally a bucket) filled with oreos, chocolate pudding, and cool whip. Dang girl, is it good.

I plan on eating both cakes today. It’s my birthday, so I get to cake myself as much as I want to! Birthdays are the BEST, aren’t they?

As I’ve mentioned before, I love vegan baking. Regular baking with dairy and eggs is a challenge in itself, so once you take away those magic ingredients it’s kind of like a sick, addicting torture to try to get it right. Read into that what you will.

Spiced Chai Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (Vegan) | Veggie and the Beast

Baking layer cakes puts me in a strange zone of concentration where time zooms past and daylight fades far too quickly. There’s so much detail and planning involved, and so much riding on what happens when you flip that cake pan upside down and hope everything baked evenly and no cake bits got stuck in the process. It’s exciting and heartbreaking at the same time. It’s an unpredictable, sugar-filled drug, and it’s definitely my drug of choice (unless we’re counting wine, because wine wins everything).

Speaking of sugar-filled drugsā€¦can you ever frost a cake and not run your finger through it for a taste? I apparently can’t.

Chai Spice Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (Vegan) | Veggie and the Beast

This birthday cake, which we’ll refer to as Birthday Cake #1, is fluffy, sweet, and spiced like my favorite wake up/warm up drink: Chai Tea. I drink 2 very (VERY) strong cups of chai tea every morning. Without my tea I’m lost, crabby, and fairly non-functional. It ain’t pretty.

Chai Spice Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (Vegan) | Veggie and the Beast

I like to drink my chai tea out of the mug I brought back from studying abroad in Greece. It has a couple chips in the rim. That’s how you know its loved.

I also like to drink my chai tea in cake form, it turns out.

Spiced Chai Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (Vegan) | Veggie and the Beast

On top of the chai-spiced cake goes a thick, creamy [butter-free] buttercream with that wonderfully decadent and sweet hint of vanilla bean. I’ve only recently discovered how much I love baking with real vanilla bean, so it needed to make an appearance in my [1st] birthday cake.

The 2nd birthday cake, the [VERY] non-vegan birthday cake, is the filling to these cupcakes. I’ll take one of each. Please and thank you.
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Whole Wheat Coconut Oil Cutout Cookies

Coconut Oil Whole Wheat Cutout Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

I really didn’t set out to post 3 cookie recipes in a row. I wish I could say this was all part of my well-organized December Christmas blog plan, but the truth is that I just really really really like cookies, and my blog plan is determined by my tummy.

I’ve mentioned before that my family’s Christmas diet is about 90% cookies, and the other 10% is filled with various types of white bread. I guess the meat eaters also have some sort of poultry or pig, but really it’s all about the sugar and white carbs.

…so obviously I had to kind of screw that up.

Coconut Oil Whole Wheat Cutout Cookies | Veggie and the Beast
Coconut Oil Whole Wheat Cutout Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

Although our cookie spread will include the usual white-sugar, white flour, and butter-laden treats, some of our sugar cookie cutouts will be hiding healthy secrets. These guys are made with 100% whole wheat flour, no butter, and no refined sugars, yet are still soft, sweet, and cute as can be.

Especially if you use a Minnesota-shaped cookie cutter. Obviously.

Coconut Oil Whole Wheat Cutout Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

The folks at Ziggy Marley Organics were nice enough to gift me with a lovely array of products to play with, so I replaced the butter in these cookies with coconut oil. The resulting cookies don’t taste like coconut (my crazy coconut-hating sister didn’t even notice the coconut flavor), but the smooth and rich texture of the coconut oil results in a cookie that’s light in texture, yet full of moisture and healthy fats.

Coconut Oil Whole Wheat Cutout Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

Whole wheat pastry flour lends a nutty flavor, which I highlighted with a little cinnamon. Sucanat’s flavor is similar to brown sugar, but I find it’s a little sweeter, so I balanced it with a bit more salt than I’d usually use in a cookie recipe.

Coconut Oil Whole Wheat Cutout Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

I actually baked these earlier today, so this marks the FASTEST I’ve ever put up a blog post. My mom, sister, and sister-in-law came over to throw around flour, butter, and powdered sugar this afternoon. Our annual Christmas baking day is one of my favorite days of the year, because it’s just the start of the family time (and cookie time) that the holidays bring. I won’t be posting again this week, so here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful and delicious holiday!
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Almond Butter Oatmeal and Cherry Cookies {Vegan, Refined-Sugar Free}

Almond Butter Oatmeal Spelt Cookies from Veggie and the Beast

Oh 3pm, you’re so predictable. All other hours of my workday at least provide some variety to my thought processes, but not you, 3pm. You’re all about the antsy, boredom, will-this-day-ever-end cravings. No matter how much I stuff myself with a hearty and nutritious lunch, you’re going to make me twiddle my fingers until I find something delicious for them to grasp, aren’t you?

The form of these cravings changes day-to-day. I used to want chips, and then I went through a phase where I would just spoon peanut butter out of the jar (note: dangerous), but lately I’ve been all about sweets. Specifically, I want a baked good. At 3pm. Every damn day. Sure, a decadent midday baked good is fine every-so-often, but everyday? Get your head out of the sugary, cotton candy clouds, Katie.

Almond Butter Oatmeal Spelt Cookies from Veggie and the Beast

I do, however, heartily believe in the power of an afternoon pick-me-up. Sometimes you just neeeed that boost to get through the final couple hours of the workday. Which brings me to these cookies. I made them on Monday night when I realized I shouldn’t deny myself the baked goodness, but perhaps I could make a healthier option than what’s in the cupboards at work (i.e. Famous Amos).

These have everything I love in a cookie: thick, chewy, and full of texture, plus they’re packed with maple syrup and almond butter, which are two of my favorite things. I’ve been eating them around 3pm at work this week and they definitely help me appease the late-afternoon ants in my pants.

Almond Butter Oatmeal Spelt Cookies from Veggie and the Beast

I only recently began baking with spelt flour, and I think I’m in love. It’s a whole grain flour, but it’s high in protein, easy to digest, and packed with nutrients. The flavor is nutty and similar to whole wheat, but I find it slightly more mild, which can make a big difference in the taste of your baked goods.

To boost the benefits beyond spelt, I used a small amount of coconut oil for the fat, then added applesauce, almond butter, and maple syrup for extra moisture and flavor. The oats add fiber and texture, while the dried cherries bring some tartness to the mix.

Almond Butter Oatmeal Spelt Cookies from Veggie and the Beast

These cookies are vegan, but if you’d rather use a regular egg than a chia/flax egg I’m sure that would be fine. The other ingredients can also be tweaked to your liking; swap out the almond butter for peanut butter (or any other nut butter), replace the cherries with other dried fruits, nuts, or chocolate chips (which I MUST try next). Obviously, if you try any different combinations, let me know!
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Maple Oat Walnut Scones {Whole Wheat}

Whole Wheat Maple Walnut Oat Scones

When label certain things as “off limits” you inevitably want them more. I know this is common knowledge, but I’ve learned it the hard way. When I gave up gluten, for example, I ended up “tweaking out” (my sister’s words) while watching others enjoy fresh, right-outta-the-oven pizza. For my own sanity, and the well-being of those around me, I ended up inhaling the chewy, gluten-filled dough that day, which was only 3 1/2 weeks after starting my gluten-free lifestyle. Whups.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been an on-and-off caffeine addict since college. I’ve given it up a few times for a month here and there because I liked the idea of being naturally awake without the need for caffeine. Caffeine-free Katie never stuck around for long, until a little over a year ago. I’ve had headache problems most of my life, but last year I was having upwards of 3 migraines every week. A coworker with similar migraine issues recommended I give up caffeine. At first I laughed and dismissed the idea; “Have you SEEN the thermos I bring with me everyday?” I thought of that caffeine-filled thermos as my friend…My morning friend that kick-started my day, and made me feel like I could deal with the ridiculousness that sometimes comes with my job.

Whole Wheat Maple Walnut Oat Scones

Eventually I realized that friend could be a big pain in the head…literally. After reading up on the caffeine-migraine connection, I decided getting off “the sauce” might help my situation. Over the following months I celebrated my decrease in headaches, but another side of me mourned the loss of my morning friend. To ease the pain of my loss, I found decaf tea I enjoyed, drank more water, and optimistically waited for my “natural awakeness” to kick in.

It never did.

Fast forward to about a month ago, and my caffeine-free enthusiasm reached an all-time low. I’d walk into the kitchen at work and just sniiiiiiiff the coffee-scent from the pot that sits next to the water-heater I use for my stupid tea. My relapse started innocently enough; I’d grab a cup of black tea every few days, and maybe a really small cup of coffee, only when I absolutely “needed” it. Then, my mom and dad gave me a Caribou gift card for Easter, so I decided that meant I should probably pick up some coffee on my way to work. After all, it would be a waste to use such a kind gift on something like decaf tea.

You get where this is going. I’ve had caffeine every day for the past week and a half, and for the majority of those days my caffeine has been in coffee form. I’m so bad! I’m so screwed!…but the punishment migraine hasn’t come yet. I’ve told myself that as soon as I have to suffer the repurcussions I’ll need to stop, but until then? Stop and smell the roasted beans.

Whole Wheat Maple Walnut Oat Scones

So anyway, these scones aren’t helping my problem. I always associate scones with comfortable mornings, acoustic music, and coffee, because whenever I wait in line at a coffee shop the pastry case just STARES ME IN THE FACE. Most of it I can talk myself out of buying, since I make a mean muffin, and I bet those ridiculously-large cookies are dry anyway, but oh-my-gaaaaawd the scones. Especially the Starbucks Maple Oat Pecan Scone. It’s just so buttery and delicious and covered in drizzle! Unfortunately, if I force myself out of my scone trance, I remember that it’s also full of gross things that I would never put into anything I bake at home.

Although there is nothing wrong with buying a scone at a coffee shop occasionally, I decided last week that I needed to learn how to make my own. After all, if I’m going to keep drinking coffee, and therefore continue to crave calorie-laden scones, I might as well make sure they’re not full of a bunch of chemicals. See? I can be logical sometimes.

These scones are just as buttery and satisfying as the Starbucks variety, but they’re 100% whole wheat, nearly free of refined sugar (except the tiny bit of glaze on top), and completely void of scary, long, unpronounceable ingredients. In other words, they are a GOOD decision, which I can only assume completely negates the delicious, warm, caffeinated BAD decision that they always must accompany.
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