Guest Post: Northwest Paleo, Paleo Pfeffernüsse

As the Paleo Parents, we view our channels as a hub for families to come together to connect, share and inspire. Nothing thrills us more than when we are able to share holiday family traditions that have been passed down through the generations – it not only makes us reflect on our own traditions with fondness, but it offers a glimpse into another world and inspires us to try new things! 

Today we are joined by Lucy of Northwest Primal who shares her family’s recipes for Pfeffernüsse, which she paleo-ized to avoid ever missing this cherished holiday treat! Enjoy! 


We all have those Christmas treats that have been passed down through the generations and take us right back to our 4 or 5 year-old selves. Sitting next to Great-Grandma (Grandmother, as she was fondly called) on the couch and watching Lawrence Welk in my red ninja pajamas. Or those memories of going to visit her condo and sneaking into the fridge because you knew she kept a candy dish of your favorite mints on the shelf. Or sneaking into her bedroom to find a little crocheted dolly that you absolutely couldn’t keep your fingers off, even though she would tell you not to touch it. (I did a lot of sneaking as a child.)

Paleo Parents Guest Post, Northwest Primal Pfeffernüsse Cookies
Okay. Maybe these are my memories and they’re from when I was four, but we all know those foods that bring us back to that unconditional love and comfort and remind us of those loved ones who are no longer with us. The hardest part since getting sick and going Paleo is that my body no longer allowed those treats, and Christmas just wasn’t the same.

Every year, it was my job to make Grandmother Pauline’s Pfeffernüsse (“Pepper Nuts” in English and pronounced FEHF-fuhr-noos). Grandmother came over to the United States from Bad Dürkheim, Germany when she was just a small girl. With talks of war (what would have been the tensions leading up to WWI), my Great-Great Grandfather wanted to give his family a fighting chance at a new life. They settled in New York City before eventually venturing to Portland, OR. Speed up history – my Grandma was born, my father was born and now you have me!

Paleo Parents Guest Post, Northwest Primal Pfeffernüsse, Grandma's Recipe

I had the opportunity a year and a half ago to go back to Bad Dürkheim and find the street where she grew up. Her house had been destroyed in an Allied air raid in 1945. Most of the town had been destroyed. But what was left of the old town was darling. Roman ruins. Ancient monasteries. Vineyards as far as the eye could see. And all nestled up against the mountains.

But enough with a history lesson, onto the cookies! Pfeffernüsse are little German cookies with many variations, the most common being more of a meringue. Our recipe, however, is from a small pocket of Germany and is a hard tea cookie with a chewy inside. Growing up, it was always my job to carry on the tradition and make a few dozen of these things. Chances were, with a supply that could feed the entire army, there might be a few to take to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Christmas… then again, there was my dad. And he was more than capable of eating enough for an entire army. Seriously. That man didn’t care about leaving them for his siblings. It was every man, woman and child for themselves when it came to the Pfeffernüsse!

Paleo Parents Guest Post, Northwest Primal Pfeffernüsse Cookie Close-Up
This Paleo and Specific Carb Diet-friendly version doesn’t capture the hard crust but leaves the sweet, spicy chewiness.

From my family to yours, I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Paleo Pfeffernüsse


    Pfeffernüsse Cookie
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 cups blanched almond flour (Honeyville brand)
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 t grated lemon peel
  • ½ oz candied orange peel (see recipe below)
  • ½ oz candied citron (see recipe below)
  • Candied Orange Peel & Citron
  • 1 organic navel orange
  • 2 medium-sized citron
  • 2 cups water for boiling
  • 2 cups water for syrup
  • 1½ cups raw, organic honey


    To make the the cookies:
  1. Sift dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Put orange and citron through a meat grinder or chop until very, very fine. Add to grated lemon rind.
  3. Put eggs in a bowl and with a beater break them up and add coconut sugar, only slightly beat.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and citrus mix and blend with hands.
  5. Roll into a tube about 1” wide on a parchment paper-lined surface and cut no more than half an inch thick slices.
  6. Put on a cookie sheet and place in a dry area that will be undisturbed for two days.
  7. Flip cookies over – there should be a small moisture pocket on the bottom no larger than thetip of a finger, and cook at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes, or until the bottoms are a light golden brown.
  8. To make the candied orange and citron:
  9. Cut the peel from the fruit and carve away the white pith.
  10. In a sauce pot, boil 2 cups water and add the peel. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until the peel becomes a bit soft. Drain.
  11. Add the other two cups of water, along with the honey, to another pot and stir until combined. Bring to a boil and add the fruit peel. Reduce to a simmer. Simmer peels for about an hour, stirring frequently and watching for any sign of burning or honey darkening too much (which is when the fruit will scorch). The syrup will become very thick – this is normal.
  12. When the syrup is almost gone, the peel is done. Remove from the heat and carefully, with a slottedspoon, remove the peel and place on a piece of parchment paper to cool for about an hour. Store in a sealed container for about a week.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Lucy McVicker is a native Oregonian and Certified Nutritional Therapist. Her dream job is to be an Oregon tourist guide and jumps at any opportunity to showcase her state to anyone who asks. Her own health journey started three years ago after discovering that she had systemic inflammatory problems that were leading to Crohn’s Disease and a rapidly decaying quality of life. Through the Paleolithic diet, fermented food and exercise, she has regained control of her body. She shares her recipes at Northwest Primal and operates a nutritional therapy practice in the outskirts of Portland. Connect with Lucy: Blog | Facebook | Instagram [/author_info] [/author]

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