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Easy Paleo Coconut Macaroons

Paleo desserts & Macaroon inspiration

I remember the first time I made these coconut macaroons.  

There was a recipe online that I wasn’t sure that I could adapt to be paleo, but I made a couple of changes and when they came out of the oven I was flabbergasted that they tasted so good.  

I think I ate that entire first batch of these paleo desserts in one sitting.

And I found that the egg whites in this recipe add a special “something”.

You whip them juuuuuust right until they’re extra-fluffy, then ever-so-gently fold in the coconut and maple syrup.

It is a truly delicious little cookie that nobody will have any idea is paleo.

Which is the ultimate test, in my book.  Paleo desserts are easy to come by, but good ones… that’s a real challenge.

My hope is that with this recipe, you will never even have to explain that it’s secretly made with health-promoting ingredients.

It will be so delicious, no one suspects a thing!

Dessert with benefits

Okay, let’s just get this out there: you’re totally kidding yourself if you say you don’t crave dessert at least sometimes.  

Even people who don’t really want it that often still need to indulge every now and then!

The problem I often run into with trying to make these indulgences more paleo is that they often take a long time.

Or they don’t taste that great.

Or both.

Let’s face it: easy paleo desserts are hard to come by, and they often miss the mark.  

Luckily, traditional macaroons are pretty dang close to their paleo counterparts.  So when we replace the regular sugar with something a little less processed, the overall recipe isn’t that different!

Who would have thought we were onto something all along with these classic treats?  

I don’t even mind giving them to my son as an easy paleo snack.  They’re great to have on-hand when there’s a lot to do in a day!

Macaroons vs. Macarons

Now I don’t know if you’ve seen the Internet war over these words.  But let me just tell you, it’s a BIG debate in the recipe-creation realm!  

A lot of people call the French macaron, which looks like a single-colored hamburger cookie and is usually very bright, “macaroons.”

This is incorrect.

Those French patty cookies are called macarons, traditionally made with a meringue base and almond flour.

This is great for those of us with food sensitivities.  Almond flour + egg whites = no gluten!  Woohoo!  Fun French treats!

The French macaron also kind of looks like a sweet mini-hamburger.

Macaroons, on the other hand, are an American creation that have a heavy coconut base.  The word itself is an American spinoff of the French word “macaron.”

These macaroons aren’t structured in any particular way, like their French macaron counterparts.  

In general, they look more like coconut puff-balls than little sugary hamburger patties.

While both cookies have their pluses, American macaroons are much easier to make and can boast the benefits of coconut consumption.  

MCT’s in a cookie?  Yes, please!

What are MCTs?

In “nutrition speak,” MCT stands for “medium-chain triglyceride.”  This is basically the scientific way of describing a certain type of fat.  

The base molecular structure of any fat is called a triglyceride, and is made up of one glycerol “backbone” with 3 fatty acid tails.  

Yeah… we get it.  Kind of confusing when the name makes it sound like there’s 3 glycerols.  

Anyway, MCTs stand out because those fatty acid chains hanging off of the glycerol backbone are shorter than other types of triglycerides.

Those short chains make it interesting when you eat MCTs.  

Normally, fats take the longest to digest because they are so hard to break down.  

They need to do a whole journey through the lymphatic system and be broken down by bile salts before our body can even handle absorbing their nutrition.

Not so with MCTs.

MCT Digestion

The shorter fatty acid chains make it easy for MCTs to be immediately absorbed by the body through the small intestine.  

By skipping their roundabout trip through the lymph first, MCT energy is available much more quickly than other fats.

The result?

MCTs do not require energy for absorption, while also providing a ton of energy for the human body.  

They’ve been used to help with malabsorption issues for those who have disturbed GI tracts.  And their large and highly accessible energy source have helped with malnourished populations.

They get energy to those who need it… fast. 

There is promising research emerging about the use of MCTs in cognitive decline disorders, such as Alzheimer’s.  

The theory behind this success is that MCTs can pass what is called the “blood-brain” barrier fully intact, giving tons of clean energy to the brain.

Carbohydrates, on the other hand, eventually wear out a lot of the brain’s cells so that they don’t function correctly anymore.

This is the reason scientists now call Alzheimer’s “type 3 diabetes.”

Other benefits include increased calorie burning that has been noted in several studies.

This metabolism boost leads to increased weight loss in subjects.

Oh… this fat type also just so happens to be found in very high levels in coconut.  And this recipe uses a LOT of coconut.

Which puts these right into your easy paleo desserts repertoire – coconut is the bulk of the whole thing, and it already comes shredded at the store for you!

MCTs and fitness

The quick absorption of MCTs has been hitting the interest of athletes lately

From power to endurance performers, everyone looking to gain an extra edge on their athletic performance seems to be incorporating MCTs into their regimen.

Research so far says MCTs help improve endurance performance the most, since they provide energy that can be sustained for a long time.

When you’re running or biking for hours at a time, the body naturally shifts to more of a balanced fat-plus-carbs fuel system.

With fast fats like MCTs, the body can be trained to prefer fat over carbs for endurance fuel.

That means no more carb loading.

Which means possibly avoiding the “wall” so many athletes hit when they run out of glycogen (carbs) in the muscle.

Instead, the body is already primed for fat burning and switches to body fat when the food is gone.

Just as an idea… we can store about 2,500 calories of carbs in our body.

But our fat stores are virtually limitless… even in very lean athletes.

However, even though the shorter chains digest faster than regular fat, it’s still not as quick as carbohydrates.

So, power athletes can’t necessarily utilize their energy as well.

However, the adaption of teaching the body to burn fat can be beneficial for all types of exercise.

This improves body composition and helps stave off hunger, as the body naturally knows to shift to fat burning when it is primed to do so with the help of MCTs.

Once it uses all the MCT energy, it switches to the stored body fat.

Pretty cool stuff!

Mix it up!

This is a very basic version of macaroons.  

You could totally dip these little guys in some melted dark chocolate and let it cool to harden into a delicious little shell.

How about mixing some chocolate chips into the batter once the base is incorporated, and enjoying the swirl of cocoa within the macaroon itself?

Or… what about adding a bit of lemon zest to the batter?  Maybe some orange zest?

Play with your favorite flavors after you know how to make this base (it is SO easy) and have fun with it.

Baking is supposed to be just that: fun.  

Get the kids involved if they want to try; these cookies don’t need a cutter and would be so much fun for them to get their hands into.

For all the traditional cookie-making pleasure, this recipe just happens to make indulging a little better for you health-wise, too.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 egg whites
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Add egg whites and salt to food processor, standing mixer or large bowl (for hand held beaters).

3. Whip until soft peaks form. Be very careful to not over beat or they will separate.

4. Add remaining ingredients and stir until just combined.

5. Place 2 tablespoon mounds onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and cook for about 15 minutes, or until golden on top and bottom.

The Aftermath…

We find ourselves amidst a sweet, delicate, MCT-boasting treat… all within a few ingredients and minutes.

Yeah, I’d say these Paleo desserts are a health hack.

With the benefits of MCTs and the avoidance of processed sugar, these cookies work well to satisfy a sweet tooth.

But they’re more than just Paleo desserts.

You can use them as a friendly snack on-the-go, or even fuel before a workout.

Just beware that your non-Paleo friends and family may snatch these up without even realizing how good they are for them!

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