Our Paleo Family

Paleo Christmas Cookies, Part 1

If you read my introductory post, you may remember my comment about the insane quantity of Christmas cookies that get baked and eaten in this house in just a mere four weeks. I know, I know. It’s a little insane, but it’s a tradition and traditions are important. They make us feel like we belong. They build strong memories and bonds to family. Traditions give us something to pass onto our children besides old knick-knacks. Is that enough excuses for unbridled cookie consumption?

We’ve had our annual cookie meeting and everyone has put in their requests. All of the treats we’re making this year are based on family favorites from our non-paleo days. Meaning: they’re all experiments. I’ll be messing with flour combinations, sweeteners, and some not so traditional ingredients like plantains, to try to approximate the originals.

Here’s our list, and what you can look forward to finding on the blog in the next couple of weeks:

gingerbread cutouts
sugar cookie cutouts
raspberry almond bars
dream bars
chocolate peppermint cookies
almond butter blossoms
press (or spritz) cookies
fudge bars
dark chocolate fudge
lemon bars

I told you it was a ridiculous amount of sweets. We really don’t eat all of these though. We give quite a few away. Whatever is left by Christmas gets packed up and taken on a road trip to the annual vacation with my husband’s family. With 14 people in the house, every morsel that comes in gets consumed.

I think I can create at least a decent facsimile of all of these – except the baklava. I know that I cannot make something that comes even close to phyllo in a paleo version. And really, I don’t want to try to make phyllo. My plan is to attempt to achieve the flavors of baklava. Maybe something like a shortbread base with the nutty cinnamony filling, all drizzled with honey. No promises here, but I’m going to do my best.

Something to consider with all this paleo baking is the cost. Raw honey, real maple syrup, almond flour, coconut sugar, cassava flour, etc. etc. are all much more expensive than white sugar and wheat flour. I’ve been shopping around for the best prices and so I thought I’d share what I’ve found. The stores I have here are likely not the same as what you have if you’re not in the Southeast, but my guess is that more and more stores are carrying these specialty ingredients so at least look at your local store.

Kroger carries a lot of these products now. At the store near me, I’ve found palm shortening, enjoy life chocolate chips, almond flour, and just about every other gluten free flour.

Thrive Market carries tons of coconut products (oilsugarmilk, etc.), maple sugar, maple syrup, spices and flavorings, that are all a significant discount over Whole Foods.

Amazon has decent prices on a few ingredients, but I prefer to buy local or from Thrive if I can. Right now, Amazon is the best source for cassava flour so that’s where I buy that. Their prices fluctuate so one day coconut sugar may be a good price and the next it might not. You’ll just have to check. That’s it for my stab at the Price is Right for today. I hope you found that helpful.

The baking starts in ernest this weekend so look for my first cookie post on Monday. Remember that it’s ok to treat-yo-self from time to time. There are tons of articles out there that aim to help you not pack on the pounds during the holidays, but if you do gain a few pounds enjoying special once-a-year treats with family and friends, is that really so bad? And you know what? When I eat paleo-fied treats, sans all the refined sugars and flours of their traditional counterparts, I don’t get the insulin highs and lows that just leave me craving more. And I don’t typically gain any weight.

How about a holiday experiment: Maybe you’re my neighbor or friend or mom 🙂 and are only reading this because you know and love me. Or maybe you googled “Christmas Cookies” and ended up here even though you are a gluten-lovin, dairy-eatin baker. Let’s suppose you are not eating paleo or autoimmune or even gluten free, but are willing to give it a try. I encourage you to do that and see how you feel eating a paleo cookie compared to how you feel eating a traditional cookie. Leave me a comment too. I’d love to hear your experiences.

First up will be the chocolate peppermint cookies and they are super duper yummy. They’re in my fridge right now waiting to be taken to my kids’ piano recital tomorrow and they are calling my name. Self control, Elizabeth, self control. Check back Monday!

Happy holiday baking dear friends!

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