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Gluten-Free Pistachio + Orange Shortbread Cookies

gluten free pistachio orange shortbread

Every year my family goes away for a week at Christmas. It’s always been a week of indulgence filled with chocolates, shortbread biscuits, more chocolates, fruit mince pies, more chocolates, leftover dessert.. you get the idea. For a few years I’d indulge too and write it off as a once-a-year binge.

But the more I learnt about health and how what we eat effects how we feel, the more I realised that having a full-on blowout that left me feeling awful for days wasn’t really how I wanted to spend the holidays. And so over the years I’ve added in more and more healthy substitutions and alternatives to the menu (without anyone really noticing I might add). This year I will be aiming to have a mostly* clean Christmas. *full disclosure: there’s no doubt some champagne + trifle will be enjoyed!

Once I decided that I would start taking control of every food-related situation I found myself in, this became SO much easier to do. Rather than the situation happening to me and having to ‘just go along with it’ – the xmas party, the family BBQ, the holiday, the friend’s birthday bash etc – I would find ways to give myself choices in the situation and gain back some control. Sure, I could indulge in some birthday cake if I wanted to, but I also had a healthy alternative to eat instead. Or I’d eat beforehand so I wouldn’t be starving and have no choice but to dive into the fried food to avoid passing out (or even worse….getting hungry in public). Or I’d bring along a plate of something that I could eat (which is always appreciated by the host).

So, with this approach, this year I’m taking a lot of my own food on our family holiday so I feel like I have a choice and I don’t feel bad for saying no to what everyone else is eating (if I’d prefer not to eat it). Of course I hate missing out on delicious treats as much as the next person, which is why I have been playing around with a healthy gluten free shortbread cookie recipe which I will bake and take along to enjoy when the mince-pies and shortbread come out. I’m also making my Fig + Olive Flax Crackers and some homemade hummus and guacamole to munch one when we have wine and nibbles and watch the sunset. These are all gluten-free and refined sugar free alternatives that are delicious. You really don’t have to deprive yourself to do the right thing for your body and your health!

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative yourself, give these gluten-free orange and pistachio shortbread cookies a try. I’m pretty sure everyone is going to love just as much as the real thing. They are seriously addictive! The hint of bitter-sweet from the orange zest goes wonderfully well with the pistachio nuts, and while they’re not as light and crumbly as original shortbread cookies (which seems impossible without flour and sugar unfortunately), the butter in this recipe does give these a rich buttery flavour that you will love, while the honey provides just the right amount of (natural) sweetness.

gluten free pistachio orange shortbread


Healthy biscuits with butter!?

The caveat to butter being a healthy fat, is that the grass-fed, organic stuff is the way to go. Non-organic butter generally contains a lot of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics from the food the cows consume. A build up of these toxins (particularly antibiotics) can affect your gut health and add burden to your liver.  

In fact, butter produced from grass-fed animals – those animals who feast on leafy greens every day — will be higher in nutrients than butter from factory-farmed animals raised on cheap, nutrient-free GMO “feedstuffs,” grains and antibiotics¹.

Here are some of the health-supporting vitamins and minerals contained in grass-fed, organic butter according to functional medicine practitioner Dr Frank Lipman:

  • CLA (Conjugated linoleum acid), which helps reduce belly fat, protects against cancer and encourages muscle growth.
  • Vitamin A which is essential for proper protein metabolism, a strong immune system, good thyroid function, good vision, bone metabolism and skin health.
  • Vitamin K2 to support bone density and reduce calcification of the arteries.
  • Vitamin A, D and E, all key anti-oxidants that are essential to good health
  • Key health supporting nutrients and minerals including lecithin, selenium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iodine and more.

So, armed with that knowledge, you can dive in and enjoy these delicious, festive gluten free orange and pistachio shortbread cookies – guilt-free!

Pistachio + Orange Shortbread Cookies
Yields 20
These gluten-free shortbread biscuits have a slightly
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 2 1/2 cups almond meal
  2. 2/3 cup pistachios - crushed
  3. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  4. 1/2 tsp salt
  5. 2 tsp vanilla powder (or extract)
  6. 1/3 cup honey
  7. 1/2 cup butter - melted (grass-fed organic is the healthiest option)
  8. zest of 1 orange
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C
  2. Combine the almond meal, pistachios, baking soda, salt and vanilla powder in a medium bowl.
  3. Mix the melted butter and honey together in a small bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Combine until a dough forms.
  4. Place dough between two pieces of baking paper and roll out until the dough is about 1/2 cm thick.
  5. Use cookie cutters to create festive shapes before placing on a lined baking tray.
  6. Bake cookies for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden.
  1. Hazelnut meal also works well in this recipe
  2. If you don't want to cut these shortbreads into shapes, simply place the dough in the middle of a piece of baking paper and roll the dough into a log and cut into 1/2cm slices. You can refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes if it's too soft to cut into perfect circles.
  3. I covered some of the biscuit bases in dark chocolate which was delicious! Simply rub some good quality dark chocolate (I used 85%) on the bottom while the biscuits are warm until it melts and covers the biscuit in a layer of chocolate. Then allow to set and cool. They will need to be stored in the fridge if you do this.
The Health to Happiness Project http://thehealthtohappinessproject.com/



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