I have been a sugar addict forever. I went to the doctor a couple of years ago because I was feeling tired and run down, in spite of running regularly and sleeping well. After questioning me about my lifestyle and wellness, he picked up a piece of paper and wrote this simple prescription: “Cut out sugar” (It was even underlined liked that.)
I’ve always had a wicked sweet tooth. Never one to pass over dessert, I’ve long taken pride in my ability to eat a full meal and then be able to polish off an extra large helping of sugar covered sugar. Since then, I’ve managed to curb the processed sugar, but only off and on. Ok, for like a day. Eventually, I’d have a strong craving and give into processed crackers, sugars, breads… the kind of stuff that is calorically high and nutritionally empty.
The first night Randy and I met, I was having a HUGE craving for cookie dough, so I made a batch of chocolate chip, telling myself I was making cookies for the kids. There were no cookies to be made because I ate the entire batch of cookie dough. (*to be fair, it was “only” one of those small Betty Crocker cookie mix things. And don’t be fooled by what that package says: I’ve NEVER managed to get 3 dozen cookies out of one of those things, even when I DIDN’T eat the batter. Just sayin’…)
Onward… So Randy knew from the get-go that I had a penchant for sweets. We laughed about it, but I also knew that he had concerns. He had made big dietary changes a couple of years ago and noticed big changes in his energy levels and how he felt. He knew that I had dealt with depression and anxiety and that foods can be very comforting and produce drug-like effects.
In other words, your body craves things that make it feel a certain way, just like a drug addict craves their drug of choice. We spent a lot of time talking about what our life together would look like. We both were tired of going through the expected societal motions. Falling for the traps that we are sold daily. Doing things “just because” and not for a real reason.
We wanted to be living purposefully. This included our eating habits, therefore, it meant making big changes in the things that the kids and I eat and the way I prepare food.
I was worried the kids would balk. Healthy meals were not valued in my former life, so the kids were used to always having a meat-and-three (at least one had to be a sugary starch). My concerns were for nothing: the kids have adapted nicely, and I don’t think they feel deprived one bit. Randy is a fantastic cook and he truly enjoys it, so I’ve been spoiled that way.
But I’ve been watching and I’ve been wanting to try my hand at some of it.
So this past week, while Randy was out of town, I was determined to do it properly. I’ve prepared foods that are high in nutritional value. But I began to worry when I got a craving for something sweet. I wanted to do it the way Randy’s shown me: he prepares these amazing treats that are actually feeding and fueling my body. I decided to experiment.
We’d used almond flour before, with success, but we were out. We did have some cocoa flavored almonds, so I decided to make brownies using almond flour I made from those almonds. None of us require a gluten-free diet, but there are other benefits to it: lower carbs and sugar, high in protein, and more nutritious than white flour. It’s also a great replacement when baking because it is moist and has a great flavor. To make your own almond flour:
- use blanched almonds (skin removed) for best texture.
- pulse-grind in a coffee grinder (only a second or two at a time; not too long or you’ll get almond butter instead)
- sift to remove big chunks. place those back into the grinder (*If you are making this for someone who does require a gluten-free diet, use a sifter that is separate from your regular flour sifter)
For my brownies, I used cocoa flavored almonds to make my almond flour. It used the following recipe and replaced the flour with the almond flour. I went ahead and used the amount of cocoa that was called for. I figure it couldn’t be TOO chocolatey, could it? I also used a splenda/sugar mix, rather than straight sugar.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
- 2 cups sugar (*I used a splenda/sugar combo)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup Cocoa
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (*I used all almond flour)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Heat oven to 350F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan. 2. Place butter in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 2 to 2-1/2 minutes or until melted. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with spoon after each addition. Add cocoa; beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat well. Stir in nuts, if desired. Pour batter into prepared pan. 3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Frost if desired. Cut into bars. About 36 brownies.
Resource: Why Almond Flour (from Elana’s Pantry) < – highly recommend