Flourless Hazelnut Shortbread [vegan]

Grandma’s cookies gone healthy! These gluten-free vegan hazelnut shortbread cookies are a family favourite  – but with no refined sugar, no dairy and wheat-free, too.

Who knows best when it comes to cookies? Right, grandma. She’s the avid baker supplying the whole family *with tin upon tin of cookies every Christmas season. Sounds familiar? It’s been that way in my family forever. Both of my grandmas have dedicatedly spent hours upon hours, no, days, of their lives in the kitchen during the colder months to provide many a family member, friend or neighbour  with their amazing baked goods. Each of them creating certain varities that I have yet to  seen either in stores or other families. How amazing is it to think that every family still has those recipes that are handed down from generation to generation? Just me? Oh well.

*we’re talking six children and their families in my maternal grandma’s case here

Gluten vegan hazelnut shortbread cookies - just seven ingredients, no refined sugar, easy to prepare and a family favourite!

Today’s easy hazelnut shortbread cookies are actually a kind I used to overlook and probably consider tin fillers among the more exciting varieties for years. Yet somehow the adults of the family knew better all along and enjoyed these cookies’ simplicity and nutty aroma. How right they were. Only lightly sweetened but full of hazelnut flavour which was heathened by a rim of dark cocoa. Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies are a favourite with all adults in my family, especially when accompanied by a cup of coffee. Dunk- or dipping highly recommended.

Gluten vegan hazelnut shortbread cookies - just seven ingredients, no refined sugar, easy to prepare and a family favourite!

Because grandma’s cookies are neither vegan nor gluten-free, much less healthy I adapted her recipe. They’re still cookies, not health food but with whole grains and less refined sugar these Gluten-free Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies are a more nutritious alternative to the usual offerings in the cookie jar. Oh and another note: while the long instructions make it look like a complicated recipe it’s actually beyond simple. Win-win!

Gluten-free Vegan Hazelnut Shortbread

(yields ~ 30+ cookies)

1/2 cup of hazelnut meal [60 g; can grind your own in a high speed blender]
1 cup oat flour* [125 g]
1/4 cup of coconut sugar [50 g] + 1 tsp of cornstarch
Scant 1/4 cup of cornstarch [50 g]
1/2 cup of coconut oil, softened but not melted [125 g]
1 tsp vanilla
~ 1/4 cup [20 g] of unsweetened cocoa powder

*use certified gluten-free if necessary

  1. Place the coconut sugar and 1 tsp of cornstarch in a blender. Pulse until the sugar reaches a powdery consistency and lighter colour. Voilà, you just made your own powdered coconut sugar. Set aside.
  2. Combine the flour, hazelnut meal and cornstarch.
  3. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat together the coconut oil, sugar and vanilla on high speed.
  4. Slowly add in the flour mixture while mixing constantly until a smooth dough forms. You might need to knead with your hands to get everything well combined.
  5. Place your dough into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
    In the meantime, line a sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Once the dough is ready, preheat oven to 300 *F/150 *C. divide dough evenly and roll into two logs.
  7. Coat a large plate or cutting board with enough cocoa – you don’t want to see your surface anymore. Roll dough logs in cocoa until thoroughly coated.
  8. Slice logs into coin-sized cookies. Place on the baking sheet.
  9. Bake cookies for about 20 minutes. The centre of the cookies might still be a bit soft at this point but they harden as they cool.
  10. Let cool completely before eating.  Don’t try to pick up cookies right away to avoid ending up with crumbs all over the place!

Gluten vegan hazelnut shortbread cookies - just seven ingredients, no refined sugar, easy to prepare and a family favourite!

I’m linking up with Allergy Free Wednesdays#RecipeOfTheWeek,#StrangeButGoodGluten-Free Fridays,Tasty Tuesdays,Healthy Vegan Fridays, Meatless Mondays.

Happiness-inducing today:  Getting to pick up a few things from another place while at work, hence getting some fresh air and movement in. A much appreciated break from sitting at my desk for hours.

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What’s your favourite Christmas cookie?
Tell me one ‘special’ kind of cookies your grandma/mum/any other family member makes and is a must for you every year!

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One Bowl Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Buttery without the butter, delightfully sweet without refined sugar: With only eight ingredients, one bowl and no butter, oil or refined sugar these Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are vegan, gluten-free, easy to prepare and make for a great snack or nutritious treat.

healthy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

Where do I start with these healthy vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies? They’re small but mighty. Okay, not really. Yet they’re small but have quite the story to tell. Inspired by the oatmeal cookies my mum has been making, sharing with the whole family and raving about these had to happen. See, I’m all for my family eating oatmeal. And cookies. But if there’s an option to merge these in a healthier way I’m even more in for it. Needless to say my mum’s standard recipe does not fit this criteria or else I wouldn’t have dusted off my apron to get baking.*

*granted, I didn’t wear an apron but writing this post reminded me I really should the next time.

healthy vegan oatmeal cookies (hazelnut version)

The verdict? My mum took one bite and said: “delicious, you can bake me a tin full of these”. Needless to say this made my day. Because you might imagine the rarity of a statement like that coming from her. Can we call that a huge success? Especially surprising as – and I’m going to commit a blogger crime saying this – I wasn’t overly impressed by the cookies myself. But I should add that a) I’m generally not a cookie person. Chocolate has my heart, or, rather: sweet tooth. And b) I still thought they were delicious, I’d just choose chocolate over any cookie any day so I’m not qualified to judge ;). My sister was a fan of the cookies, too, though, which should say it all: thumbs up for these.

I tried both a hazelnut and almond version of these – the first picture above shows the almond, the second one the hazelnut ones – and both were equally well received. The almonds blend in well with the other flavours while the hazelnuts add a litte extra flavour  – which I personally thought was great – so you decide what you’re feeling like.

healthy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies -

Crispy on the edges, soft in the middle with a delightfully hearty oat flavour spiked with hints of chocolate – they just deliver. They’re not your average dessert-like sweet cookies but their more nutritious but not less delicious cousins. Have your cookie and eat it [for breakfast], too!

One Bowl Healthy Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

yields about 8 cookies

3/4 cup quick oats [60 g] + 1-2 tbsps, divided [use certified gluten-free if necessary]
2 tbsps ground almonds/almond meal OR hazelnut meal [~18-20 g]
3 tsps tapioca starch
2.5-3 tbsps of maple syrup [see notes]
1 heaped tbsp of coconut oil  [20 g]
Pinch of sea salt
1+ tbsps of mini chocolate chips OR chopped up dark chocolate [see notes]
1/2 tsp vanilla [optional]
[Optional: non-dairy milk]

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F/175 °C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, process the oatmeal into a fine flour. Add ground almonds, baking powder, salt and tapioca and give it a quick pulse to combine.
  3. Melt the coconut oil.
  4. Add the maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla if using to the dry ingredients in the blender and mix to combine. The dough should stick together well at this point. If the dough is too crumbly, add 1/2 tbsp of non-dairy milk at a time to reach the desired consistency. Transfer dough to a small mixing bowl.
  5. Using your hands, mix in the remaining oats. You want the dough to be less sticky and rollable, not crumbly, so start with 1 tbsp of oatmeal.
  6. Add the chocolate chips and stir through with a spoon or your hands.
  7. Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet, using around 3/4 of a tablespoon of dough per cookie. Roll into a ball and flatten into cookie shape between your palms. No need for perfection here.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let the cookies sit on the sheet for around five minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Notes:
Using hazelnut meal I found 2 1/2 tbsps of maple syrup to be enough but adjust to get the right consistency.

Use sugar-free/stevia-sweetened chocolate for a completely refined-sugar-free option.

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies_8

I’m linking up with Allergy Free Wednesdays#RecipeOfTheWeek,#StrangeButGoodGluten-Free Fridays,Tasty Tuesdays,Healthy Vegan Fridays, Meatless Mondays.

 

Happiness-inducing today:  Walking around outside soaking up the summery smell of the air. Can I bottle that scent up for colder months to come?!

 

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What’s one family favourite dish/cookie you’ve “healthified”?

Do you prefer chocolate chips or raisins in your oatmeal cookies?

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WIAW: Bring it back!

Oh, how I like me some good themes for What I ate Wednesday and Vegan Wednesday. This week? Well, you saw the title already so let’s bring it back! Old favourites or rediscovered food, that is. Because sometimes changing it up just means going back to former favourites or giving dishes a second chance. And for the jive Tupperware is making a return in today’s post, too.

WIAW_new2015

Starting with a recent new discovery, though. Or not completely new but finally successful. See, I’d  tried savoury oatmeal before  but it was … less palatable. I wasn’t going to give them another go but cravings are cravings. And cravings aren’t to be ignored, am I right?! So savoury oats have been on the breakfast menu almost every day for the past week. The key are enough add-ins and toppings to create a perfect bowl. My go-to combination is a base of carrot oats with nutritional yeast, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and mashed chickpeas. The bowl pictured below was my try at changing up the legume with kidney beans but it wasn’t as satisfying as my lovely garbanzos.

savoury oatmeal_breakfast

While my current job search has yet to come to fruition I’ve been giving private lessons to students at an institute in town every now and then. I won’t whine but yesterday was proof I’ll never become a teacher. Not like I had ever intended to, actually, but have you ever tried to get a bunch of seemingly hyperactive nine-year-olds to do simple math when they can’t even sit still for a minute? Let’s just say I have a newfound respect for elementary school teachers. You’re superheroes.

Tupper lunch_wheatberries_stir-fry

What that all had to do with my lunch? Well, since I was helping the kiddos from 12.45 to 4.45 PM I needed to bring some food with me or else I’d have risked eating somebody. I kid, I kid. Either way, I precooked some wheatberries on Monday night and topped a serving with a simple vegetable and chickpea stir-fry. Fun fact and one of those old favourites leading to today’s post title: Prior to eating this I hadn’t [consciously] eaten soy sauce in months. Why? Not for any other reason but the fact I’d bought a one litre bottle of the one and only brand [Kikkoman] but didn’t want to break into it knowing I’d move again rather soon. Why yes, I’m cautious enough – or anxious enough? – to worry about soy sauce spilling in the condiment box packed for the move. I make myself laugh. Anyway, now that we’ve been reunited I see myself eating simple stir-fries on end. Sometimes the simple dishes are really the best.

apple_peanut butter_snack

I’d actually packed an apple as a snack, too, but given it was a struggle to squeeze in eating my lunch I ended up eating it at home. Which was probably better in anyway since that’s where I was able to pair it with the best dip ever: Peanut butter. No, I haven’t abandoned my declared favourite but crunchy salted peanut butter has made its comeback in past weeks. Good for my wallet, too, because dang is my obsession expensive.

Because I came home ravenous after work – I told you it was strenuous 😉 – I snacked pretty much all afternoon while writing a letter. Before we talk about one of those snacks remember what Jenn stresses: WIAW is not about judgement. Okay? Good. Meet my favourites: chickpeas. Yes, you knew that already but did I ever mention I’ve been eating them straight from the can? What can I say: Roasting takes too long if I want food fast and they’re just so satisfying. Go judge – or try it yourself the next time you crave a savoury snack in an instant.

chickpeas_snack

Dinner … once more escaped the camera [as well as about 394948596 more snacks]. I’d tried to remind myself to take a picture for blogging’s sake but in my defense: I got a call shortly before, was distracted and then remembered when I was almost done eating. It was cocoa banana oat bran with almond butter if you were wondering, though. Actually, that’s my go-to  dinner and I’ll probably keep eating it until I’m getting really bored.

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: Smelling the flowers while being cyling into town. There’s one field that

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Have you recently eaten any foods you had unconsciously neglected for a longer while?

Are you a Tupper fan? If not: how do you transport your food to work?

Savoury oats: yes or no? Share your favourite add-ins!

Very vegan at Vengo and with Vivani

Why is it always so incredibly hard to start a post??? How about this: it’s a happy day, the sun is [hopefully as I’m writing this the night before] shining and we’re about to talk about food! What a surprise on the day of the week that combines both the What I ate Wednesday and Vegan Wednesday shenanigans. Oh well, at least I didn’t even pretend I was feeling the creative intros today. (:

* a note on that title: I was no paid by either the restaurant or the company [see further down below] but I’m a sucker for alliterations. Sue me.

 

WIAW_new2015

Can we take a moment to appreciate the fact I ate out again? I wasn’t expecting to return to Vengo this soon again but Monday saw me and my mum spontaneously meeting up in Bremen again. I wish I lived there! Not just for the food but because we spent some time touring the city and it’s really beautiful. I might just need to take some time to sort through the 384756746 pictures I took and give you a little glimpse into our stroll. For now, however: food. Blogger food: hummus.

Bremen_Vengo_hummus_March 2015

Regarding the food, however, I was slightly disappointed. After my  last visit I had high expectations. Sadly, the Brussels Sprout and Beet Curry with turmeric rice was only sub-par. The taste was deliciously spicy but the vegetables were cooked to almost mushy consistency and that’s a huge minus in my books. Also, the amount of beets – not a favourite food of mine at all but I want to like them hence why I picked this dish – was lacking.

Bremen_Vengo_brussels sprout and beet curry_March 2015

My mum’s stuffed eggplant was infinitely more pleasant, though, so I can forgive that one low. I may ro may not have considered this my second plate and stolen more than one bite. My mum loves me for that ;). Clearly.

Bremen_Vengo_stuffed eggplant_March 2015

There was a reason today’s WIAW started with lunch because breakfast is about to get classy right here. Tupper-style. Going from breakfast phase to breakfast phase I can safely say the oatmeal kick is back. The past few months were decidedly savoury but these last weeks oatmeal has been the name of the game again. I can’t say I was complaining. Others would probably talk about how they craved carbs first thing in the morning but I prefer to see it this way: I crave sweet, filling and fluffy oats. With almond and peanut butter, please.

Oatmeal_tupper_blueberry sauce_almond butter

What has changed compared to my last long oatmeal-for-breakfast stint, though, is my preferred way of preparation or better yet way to enjoy it. Still cooked stovetop but  not eaten hot. Rather, I’m all about the mock overnight variety. Read: cook oatmeal with extra chia seeds, let cool down, put into the fridge overnight and have a delicious cold pudding-like concoction waiting for you in the morning. Try it! Along with nut butters I’ve been adding fruit sauces on top. Fresh berries might cost a small fortune but frozen are a decent enough sub.

Keeping up with my favourite endings I’d like to introduce you to a new discovery in my world*. Vivani is a German company making a genuine effort to broaden vegans choices on the chocolate market. Part of this are a number of snack-sized bars in enticing flavours. I’ll try to hunt down the other ones, too, but for now I can only speak about the White Nougat Crisp. Unlike you’d expect it’s not actually a white chocolate bar but has a delightful hazelnutty taste and creamy meltiness. It’s a huge difference from my usual choice of darker chocolate bars but quite good nonetheless. A bit too sweet for my taste so it might not become a regular purchase but the next time I’m craving a milk chocolate-like treat I know how to satisfy it. So if you’re vegan or lactose-intolerant longing for dairy chocolate this one’s for you!

* Disclaimer: I bought this chocolate bar with my own money and without the company’s kowledge of me mentioning it in my post. – or even knowing I purchased it altogether.  All opinions are my own.

Happiness-inducing today: My grandma being happy about me calling her after she had a rather exhausting day. It made me feel a tad guilty for not doing so more often.

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How often do you eat out?

What is your favourite bar of chocolate? Details! Dark? Whole milk? White? Which add-ins or fillings?

Why I’m no professional food blogger

Hello there,

Are you all curious about the title? Allow me just one more second to thank Jenn – and potentially a whole new bunch of loyal What I ate Wednesday participants acting as additional hosts – for bringing back the weekly food party. I already find it somewhat hard to join – as in: remember to take pictures of my meals – regularly but dedicating hours upon hours of work on moderating the link-up deserves a round of applause for our hosts. Or just a hunk of cheese.

About that title now? Well, do you ever eat something that’s OMG so delicious I need to share it with everybody? Good, me, too. But more often than not, I either a) lack any pictural proof of said food because I ate it too fast, b)I was too lazy to break out the camera or c) see below.

WIAW_new2015

 

Breakfast doesn’t show any exhibits of the absence of any and all food blogger requirements. Okay, some [my perfection side included] might argue with that sentence but in general? Not too bad. Stove-top vegan vanilla oatmeal with a pear, chocolate drizzle – oh, and almond butter added post-picture. Always almond butter. Why post-picture? Because I don’t like to add it all right away, then take my first spoonful of oatmeal and break apart the almond butter swirl, essentially loosing it as it mingles with the oats. Call me weird, it’s okay.I also need to work on my chocolate syrup drizzling skills but that would be delving into nitty-gritty details already.

Pear vanilla oatmeal

Lunch is by far my most non-food blogger-esque [do you like my neologism?] meal of the day. It’s the perfect example of disregarding all rules – proper lighting, setting out props, using clean, fresh dishes*. Nevertheless, this chili polenta bake with cheese was too delicious not to show it. Once I manage to actually follow a few food blogger rules and get proper pictures there might be a recipe post coming up.

*no, I don’t eat from dirty dishes, don’t worry. What I mean to say is I always have to take a first scoop of any dish hence the plate I’m about to use isn’t spotless anymore.

[Worst food blogger rule broken below: shooting with flash. I cringe.]Chili polenta bake_2

And apparently I needed to document my own little #cheeseporn. I can’t hold a candle to Meghan and Heather but was quite content all that melty goodness. Everything’s a little better when you add cheese. Especially polenta which way back I used to look down at but now? Give me all the polenta. It’s seriously funny how our palates change with time and – when it comes to food – proper preparation.

Chili Polenta Bake_cheese

And apparently I needed to document my own little #cheeseporn. I can’t hold a candle to Meghan and Heather but was quite content all that melty goodness. Oh yes, I like cheese and I cannot lie. On a slightly more serious note I will admit I still feel pinges of slight guilt in admitting this [to myself only because nobody around cares]. If vegan cheese was readily available around where I live I’d probably opt for it. But given it’s not and my cheese cravings have been through the roof real cheese it is.

Chili polenta bake_plate

Back to the pictures: the one above is proof that impatience is my worst trait when it comes to taking them. In my defense the light in my apartment is any [food or else] photographers nightmare so getting proper shots of anything is a pain. But it doesn’t help when I’m basically starting off hungry and once the food is plated can’t eat it fast enough. Planning is everything.

Maybe I should have also planned on how to end this post because you know I like those sweet endings. How about going with Throwback Thursday a day early [because Throwback Wednesday doesn’t have that ring to it] and showing you an old picture of when I was testing for Kristy’s cookbook? Her Chocolate Truffles were perfection. Thanks to my mum for hand-modeling in the picture below.

Truffles_keepin' it kind recipe tester

And that’s a wrap. Cheese and chocolate – what’s not to like?! I hope your Wednesday is going well so far and fuelled by some delicious food.

 

Happiness-inducing today: A hot shower on a dreary day. It’s the simple things in life.

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How much time do you usually set aside to take pictures of your meals for WIAW posts?

Stovetop or overnight oatmeal? I used to be a huge stovetop-only person but lately the cold oats have been more appealing ín the morning. If we’re talking oat bran for dinner, though, it absolutely has to be hot. No way around this here.

 

 

WIAW: On the road again

… or actually: on the -train- again. The previously mentioned weekend meet-up with my mum didn’t happen but we got a chance on Saturday. Given I left at 8 AM and didn’t return until 9.45 PM packing food and eating out was inevitable.  So for today’s What I ate Wednesday and Vegan Wednesday what a day of traveling with food looks like for me

A lack of kabocha has my deviate from  my usual favourite and back on the oatmeal train [pun not intended] for breakfast again. Rolled oats cooked with water, soy milk,  peanut flour, zucchini and – necessary – salt. Topped with popped amaranth and coconut flour ‘crumbles’. I missed the almond butter. I’m not above using empty soy yogurt containers as oatmeal carriages. In fact, I consider it perfectly reasonable recycling. Only they are big enough for my servings. Oats in a jar are no option because nut butters come in glass jars over here and I don’t feel like lugging one of those around. Hello, weight lifting.

Oats_for the train

Snacks included two cinnamon chickpea protein bars. Slightly smushed after waiting in my handbag so you’ll get the pretty picture. While my favourite way to eat these is cold straight from the fridge they are delicious even Unpictured snacks were apples, a cookie, … I always crave fruit even more than on regular days when traveling. Maybe it’s drinking less – in an effort to avoid using the toilet on the train. If you’ve ever been on a train you’ll know why …

Protein Bars 1

After some – successful (!) – shoe shopping my stomach and mind were calling for a proper sit-down meal. When in Hamburg we usually like to seek out one of our favourite smaller restaurants in the Schanzenviertel. But with a limited time window and shopping downtown we went for another go-to closer by. Cha cha is one of my favourite chain restaurants – only topped by Dolores. I ordered Thai fried rice with vegetables,  sesame soy sauce and cashews. The serving was very generous [the picture doesn’t do it justice] so I didn’t manage to finish it. Especially because my mum needed some help with her dish … Only not really but that’s what she gets for eating out with me.

Eating out_cha cha_September 2014

My Mum got their Yellow Curry Noodles with Pineapple and Seitan. The pasta wasn’t vegan but I ate around it picking out the best part: obviously the coconut milk-drenched seitan. Luckily for both of us, our dishes weren’t overly spicy like some food at Cha Cha can be. Remind me to finally prepare seitan at home because this was good.

Eating out_cha cha_September 2014_2

Dinner was an eat-all-the-food affair – I returned home ready to chew my arm off. Kabocha – found in Hamburg and yes; I buy and travel with heavy squash if I spot the elusive variety. Living in no-mans-country no-[kabocha] squash-country isn’t easy.
Steamed as usual and with the added coconut oil this was all I could have asked for after a long day of traveling. I’ve yet to come to a final result on its added satiating powers but it’s delicious either way.

Breakfast_kabocha

Happiness-inducing today: The chatterbug but very kind and helpful owner of the small health food store in the town I work.

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What do typical days on the road/ train look like for you food-wise?

How do you transport oats [to work or when traveling]?