Gluten-Free and Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

04/04/2016 06:46 pm ET | Updated Apr 04, 2016

Some of the foods I once binged on have been removed from my repertoire forever, never to be pushed past my lips again. The reasons for the banishment vary: sometimes it's a matter of something being a trigger-food that pushes buttons emotionally and biochemically in me and it's simply better to cut ties completely. In other instances, there's simply no nutritional value in a drug-food I once relied on (such as the loaves of Italian bread soaked in butter I had for dinner every evening, the perfect sedative after a trying day at the office).

However, as a believer in taking the middle road, I no longer live in a black or white universe. There are treats such as ice cream, pudding, and even cookies which I have joyfully discovered can be transformed into body-mind- and spirit-friendly treats in the sense that they do my well-being a favor rather than give me a sugar or gluten hangover. I'm not suggesting, by any means, that they take the place of vegetables, protein, hydration, and other building blocks of a healthy repertoire of food choices. But sweet treats are something that are non-negotiable for most people. Haven't we all played the 'never again' game? And we all know how well it doesn't work.

From an objective standpoint, of COURSE we'd be physically better off if we only ate the cleanest of protein sources coupled with healthy fats and heaping amount of greens. But we come equipped with taste buds and emotions. They demand servicing as well. The trick is, being neither a slave nor a severe taskmaster to them. Compassion and balance are the keys.

So when I decide a little baking therapy is in order, this is one of my favorite recipes. It's flour-free, filled with healthy fat, and low-glycemic. And delicious! Chances are, family and friends will enjoy them, so be prepared to share. And freeze a few squares for future use. Preparedness is everything.

1 ½ cups almond meal or almond flour
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 generous scoop vanilla protein powder (I like Sunrider or Orgain)
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup coconut oil, melted
1 bag sugar-free Hershey's chocolate chips or brand of choice

Preheat Oven to 350. Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until blended. Add vanilla, eggs, and melted coconut oil and whisk thoroughly until blended. The consistency should be that of somewhat runny cake batter. Add the chocolate chips and stir well. Grease a rectangular baking pan with non-stick cooking spray or coconut oil. Scrape batter into the pan and distribute evenly. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.