Cocoa-Crusted Macadamia Nuts

One of the joys of blogging is making friends with amazing people, and even meeting a few (in person!) whose work you’ve admired over the internet for what seems like ages. For me, one of those people was Amy Green. I got to chat with this sweet lady nearly a year ago (my how time flies!) and meet her face to face at the GFAF Expo earlier this year. Now that I know her personally, it is that much more fun to use her cookbook, Simply Sugar & Gluten Free. Knowing her voice makes me feel like she is right there in my kitchen as I read the recipes.

Some cookbooks I tag like mad with excitement, then set them down, never to return again. But Amy’s was easy to dive into. The recipes are every day gems, with a definite slant toward baking. Granted, some of the recipes use dairy, but this isn’t a milk-heavy cookbook, and most seemed easy enough to convert for me. Even so, I started with ones that were dairy-free as is, and wasn’t a bit disappointed …

First up was the Slow Cooker Chicken and Wild Rice. The chicken came out so perfectly tender, but the surprise was really the rice. I used a wild rice blend from Lundberg, and it turned out like a really rich risotto! I enjoyed the brown and wild “risotto” for a light lunch the next day with broccoli. Doing just this rice and vegetable portion alone, would be an easy vegetarian crockpot meal if desired. The only change I made was to add a little garlic, and I doubled the mushrooms.

Next up was the Cocoa-Roasted Nuts. This is such a lovely and creative recipe! I love how Amy doesn’t rely just on stevia to sweeten, but rather uses it in combination with other unrefined sweeteners for a pleasant flavor that isn’t overpowering (as stevia alone can be). Amy uses almonds and egg whites in this recipe, which I didn’t have on hand, so I made quite a few modifications. The version I ended up with was a little more than “cocoa” and almost bordering on dark chocolate. However, I was true to her flavors, which made for a snack that was just lightly sweet and salty, but rich with cocoa flavor. Below is my version, adapted from Amy’s original. But, for a lower fat and more “polished” version, try the Cocoa-Roasted Nuts in Simply Sugar & Gluten Free.

To note, other scrumptious recipes that I have marked to trial (soon!) from this cookbook include the Banana Oat Bars, Buckwheat Blinis, Slow Cooker Ketchup, Ruthie’s Apple Crisp, and the Grilled Balsamic Dijon Chicken.

Recipe: Cocoa-Crusted Macadamia Nuts

Summary: Recipe adapted from Simply Sugar & Gluten Free: 180 Easy and Delicious Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less by Amy Green. Keep in mind, this is just a lightly sweet, lightly salty recipe – good for some cocoa antioxidants in snack form. For more of a dessert, I’d coat them in melted chocolate once cool (mmm, nuts with a crisp cocoa coating enveloped in chocolate!), but that’s just me.


  • 1 Tablespoon Oil (I used melted coconut oil)
  • 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1-1/2 Cups Macadamia Nuts (or nuts of your choice!)
  • 2 Tablespoons + 2 Teaspoons Coconut Sugar or Palm Sugar (If you can’t find coconut sugar, regular or organic powdered sugar will do. Simply use 3 tablespoons, omit the cornstarch, and skip the spice grinder step – the result will be a little sweeter)
  • 1 Teaspoon Cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  • 1 25mg Scoop Pure Stevia Extract Powder (some of the blends have dairy in them, so I use only the pure one, like this one from NuStevia)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 250ºF and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  2. Combine the oil, maple syrup, and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Add the nuts, and stir to coat.
  4. Place the coconut sugar and cornstarch in your spice grinder and whiz away until you get a powder (about 30 seconds).
  5. Stir the sugar mixture in a bowl with the remaining ingredients until well combined.
  6. Add the powdered mixture to the nuts and stir to coat. It will be very thick, creating a paste-like coating on the nuts, but should stick!
  7. Spread the nuts out on your prepared baking sheet. In general, they should be spaced out so that they aren’t touching and clumped together.
  8. Roast the nuts for 25 minutes, rotate the pan and roast them for another 20 to 25 minutes.
  9. Remove them from the oven and let the nuts cool before handling (hot nuts!). They will crisp up as they cool.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 50 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Peanut-Free, Wheat-Free, Refined Sugar-Free

Number of servings (yield): 6


Blog Events:

Chocolate Cherry Fudge Drop Cookies

On Go Dairy Free today, I have a review up of the gorgeous cookbook Simply … Gluten Free Desserts by my friend Carol Kicinski. This woman is amazing. As you probably know, I’m not gluten-free, but do dabble in the art. Many gluten-free goodies are, well how do I put this politely, on par with cardboard. However, some rise above as either tasty in their own right, with a unique texture and flavor, and some actually push gluten-free boundaries, rivaling gluten-filled foods for quality. Carol’s cookbook is stuffed with the latter. Decadent recipes that you won’t believe are gluten-free, no joke.

Of course, this isn’t a “health and diet” cookbook. As Carol joked, a reporter once referred to her as the “Paula Deen for gluten-free” (but you’d never guess it to look at her – gluten-free is doing this woman good. I’ve met Carol in person, and dang she looks AMAZING!). But, this is the cookbook you pull out when you want to dazzle guests. When you want to fool people who think that gluten-free can’t taste indulgent. And most importantly, when you want to treat yourself. – Note that I’m still recovering from the worst breakfast cookie ever that we purchased (brand shall remain un-named), not surprisingly, on sale for just 50 cents as a “treat” the other day. Next time I’m going for the ice cream bar. Or one of the desserts from this cookbook.

Simply … Gluten Free Desserts is definitely not dairy-free (though there are some awesome dairy-free recipes in it), but I love the challenge of adapting recipes. I started simple, with Carol’s Chocolate Cherry Fudge Drop recipe. Everyone LOVED these. I had five different taste-testers, and all wanted more. Just taste it for yourself …

Chocolate Cherry Fudge Cookies - Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free


Recipe: Chocolate Cherry Fudge Drop Cookies

Summary: Recipe adapted from Simply … Gluten Free Desserts by Carol Kicinski. This recipe is Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Peanut-Free, Wheat-Free, and optionally Soy-Free (depending on your chocolate).


  • 4 Ounces Dark Chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil, Palm Shortening, or Dairy-Free Margarine (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1/3 Cup Sugar
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons Brown or White Rice Flour
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Tapioca or Potato Starch
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/3 Cup Chocolate Chips or Dark Chocolate Chunks (I chopped up some more dark chocolate)
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Cherries, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Sliced Almonds


  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. You can melt the dark chocolate with the oil in a double broiler, but I use the lazy method: Heat the chocolate and oil in a medium-sized bowl in the microwave, on high for 60 seconds. Remove and whisk the chocolate vigorously. If the chocolate isn’t quite melted, zap it for another 15 seconds, and whisk again, until smooth.
  3. Let the chocolate cool, if needed, for a couple of minutes, then whisk in the egg, sugar, flour, starch, baking powder, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Stir in the chips or chunks, cherries, and almonds.
  5. If the mixture is still a little thin, let it cool for another 5 minutes. It continues to thicken as it cools. You don’t want it to get too thick, just thick enough to scoop and so that it doesn’t run all over the baking sheet.
  6. Scoop the dough by the tablespoonful (I literally used a tablespoon measuring spoon), into mounds on your prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are firm and the tops lose most of their shine and look cracked.
  8. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then move them to a wire rack.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Diet tags: Gluten free, Dairy free, Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 18

Copyright © Alisa Fleming.

Not Gluten-Free? The flour isn’t a major component in this recipe, so feel free to sub in any flour for both the flour and starch to get results that are similar and tasty.

Chocolate Cherry Fudge Cookies - Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free

Free For All “Nutty” Chocolate Chippers

What I wouldn’t give to spend a day in Jules Shepard’s kitchen. I can only imagine the energy, the creativity, and of course, the delicious food.

When you really take a look at them, you will notice that cookbooks are an insightful reflection of the author. They give you glimpses of their cooking style, their organization, what inspires them, their favorite types of food, and even their health philosophy. And truthfully, after one pass through Free For All Cooking, I knew Jules Shepard was a woman who I wanted to know.

Just one look at my book and my blog will tell you that my personal style is all about adapting recipes for anyone to enjoy. Creating options and learning to be flexible in the kitchen … well, Jules takes this concept to a whole new level.

Free For All Cooking is like an amazing mix and match cookbook. You know those childhood books where you could choose to go to page x or page y for the next portion of the story, and whichever way you chose would take you to a different, but equally entertaining conclusion? Think of this method, but in recipe form, and you will understand Jules’s style. 

For beginners, you can follow the story straight through, making the recipes to a “T,” as there is always a core recipe. If there is a sub you must make for a particular food allergy, Jules has you covered. You can easily follow one of her recommendations; the entire book is gluten-free, but she includes a myriad of dairy-free and egg-free options throughout. Then, for those who like a little adventure and are more comfortable with experimentation, Jules gives you so, so many options with the “choose this or that” approach. Sub this flour for that one, try this egg substitute instead, toss in these add-ins or those ones, or both!

I’m fairly new to gluten-free cooking and baking, and still bake with gluten sometimes too, but Jules’s method helped me to open my mind and not be so afraid to experiment with the different flours and even juggle egg replacers. She reminded me that recipes can be forgiving, and that changing things up may even create a new favorite.

But enough rambling … I’m sure you’re dying to know more about the actual recipes in this cookbook! There are of course many, many baked good recipes, including Buttermilk Biscuits, Pizza Dough, Whole Grain Sandwich Bread, Scones, Danish Pastries, English Muffins, Pop-Tarts, Crusty French Baguette, Challah (pictured below), and the list goes on.

In addition to the Pizza Dough, I’ve marked the Flour Tortillas, Potato Gnocchi, and Coconut Rice to make as soon as possible (we are in the midst of packing things up for a move, so I need to wait before stocking up on more flours and canned goods). But of course, in classic Alisa fashion, I busted out Free For All Cooking to make the Nut Butter Cookies right away …

Yes, I know what you are all thinking, “another nut butter cookie recipe Alisa?” But really, can you ever have too many cookie recipes? I mean, they each have their own nuances, and these were definitely unique cookies. They came out perfectly sweet, but not sugary (Jules gives the option of using a granulated sweetener or liquid – I opted for the liquid), thick, and soft. They simply begged for a tall glass of vanilla almond milk for dunking or a hot cup of tea. Quite different from the chewy PB chocolate chip cookies that I posted for you weeks ago.

For fun, I’m going to share my versions of Jules’s Nut Butter Cookies with you here, but if you want to start having some fun with flours in the kitchen, go get Free For All Cooking!

Jules, let’s do lunch.

Nut Butter Chocolate Chippers

Recipe adapted from Free For All Cooking: 150 Easy Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Recipes The Whole Family Can Enjoy by Jules E. Dowler Shepard.

Do not attempt to eat these cookies without a nice cool or hot beverage nearby. They are very thick and rich! If you find the dough a bit too thick, feel free to add a little bit of milk alternative or water, a teaspoon at a time, to get the right consistency. This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Wheat-Free, optionally Vegan, and optionally Nut-Free.

  • 1 Cup Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, SunButter, or Soy “Nut” Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Honey or Agave Nectar (I used honey)
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Cup Mashed Banana (can sub applesauce)
  • 1/4 Cup Potato Starch
  • 1/4 Cup Tapioca Starch
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/3 Cup Oats, ground in a spice / coffee grinder to make oat flour
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Semi-Sweet or Dark Chocolate Chips

Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the starches, brown rice flour, oat flour, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix the nut butter (or seed or soy butter), honey or agave, banana, and vanilla, until well combined. Add the flour mixture from your other bowl and blend well. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Shape dough into balls the size of ping pong balls. Place them on your prepared baking sheet, and either simply flatten and shape them you’re your hands, or use the old peanut butter cookie trick – dip a fork in sugar and use it to press down the dough for that criss-cross top.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they lose their sheen. Let them cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely … or simply eat them.

Makes 16 to 18 cookies


Blog Events:

Grain-Free, Egg-Free Coconut Macaroons

Ricki Heller’s blog, Diet Dessert & Dogs, was one of the first that I discovered, and quickly fell in love with, back in the early blogging days. Her wit, her stories, and oh, those wonderful recipes. Sure, anyone can make a pepperoni pizza, but have you seen a truly tasty, made-from-scratch version that is also vegan and gluten-free? What about decadent truffles that are dairy-free, low in sugar, and sneakily packed with sweet potatoes? And have you ever thought to replace the carrots in quick bread with nutritious parsnips?

This woman is immensely creative with healthy food and can take on ANY special diet challenge. Honestly, I am so grateful to have a friend who is so inspirational.

But lest you think she is too perfect when it comes to nutrition … Ricki is human … she has a voracious sweet tooth. So it came as little surprise to me when she married her passions for sweets and good health in her latest e-cookbook, Desserts without Compromise.

Ricki already has a vegan and wheat-free dessert cookbook under her belt (just in case you aren’t familiar, Sweet Freedom is a must have too!), but she took it several steps further, creating a collection of desserts suitable for her ACD Diet. That means these desserts are all low glycemic, refined sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, … and just for kicks, Ricki makes all of her recipes egg-free, since she is also vegan. Yes, if you are looking for diabietic-friendly, ACD (anti-candida diet) and SCD (specific carbohydrate diet) qualified, or simply healthier dessert recipes, then Desserts without Compromise is definitely for you.

Desserts without Compromise was literally my savior during my recent ten-day “sugar break.” Just when I thought I couldn’t hold out any longer, I remembered Ricki’s e-cookbook, and went straight to the kitchen. Within minutes, I had several Carob-Coconut Sweeties just waiting to be devoured …


(This is actually Ricki’s photo, my photos were not nearly this nice!)

As Ricki mentions in the recipe, it makes a small batch, just in case you can’t stop. Smart move, because yes, I did devour the whole batch. I’m not a big tahini fan, so I prefer all nut butter in this recipe, but it does have a nice contrast for those of you who do like tahini.

With that success, and my strict sugar-free challenge completed, I moved on to the lightly sweetened recipes, and these awesome Grain-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Loved, loved, loved them! Ricki mentioned that you could use any nut in the recipe. Since we didn’t have any hazelnuts, I used ground cashews, and the cookies still turned out perfect!

Of course, once I get started on cookies, I can’t stop. So I also made the heavenly Grain-Free Coconut Macaroons

Again, I used cashews instead of the almonds called for in the recipe (this time, because the husband is allergic to almonds). In addition, I made a few little changes to the recipe, customizing it to the ingredients and tools that I had on hand. So Ricki was kind enough to let me reprint my version for you here …


Grain-Free Macaroon Cookies

Recipe adapted from Desserts without Compromise by Ricki Heller.

These little gems brown quickly on the outside, but stay soft and chewy on the inside … like a cross between a macaroon and a chewy cookie. This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Wheat-Free, and optionally Vegan.

  • 1/3 Cup (1.5 ounces) Raw Cashews
  • 2 Tablespoons Flaxseeds
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Honey (or agave nectar if you are keeping it vegan like Ricki)
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • up to 1/4 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips (I chopped up some dark chocolate chunks) or Cacao Nibs

Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line a cookie sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

In your spice grinder, grind the cashews and flaxseeds into a powder (takes just about 30 seconds). Place the cashew / flax mixture in a medium-sized bowl, and add the coconut flour, honey or agave, coconut oil, vanilla, and salt. Stir until everything is well combined. Fold in the shredded coconut, followed by the chocolate or cacao nibs.

With slightly wet hands (to avoid sticking), shape the dough into 12 little rounds. Flatten each to about 3/8 to 1/2-inch thickness (they don’t spread). Place the cookie disks on your prepared cookie sheet, and bake for 5 minutes. Turn the cookie sheet for even browning, and then bake for another 4 to 6 minutes (I take mine out at exactly 10 minutes total), or when they are turning a golden brown on the outside.

Makes 12 macaroon-cookie gems


Now this is just the tip of the iceburg for Desserts without Compromise. Check it out on Ricki’s website. Other great recipes that I hope to make soon include the Soy-free Corn-free Creamy Vanilla Custard, Almond Cinnamon Fudge (with other nuts for us!), Mint Chip Ice cream, and Individual Bread Puddings with Caramel Sauce …

Super-Simple Spiced “Overnight” Granola

I seem to be on the “auto-ship” plan for a lot of publishers thanks to Go Dairy Free, so random diet books and cookbooks often appear on my doorstep without warning. Last week, The $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook by Erin Chase arrived. I confess, this one is not really up my alley. The recipes are very, very easy and have short ingredient lists … two things I love … but, there are a many pre-packaged short-cut ingredients used, lots of sugars, and the recipes are almost a bit too basic for our tastes. This cookbook really belongs in the homes of small families with little kids and even littler time.

Also, please note that this cookbook is not dairy-free or free-from in any fashion, not by a long shot. But the recipes are simple enough that some who are free-from and willing to use quite a few store-bought alternatives may find it quite useful.

That all said, I can’t resist looking through cookbooks, and a few recipes intrigued me. I ended up making two of the recipes before passing this cookbook onto my sister (who has a big family, but with small girls and on a budget), and both were a success.

First up was the Lemon & Dill Tuna Pasta Salad

I actually made this gluten-free, as I was testing out Goldbaum’s Brown Rice Pasta. Two thumbs up on the pasta. It was tender and delicious, and the spirals held up even when I let the pasta salad chill overnight! Most gluten-free pastas seem to break quite a bit if slightly overcooked or when stored overnight.

The pasta salad itself had a nice fresh taste (though it still uses some mayo! Just a heads up for you purists), and filled us up for lunch. I did double the tuna and the peas, and I added a grated carrot (keeping the dressing and pasta amounts the same). If I had made the recipe as is, it would have been a bit too carb-rich for us and I think our motors might have run out within an hour or so.

The next day, I decided to give her Overnight Granola a go …

Making granola is so easy, that I literally haven’t bought a box at the store in over three years. But this recipe … this recipe takes easy to a whole new level. I love Erin’s concept to simply “set it and forget it” with the granola, and the fact that she keeps the recipe so basic (just oats) leaves a lot of room for experimentation.

Though you could enjoy it as cereal, topped with fresh fruit and doused with some almond milk, I opted to saute up some apples and dates, and use the granola as a topping. It was a delicious sweet breakfast treat that my husband and I both loved!

Like the original recipe, I kept it simple, but did make a few modifications for taste and texture preferences and to make it dairy-free. I also tested it as a daytime recipe … and as it turns out, just a couple of hours will do …


Super-Simple Spiced “Overnight” Granola

Recipe adapted from The $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook by Erin Chase. Erin recommends using a mixture of rolled oats and quick oats as it helps the granola clump a bit … and she was right! I changed the ratio, using more rolled oats, but it still clumped nicely.

This recipe is Vegan / Vegetarian, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Wheat-Free and optionally Gluten-Free (with the use of certified gluten-free oats).

  • 1/4 Cup Oil (I used melted coconut oil)
  • 1/4 Cup Honey (can sub agave nectar for vegan)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 to 1-1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Cups Rolled Oats
  • 1 Cup Quick Oats (not instant)

Preheat your oven to 300ºF (check to make sure your oven doesn’t run hot!).

Combine the oil, honey, vanilla, spices, and salt in a small dish and stir to combine. Place the oats in a large bowl and stir to mix the two kinds up, then add the liquid ingredients and stir until all those little oats are nicely coated. Spread the oat mixture out on a baking sheet (preferably one with rimmed sides so the granola doesn’t slide off the sheet!) or large jelly roll pan.

Place the oats in the oven and allow them to bake for just 10 minutes, not a minute more, then turn off the oven and leave the granola inside to finish baking. Don’t peak! You can leave them there while you run errands, go to bed, etc. But I found that they were done (as in the oven was cold and the granola was golden) after about 2.5 hours. So 2 to 3 hours is plenty if you are awake and remember them. Stir to declump a bit and store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes 6 servings

Blog Events: