Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies

This past week was a bit of a rough one.  My dear sweet grandfather passed away at the age of 95, and while we all knew it was coming, it’s still hard to imagine life without him.  So when I’m feeling a little down I go for a run, go to yoga and bake.  And these tahini chocolate chip cookies from the Meals Made Simple cookbook were just what I needed.

tahini chocolate chip cookiesI have been on quite the tahini kick lately.  I made tahini dressing for my Asian slaw, I used it as a sauce for some zoodles, and now I’m using it in cookies!  I’ll admit I was a little skeptical when I first saw the recipe in the cookbook, but Danielle Walker swears that these are the best chocolate chip cookies ever so I was game.  Plus, it’s another recipe to check off for the 2015 cookbook challenge!

When I first made the cookies I handed one to the Englishman to taste without telling him what was in it.  He couldn’t detect the tahini at all! He said they had a slightly nutty flavor (which I agree) but you wouldn’t know it was tahini unless someone told you.

If you are looking for a different cookie that’s grain free and doesn’t use the standard almond butter, try this recipe with tahini!  I modified a few of the ingredients based on what we had, but for the most part followed the recipe exactly.  The original recipe makes 24 cookies, but you can cut it in half if you don’t want that many cookies in the house 😉  I have also found that these cookies freeze really well (and taste good frozen too!).

Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies (adaptedfrom the Meals Made Simple cookbook)

tahini chocolate chip cookiesIngredients:

1 large egg white

2 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil

1/2 cup tahini

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup tapioca starch (or arrowroot powder)

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup cacao nibs

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or coat well with cooking oil.

Mix your egg white and maple syrup until mixture is smooth (use a hand or stand mixer if you have it!).

Gently fold in your tahini, tapioca starch, vanilla, salt and baking soda and continue to mix.  Add your chocolate chips and cacao nibs.

Place spoonfuls of dough onto your baking sheet.  For crispier cookies, flatten your dough a bit.

Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Cool and enjoy!

This was such an easy recipe to make and I love that it’s paleo friendly AND uses tahini.  I already can’t wait to whip up my next batch.

Dinner at Cucina Alessa

Four years ago, I first wrote about Cucina Alessa (please excuse the rough photography).  I loved all the food and yet somehow I never went back.  When my mom was brainstorming ideas for her birthday dinner, we agreed that it was high time we returned to Cucina Alessa and I’m so glad we did.  So consider this dinner at Cuinca Alessa part deux.

When I dined at Cucina Alessa the first time, I wasn’t following a gluten-free diet so my entrée choices revolved around pizza and pasta.  Since I am more on a gluten-free/paleo diet now my food choices have definitely changed and I’m happy to report that Cucina Alessa has plenty of gluten-free options if you want them.

For our appetizer course we decided to go with the calamari (the Englishman’s personal fave) and the fresh burrata.

Cucina Alessa Calamari

Burrata is one of my favorite cheeses in life, and this one did not disappoint.  It was all the creamy perfection you would expect and more.  The calamari was also a big hit among the table and it was devoured in minutes.

Cucina Alessa Burrata

For my main course, I ordered the grilled salmon with broccoli and a side of roasted rosemary potatoes.  Since I am currently obsessed with all the salmon, I was excited to try this dish.

Cucina Alessa SalmonThe salmon was grilled perfectly and came with a lemon garlic sauce that wasn’t too heavy or overpowering with the dish.  If you are looking for a non-pasta option at Cucina Alessa, definitely go for this (and get some potatoes on the side).

The Englishman went with the gnocchi which he greatly enjoyed and would recommend to any gnocchi lovers out there.

Cucina Alessa Gnocchi

My mom got a shrimp pasta in a lobster sauce – I only tasted the shrimp but the sauce on it was fantastic.

Cucina Alessa Lobster SauceMy dad went with the chicken Parmesan, which is one of the best classic dishes on the menu. Chicken, pasta, cheese; what’s not to love?

Cucina Alessa Chicken ParmAnd because we were celebrating a birthday, some gelato was required at the end of the evening.

cucina alessa birthday gelato

I’m thinking it won’t be four years before I return to Cucina Alessa again.

Spring Reset Week 2

Happy Monday!  We are officially in week two of the spring reset and this week was definitely a lot more challenging that week 1 to say the least.  While I’m all for clean eating and resetting, I definitely could not do a diet like this long-term.  And spoiler alert: this week definitely included some slip ups.  So let’s dive straight into the spring reset week 2 recap.

So after week 1, I still wasn’t feeling super awesome.  Digestion was off, and I was feeling low in energy so I made sure to have sweet potatoes at every dinner.  I went to yoga on Monday and while class was awesome, I just wasn’t feeling myself.

EKAM Yoga AsanaI started my Tuesday off with a run and then went to make my 21 D2D approved coconut flour pancakes to have for breakfast.  And honestly after breakfast?  I just felt awful.  Sick, dizzy, nauseated, the works.  I had a smoothie with banana for lunch and still didn’t feel great (also, bananas tend to not sit well with me).  It was about that time that I accepted the fact that this was not just detox symptoms but instead some icky stomach virus that appears to be making the rounds.

When I’m sick, the last thing on earth I want is meat or raw veggies.  When I had my terrible bout of food poisoning last year all I wanted was brown rice pasta and tapioca pudding.  So I caved and had some homemade gluten-free granola bars.  And buckwheat toast with some butter.  Anything to feel better.

I’ll admit I kind of beat myself up about this at first – but then I realized, hey I’m sick, I’m human, and it’s JUST FOOD.  I spent Wednesday still feeling awful and the only thing that sounded good was toast and butter.  So I rolled with it.  I know these “challenges” are put in place for a reason, but like Joelle wrote last week, you have to do what works for you.

And honestly?  It’s not like I went spiraling face first into a bowl of ice cream (although that does sound good).  Once I was no longer feeling like death, I made a few 21 DSD friendly recipes like some zoodles with tahini sauce and ground turkey.

turkeytahinizoodles

I also made some plantain tortillas from the Zenbelly Cookbook and these were so flippin’ easy that I must share the recipe.  All it includes is 3 mashed plantains, 2 egg whites, and 3 tbsp of an oil or fat of your choice (I used olive oil).  Mix, spread spoonfuls of batter onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.  So simple and so tasty.

plantain tortillas

So where does that leave me now?  I’m still sticking to my clean eating plan for April (and let’s be honest, life) but I’m not going to beat myself up if I have a few gluten-free grains here and there or some fruit.  The whole purpose of the spring reset was for me to clean up my eating and drinking, and I know that I can survive without added sugar no problem.

Has anyone else done the 21 Day Sugar Detox or something similar?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Spring Reset Week One

So last week, I announced the Spring Reset which is essentially the The 21-Day Sugar Detoxcreated by Diane Sanfilippo.  I decided I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences on the blog, so here is the Spring Reset Week One recap.

I went into the spring reset wanting to clean my diet up a bit.  I already eat pretty clean as it is, but I just wanted to reign in my wine drinking and cheese consumption.  This is actually the longest I’ve ever gone without dairy (with the exception of a minor slip up on Saturday), which is a pretty big deal for me.  I actually had a DREAM about eating a delicious cheese platter mid-week and woke up craving cheese like no other.  Thank goodness this will be over by the time I go to France!  And while I do miss my glass of wine, I do feel pretty fancy with some frozen fruit and sparkling water in a wine glass.

spring reset week oneOther observations of note:

  • Not having fruit is hard for me.  The 21 Day Sugar Detox states NO fruit except green tipped bananas and green apples.  I’ve been having a banana in my smoothies, and I’m not the biggest apple fan and miss my berries like crazy.  I do eat a ton of fruit so it’s a good practice in moderation, but I can’t wait to have strawberries and blueberries back in my life.
  • I don’t miss grains as much as I thought I would.  I already eat a very primal-inspired diet so eliminating my gluten-free bread hasn’t been a HUGE deal, and when I want something carb-y I go for one of the coconut/almond flour recipes from the 21 DSD book.
  • It’s expensive!  I already eat a ton of meat (#carnivore), but with the elimination of dairy and fruit as some of my go-to snacks, I’ve been turning to meat more and more.  I love meat as much as the next girl, but I’m pretty sure the people at Sprouts know me by name now.
  • I miss dairy.  I really like having some Greek yogurt or string cheese as an afternoon snack, and I miss that.  However, Greek yogurt doesn’t always sit the best in my stomach, so maybe it’s better I take a break from it for a bit.  I did accidentally have a bit of dairy in the form of some whey protein in my smoothie and sour cream in some mashed potatoes, but the potatoes were too damn good to pass up.
  • I’m having fun creating new recipes!  The other night I made chicken in an almond butter sauce, and the Englishman and I grilled some salmon over the weekend.  Now granted, a glass of rose would’ve been nice with the salmon but I digress.

spring reset salmonOverall it’s been an interesting experiment and while my digestion still isn’t 100% yet, I’m hoping that will improve as I head into week two.  I should also note that I am following the “energy modifications” in the program since I do workout a lot/do crossfit, and making sure to get plenty of starchy veggies in the form of sweet potatoes, butternut squash and red potatoes.

On to week two!