Gluten and Guilt-Free Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookies

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I like to consider myself lucky in that I’ve never been a huge fan of chocolate. I’m not one of those people who craves the sweet stuff: I’d rather have a bowl of chips with a nice pot of garlic mayo. 

But sometimes I do get the odd hankering for a biscuit, you know? It’s like there’s an itch that only a cookie or a cake will scratch. Hobnobs used to be my go-to itch scratcher but they most definitely aren’t gluten-free or Paleo in the slightest. 9 Bars are amazing, but they still feel quite processed and I prefer to eat them on-the-go. To satisfy my cravings I’ve been eating the leftover Halloween chocolate but it leaves me feeling a bit gross and guilty. 

Gluten-free peanut butter and chocolate cookies

Enter these Gluten-free, Butter-free, White sugar-free, Guilt-free Peanut Butter Chocolate cookies. The answer to all my problems!! 

Having always been a bit sniffy of peanuts in desserts or baking I didn’t really expect to like these at all, envisioning myself feeding them to the children for days to come. But let me tell you, these are some of the most delicious biscuits I’ve ever baked. I’ve had two a day every day since I first discovered the recipe and I don’t see that changing. My itch is totally gone.  IMG_1263 IMG_1265

The recipe is super easy; you only need a small amount of ingredients and you can whip up a batch in minutes. The batter needs to chill in the fridge for at least an hour but for a maximum of five days, so what I like to do is cook in batches of six cookies. That way you get to munch on oven-fresh cookies every couple of days! 

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OK, so they’re not quite Paleo but they’re pretty damn close. And that’s good enough for me. 

This recipe originated at Averie Cooks; I’ve adapted it slightly to include more child-friendly milk chocolate and less sugar. 

Gluten-free Peanut butter and Chocolate Cookies
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Ingredients
  1. 220g peanut butter
  2. 160g brown sugar
  3. 1 tbsp honey
  4. 1 egg
  5. 70g dark chocolate
  6. 60g milk chocolate
  7. 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  8. 1 tsp baking powder
Instructions
  1. Put the peanut butter, sugar, honey, vanilla, baking powder and an egg to a large bowl.
  2. Whisk on a medium speed, scraping down the bowl as you go. This should take a couple of minutes and be careful not to overwhisk otherwise the fat will separate out of the peanut butter. Don't worry too much if this happens - the flavour won't be affected but it will make the dough slightly more difficult to deal with.
  3. Add your chocolate chopped into chunks and stir in slowly.
  4. Cling film over the bowl and place it in the fridge for 1-2 hours, or up to 5 days.
  5. When the dough is chilled split into small balls - this amount should make 12 biscuit-sized cookies.
  6. Place the balls on 2 lined baking sheets, 6 per sheet. Flatten them slightly.
  7. Bake in the oven at 180 for between 7 to 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets half way through. The cookies should be brown and crispy on the outside but soft in the middle - they'll firm slightly when cooling.
  8. Cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes.
Notes
  1. It doesn't matter whether or not you use chunky or smooth peanut butter: my preference is chunky
Adapted from Averie Cooks
Adapted from Averie Cooks
More Than Paleo http://morethanpaleo.org/

How To Begin A Paleo Diet

It takes somewhere between 18 and 66 days to form a new habit, depending on which research you land on when you Google it. Your diet is no different: moving over to a Paleo way of life is not instantaneous and it’s not just the food in your fridge you need to alter but your mindset, too. Those bags of Tyrrel’s and white farmhouse loaves didn’t throw themselves in your trolley the last time you were at the supermarket and it takes a while to train your brain to think differently. 

In my opinion, here are the quickest, easiest changes you can make to your life to ease your way into Paleo. 

How to begin a paleo diet: meal planning.

- Use meal plans
I can’t tell you how valuable I find planning my meals in advance. I don’t do anything fancy, sometimes I even scribble my week’s meals on the back of an envelope, but if I know what I’m having for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next seven days then I don’t often deviate. This really helps when putting together my weekly shopping list as I write it directly from my meal plan. 

By the way, although it looks like ‘Cockfinger’ for lunch on Wednesday it’s actually ‘Cauliflower’. 

- Find replacements for the foods you miss
Although it might feel like the end of the world to give up bread, it really isn’t; these days I barely miss my marmite on toast and it’s comforting to know I could buy a gluten free loaf of bread for something a little less sinful (though at £3… still quite sinful). There are tons of options to replace your favourite foods. For me, roast cauliflower is the current king and I use it to replace roast potatoes, though it pairs beautifully with pretty much anything. And when I get a HobNob/sweet craving I reach for 9Bars. Next on my list of ‘alternatives’ to try are these Paleo Tortillas and flour, white sugar and butter-free Peanut Butter cookies

- Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest!
It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Pinterest has been a lifesaver for me on my Paleo journey. I try to pin at least one new Paleo recipe a day and then use my recipe board as the basis to build my weekly meal plan.

How to begin a paleo diet: slow cooked chicken.

- Start slowly
I’d love to say I follow the Paleo diet to a tee but I don’t; I use it as the basis of my diet but still eat dairy in the form of cheese and milk. I don’t feel guilty about this because they don’t affect my health as wheat does, I only have milk in tea and the cheese I eat usually comes from a goat. If I didn’t allow myself to add a little cheese to my recipes on occasion I think I would have struggled with the diet as a whole. 

Oh, and I also use butter instead of ghee, because really who has time to be making ghee? 

- Follow the 80/20 rule
Whoever said ‘A little bit of what you fancy does you good’ was absolutely right. Apart from wheat, wheat never does me any good. I think the 80/20 rule is a good one to stick to though, and really helps when you’re eating out and perhaps fancy a bowl of chips (ALWAYS) with your meal.

Yep, always have the chips. 

- Don’t freak out at the cost of Paleo
The first supermarket shop I did after deciding to switch to a Paleo lifestyle was scary. I’d gone through a whole heap of recipes, picked 5-6 that I liked and bought all the ingredients to them. This meant that I ended up with way more meat than I could eat and a huge pile of vegetables that went slimy before I got round to them. I literally thought the diet would be unsustainable because of the cost.

You don’t bulk out your meals with refined carbohydrates so it seems like you need to buy more food than usual but this isn’t really the case, as I soon learned. You’ll find your groove and will be much better at judging the amount of fruit, vegetables and meat you will eat on a weekly basis and will therefore stop being so freaked out at the cost of vegetables. You’ll also learn (or at least I have ;) the meals that use the better value veg; for example my absolute favourite cauliflower and goats cheese bake costs about £3 to make and lasts me three meals (two if I’m feeling greedy). Cheaper than a non-paleo meal! 

 Any more ways you can think of to ditch the bread? I’m always listening for new ways to stop dreaming about marmite on toast…

Sticky Honey Chicken Salad With Sweet Potato and Cashew Nuts

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On the paleo diet salads are a simple, cost-effective and easy option for lunch, but they can get tricky. You find a couple you like, eat them and eat them and eat them and then all of a sudden you’ve been eating chicken and broccoli salad for six weeks and if you see another piece of broccoli next to a piece of chicken you will scream. 

IMG_1163 IMG_1164 IMG_1166My point is, it’s difficult to come up with inspiration when it comes to salads. More specifically, inspiration when it comes to salads that will a) taste good and b) fill you up. Especially during winter when it’s cold and wet and all you want is a massive plate of pasta to make you feel warm again. Salads don’t make you feel warm, do they? All those leaves and celery…. you always think it’s going to be a bit like rabbit food. 

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Which is why, in the winter, I like to jazz my salads up a bit with sweet potato. The warm potato-ey element of it is comforting and that makes this sticky chicken salad with cashew nuts one of my favourites. Ok, so it’s not a cheese and ham toastie but I promise this dish in will leave you feeling full til dinner time.

Sweet Honey Chicken Salad with Sweet Potato and Cashew Nuts
Serves 1
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 chicken breast
  2. 1 tbsp soy sauce
  3. 1 tsp honey
  4. 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped very finely
  5. 1 garlic clove, chopped very finely (I use my garlic press for both)
  6. 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  7. 1 small sweet potato
  8. 1 handful of lettuce, shredded
  9. 1 handful of cashew nuts
  10. 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Begin by peeling and chopping your sweet potato into small chunks and roasting for about 30 minutes at 190 degrees, until lightly browned.
  2. Take a large bowl and add your soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, ginger and garlic. Mix well.
  3. Cut your chicken breast into bite-size pieces and leave to marinade.
  4. Add your cashew nuts to a dry pan over a medium heat and toast until browned all over (but not burnt). Put to one side.
  5. When the sweet potatoes are almost done, remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and cook in a small dash of olive oil over a med-high heat.
  6. Add the marinade a minute before the chicken has finished cooking and stir well.
  7. Serve on top of the lettuce and sweet potato.
Notes
  1. Soy sauce isn't strictly paleo, but I use an organic gluten-free version.
More Than Paleo http://morethanpaleo.org/

Bacon Roasted Green Beans

Bacon roasted green beans

As someone who follows the ‘no-processed foods’ part of the Paleo lifestyle pretty much to the letter, I find it really hard to snack. This is a huge shame because in a past life snacking was one of my favourite things to do: tortilla chips and guacamole/sour cream, Tyrrels crisps and popcorn, anything with mayonnaise. A glass of white wine and bowl of fancy crisps would basically take me to Nirvana. 

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I’ve found when eating Paleo it is really important to have some snacks up your sleeve. I always finish my meals feeling nicely full but I like to keep my energy levels up during the day. I’m lucky in that I work from home – it might be a bit of a challenge to snack as I do at work – I have my oven and a fridge-full of food at my disposal. This is a good thing as forward-planning is not my forte.

Bacon roasted green beans

 

I’ve noticed that lots of Paleo-followers use quite a lot of bacon in their dishes. I still consider it to be slightly processed so it’s not something I want to eat stacks and stacks of but in this dish it’s worth it. The bacon fat compliments the green beans perfectly and I can scoff the whole dish in under five minutes. No mayonnaise required. 

Bacon Roasted Green Beans
Serves 1
This snack works equally as well as a side dish to a main course.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 100g Green Beans
  2. 2 rashers streaky bacon (OK, admittedly I usually use 3)
  3. Splash olive oil
Instructions
  1. Chop your bacon into small pieces and fry over a medium heat for approximately three minutes.
  2. Top and tail your green beans.
  3. Add a splash of olive oil to the frying pan, followed by the green beans. Mix well.
  4. Roast in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees centigrade for around 20 minutes, or until the beans are lovely and browned all over.
More Than Paleo http://morethanpaleo.org/
 

 

 

Paleo Pancake Recipe

Paleo pancakes

Things are still looking pretty Paleo around here. When we were all ill a couple of weeks I let a bit of bread creep back into the diet – tummy bugs want nothing more than marmite on toast, am I right? – but now that’s over the 80/20 rule is back in play. It was amazing to see how rubbish I felt after re-introducing a bit of wheat and I’m still a bit in awe of how this diet has changed me completely beyond expectations; I started eating this way hoping so much fresh fruit and veg would give me a bit of a kick in the morning while Elfie was waking so early – mission accomplished! – but it’s also given me skin that’s clearer than I’ve ever had, a flat tummy and a real sense of well-being. I haven’t felt this healthy in as long as I can remember and have a total sense of contentment. Thanks, fruit and veg!

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Like I’ve said before, my diet and gym-going hasn’t been about losing weight. It’s about re-gaining control of my body, feeling happy with who I am and knowing I’m doing everything I can to be in the best shape I can be in, for me and for the children. Looking back over the last four years it’s actually quite surprising to realise my body has not been my own for a while. It’s performed the miracle of growing and nurturing two little lives, but it’s time to re-discover how to take care of my body and use it to its full potential. I’m all about the self-love these days (not in that way, you perv) and I’m really committed to looking after myself as much as I can, Gwyneth-style.

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But sometimes when I’m trying to come up with things to eat – especially at breakfast time – I can get stuck. Which is why these Paleo Pancakes are a total lifesaver. They’re my go-to thing to eat if I’m not chugging on a green juice and are really delicious with berries. They even masquerade pretty well as a pudding, and you can add a sprinkling of cinnamon or a drop of vanilla to make things a bit more interesting.

Paleo Pancakes
Serves 2
The ultimate Paleolithic pancakes
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Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
7 min
Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
7 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 banana
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1 tsp butter
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter over a medium heat.
  2. Mash a banana into a whisked egg and pour into the melted butter.
  3. Cook gently until the egg has solidified, quarter the pancake and flip.
  4. Cook until brown on the other side
More Than Paleo http://morethanpaleo.org/
 

Why I Went Paleo

Paleo fridge - what it looks like

Here’s the thing: when you singlehandedly parent two children sleep doesn’t come that easily, and it became evident that I’d reached my breaking point. I wanted nothing more than my three year old to sleep through the night but that wasn’t happening any time soon, so all I could do was look at ways I could make myself feel better. Between child-wrangling, work and the house I was losing it – there were no extra hours in the day to sleep so I needed to look elsewhere. What could I do to help my long-term sleep-deprived body?

It wasn’t just that, either. There’d been a house move, a divorce and some ex-landlord woes. Work was crazy, home was crazier: what I really needed was a two week break in the Maldives. But that wasn’t happening any time soon.

Anyway, I got to the point of cracking a bit so I allowed myself to be a bit self-indulgent and wallow for a while (always important, I think) before telling myself I had to man up and get on with it. I thought a lot about what positive steps I could do to make my life a bit simpler, a bit happier. I was stressed because I was being pulled in so many directions so to remove that stress I just needed to step back and remove a couple of these demands for my attention.

Number one was work. I love my job and every day feel very lucky that I get to earn money from something I enjoy so much. But I am not good at saying ‘no’ when I’m offered projects, and though I enjoy them I find myself working evenings and weekends to keep up. So I turned some down, and worked hard on completing the ones that had been dragging on since before the move.

paleo Vitamix

I also realised I needed to look at my diet. But not just mine, the kids, because they eat what I eat. There were far too many trips to McDonald’s during the house move, too many takeaways and easy dinners of pasta. I knew that eating this way wouldn’t be contributing in a positive way to how I was feeling, physically and emotionally, and I wasn’t putting enough effort into what they were eating.

I guess it’s important at this stage to say that at this point I didn’t consider what I was eating to be particularly important. Yes, my diet was pretty much 30-40% bread/pasta but I was still getting my 5 a day. This is what matters, right? 

Wrong. 

Now, I’ve been one for faddy diets in the past. In 2009 I lost three stone on a variation of the 5:2 diet and after Elfie was born I cut out sugar, most fats and wheat to lose my baby weight. But the improvements I wanted to make in my body were in the way I felt, not how much I weighed. I was quite happy with my weight and though some of my jeans were a bit snugger than they used to be it really didn’t worry me. I just wanted to feel less bloated, less tired and more energetic.

The Paleo diet is one I’d been considering for a few months. I know my food enemies are wheat and other grains – I’ve always bloated after pasta and bread which is a shame as they’re so freaking delicious – and dairy is something I could probably do without eating so much of. With a Paleolithic lifestyle you cut these foods out and eat as early cavemen would have: hunted foods such as meats and seafood and gathered foods like fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and eggs. Foods excluded from the diet are ones that would not have been available before the agricultural revolution such as grains, dairy, legumes, refined sugar and processed foods.

It’s a very simple diet. There’s an importance on as many organic, grass-fed foods as possible and it’s not about starving or depriving yourself. Meals are balanced and deliver the nutrients we are genetically programmed to receive. Apparently this diet brings health benefits, combats disease and eliminates excess body fat.

From what I know about my food preferences and the way my body reacts to various foods this diet is going to be more suited than any other I’ve tried. I’m not going strict Paleo: I’ll allow myself a bit of cheese from time to time, and one cup of tea a day with milk (though I’ll always try to drink herbal tea instead). And wine, obviously. But I’m going to give this Paleo clean eating thing a real go, for a month at least, and see how it improves my energy levels, stress levels and sharpness of mind.

I’m also going back to green juices in the morning (I LOVE YOU VITAMIX) and my first today – apple, banana, cavolo nero, blueberries, raspberries – was delicious.

If you fancy having a go at the Paleo diet take a look; I’m collating recipes on the Paleo Pinterest Board Of Dreams so I will never be stuck for something to cook. And if you eat Paleo I’d love to hear your experiences. Like to get the full Paleo/Caveman experience should I really eat all my meals wearing an animal hide?