Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn't love cookies, right? I know I love them but I often find it hard to bake up a gluten-free, dairy-free, batch that doesn't crumble in my hands. However, I just made a bold new discovery that I had to share. Baking with chickpeas. DUN DUN DUN. This exciting realization came to me after making my very first chickpea burger and realizing how well they held together without an egg. It was incredible. Then my mind starting wondering if this could work for a sweet treat too? Well my question has been answered, surprised and satisfied.

These delicious cookies are extra special for several reasons. First of all they are made with chickpeas so they are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Have you ever had a cookie made out of a legume?

Welcome to my world of nutrition trickery.

These magical bean/legume cookies are vegan (egg and dairy-free), nut-free and gluten-free. They also are lower in grains and lower in sugar then traditional chocolate chip cookies.

I know the ingredient list might sound strange... But seriously, these are so delicious so don't freak out about these adventurous edits I've made to traditional recipes. These are a perfect tricky treat for little ones or ANYONE whom you WISH ate healthier--Now they will and won't even know it. Sneak a few good ingredients in your loved ones snacks... why not right? And if you really want to smile just think about what you are not giving them: all-purpose flour (potential allergen-wheat, acts sugar that can make kids have bad tantrums), baking soda (just an extra ingredient you don't need), baking powder (could be corn), 1 stick of butter (saturated-fat), lots of sugar (brown and white can make people crazy moody and hyper), eggs (potential allergen).

Break the monotony and tradition. Do something BOLD and adventurous. Surprise yourself. Try these cookies and you really won't regret it. You will LOVE them. 

1 can of garbanzo (chickpeas) 15 oz can, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup of maple syrup
2 tbsp. of olive oil (any baking-friendly oil will work)
1/3 cup of gluten-free oat flour (or any alternative gluten-free flour should work)
1/3 cup of gluten-free oats
¼ tsp. sea salt
Plus extra coarse sea salt, set aside to top the cookies with
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup of (gluten-free, dairy-free) chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life mini chips) Please note: if you don't care about keeping the recipe gluten-free, any chocolate chips will work

(Preheat oven to 375)
1. Place drained and rinsed chickpeas in the blender with the maple syrup. Pulse until smooth.
2. Add the oil, cayenne pepper and salt. Pulse to combine.
3. Transfer chickpea mixture into a large bowl.
4. Add the oat flour and oats and stir to combine well.
5. Fold in 1 cup of (gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free) chocolate chips. I use Enjoy Life brand found at Whole Foods. Fold in 1/3 cup at a time into the bowl. Stir until chocolate chips seem evenly distributed. If you don't like your cookies really chocolaty you can take 1/3 cup of chocolate chips out and maybe add 1/3 cup of raisins, dried fruit or even just nothing.
6. Scoop cookies out onto a greased pan.
7. Press down on the cookies to make them flat because they will not spread out like "normal" cookies.
7. Top the cookies with coarse sea salt.. it gives them a really nice salty-sweet bite so don't forget that key ingredient!
8. Bake on 375 for 15 minutes.

Please Enjoy!
xo Natalie

Monday Mantra

"Pay attention inward now."
-Iyanla Vansant


Delicious Honeymoon Highlights from Hawaii

Our honeymoon in Hawaii was delightful and so delicious. We had the pleasure to dive into a dream, spending five nights in Maui and four nights on the lush island of Kauai. It was our first BIG trip together as a married couple and it was the perfect combination of romance and adventure for my Sagittarius spirit and my Aquarian hubby's drive to do.

Hawaii has history for me. I've been traveling to and from Hawaii since I was 10, (my first trip was to Maui with my Dad and brothers) and there were many more rounds of Hawaiian vacations. Looking back I'm not quite sure how my Dad and Step-mom managed to shuttle 5 kids from the East Coast to Hawaii numerous time without ripping their hair out?? But needless to say, I'm so thankful to them for our amazing childhood travels.

Traveling to Maui and Kauai with Nick was so special. I found myself in a parallel universe where my past merged with my present grown-up self. There were moments of nostalgia when annoying kids were screaming and splashing honeymooners in the resort pool. I thought to myself, wow, that was SO me and my siblings. It made me smile and almost cry. There was a lot of letting go on the trip. I felt myself emotionally letting go of the childhood me and stepping into a grown woman. Something I thought I was before but had never truly accepted.  

Then there were moments of pure honeymoon bliss where Nick and I were alone together and on a great adventure driving into the rain forest or swimming side by side in the pool. We watched the sun sets, felt the sand beneath our feet and talked seriously about when we could come back to visit Hawaii again.

My love for Hawaii and it’s spectacular culture and beauty is boundless. I could really go on and on. But since Nick and I always have such big appetites for life and food I wanted to highlight a few of our culinary adventures from our vacation. It's a rare pleasure when we have some really amazing healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free food options and I doubted several times that I would be able to eat. But alas and thankfully I was dead wrong. The amazing healthy fare made it very easy for me to just sit back, relax and enjoy myself.

My top-five favorite meals in Hawaii:
When I saw this dish on the menu on the first night of our vacation my face lit up. This was the Macrobiotic Plate at our first resort in Maui, Fairmont Kea Lani. Thanks to their "allergy-program" all the restaurants on-site always had a running list of foods I can't eat. They also had a special diet menu which included this AMAZING Macrobiotic meal. Hello, this is so me! They served this speciality dish at the hotel's main restaurant Ko, inspired by Maui's Sugarcane Plantation era. Served in a bento box, this rocked my world.

    Ahi-Fish Plate at the Kilauea Fish Market in Kauai. This plate was so easy to love. I'm a huge supporter of simple dishes. This was simple at it's best: brown rice, FRESH ahi-tuna and a crisp side salad. I also requested no sauce (although there was an Asian-sauce that came with it) so taking it to the next level of simple. :) 
    The truly spectacular farm-to-table lunch at O'o Farm in the Maui's upcountry. Okay this meal came with a private chef and an awesome view. Plus we got the freedom to pick our own unique and fresh ingredients from an organic farm. It doesn't get much fresher!

Mama's Fish House in Maui. Haven't you heard you should never judge a book by it's cover? Well Mama's is no exception to that rule. This place is clearly a famous spot and you can tell it has been around forever by the cheesy floral decor. But the food is as good as it gets in Hawaii. The fish is fresh full of flavor and seasoned well. Nevermind it could have possibly been the best tasting fish I've ever had. ... what really blew me away was the service and the gluten-free options. Plus, every local we talked to said it was their favorite place to go for a celebration (birthday, anniversary, etc) and I think that says quite a bit about the food. And be sure to leave some time to walk around the town of Paia where this spot is located, it's the cutest hippie town ever!

Verde is dive food at its best! This was our first stop after arriving in Kauai. We were really craving some fresh guacamole and Mexican cuisine and this hit the spot. We loved the fun and colorful dishes. Everything there was fresh and seriously so SO good. It was a really lucky find.