The Best Holiday Cookies Are Made with Friends

I’ll start this post with a confession - baking and I do not get along. For all my years of cooking, I’ve just never gotten the hang of baking. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t stop me from getting my hands dirty in dough, or from craving homemade baked goods!  Most evenings of the week, my oven is cranked with something roasting away inside.  

The thing about baking is all the rules to follow. I’m a color-outside-the-lines kind of girl, in the kitchen and out. What I love about cooking is the opportunity for creativity.  I follow my taste buds to combine textures and flavors. But with baking, I feel too confined to exact measurements and procedures.  Despite my best intentions to follow a recipe to the T, I find myself embellishing with an extra pinch of this or that, with often questionable results. 

This holiday season, the tables have turned.  I found two key ingredients that have transformed my relationship with baking; no-bake recipes and friends.  Megan (my Zestful RD partner-in-crime) excited to keep her family cookie-cutout tradition alive, invited a crew of food-loving girls to an evening of baking & bubbly. Thanks to one of our favorite food bloggers, The Edible Perspective, for her gluten-free sugar cookie cutouts, we spent a cozy evening rolling out dough, decorating, chatting, laughing, and of course, enjoying deliciousness.  

One of the most popular treats of the evening were these scrumptiously vegan, whole grain chocolate chip cookies made by our gal, Lucy! 

My contribution included these amazingly fast no-bake coconut-almond date cookies.  Here’s why I loved them:

1.     Only 5 ingredients: Dates, almonds, shredded coconut (unsweetened), ground cinnamon, and salt. 

2.     Plenty of room to break the rules! Below I included the recipe, but let’s be honest, I didn’t follow it. I used the tried and true taste method to decide how much of each ingredient to use. I threw all the ingredients into the food processor, blended, tasted, added more cinnamon, tasted, added more almonds, etc. 

3.     Super healthy: With only real, whole foods, these naturally gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, and dairy-free cookies, make a satisfying dessert, or a fantastic energy blast pre-or post-workout! 

Suggested Recipe:

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
About 20-25 dried, pitted dates (I used the entire box from Trader Joe's)
1 cup raw almonds
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of course salt (kosher or coarse sea salt)


  1. Sprinkle coconut out evenly on plate.  Mix dates, almonds, cinnamon and salt in food processor until finely chopped and well mixed. 
  2. With fingers, form small balls of the mixture (about 1 teaspoon of mixture per ball). 
  3. Roll the balls in the coconut, applying slight pressure until balls are well coated with coconut. 
  4. Enjoy! 

Approximate Nutrition Information: 100 calories, 3 grams fat (2 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 1 grams protein, 20 gram carbohydrate, 3 grams dietary fiber, 150 mg sodium.

Whether with friends or family, as a baker or eater, hope you get to enjoy the season with laughter, health, and soul-warming cookies! 

Happy Holidays!