I like playing around with vegan recipes (specifically vegan chocolate chip cookies) because recently I decided to cut dairy out of my life. Before you get upset, don’t worry! I’m still going to make recipes from time to time that include dairy and animal products. I’ve been doing a lot of research, and apparently if you have a wheat allergy you’re a lot more likely to suffer from dairy allergies. So far it’s been a week of no dairy. I’ll admit that I sometimes do miss a crumbling of feta cheese on my salad or some cream cheese with my gluten-free pretzels. But slowly, I’m learning about different substitutions I can make—and it’s totally changed my perspective on food, cooking, and healthy eating. Today’s vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe is not just dairy-free but also gluten-free.
I know I spoke not too long ago about the controversy regarding dairy. Ultimately, I still think if you don’t have problems with it, by all means include moderate portions of organic and/or raw dairy products into your diet. But if you’re like me and you simply feel better without dairy or have an allergy, there are a TON of alternatives out there for you! Here are some of my favorite dairy-free alternatives that are healthy and minimally processed.
3 Dairy-Free Lifesavers
- Almond Milk–For a while, I’ll admit that I steered clear of almond milk, hemp milk, soy milk, and all sorts of milk alternatives. I had read a lot about how they were overly processed, and specifically how soy milk was linked to hormonal imbalances. But after searching high and low, I think I’ve finally settled in on a milk alternative I can handle. I really like almond milk not just because of it’s flavor, but it was the least processed out of all the nutritional labels and studies I read. Go organic when you can, but still read the label! A lot of brands (even organic varieties) get away with including an additive called carrageenan. Although technically this is a seaweed extract, it can trigger a lot of stomach problems and abdominal pain in people with food sensitivities. Bottom line, if you’re looking towards dairy alternatives in attempt to save your stomach, make sure these ingredients aren’t inadvertently hurting you.
- Nutritional Yeast–For me, pasta isn’t pasta without a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Enter nutritional yeast, you’re new vegan best friend. Discovered in the 70’s, nutritional yeast is a great source of Vitamin B12, which is hard to come by since it’s usually only found in animal products. Use nutritional yeast in soups, salads, casseroles, on pasta, or even sprinkled on popcorn.
- Cashew ‘Sour Cream’–I posted a recipe not too long ago about soaking cashews and using them to make a vegan sour cream dip. I learned recently that you can also do this with almonds! Cashews create a dip with a rich and creamy texture. I also like using nuts instead of soy-based sour cream/cream cheese products. I find these products to be overly processed, relying on cheap refined oils like canola, soybean, etc.
But What About The Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies?!
Don’t think I didn’t forget about today’s recipe. I’ve been wanting to make vegan chocolate chip cookies for a while. But making them wasn’t enough…they also needed to have a unique twist.
I thought about chocolate for a while (what girl doesn’t think about chocolate), and instantly a piping hot mug of Mexican hot chocolate came to mind. I don’t know if you’ve had Mexican hot chocolate before, but it’s absolutely divine. It comes down to the use of cinnamon and chili power (yes, chili powder) to give the drink a rich and comforting body with a touch of heat.
By substituting coconut oil for butter, I was still able to get that moist flavor you’d find in a butter-based cookie. I also added gluten free oats for increased fiber content. The real secret to these vegan chocolate chip cookies, however, is the chocolate. I HIGHLY recommend buying a bar of bakers chocolate (yes, the version I found was vegan) and chopping it into pieces. To me, this was much more delicious that processed chocolate chips or even carob.
I also found out that because this recipe doesn’t have any eggs in it, you can totally eat it raw! I played around with it and found out that it actually makes some awesome raw energy bites if that’s your thing. Whether you choose to bake this dough into traditional cookies or eat it raw, either way it’s totally yummy!