Monday, December 19, 2011

Chocolate Oat Coconut Clusters (Unsweetened and Gluten Free!)

I experiment regularly with creating unsweetened desserts that 1) actually feel like dessert when eaten, and 2) are tasty enough to serve to others. I have created many "desserts" that do not meet these two criteria and result mostly in frustration and disappointment. Fortunately, my husband is a forgiving and hungry sort who enjoys almost anything I bake!

Here, however, is a recipe I created that does meet these two important criteria. After making these twice - to test the recipe - I decided that the reason they work is because only the sweetness is missing - the fat, that is present in any satisfying after-dinner-delight, remains. Feel free to experiment with this recipe and send me your delicious variations.

Chocolate Oat Coconut Clusters, Unsweetened and Gluten Free!
1/2 C. Almond Flour
1/2 C. Gluten Free Quick Oats
1 Tbs. Cocoa Powder, unsweetened (Ghirardelli)
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
pinch sea salt - or to taste
1 Tbs. coconut oil, melted
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp Vanilla
1/8 C. Coconut Milk (So Delicious, Beverage)

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit and grease a cookie baking sheet with coconut oil, set aside. Measure 1 Tbs. coconut oil into a small glass bowl and warm until melted, set aside. In a small bowl, add first six (dry) ingredients and mix well. Pour 1/8 cup Coconut Milk into a 1 C. liquid measure, add egg, vanilla, and melted coconut oil; mix well. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well. Adjust batter consistency by adding more Coconut Milk. Form batter into tablespoon portions and place on greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-18 minutes, or until set and bottom is lightly brown. Makes 12 cookies.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Unsweetened me.

I've been playing with sugar recently. Sharing the holidays with friends and loved-ones often spurs the desire to "relax" into sugar. I tell myself, as I reach for the ice cream with spoon in hand, that I deserve a little treat. I know that with just a little "hit" of that sweet goodness my mind will relax, the tension in my jaw will soften, and sharp emotional edges garnered from sharing too small a space with too many loved ones for too long a time will feel less jagged. I tell myself that I deserve a reward for making it through the day with a smile on my face even though inside I flirt with the desire to scream and run.

The spoon slips easily into the creamy, mocha delight. I blanch a bit as the bitter coffee flavor melts on my tongue. I decide to try another taste. An hour later I am chatty and relaxed. Feeling confident as the sweetness sweetens my temperament, I think loving thoughts of loved ones and holiday time, in general. Aaah, I think, the world is just a little bit lighter when sugar is involved. I know now why wine is a staple at the holiday table.

It is foggy and damp here today, with a chill in the air that runs bone-deep. I woke up, remembered my current struggle, and wept. My dalliance with sugar came to an end a week ago. With nothing to buffer the pain I am experiencing, raw emotion washes through my blood. I breathe deeply, I cry solidly, I breathe again. I do not feel confident, or relaxed, or loving. I feel alone and sad and slightly desperate. Sugar, in all its finery, does not dance through my veins. Unsweetened, no false sense of confidence nor chatty ease transfigures my emotional storm. Solidly in my pain, I am fully me.

The fog and rain continue to cloud my outside world. On the inside, I have found some measure of peace. A surprise gift in the mail, a call to a close friend, and a little external pampering in the form of a much needed hair cut allow me to reflect on my tumult with some objectivity. Comparing my recent holiday experience to the storm that raged within this morning, I am grateful for my ability to feel deeply. Free of sugar's hypnotic effect, I acknowledge the deep courage it takes to truly feel my pain and wait . . . while, in time, the storm ebbs and the pain, softened by love this time, not sweets, slowly dissolves.