Manatee and I are trying to convert to a ‘clean’ diet. For us, this means that we want to eliminate all processed foods from our diet. Overall, we eat all whole foods and we try to avoid foods that contain chemicals. In other words, if we can’t pronounce an ingredient then we don’t eat it.

Our one area of weakness, well my area of weakness, is baking. I love to bake and until now have continued to use white flour and sugars. I decided to begin my adventure with clean baking last week.

Clean Eating resources:

I am indebted to The Gracious Pantry and all of her clean eating material. When I was baking I used her substitution table for white and brown sugars.

Sugar Substitutions

Honey for sugar.

Agave nectar + molasses for brown sugar.

This is not a 1:1 swap. Because the natural sweeteners are sweeter, you don’t need as much as you would if you used sugar as shown in the substitution table.

The Adventure Begins

I decided to make chocolate chip cookies using a high quality dark chocolate bar broken into chunks. I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for the white flour and quickly reached the place in the recipe where I need to use sugar. I was very careful when scaling back the amount of honey compared to white sugar. When I got to brown sugar, I was so pre-occupied with the molasses that I did not scale back the amount of agave nectar compared to the brown sugar. The result? The batter was so sweet that the tips of my ears hurt.

I didn’t want to throw it out because I didn’t want to waste the ingredients. I fretted for a few minutes and then decided to make another round of batter without the brown sugar, mix it with my original batter and hopefully have something that was edible.

I held my breath and took a taste.

Still. Way. Too. Sugary.

Now I was really upset. I had all of this batter with all of these ingredients and I just couldn’t throw it out. My eyes wandered to the pantry and I began to pull out any- and everything that could go into cookies.

Oatmeal.

Golden raisins.

Walnuts.

More oatmeal.

Raisins.

Even more oatmeal.

Craisins.

I ended up with enough batter to feed an elementary school.

What was supposed to be a quick batch of homemade cookies turned into a multiple day baking extravaganza.

 

 

I was so nervous when I took that first batch out of the oven. My mother had just arrived and proclaimed that she was starving. Diet Coke in hand, she was ready for something sweet.

We eyed the cookies warily. They smelled good. They held their shape well. Texture seemed light and non-greasy.

We each picked up a cookie and took a bite.

Weird. It tasted weird. Was it just me? I looked up to see my mother make a face, swallow and take a long swig of soda.  “They’re different,” she said as she forced a smile.

Being the calm woman I am (especially around my mother), I called her a liar and begged her to be honest. She grabbed another cookie.

“I think I like them,” she said finishing her second one.

She grabbed another.

And another.

“I definitely like them,” she decided on cookie #5.

 

 

 

These are definitely different than your average cookie. The texture is more cake-like, not as dense. Because of this, they also freeze really well. When you take one (or three) out of the freezer, it doesn’t taste frozen and you don’t chip a tooth biting into it. It’s surprisingly soft and tastes fresh.

I wish I could share with you a recipe but these were truly an act of desperation. As I continue to experiment with clean baking, I will keep you posted and hopefully be able to provide you with some recipes.

For now, here is your Clean Eating 101 lesson for today:

  1. It’s not a 1:1 sugar swap.
  2. You can bake really good (and really addictive) cookies without processed ingredients.

 

 

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