My two talented friends Amy Green and Maggie Savage launched a brand new website on January 1st! The Balanced Platter is a one-stop shop for balanced, healthy gluten-free living. It will have different perspectives about living well on a gluten-free diet from top bloggers in the gluten-free arena. This will encompass recipes, tips, how-to’s, and product reviews.
To give you all an idea of the content that will be on this site- a group of bloggers (I included) are sharing post’s all month long for a fun event called Balanced, Healthy, & Gluten-Free in 2012.
My contribution to this fun event are these healthy (YES! healthy) Cookie Bars.
Living with Hashimotos disease my life is a fine line of balance. To keep the chronic inflammation under control so that my body does not attack itself has been a trick (one I am still learning to balance). Following a careful diet, making sure to get enough sleep each night, eating throughout the day to keep my blood sugar in check, keeping up with all of my supplements some days its downright overwhelming. But the truth is, I am so thankful. In the past I blew off what I knew I should be doing. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables each day? Meh.. if I got around to it. Thanks to this autoimmune disease, I was forced to take the time and really learn what foods worked best for my body. Its forced structure and good eating into my life.. I don’t crave potato chips, or processed crap. I crave a fresh piece of fruit, a perfectly cooked steak with vegetables spiced to perfection. I crave the things my body needs- nothing else. That’s a pretty amazing place to be.
Today I want to encourage you to do the same. We all thrive on different foods, In my case remaining 100% sugar free and avoid all grains and starches, dairy and soy is the way to go. While it may be hard to admit to yourself that your favorite food isn’t really jiving with you, its important to face the lingering symptoms. Your body will thank you- and in turn your life as a whole will become more balanced. Healthy digestion leads to so many different positive changes. Once you feel the difference, you won’t want to go back.
No matter what diet your body chooses for you, know that there are always, ALWAYS delicious recipes to be found. These bars are an example of that. A dessert that will give you energy- without the sugar to drain you!
Carrot Cake Cookie Bars
2 Cups Blanched Almond Flour
1/2 Cup of xylitol
(or any another granulated sugar of choice; see note below)
2 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tbs Oil or Melted Butter
1 Tbs Vanilla Extract
1/8 Tsp Sea Salt
1 1/2 Tbs Nondairy Milk or Water.
2 Tsp Cinnamon.
3/4 Cup Grated Carrots (patted dry with a paper towell)
1/4 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut (optional)
For the Topping:
3/4 Cup Raisins (optional)
3/4 Cup Coursely Chopped Nuts or Seeds (optional)
- Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees. Line a bread pan Pan with Parchment, leaving a bit of an overhang to aid in removing the bars after baking.
- Make the cookie dough. Combine all the ingredients and use your hands to mix. The dough will be thick and may not come together just using a spoon. Press this dough evently into the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Sprinkle and press the Raisins and Chopped nuts into the top of the dough.
- Place in the oven and bake 26-28 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing. (I like to throw mine into the freezer to speed up this process).
A few notes: Xylitol has a mind of its own, it works a little different than the other sugars. The day you pull these bars out of the oven you will notice they are extremely moist. I made and placed mine on the counter covered and by the next day they were the perfect moisture. This happens every time I use xylitol.. why? I don’t know. Its almost like this sugar takes time to settle and soak up some moisture. I’ll get this figured out 100% one of these days. So, with that being said. If you feel the bars are too moist the day you make them, set them aside- let them do their thing and when you come back the next day- they will be perfection.
For those extra sensitive to sugar- you may want to leave out the Raisins. I threw them in for their taste and texture, but they are not at all needed for this recipe to turn out great.
For those of you not concerned with sugar- I suspect that any granulated variety will work great! I have not tested this.. I’m just speaking from experience. This recipe is very similar to my recently posted Layered Brownie Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars . Those were successfully made by many with a whole spectrum of different types of granulated sugar.
I made my pretty white glaze out of xylitol. I ran it through my coffee grinder and mixed it with a bit of Vanilla Extract and a pinch of sea salt. Xylitol when used on its own has a very strong taste that I know everyone isn’t crazy about. I think the vanilla helps hide this, so that you get more of just a nice sweetness. If you aren’t crazy about trying this- you can make a glaze following the same directions with ANY type of granulated sugar.
* The strong xylitol flavor can not be tasted in these bars- no worries there. Just the glaze has this unique flavor to it *
Here’s to a healthier 2012. Ignore the diet fads, listen to your body! It knows what it needs.
ps. as many of you know I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my 2 brand new books (The Essential Gluten Free Baking Guides; Part 1 and 2 ) that I have co-authored with Iris Higgins. All our matierial is due to our publisher in a few short days.. therefore I will be offline for a spell! I’ll get to your many substitution questions as soon as I am able!