Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten Free, Vegan, and Peanut Free!)

Salted “Peanut Butter” Cookies (peanut free)

Sunbutter Cookies I had a baking session with my good friend Aaron Ribant from Seriously Ripped Abs. (Really, though, you have to check out his abs.) We were making a healthier, starch-free version of peanut butter cookies. He’s also a photographer, so I was excited to get some gorgeous photos, and I wanted to perfect the recipe for a dinner party. Then I got the email from a attendee: “Just to let you know, I have a serious peanut allergy. Like, peanuts = death.”Oh no! My dessert plans were foiled. But not to fear, for sunflower seed butter came to my rescue.

When you have a loved one who’s allergic to peanut butter, (whether it’s a sensitivity or eminent death), it’s challenging to find an alternative. Almond butter is good in its own way, but it really doesn’t satisfy a peanut butter craving.

Sunflower Seed ButterLuckily, I have discovered the magic of sunflower seed butter (aka sunbutter). It’s got such a great flavor and smooth texture, and it’s the closest thing to peanut butter than I’ve found.

Sunflower seeds are also very nutrient dense, so much so that I’ve done an entire article on them! See my food spotlight for nutritional information on sunflower seeds.

These peanut butter cookies are also gluten free, vegan, paleo friendly, and delicious. Let me know if you come up with any fun variations! And check out the normal recipe with peanut butter on Aaron’s blog.

Ingredients:

½ cup almond flour*

½ cup cashew meal*

¼  teaspoon sea salt Sunbutter Cookies

coarse salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ cup creamy sunbutter (or peanut butter, if you’re not worried about allergies).

¼ cup honey/agave nectar/maple syrup

1 tablespoon coconut oil or vegan shortening**

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Cashew Meal/Flour has recently become available, and I find that gluten free cookies come out creamier and sweeter when used. But, if you don’t have any available to you, you can just use almond flour instead. Trader Joe’s seems to be the cheapest place to find these ingredients, but you can also order them in bulk on Amazon.

**If using peanut butter, increase to 2 tbsp.

Directions:

In a food processor or a bowl, place all ingredients. If using a food processor, blend until smooth. In a bowl, use a hand blender or a whisk until ingredients are completely mixed. (If mixing by hand, mGluten Free Cookie Batterake sure that there aren’t any clumps or “pockets” of certain ingredients sticking together).

Take spoonfuls of dough (about 1 Tbsp) and scoop the onto a well-greased or parchment-lined pan. Use a fork to flatten in a criss-cross pattern, similar to a peanut butter cookie.

Bake at 350° for 5-9minutes until golden around the edges

While the cookies are still warm, sprinkle the coarse salt over the top of each cookie. You won’t need much.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TOUCH COOKIES UNTIL COOL. Once they’ve cooled off, the cookies hold together nicely. But when they’re fresh out of the oven, they will fall into a pile of crumples if you attempt to remove them from the pan too soon. To expedite the process, I will place the pan on a pot-holder in the fridge for 5 minutes.

Once they’re cool enough to be solid, carefully remove from the pan and enjoy!

Sunbutter Cookie Recipe

Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash

Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash

As you may have noticed, I never tire of squash, so autumn has been full of great meals. This recipe is incredibly simple, but satisfying and tasty. Squash is a good, dense vegetable, so it can take the place of a less healthy dish while filling your body with important micro-nutrients. Cinnamon is a “warming” herb, so it’s perfect to make you feel more cozy during the cooler months. (And as a bonus, cinnamon even assists in blood-sugar regulation. This gives me an excuse to add more of it.) Add a side of sauteed kale and cranberries, and you’ve got a balanced fall meal. Cinnamon Sticks

Ingredients:

  • 1 small or medium butternut squash, cut in half.
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Butter or Earth Balance (optional)

Directions: Roasted Butternut Squash

Preheat the oven to 400F. Oil the cookie sheet or baking pan, and pour 1/2 cup of water in the pan. Cut the butternut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard, then place each piece face down on the pan.

Cook for about 30-45 minutes; it is cooked when you can pierce it with a fork. Take the squash out of the oven, and using a tongs, flip each side over. Once the squash is face-up, drizzle honey over each piece.  Sprinkle cinnamon over the honey, be as generous as you want. If you want to use butter (or butter substitute) place a couple pats of it on top of each piece. Place it back in the oven, and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove the squash from the oven, and wait for it to cool a little. Cut each half into 3 pieces, and serve warm. You can always add more cinnamon in the end!

Roasted Acorn Squash with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Balsamic

Although I love summer, fall is my second favorite season. I love the smells, the colors, and the cooler nights. But really, my favorite part is the squash. I love almost all kinds of squash…spaghetti squash, acorn, pumpkin, butternut…I love them all. They’re full of nutrients and fiber, and they’re more filling than many other vegetables.

I made this particular recipe with a friend. She had bought some acorn squash and wanted to experiment. Our favorite part was the pan-toasted pumpkin seeds. Once I discovered pan-toasting, I toast almost every nut and seed this way. It’s quick and easy, and is less damaging to the sensitive oils. And best of all, it’s so tasty! So please enjoy, and let me know if you have any suggestions to make it even more delicious.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

2 medium acorn squash

4 tablespoons olive oilPumpkin Seeds

salt and pepper, to taste

¼ cup shelled pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

***Optional: ¼ cup fresh parsley, sage, or mint leaves, torn.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Cut squash in half, and spoon out seeds (and the stringy stuff) and discard. Cut squash into 1½”-thick slices. Coat slices with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Lay slices on a baking sheet.

3. Place in then oven and roast for about 30 minutes, turning slices over halfway through. They should be golden brown on both sides, and soft enough to eat.

4. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add pumpkin seeds, turning them often so they don’t burn. They should brown slightly, but still be a little green. Once they’re down, place them on a paper towel to soak up excess oil.  Season with salt. Roasted Acorn Squash with Pan Toasted Pumpkin Seeds 5. Place squash on serving plates, and sprinkle toasted pumpkin seeds on each piece. Drizzle on balsamic vinegar. (Don’t over-do it, vinegar goes a long way!) If you are using any fresh herbs, lightly sprinkle those on as well.

6. Serve warm and enjoy!