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Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies are fudgey, brownie and cookie-like all at once. You'd never believe they're free of many common allergens, including gluten, dairy, and can easily be made minus eggs and tree nuts.

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies are fudgey, brownie and cookie-like all at once. You’d never believe they’re free of many common allergens, including gluten, dairy, and can easily be made free of eggs and tree nuts. Cookie photos by Kristen Joerger of tiny-gourmet.com  .

This Double Chocolate Chunk Cookie recipe post has literally been years in the making.  A couple of years ago, I ran across a cookie recipe I really liked, and tinkered with it.  Soon, I was baking these babies up, and taking them to house parties, to weekends away, on hikes, and on road trips. People LOVE these cookies. I’ve heard people go so far as to call them “The best cookies I’ve ever had in my life.”

cookiesI’d bet money they’ve gotten me invited back a few places ;-)

They were a huge hit at my most recent yoga retreat.

People always request this recipe, yet I always got sidetracked.

You’d never guess these cookies are free of many common allergens. My goal was to make them taste chocolately and decadent, not diet. These cookies have no:

  • gluten
  • dairy
  • egg (if you choose to veganize them, that is)
  • or tree nuts (if you choose the tree nut free option, that is)

Here are some of us at my most recent yoga retreat in upstate New York:

fall retreat group shot 2013 upstate

This magic batter traveled with me to my most recent yoga retreat, and the cookies were a huge hit when we packed them into the bagged picnic lunches we took with us to the apple orchard.

These cookies are packed with flavor and a beautiful texture.

Bria’s Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies.

  • 1 cup peanut butter (or almond butter, or, to go tree nut free, use sunflower seed butter.)
  • 1 cup UNSweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup of brown sugar (I prefer dark brown)
  • 1 egg (replace egg by combining 1 tbsp ground flax seeds + 3 tbsp warm water in a small bowl and stirring.  Allow a “jelly” to form after a few minutes and use this as your “egg”)
  • pinch teaspoon salt (leave out if your peanut butter is salted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, chunks, or half a cup of each (I used Trader Joe’s brand, as they are free of dairy)

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a nice, roomy mixing bowl, cream together peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.

3. Begin adding in cocoa powder, 1/4 cup at a time, and mix until well incorporated and moist. If the batter gets too dry, add in bit of water, leftover coffee, or milk of choice to loosen it. Then remix. If batter becomes too loose, add in more cocoa powder to tighten it up.

4. Fold in 3/4 of the chocolate chips and/or chunks. Save the rest for garnish.

5. OPTIONAL/not always necessary: Stash mix in the freezer for 10-15 minutes while you prepare  your cookies sheets. I either line mine with parchment paper, or spray them with cooking spray. One of these days I WILL get a Silpat.

6. Use a cookie scoop or a spoon to make uniform sized dough balls. (I do this by hand and spoon, and each cookie is a generous tablespoon of dough). Do NOT smash cookies down.

7. Place 3-5 chocolate chips and/or chunks on the top of the cookies. You can flip the cookie dough ball upside down and get the chips to adhere that way.

8. Bake cookies for 9-14 minutes, until ever so faint cracks appear on the surface. I know 9-12 minutes is quite a range, but I find that variations in altitude and ovens really do make a difference in bake times. In my NYC toaster oven, these cookies are perfect at 8-10 minutes of baking. In Colorado, I had to go closer to 12 minutes, sometimes beyond, in the “big” oven, to get the right texture.

9. Let cool slightly (or a lot, your choice, but I can never wait too long to try these). Enjoy!

So there you have it. An easy, creative,  recipe that is so delicious, you’d never know it’s friendly to many “restricted” diets and actually kinda healthy.

Question Time:

What’s your go-to dessert?

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Moist, cakey…like a cross between a cookie, a cake, and a muffin. Cream cheese icing optional. I found these cookies delicious without it.

Carrot cake is awesome, isn’t it? In cookie form, it’s pretty amazing, too. Especially when the cookie is moist and cakey at the same time, much like actual carrot cake. Bonus: cookies are soooo much more portable than cakes, or even cupcakes. Throw these in a picnic basket or lunch box, and you’re good to go.

At my last Yoga retreat.

I rigged up this recipe when looking to create a cookie  for my upcoming Yoga retreat. I wanted something with fall flavors and a comfort food vibe. I looked around online and found a handful carrot cake cookie recipes. With a few modifications, the cookies easily become healthier, with zero loss of flavor or texture.

My carrot cake cookies don’t taste “free” of anything, but they are indeed free of many common allergens, including dairy, gluten, and, if you prefer, tree nuts. Of course there’s sugar, but a moderate amount.  There is egg in them, but you could likely leave it out and just do a flax or chia “egg.” (Leave me a comment if you try it to let us know how it goes). These cookies are packed with flavor and a beautiful texture.

Carrot Cake Cookies

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies.

  • 1 cup (5 ounces) oat flour (simply grind 1 cup whole oats into a flour-like texture in your food processor or blender. If gluten free is a concern, get certified GF oats)
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (Yes, it’s a lot. Trust me on this).
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons sunflower seed butter, at room temperature (I use Trader joe’s brand; Sunbutter brand is good, too)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (dark or light both work)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (note: these ARE a tree nut; leave out if needed. I personally prefer my cookies minus nuts, and leave them out.)

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a nice, roomy mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients: oat flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and powder, salt.

3. In a second roomy mixing bowl, cream sunflower seed butter, brown sugar, and vanilla. Once smooth, add egg and mix until smooth again.

4. Make a well in the wet ingredients. Gently incorporate dry ingredients, 1/3 of the mixture at a time. Fold in raisins, grated carrots, oats, and walnuts (if using).

5. Stash mix in the freezer for 10-15 minutes while you prepare  your cookies sheets. I either line mine with parchment paper, or spray them with cooking spray. One of these days I WILL get a Silpat.

6. Use a cookie scoop or a spoon to make uniform sized dough balls. (I do this by hand and spoon, and each cookie is a generous tablespoon of dough).

7. Bake cookies for 9-14 minutes, until ever so faint cracks appear on the surface. I know 9-14 minutes is quite a range, but I find that variations in altitude and ovens really do make a difference in bake times. In my NYC toaster oven, these cookies are perfect at 9-10 minutes of baking. In Colorado, I had to go closer to 14 minutes, sometimes beyond, in the “big” oven, to get the right texture.

8. Let cool slightly (or a lot, your choice, but I can never wait to try these). Enjoy!

So there you have it. An easy, creative, fall-friendly, carrot cake cookie recipe that is so delicious, you’d never know it’s friendly to many “restricted” diets and actually kinda healthy.

Question Time:

What’s your favorite fall dessert recipe?

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Buckets and buckets of dates. Date syrup is an easy way to use up dates so you can enjoy snacking on premium dates like the ones in the pic. Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

I’m loathe to waste anything. Perhaps this is a Persian thing. Or perhaps not. It’s definitely a “me” thing.

Recently, I lucked into a big, fresh batch of medjool dates. They’re creamy, caramel-y, and just perfect. But wouldn’t you know it? I had some other dates lying around that were looking pretty sad.

You know I was not going to let those sad, dried out little dates go to waste. I’d feel too guilty enjoying the plump, sassy ones I’d just been given knowing that the dry, pathetic ones were just sitting there, dessicating even more. Ha!

So date syrup to the rescue.

Me, my student Mythili, and Meera, at the Wanderlust Festival in Vermont earlier this summer. It was one interesting and fun June weekend!

Now I have a sweetener for my tea, baked goods, no-bake sweets, and whatever else I can think of. Best of all, it’s natural and makes good use of mineral-packed dates. And I get to snack on those other awesome dates guilt free. Well, not completely guilt-free. I don’t fast for Ramadan. Mad props to those who do, but I don’t. So in an act of restraint, I’ll try not to eat too many dates during the day as the fasting month kicks off in a few days. (Dates are a popular food to break the daylong fast with).

As to the recipe, it’s so simple, I’m not typing out a formal recipe. Because it’s summer and I roll super simple in the summer. Ha!  In my Vita-mix, I blended:

  • 20 dates, pits removed
  • 1 and a half cups of water
  • 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

This yielded a good two cups of syrup. I just blended until it was smooth, which made the syrup liquidy and pourable. If you’re looking for a thicker texture, use less liquid.

I’ll be back at some point with a re-cap of some of my summer travel adventures, including my taking to the streets of NY on my bike. But for now, I’m off to enjoy more watermelon, which I’ve been eating tons of lately, and a chill evening. You all take care and stay cool.

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What's your idea of heaven on earth?

Hey Guys!

I’m busy planning my next Yoga getaway.  

Yes, I’m thrilled to be hosting another retreat.

Just this week, I met with Chef Maria, also a student of mine, to sketch out the menus. Maria has helped me in the past with the catering aspect of the Yoga retreats, and now she’s doing so in a more official capacity. I’m super psyched to have her onboard! This way I know the food prep is in excellent hands, and I can focus even more energy on teaching my awesome students.

Trust me, the menus we are planning are our very best yet. We have our basic outline, and of course will allow for what is freshest/in season/looks good in our final shopping trip before the getaway.

So where are we going? To Upstate New York. In early summer.  To spend some precious, rejuvenating time here:

Partial view of our retreat house in Upstate NY. I say "our" like we own the place. Ha! For the weekend, we rent it. One of my dreams is to someday own a retreat center of my own, perhaps some place out West.

One of the students who came to the Fall Harvest retreat I did back in early November of 2010, said that she now thinks of this spot Upstate as a “happy place,” that she returns to from time to time in her mind’s eye when day-to-day life gets to be a bit much. What’s you’re happy place?

I definitely think beautiful mountains and woods, lots of nature, flowers, and green, is happy for me. Plus beautiful rocks and clean, pure, moving water. I love beaches, too.  So Colorado but with a temperate beach in my backyard. Ha! Obviously I don’t think of such environs as my day-to-day environment. For me, they’re getaways. (For now; let’s never say never; spending more time in the mountains and on the beach is very possible).

So when I ran across this passage in a book just today, it struck me that this sounded like my Day to Day Heaven on Earth. Check it out:

Situated on the unpaved banks of the Seine in the Parisian suburb of Neuilly, La Roseraie, home to les Madrus, was names for its lush, rose-filled gardens. The property also contained a handsome grape arbor where lunch was served on sunny days. A henhouse was headquarters for two roosters named Ali and Baba, a harem’s worth of chickens,  few golden pheasants, and a score of huge Toulouse geese. In addition to this menagerie were a tame gazelle, a goat, a few angora rabbits, and an alley cat that wandered in one day and became part of the family. The villa’s interior contained thousands of books, handsome Arabian carpets, and practical American style furniture.

—From Wild At Heart, Natalie Clifford Barney’s Journey From Victorian America to the Literary Salons of Paris, by Suzanne Rodriguez. p. 147

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Well, maybe the birds aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it sounds like fun. Especially the tame gazelle. How cute! I want one! The rose gardens and orchards sound beautiful, especially if someone else is tending them. Ha!

For me, a happy place has plenty of comfy nooks where I can sit and read a book, nap, or lounge and gaze out to a pretty, green, quiet space. This nook at the retreat house fits the bill perfectly. .

So tell me, what’s your happy place?  It doesn’t even have to be real.

Feel free to get creative. I think visualization and letting our imaginations run free is an important part of life. It opens us up to creativity and new possibilities, so that we don’t get too closed into the “same old same old.” AKA a RUT! Hey, I’m all about routine to large degree, but shaking things up can be good, too!

A quick food note before I roll: I’ll be posting a really juicy, delicious Persian chicken kebab recipe soon (as soon as I photograph it). My dining table is always a happy place when that kebab recipe is on the menu. Talk to you all soon.

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At the Masker Orchards in Warwick, New York.

Hello again! I’ve been busy lately with work, specifically with my Yoga retreat that I hosted in Upstate New York this past weekend.  It was fabulous. I couldn’t have ask for a more fun, caring, and open-minded group of people. From the moment everyone walked in, we all just clicked. It was synergy at its finest!

Like one of the participants, Maria, said, it’s so fascinating to meet new people and see how they’ve chosen to write the books of their lives. Here’s a look at some of our weekend:

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The retreat was better than I could’ve ever dreamed. But none of this would’ve been possible if my Yoga mentor and founder of Yoga4Soul,  Jojo Tyler, hadn’t shown me the ropes on running retreats a few months back. He also clued me into this spot we used as our retreat house, the Grail. Big thanks to you, Jojo. We miss you! Om shanti, shanti, shanti.

Back soon with some recipes.  In the meantime, the stew recipe pictured above can be found here.

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Eight Limbs, baby! This is how happy I feel about hosting my Yoga retreat upstate this weekend. It's a balancing act for sure, but it should be a blast. Have a great weekend, everyone! Photo taken by Marisa Train, on location in NYC at Mount Morris Park.

Just a quick, hello, gang. I’m rolling out after posting to host my Upstate Fall Harvest Yoga4Soul Retreat. I’m beyond thrilled.

A great group of people have signed up, and I can’t wait to spend time with them, cook for them, teach them Yoga, and just enjoy hanging out in the huge, rambling Upstate mansion we’ve rented for the weekend.

As a huge bonus, my dear friend Katherine is onboard as a special guest. She’ll conduct a healing Reiki session. We’re also going to hit up an apple orchard on Saturday, for some apple-picking and time outdoors in nature. As Katherine said, those Upstate apples had better look out, because we’re on our way!

A big shout-out to Maria, who is my student but has also taken on the role of helping me with some logistics, including driving. She’s a gem and I’m looking forward to spending time with her.

Shanti, everyone. Have a fabulous weekend, and I’ll chat with you soon.

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I’m back, guys! It’s been a busy summer, mainly full of work and my usual queries to the Universe, pondering Important Matters, such as “What is it all about?”  and other Big Questions. It hasn’t all been heavy, thank Gawd!  My Yoga students are wonderful, and I’ve traveled a bit, which always lightens my psychic load. Going through my pics, I realized that there have been a lot of random, fun moments, too. Here’s a slideshow if you’re curious:

By the way, I totally captioned ALL of these pics, but the captions disappeared from a couple, including one of a cool studio space in Brooklyn and some street shots in NYC. Bummer. If I can fix this glitch, I will. If not, I think we’ll all live.

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I’ll be back soon with a fabulous Persian eggplant recipe that’s perfect for Fall, updates on my upcoming Yoga retreat in Upstate New York, and a rundown of my recent travels to Washington, D.C., and beautiful Colorado, land of Columbia blue skies, breathtaking mountains, and luscious greenery.

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