A Healthier Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwich

I am not really one to sit down and make resolutions, but the New Year feels like the perfect time to hit reset and get back on track with what is important to me. Lately my health has been front and centre and while I’m already healthy, there is always room for improvement! My intentions are to begin to learn about whole foods in a deeper way by really understanding their individual health benefits. I also want to experiment more with my cooking by using natural ingredients in new and exciting ways! But my main goal right now is to reduce how much refined sugar I eat, because I won’t lie, I really LOVE sugar! Being a big believer in balance I let myself indulge in the sweet stuff since I know I’m healthy the rest of the time, but with a history of diabetes in my family, my sugar cravings are beginning to worry me and I want to be more aware and careful. While I’m no where near wanting to quit sugar all together, I do want to try and eat more natural sugars so that when I have a craving for sweets, I can indulge in a little less harmful way! This sweet recipe is a great start!

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These cookies are a healthier twist on a version I attempted to make a while ago. I got a great shot for instagram out of it, see here, but tried making them while I had a friend over and ended up making chocolate cupcakes… I know, kind of ridiculous, but I was mindlessly looking at two recipes while chatting away…I pulled a Rachel Green from Friends! Remember her meat and whipped cream trifle?? At least mine ended up being delicious chocolate cupcakes which I was able to share with colleagues and friends. Let’s just say I’ve been very mindful while baking since.

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This weekend I finally got around to making my own version of these cookies. I swapped out the brown and white sugar for raw honey, maple syrup and a dash of molasses, adding natural sweetness. I also swapped out the butter for coconut oil, and omitted the egg for flaxseeds which when mixed with water creates an egg like substance, and has a ton of health benefits including being high in phytochemical’s, omega 3 and fiber! I was not sure how they would turn out, but was pleasantly surprised with the results! My original plan was to pair them with a vegan frosting, but I think I pushed it too far. The icing came out weird and didn’t really compliment the flavours of the cookies, so I went back to tradition and made a cream cheese frosting but without the butter. Match made in heaven! Not as “healthy” as I wanted but having only used 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, I figured, it’s not THAT bad right?

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Warm spices, sweet carrots and plump raisins make these cookies so comforting! I left out the rolled oats, but would love to add them in the next time I make these! If you like walnuts, those would be perfect in here as well, I just didn’t have any on hand. These cookies are soft and fluffy with a traditional carrot cake flavour and when paired with the cream cheese frosting sandwiched in between, it’s clear that these two flavours belong together (sorry vegan icing).

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Carrot Cake Cookies (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes about 12 sandwiches

1/4 cup raw honey
2 tbsp Molasses
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 tbsp flaxseed meal (which you can make yourself by grinding flaxseeds in a food processor)
3 tbsp warm water
1 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cups finely grated carrots, (about 1.5-2 large carrots)
1/2 cup raisins

Heres what you need to do:

1. In a small bowl, whisk the flaxseed meal and warm water with a whisk or fork and let sit for 5-10 min so it develops a gelatinous texture similar to a raw egg.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine honey, maple syrup, molasses and coconut oil; beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add flaxseed egg and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until well combined.

3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; stir to combine. Gradually add flour to wet mixture; mix on a low speed until just blended. With a spatula, mix in carrots, and raisins. Chill dough in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.

4. Meanwhile near the end of the cooling process, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. Prepare cream cheese frosting (see below)

5. When the mixture has cooled completely, Using a 1/2-ounce ice-cream scoop, or a tablespoon scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Transfer to oven, and bake until browned and crisped, rotating pan halfway through baking to ensure even color, 8-10 minutes. Make sure not to let them burn.

6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat baking process with remaining dough. Once cooled completely, use an offset spatula to spread about 2 teaspoons of cream-cheese filling (see below) onto a cookie. Sandwich together with a second cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3/4 cups of cream cheese
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Here’s what you need to do:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine all the ingredients on med- high speed until fluffy and well combined. You may have to scrape down the sides a couple of time. 2-4 minutes.

Rustic Plum & Apple Crumble

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It’s really starting to look and feel like fall around here. The trees are bursting with vibrant colours and the ground is crunchy with their fallen leaves. All of this is making me really excited to go apple picking and make my favourite comfort foods including this delicious apple and butternut squash soup. I love apples, but my all-time favourite is the Lobo which is actually from the Macintosh family, but grown locally in Quebec. When I go to the orchards I am sure I eat almost half a bags worth before actually filling my bag up. They are tart and crisp and a great choice for snacking and baking. For this recipe I had to go with Macintosh instead, since I am clearly not the only one who loves Lobo’s, they were sold out!

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I had an idea in the back of my mind that I wanted to bake something using  apples, but while walking through the market the other day I saw the most delicious looking plums. They were a beautiful deep purple and perfectly ripe. I thought about how yummy they would be along side the apples, so they ended up coming home with me. After a very food filled weekend in Toronto (celebrating the Jewish New Year) I decided I wanted something a little bit healthier to satisfy my sweet tooth. So here it is! My Plum & Apple crumble. Simple, delicious and on the healthier side (for a dessert). I decided to omit any refined sugars by using maple syrup and swapped out butter for coconut oil. You could even replace the flour with whole grain flour, spelt, kamut, wheat etc… if you want.

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This recipe would be delicious using any seasonal fruits you desire. Peaches, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, rhubarb… the list goes on, but apple is a true classic, and tis the season!

For the Fruit Mixture

5 Cups of Sliced Apples (I used Macintosh but any cooking apple will do)

5 cups of Pitted and Sliced Plums

2/3 cup pure maple syrup (you can reduce this if your fruits have their own sweetness)

The Zest of 1/2 an Orange

The Zest of 1/2 a Lemon

1 1/4 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg (or allspice)

For the Crumble

1 Cup of Old Fashioned Oats

1 Cup of All Purpose Flour

2/3 cup of maple syrup

1/4 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 cup Plus 1 Tblsp Coconut Oil

The Zest of 1/2 an Orange

The Zest of 1/2 a Lemon

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees

2. Peel, core and slice up your apples. Pit and slice up your plums and put them in a large mixing bowl. Add to this the maple syrup, lemon and orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg. Combine it all together until all the fruit is well coated.

3. In a separate bowl combine the oats, flour, maple syrup, baking powder and soda, orange and lemon zest and coconut oil together until well combined. The mixture should stick together when pressed into the palm of your hand.

4. Put the fruit mixture into a large casserole dish, then with a spoon or your hands (if they are very clean) evenly distribute the crumble so that it covers the whole surface of your dish. This s a rustic looking dessert so don’t worry too much about making this part perfect.

5. Bake for about 50 min or until the top is nice and golden brown and the fruits are soft and caramelized.

6. Enjoy on its own or with a nice big scoop of vanilla ice cream!

What is your favourite fall recipe?