I tried something new last fall. I actually started reading the ingredients on food labels. It wasn’t that I didn’t care to eat healthy before. Call it lazy ignorance? It just seemed like such a big task to pay so much attention to the ingredients in every single thing I bought. But then, after a few recommendations from friends and family, I started an eating program. You may have heard of the Whole 30. It required me to look at labels because no processed sugar was one of the guidelines. Overall, I tried to avoid purchasing processed food, but when I did, the fewer added ingredients the better.
I began to see how food companies sneakily add sugar to many of their foods. While sugar wasn’t the only thing I was looking for, it became the ingredient I focused on spotting first–in all of its varieties. After I learned to focus on sugar, I was less intimidated. All of a sudden reading food labels felt manageable. It just took one ingredient at a time. I also discovered sugars prevalence in processed foods: bacon, peanut butter, dried cranberries, almond milk… the list goes on and on.
The 30 days I did the program were definitely not easy. One of the hardest parts was the amount of organization and food preparation the program required. I found eating mostly vegetables, eggs, fruits, and meat was satisfying and tasty but not something I could keep up if I didn’t plan in advance. I began trying to think of better ways to organize and plan my meals. One idea was to try to eat healthy foods that could be made in bulk.
After the program was over, I was unsure about how my eating habits would change. And while I can’t say I comply with the eating guidelines 100 percent now, reading labels for added sugar content has stuck. I am always looking for a healthier substitute for sugar, so when my mother-in-law raved about a “healthy” cookie (almost Whole 30 compliant), claiming she makes them in bulk and goes through two batches a week, I was more than happy to try them out. She was right. They are delicious and easy to eat at a later time. The original recipe is from Ralphs (www.ralphs.com) in-store recipe listings, and I’ve adapted it from there.
- 2 ripe bananas
- ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup shredded carrot
- ½ cup shredded zucchini
- ½ cup almond butter
- 2 eggs
- 1tbsp. honey
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp baking soda
- A few sprinkles of salt
- ⅓ cup flaxseed meal
- 1⅔ cups almond flour
- ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- optional: add raisins or chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside
- Use a fork to mush bananas so that there are no large chunks
- Add coconut, carrots, almond butter,eggs and zucchini; mix until well-combined
- Add cinnamon, baking soda, salt, flaxseed meal and almond flour; mix until combined
- If desired fold in nuts, raisins and chocolate chips
- Drop spoonfuls of dough on baking sheets
- Bake 18 minutes ( you can keep them in longer depending on what texture you desire)
- Let cool
- Transfer to wire racks to cool completely
- *I don't store them in a closed container because I think they stay tastier that way; I do eat them quickly, however.