Okay, guys, let’s talk cookies…aka: my weakness. Yours? I’m guessing I’m not the only one who adores a perfect chocolate chip cookie (make that an “oatmeal” chocolate chip cookie for me please). I came up with these Zucchini-Almond Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies (I know, the title’s a mouthful, and you’re going to love every mouthful of these cookies too!) to fit the theme of this month’s Recipe Redux post series.
The theme for April is…
Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste
In honor of Earth Day on April 22, we’ve been challenged to create a recipe using food scraps or parts of foods that normally get tossed. If you click on the link at the very bottom of this post, you will be taken to a site where other food bloggers have also posted recipes for how to use parts of foods you would normally discard. Check it out!
Before I give you more details on what ingredient these Zucchini-Almond Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies use that would normally get thrown out, I want to give a bit more background into my view on sweet treats in general.
As I’ve worked to improve my eating habits over the years, I’ve almost completely cut out sugar. I know, boring, right? But I’m telling you, dropping sugar has helped me see the light when it comes to feeling more energetic and sleeping more soundly than I have since I was a baby (and I’ve been told that I was a GOOD little sleeper from day one). Those two benefits are enough to keep me on the low-sugar wagon…
But, I am human, and when I’m around sweets, I occasionally indulge, which is okay, because it’s easy to jump right back on the low-sugar wagon knowing how much better I feel eating that way.
In an effort to make the sweets I do indulge in more healthful, I’ve created recipes over time that are lower in sugar and contain health-boosting ingredients. I want to make one thing clear before I go any further…these Zucchini-Almond Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are still cookies, and I’m by no means giving anyone a green light to eat as many of them as you like in the name of good health. Yes, they have added zucchini and flax, and yes, they are lower in sugar, but I will never call a cookie “healthy”. The fact that I feel better after eating these cookies compared to a traditional sugar and butter laden cookie makes me happy, and I hope you feel the same way!
As I mentioned above, the theme for this month’s Recipe Redux post was to use an ingredient or part of a food that would normally get thrown away. I chose to use the leftover ground almonds that get strained out from making homemade almond milk. Don’t worry, if you don’t make your own almond milk or have no idea what ground almonds I’m even referring to, I’ve given directions in the cookie recipe for using purchased almond meal instead. So, you’re covered either way if you decide to make these cookies…and I hope you do!
Check out my Homemade Vanilla Almond Milk recipe if you want to learn how to make the most delicious almond milk ever! If you’re accustomed to purchased almond milk, you haven’t tasted anything like homemade and once you do, I think you’ll have a hard time going back to the purchased version. The basic method for making almond milk is to soak whole almonds in water for several hours, drain them, and then blend the almonds with fresh water until they are almost completely pureed. Then, you pour the blended mixture through a nut milk bag (which is an extremely strong bag made of porous cotton or fine mesh nylon) and squeeze out all the liquid, which is the almond milk. What’s left in the bag are very finely ground almonds that many people just throw away because they don’t know what to do with them.
Since I make almond milk regularly (I don’t tolerate dairy, so I use the almond milk in my coffee and matcha), it would get expensive to toss all the leftover ground almonds, so I’ve come up with ways to use it. Pancakes work well (see my recipe here) and I also use it in muffins, homemade bread, and sometimes I add it to my Nutty Cinnamon Granola to bulk it up and add even more fiber.
Because the leftover ground almonds are still a little wet from having been blended with water (it’s impossible to squeeze out every bit of liquid), you can’t simply use them in any recipe that calls for almond meal/flour. You have to adjust the liquid a bit, but once you experiment a few times, you’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t, and make the necessary adjustments. One step I sometimes take to help dry out the ground almonds, is to bake them before using them in a recipe. Doing that step allows for a closer substitution with almond meal/flour.
Cookies seemed like a great way to use the leftover almonds, and I was not disappointed with the results (nor were my kids)! Because many of my readers avoid eating gluten, I also made these cookies gluten free (just make sure you use gluten free oats), and because I don’t tolerate dairy well, I swapped a blend of coconut oil and heart-healthy avocado oil for traditional butter.
P.S. Don’t ask how many of these Zucchini-Almond Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies I ate in the recipe creation process! #hadtomakesuretheywerejustright
Zucchini-Almond Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies How-To Photos:
This is what the leftover ground almonds look like once you’ve squeezed out as much of the almond milk as you can.
Spread them in an even layer in a shallow pan lined with parchment paper.
Bake until they are dry and lightly browned.
To make the cookies, mix eggs, coconut oil, avocado oil, honey, and vanilla.
Add the dried ground almonds, flax seed meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add quick cooking rolled oats, brown rice flour, and finely shredded zucchini.
Mix in dark chocolate chips.
Spoon dough into mounds on cookie sheets. You can line the pans with parchment paper or not…either way works fine.
Bake until tops are set and lightly browned.
Finished! Try to just one!
- 1 cup dried leftover ground almonds from making almond milk*
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup honey
- 1/3 cup avocado oil
- 1/3 cup refined coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup flax seed meal
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups quick-cooking rolled oats**
- 1 1/3 cups brown rice flour
- 2/3 cup finely shredded zucchini
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips***
- Start by drying the leftover ground almonds from making almond milk*. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl combine eggs, honey, avocado oil, coconut oil, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined.
- Add the 1 cup dried leftover ground almonds, the flax seed meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the egg mixture. Beat until combined. Add oats, brown rice flour, and zucchini. Beat until combined. Beat in chocolate chips.
- Drop dough into small mounds (using about 2 tablespoons of dough per mound) on ungreased cookie sheets (you can also line the pans with parchment paper for easy clean up), leaving 1 inch between mounds. Flatten mounds slightly.
- Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 9 to 12 minutes or until tops are set and lightly browned. Let cookies cool on the pans on a wire rack for 1 minute before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
- * To dry the leftover ground almonds from making almond milk, spread the leftover ground almonds in an even layer in a parchment paper lined shallow baking pan. Bake in a 350°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until ground almonds are dry to the touch and starting to turn brown, stirring once or twice. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Measure the amount needed for these cookies AFTER baking.
- * If you don’t have the leftover almonds from making almond milk, you can use almond meal/flour. Use ¾ cup almond meal/flour in place of the leftover ground almonds AND increase the brown rice flour to 1 ½ cups. The cookies will be a little more crumbly than if using the leftover ground almonds from almond milk.
- ** Make sure to use gluten-free quick cooking oats if you need the cookies to be 100% gluten free.
- *** If you need these cookies to be 100% dairy free, use dairy free chocolate chips, such as Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels.
- about 32 cookies
- 160 cals, 3 g pro, 18 g carb, 10 g fat, 12 mg cholesterol, 4 g sat fat, 2 g fiber, 86 mg sodium
- Note…since it would be very difficult to know the true nutrition make-up of the leftover ground almonds that are used in this recipe, the nutrition info for these cookies isn’t as accurate as what it is for my other recipes.