I don't have any New Year's resolutions. I'm not sure whether that portrays me as lacking initiative or rather being happy with where I am. I've enjoyed reading and hearing about other people's resolutions, however; check out Google Zeitgeist to read resolutions from all over the world. "No junk food", "Propose to Dawn", "Quit Facebook", "Get into shape", "Tell my family every day that I love them", "Play better golf", and heaps more. Good luck to those of you who have resolutions!
With today's post, I hope to encourage those of you who have goals of eating healthier, eliminating junk food, and perhaps going vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free. I have a friend who is vegan; she eats some crazy food, but the photos she posts on Instagram look spectacularly delicious. It appears that it's actually quite easy to achieve a healthy and balanced diet without using refined sugars, processed foods and meats. She inspired me to try out a recipe I found for healthy peanut butter cookies via La Mesa that uses no sweeteners except medjool dates and almond meal instead of flour.
This simple recipe, which results in a cookie dough-like texture, uses only 4 ingredients and can quickly be prepared in your food processor.
You'll need almond meal (whole almonds, raw or dry-roasted, will also work), pitted medjool dates, natural peanut butter (although you can use any type of peanut butter, or other nut butter such as almond, cashew, etc) and pure vanilla extract. The ingredients are processed in a food processor, then formed into balls. You could probably leave them as balls and call them "bites" instead of "cookies", or you could flatten them with a fork for that classic peanut butter cookie look. And that's it. That's all there is to it. You don't even need to turn on your oven.
A quick note about using almond meal vs. whole nuts - almond meal will result in a smoother texture without the appearance of nut chunks. I used almond meal for this blog post, and you'll see how the texture looks smooth in the photos. When I made these cookies again, I used a mixture of whole cashews and whole peanuts, which resulted in the appearance of small nut chunks, and also giving the cookies a bit of crunchier texture.
A word of warning on the dates... processing the dates can put a bit of strain on a food processor, so process the mixture with caution. If you have a strong processor, you should be fine, but if you have a cheaper brand or if it's just not a good processor, well, you've been warned! Remember to remove the pits from the dates before processing.
As I mentioned, these cookies have a cookie dough-like texture, and I'm sure they'd be perfect to use as cookie dough truffles, or buckeyes, if you formed the dough into balls and dipped them in chocolate. You could even add some chocolate chips to the dough, if you felt so inclined. I'd suggest mini ones, as the cookies themselves aren't very large. They're not the type of cookie you'd want to make large anyway as the cookie would just fall apart if it were any bigger, and the texture is very chewy; it's best that the cookies are formed into a smaller size.
I admit, I was a little bit scared of tasting these because I'm not real keen on dates. But, I love peanut butter, so I had to give it a go. I fell in love with these little cookies and couldn't get enough of them. The taste of the peanut butter overpowers the taste of the dates, so the cookies basically tasted like raw peanut butter cookie dough. I was so excited and immediately proclaimed my love for them! This is one recipe I'll be making again and again, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
These particular cookies may or may not be labelled as "raw", depending on the ingredients you use. If you prefer raw food, just make sure the ingredients you use are raw. In my case, I used store-bought almond meal and peanut butter, so I doubt I'd be able to officially call these "raw"! However, these cookies are perfect for vegetarians, vegans, people with a gluten/sugar-free lifestyle and those just simply looking to eat healthier. Here's to eating right in 2013!
If you loved these peanut butter cookies, visit Megan at La Mesa for more delicious healthy and vegan-friendly recipes!
"Raw" Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1 cup raw or dry-roasted, whole almonds (or almond meal)
- 1 cup pitted medjool dates
- ½ cup natural peanut butter or other nut butter
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- If you're using whole almonds, process them until they resemble a coarse meal.
- Add the dates, peanut butter and vanilla; if you're using already-prepared almond meal, just toss all the ingredients into the food processor together. If the nut butter isn't salted, you may add a few pinches of salt.
- Process the ingredients until the mixture starts to form a dough, about 2 minutes. If it doesn't seem to come together, add another tablespoon or two of peanut butter and process again.
- Form the dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a sheet of parchment paper. Press each ball gently with a fork to make the classic peanut butter cookie criss-cross pattern.
- Store in the refrigerator.