Filed under: Honestly Pure
Holiday Chocolate Chip Cookies

vegan gluten free holiday cookies

 

Last week I wrote about holiday traditions and how we can still create the sweet memories of this wonderful time of year without consuming all the junk. I swear I’m really not being the Grinch when I say let go of past holiday traditions and create your own healthy ones. I’m as much excited about Christmas and winter coziness as anybody else. Trust me!

So, today I’m sharing a fun recipe that will get anybody in the holiday mood.

These cookies are gluten-free, sugar-free, and vegan. BUT STILL TOTALLY FESTIVE and fun to make with the entire family.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE RECIPE

Ingredients

    • 2 cups oats (choose certified gluten-free oats if you want these to be gluten-free)
    • 1/2 cup gluten-free, all-purpose baking mix + a little extra for rolling out dough
    • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
    • 1/3 cup maple syrup
    • 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp Earth Balance or other vegan butter alternative (or you can use real organic butter)
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp chia seeds
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 3/4 cup organic chocolate chips (dark chocolate is the healthiest option)

 

 

making vegan gluten free holiday cookies

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a food processor chop oats on high until they turn into a flour-like texture. Add baking flour, palm sugar, and salt. Mix again until all is blended well.

3. Add maple syrup, vanilla, and butter. Mix everything again by PULSING it together.

4. Add chips and mix by hand.

5. On a flat surface, using a rolling pin or your hands, spread the dough fairly thin—about 1/4″ thickness. Using any fun cookie cutters you have, push down, pressing firmly.  Using a spatula, you can transfer your cookies onto a baking sheet.

6. Bake for 17 minutes to get them browned and crunchy. If you want them dough-like and soft then cook for 12 minutes.

7. ENJOY! I know you will create fun memories with this recipe. It’s a wonderful afternoon activity with kids.

 

vegan gluten free holiday cookies

Other Options & Healthy Holiday Treats:

xo Juli Novotny of Pure Mamas

Creating Healthy Holiday Traditions

It’s that time of year again. And I couldn’t be more thrilled. My Halloween decorations have come down, and I’m so ready for Christmas lights, the smell of pine, and a pretty tree. Having kids has made it so fun for me to reminisce and experience holiday happiness all over again, especially through their eyes.

Creating Healthy Holiday Traditions

This time of year, however, means JUNK FOOD is everywhere!  Chocolate, peppermint candy, sweet breads and pastries, turkey and gravy (for some), marshmallow sweet potatoes, the list goes on. Food has been a part of holiday traditions for years and years. To you, your parents, and your grandparents, a turkey dinner with stuffing and apple pie—or another signature family meal—brings thoughts of comfort, family, laughter, and happiness.

But what if it wasn’t the food that conjured up those feelings? 

I remember taking a class at UCLA about tradition and families. One afternoon we talked about how our fond memories often involve food. Most families gather around plates when the holidays come around. I mean, what else are you going to do? It’s cold out, there are hours upon hours to kill with family members you haven’t seen in ages. Food is a great conversation piece, a definite community builder, and even a distraction when things or conversation are slow. Everybody has to eat, right? So by default we look to foods and recipes to recreate those feelings of love, happiness, warmth, and holiday cheer.

Interesting, right?

Creating Healthy Holiday Traditions

A lot of things can inspire that same feeling of warmth, love, happiness, and joy—not just food. Hot tea in front of a roaring fire, snow ball fights, wintry outdoor adventures, lighting the menorah, spending time with family, the joy of giving, reading The Night Before Christmas, family karaoke. . . . What better time than now to work on keeping the holiday spirit, creating the fond memories, yet helping family members stay healthy!

I know that food does provide yummy aromas and good feelings. So, making cookies can and should still be a holiday tradition. But in place of making sugar cookies with tons of frosting, why not make honey sweetened pecan cookies?

And instead of having lots of unhealthy food around when family comes over, fill the house with smells of healthy butternut squash soup, kale herb salads, spiced nuts, and rosemary wreaths. Offer homemade hot chocolate or warm organic apple juice with cinnamon.

If you hear things like “You’re depriving your child of memories” when you discourage peppermint candies in favor of a seasonal clementine, don’t worry. Memories, nostalgia, and cravings come from our fond experiences and associations from our past. And if (junk) food and eating are the main things you’re smelling, tasting, and doing when you’re creating comforting memories, then you will naturally crave those things each year in hopes of recreating those memories.

Why not start your traditions in a healthy way for your kids? If you start healthy now, your kids will ask you each year for your homemade vegetable chili. Their memories and the feelings they have will be the SAME as those with egg nog and fruit cake. The only difference is, your child will have healthier habits. So why not?

Let’s forgo our own tokens of nostalgia for the sake of a healthier generation. Let’s reinvent tradition this year, and create feelings of joy and comfort in a different way. Even if that means saying goodbye to some of your favorite traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation. Or have fun re-imagining and creating the healthier version of those beloved food traditions.

- Juli Novotny of Pure Mamas

 

Edible (Chocolate) Art Party

There is nothing more fun than art. Wait, I take it back, there is. EDIBLE art is better than plain old art. And what’s better than chocolate?!

Edible Art for Kids

My homemade version is the “healthier” chocolate. I wouldn’t say total health food per se because kids and chocolate still are something that, when combined, often equal total excited, messy, craziness. But it’s better than any processed or store-bought version. (Wink.)

Edible Art for Kids

So, I’m not only sharing my recipe with you today, but also my family photos—taken a year and a half ago—of us making chocolate art and freezing it until hardened. The result was better than any shrink plastic arts and crafts—no toxic odors when baking and no questionable plastic. We had edible funky chocolate chips, chocolate hearts, chocolate letters, and more.

Edible Art for Kids

Let your imagination run wild!

All you need is a pan, the ingredients, waxed paper, and a frosting/decorating bag.

RECIPE:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup organic raw honey
  • 1 tsp organic almond extract (alcohol free)

Directions

In a pan on the stove, I warmed the oil until clear. On low, I added the honey, chocolate, and extract. I mixed it together until thick and smooth and homogenous.

Then, I put the mixture into a frosting/decorating bag.

The kids had a blast squeezing their designs on the waxed paper.

I put everything in the freezer for at least 20 minutes before eating (it becomes hard like candy).

That’s it—easy, fun, and TASTES so good (oh, and it’s not bad for you either).

Enjoy!

- Juli Novotny of Pure Mamas

Herbal Tea for Kids: A Great Juice + Soda Alternative

I can’t speak for any other parent reading this, but my kids are completely obsessed with beverages. All KINDS of beverages. They love juice, milk (all flavors!), and I’m sure they would drink soda and coffee all day long if I allowed them. Anything but water!

Well, a few years ago when my kids were 2 and 3 years old, my eldest started drinking tea. He was infatuated. And he not only drank warm tea on cold days, but he’d order it at restaurants and drink it out of adult mugs. Waiters were very perplexed by this habit. And well, so was I. (But it was either that or processed hot chocolate, so I wasn’t complaining.) 

And over the course the of the next year and half we’ve gone on all sorts of tea dates.

Preparing Herbal Tea for Kids

I make it at home and we drink it at coffee shops.

Most herbal teas are safe for kids and a healthy alternative for hydration because they offer a lot of interesting complex flavors without the added sugars and colorings found in juice boxes, sports drinks, and soda. Herbal teas are decaf and come in all sorts of organic varieties, too. Just be sure to check with your doctor about which types are appropriate for your children and their health needs before introducing any teas. And consider serving toddlers a more diluted version of a kid-safe tea by steeping for a shorter time or adding more water to cool the cup down. Little ones can’t always drink what adults sip.

One of the best is roobios. Full of antioxidants and caffeine-free, this tea is so fun for kids!

Iced, hot, sweetened, unsweetened, added milk or cream or none of the above—there are so many options.

One of my favorite things to do is make a concentrated tea. I add about 3-4 tea bags to about 3 cups of hot water. I let it sit and steep for about 5-10 minutes (depending on the tea). Then, I add sparkling water, a natural sweetener, and ice. Suddenly, I’ve made soda with a fraction of the sugar and without corn syrup. There is a rooibos vanilla creme tea that I love. I do this with sparkling water and it ends up tasting like old school creme soda (root beer flavor)!

Another fun one is mint. Mmmmmm. Mint or even ginger. Two great teas for upset stomach. Adding a natural sweetener makes it great for sipping.

Chamomile is great because it’s everywhere and if you add a little honey you’ve got a wonderful nighttime relaxer.

One of our favorites is hibiscus.

But more acidic teas like hibiscus and raspberry are less sweet. They are wonderful iced and a fun alternative to other drinks like soda. Even Starbucks makes a great one too, in case you’re on the go and in a hurry. NOTE: These tart teas are not good with any added cream or milk. It curdles it’s so acidic!

Next time you’re at the store, check out the organic herbal teas (caffeine free) and play around with different sweeteners, if needed—xylitol is great for teeth and gums and honey is wonderful for the throat!

Enjoy!

– Juli 

Guest Contributor Juli Novotny = Food lover. Green chef. Health advocate. Business owner. Mother. Blogger. Modern minimalist. When she’s not running her health food company Kookie Karma or enjoying the beach with her two little boys, Juli blogs and takes beautiful photographs about healthy family living at PURE Mamas.

Making a House an Eco-Friendly Home

I’m excited to share my home renovation with you. It’s been a crazy time for my family because renovations are never easy, fast, or fun. And with two little kids and a company to run, it might not have been the best-timed idea. (Ha!) But, now, with all that in the past, I’m stoked to be here, sitting back, chilling in the yard.

Instead of building up or out, we chose to keep the mid-century house small and manageable because we wanted more outdoor living than indoor space. We do live in California, after all! When building this house, I sought to make everything as eco-friendly as possible, but of course when budget is a concern it wasn’t always feasible. So, I did the best I could to find affordable “green” options. I was surprised to learn that there were many great alternatives when it came to landscape, tile, and kitchen cabinets.

Eco-Friendly Refurbished Concrete Floors

To stay true to our budget, I chose more common eco-friendly products instead of large labels that read “sustainable.” We also made it priority to shop local and work with craftsman from the community. For example, when it came to flooring, we were torn. Flooring is expensive and rarely eco-friendly, unless you spend half your entire house budget on it. We could have gone with flooring materials that claimed they were “eco-friendly,” but instead we got rid of the 40-year-old linoleum floors and re-surfaced the concrete underneath. Not only is this the cheapest way to go, but it’s the most eco-friendly because we used no extra material and didn’t use any glues.

Use Non-Toxic, No-VOC Paints to Refurbish a Door

We also have a 40-year-old front door. Originally, we planned to get a new door because this one was pretty darn rickety. But we decided it was worth restoring and not getting rid of. So, we got new hardware and painted it BLUE! (And we used all non-toxic, VOC free paints.)

Sometimes eco-friendly choices are about using what you already have or using things that last a long time. Like the original owner that had not made a single change to the home since he purchased it 40 years ago (now THAT is what I see as true sustainability), we tried to keep as much of the home as we could without fully becoming one of the Brady Bunch.

I did splurge, however, on a few eco-friendly items that were very important to me. Like my kids’ bunk beds and their mattresses. I’m sure if you’ve looked into buying an organic mattress, you know what I’m talking about. The sticker shock is almost a joke, but because children spend a lot of time sleeping I didn’t want them to rest their heads on an off-gassing or chemically laden product. Similarly, we purchased their beds from a really special eco-friendly children’s furniture line. Not only are the construction and materials sustainable, but we know the beds are of a long-lasting quality—we owned a crib by the same brand that both my boys slept in and it’s now in somebody else’s home (thanks Craigslist!) being used yet again in perfect condition. That’s a great product.

Another non-negotiable design feature was the boys’ bathroom. I wanted the entire thing to be tiled. As if you were walking into one big shower when you entered the door. Tile is very expensive, but I found honed marble tiles (a natural stone that will last for years) on sale for $7 per square foot and that was a total steal.

Our kitchen was something we couldn’t restore! It had to be torn out. We went with a European kitchen cabinetry from Poggenphol. It’s the same kitchen they used in the first ever LEED certified home in California. Even cooler was that it was extremely affordable.

As far as landscaping, I had one major request: Everything planted must either require little to no water or be edible! So we have avocado, meyer lemon, apple, fig, lime and plum trees. Along with a small herb garden. (A larger garden will be done later and documented on my blog Pure Mamas, so stay tuned for that.) This not only reduces our carbon footprint, but also teaches my kids about caring for the environment and healthy eating.

Due to foundation cracking and other problems, we were forced to remove a very beautiful old tree on the side yard. So, instead of discarding it, we upcycled it and turned it into a kids table and chairs. We are also using the rest of it to create a natural obstacle course for our kids.

That’s about it! It’s a relief to be done, but creating a healthy, eco-friendly home (and finding affordable sustainable options) was well worth it. Thanks for reading and hope you like it!

– Juli 

Guest Contributor Juli Novotny = Food lover. Green chef. Health advocate. Business owner. Mother. Blogger. Modern minimalist. When she’s not running her health food company Kookie Karma or enjoying the beach with her two little boys, Juli blogs and takes beautiful photographs about healthy family living at PURE Mamas.