Dear Listeners, Joanna Gregson is smart, fit, and adorable all rolled into one, kinda like her grain-free cookie recipe that we’re sure you will love.  Check out her blog with a bajillion other wondeful recipes:  Living Mint Green.

Take it away, Jo…

JG_IMG_3971Hi, friends!

My name is Jo and I host a healthy living blog over at Living Mint Green, where I talk about food, running, outdoor adventures and life.

This is the only recent action shot I have of myself – I was running along the famous “Red Road” on the Big Island. 

Over the past few years, I’ve been healing from poor digestive function  (IBS, food sensitivities, hypoglycemia symptoms) and discovering which foods make me feel and perform my best, and which ones don’t. During my recovery, I tried standard elimination diets which focus on removing then reintroducing highly inflammatory foods such as dairy, wheat, corn, soy, eggs, peanuts, etc. I initially experienced major digestive relief – especially with the avoidance of wheat and gluten-containing grains, but  was still experiencing inflammation, which manifested as acne and irregular menstrual cycles.

It wasn’t adding up – I had been eating “healthy” for years – cooking my own meals and including a variety of whole foods. I avoided white flour and their by-products, opting for ‘better’ alternatives – such as ancient and sprouted grains. Raw cane sugar instead of beet sugar. Brown rice and steel cut oats instead of white rice and quick oats.    Both my MD and ND agreed that I was doing everything “right” in terms of balanced eating and stress management so why didn’t I feel my best?

Before discovering the podcast, I’d heard of grain/sugar free lifestyles within the Paleo/Primal communities, but didn’t pay much attention at the time because it seemed like another diet fad.  I mean, hadn’t we come to the conclusion that whole grains are healthy, but refined versions aren’t? Everything in moderation, right?  It’s not like I was eating fast food, or gorging myself on sugar, so I felt exempt.  It wasn’t until I started listening to the podcast  that I experienced my first major ah-ha moment, and decided give ‘NSNG’ a try.  (Vinnie, you had me at runners + sugar + GI distress – that used to be me!)

Long story short, within a couple of weeks, my skin started to clear, I developed more energy and mental clarity, and a few months later, my menstrual cycles returned.  I can’t say I’m excited about the latter, but my skin has never looked better – I’m literally glowing from head to toe. With the exception of my battered runners feet.  From an athletic perspective, I’m able to avoid blood sugar crashes and train longer and harder simply by eating more of my favorite foods (almond butter, salmon, eggs, avocados), and keeping my grain and sugar consumption limited to special occasions.   It sounds contradictory to what we’re taught in sports nutrition (more fat, less carbs) but this lifestyle has allowed me to flourish.

Lets celebrate with grain and sugar-free cookies!

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Even though I prefer to eat foods in their natural state, sometimes I just want something light, dough-y and cookie-like. An easy to digest treat for a (mostly) fat-fueled athlete.

Healthy Cookie Bites
Grain free, no added sugar
Yields approx 9 bites

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Ingredients:

(Dry)

  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut + 1/4 cup, set aside
  • 3 dried figs, finely diced (or apricots/dates/raisins)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

(Wet)

  • 1 heaping tablespoon nut or seed butter of choice (the thinner, the better. Almond, sunflower seed and macadamia nut butter are typically easier to work with)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the nut butter, vanilla, coconut oil and liquid. Stir until evenly combined. (The dough will look slightly crumbly – that’s normal) Form into balls and roll them in the leftover shredded coconut. Store in the fridge, and consume within a week.

Notes:

  • Don’t omit the dried fruit! Compared to fresh fruit, yes, the sugar is more concentrated. However, it’s three little pieces for the entire batch. You can omit it, but then the bites taste ‘just ok’. The subtle fruit infusion really makes the flavours of the sweet almond meal, coconut and cinnamon come alive, and it adds a touch of texture contrast- kind of like an chewy oatmeal raisin cookie.
  • You can find coconut flour and almond meal at most natural food stores – check the bulk bins! Or you can make your own almond meal by pulsing unroasted almonds in a food processor or high powered blender, such as a Vitamix.
  • Costco is the most economical place to stock up on virgin coconut oil, vanilla extract/beans and unroasted nuts.
  • Additional mix’in ideas: cacao nibs (nature’s chocolate chips), crushed pecans, raw sunflower seeds, hemp & chia seeds, ground flaxseed, pumpkin pie spice, etc.

Vinnie and Anna, thank you for allowing me to share my NSNG ‘success’ story and recipe. I hope you love the cookie bites!