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Apricot Pecan Sandwich Cookies

June 8, 2010 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

When you embark on a major lifestyle change, you need to accept the reality that certain dietary sacrifices are required. But in some instances you can still enjoy many of your familiar comfort foods provided that you adapt them. In my previous life, I frequently had cookies and milk for breakfast or as a “light” snack. I’ve long since abandoned any notion that I could eat this way again – at least not with a clear conscience. That is, until now.

Let’s briefly analyze what makes cookies and milk so unhealthy: The first concern that comes to mind is the large concentration of sugar typically contained in commercially-made and homemade cookies. Milk is no slouch when it comes to sugar content either. An 8 ounce glass of low-fat milk contains approximately 13 grams of sugar. Then there’s the issue of refined flour which tends to be both allergenic and high glycemic. We haven’t even factored in any of the artificial colors, flavors and preservatives that are often added to the most popular store bought cookies. All told this combination of ingredients cannot be considered health promoting by any stretch of the imagination. (1,2,3)

If you’re still tempted by an icy-cold glass of milk and a plate of freshly baked cookies, you’re in luck. This past weekend I came up with a new recipe in the Healthy Fellow test kitchen. I think it hits just the right notes when you want a simple, comforting snack or quick breakfast. Furthermore, my wife thinks it’s elegant enough to serve along side a cup of coffee or tea when you have guests over for a visit.

Apricot Pecan Sandwich Cookies

2 cups of almond flour/meal

1/2 cup of chopped, raw (organic) unsalted pecans

3 ounces of Nature’s Hollow Sugar-Free Maple Syrup

2 ounces of organic, unsalted butter (room temperature)

2 teaspoons of organic vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon of NutraSalt or unrefined sea salt

Nature’s Hollow Sugar-Free Apricot Preserves (filling)

Nutritional Content (per sandwich): Calories: 120. Protein: 3 grams. Fat: 11 grams. Fiber: 2 grams. “Net” Carbohydrates: 2 grams. Recipe makes 18 cookie sandwiches.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 °F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Coarsely chop the pecans and set them aside. Combine the dry ingredients (almond meal, three quarters of the pecans and the salt) in a mixing bowl. Add the butter, “maple syrup” and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients. Combine thoroughly until a cookie dough-like consistency develops. Use a cookie scoop to form the individual dough balls. Place them on the baking sheet and flatten into a cookie. Sprinkle the remaining chopped pecans on top of the unbaked cookies. Bake for about 15 minutes. Keep a close eye on the cookies beginning at about the 12 minute mark – as ovens tend to vary in temperature. Let your nose be your guide as well. As soon as the enticing scent of maple and pecans fills the air and the cookies show a slightly brown edge, it’s time to remove them and allow them to cool. Once the cookies are fully set, spoon a dab of the sugar-free apricot preserves in the center of the flat side of one cookie, leaving a border on the edges. Top with the flat side of a second cookie to make your cookie sandwich.

Higher Plasma Levels of Carotenoids May Protect Against Cataracts

Plasma antioxidant nutrient concentrations and dietary fruits and vegetable intakes of study participants 1

With cataract
(n=27)
Without cataract
(n=13)
Plasma antioxidant concentrations
Lutein (µmol/L) 0.20 ± 0.09 0.24 ± 0.01
Zeaxanthin (µmol/L) 0.03 ± 0.02 0.05 ± 0.02
ß-carotene (µmol/L) 0.45 ± 0.32 0.49 ± 0.40
Total lycopene (µmol/L) 0.98 ± 0.45 1.01 ± 0.47
Total carotenoids (µmol/L) 1.81 ± 0.79 2.02 ± 0.82
a-Tocopherol (µmol/L) 31.4 ± 6.43 34.4 ±7.55
Ascorbic acid (µmol/L) 52.2 ±21.6 55.1 ± 21.0
Uric acid (µmol/L) 313.9 ± 93.2 294.4 ± 87.9
Dietary fruits and vegetable intakes2
Fruits (servings/d) 3 0.93 ± 0/93 1.03 ± 0.78
Vegetables (servings/d) 3 0.92 ± 0.90 1.04 ± 1.09
Fruits & vegetables (servings/d) 3 1.84 ± 1.58 2.07 ± 1.63
1All values are means ± SD (n=40, F25, M15)
2Assessed by Block-Fred Hutchinson Food Frequency Questionnaire, no significant difference between the two groups in all values (Student’s t-test)
3A Mann-Whitney rank sum test was performed when a normality test failed

Source: Eye (Lond). 2009 June; 23(6): 1464–1468. (link)

I chose apricot preserves as a filling for a few reasons. The first is that Nature’s Hollow makes an absolutely delicious apricot jam that boasts an impressively “clean” ingredient list: apricots, xylitol (a natural sugar alcohol), spring water, fruit pectin and citric acid. Secondly, apricots appear to possess some medicinal properties. Preliminary studies indicate that they are rich sources of antioxidant carotenoids such as beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A, beta-cryptoxanthin, gamma-carotene and lycopene. Recent laboratory experiments reveal that these antioxidants, and perhaps other elements in apricots, may protect against bacterial and chemically-induced damage to the intestines and the liver. (4,5,6,7,8)

Now that we’ve established a delectable replacement for the cookies, we need to address the milk issue. Much like wheat flour, cow’s milk is a common culprit in food allergies and sensitivities. The trouble with most milk replacements such as rice or soy milk is that they generally don’t taste much like milk at all. What’s worse, many of them contain added sweeteners that actually end up having more sugar than cow’s milk itself! This is not the case with our favorite milk-substitute: Blue Diamond Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk. It’s all-natural, creamy, delicious and low carb friendly. It measures in at only 40 calories per 8 ounce serving and contains just 1 gram of naturally occurring sugar. Combine a glass of this new-and-improved almond milk and a few of my Apricot Pecan Cookie Sandwiches and you’ll have yourself a nutritious treat with the all the perks of yesteryear and none of the remorse. (9,10,11)

Be well!

JP


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10 Comments & Updates to “Apricot Pecan Sandwich Cookies”

  1. anne h Says:

    Those look so good!
    Can’t wait to try them, JP!

  2. JP Says:

    Thanks, Anne!

    They’re really easy to make … and eat! Please enjoy! 🙂

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Oct Says:

    I will be trying these too. Thank you JP.

  4. JP Says:

    Hope you enjoy them, Oct! 🙂

    I’m making a new batch today!

    Be well!

    JP

  5. Rosie Says:

    It does sound good.
    My only concern about the “clean” ingredients would be the xylitol.
    There never seems to be any way to tell if any particular batch is made from birch trees or corn. I have a sneeky suspicion that due to the mountain of superfluous corn & it’s ease of sourcing, that corn is usually what xylitol is made from. Unless the corn is certified organically grow there is a strong likelihood the corn would be genetically modified so unnatural & it’s long term effects unknown. Myself I’d rather go with a natural sweetener whose effects I know.
    The cookies do look great though, thank-you for researching great tasting healthy treats, we all need a good treat now & then! 🙂

  6. JP Says:

    Thank you, Rosie! 🙂

    If you try these cookies and experiment with sweeteners other than xylitol, please let us know how it turns out. I’m always interested and open to new ways of doing things.

    Be well!

    JP

  7. Nina K. Says:

    YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY 🙂

    …now i have a little craving for cookies 😉

    Nina K.

  8. JP Says:

    Ha! As long as they’re healthy cookies, I’m a-okay with that! 🙂

    Be well!

    JP

  9. Paul Says:

    Hi JP,

    It sounds like another home run!

    We will try them ASAP,

    Paul

  10. JP Says:

    Thank you, Paul! 🙂

    I sure hope you enjoy them in good health!

    Be well!

    JP

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