When our thoughts drift to desserts or treats they usually go delicious and decadent but sometimes there is a desire for something sweet but healthier and guilt free. Just seventeen days into the new year, my resolve to take control of my health through conscience eating remains vivid in my mind and explains my recent focus on recipes with less carbs, fats and added sugars. Let’s take a moment to discuss sugar. We have known it for many years as the culprit causing tooth decay but sugar has had a lot of attention lately as a possible cause of inflammation leading to cancer and other debilitating diseases. This is out of my areas of expertise but for more information on this you can go to the Mayo Clinic site where there are a number of papers written on the subject. I found it very informative and interesting.
Now that that’s covered, let’s get back to our cookies. This treat is vegan, gluten free, dairy free and with no added sugars. Starting to sound boring and tasteless? Believe me these crunchy cookies are a perfect sweet and chewy bite. You won’t even miss the sugar as the ripe banana and dried fruit lend the perfect amount of sweetness. The base is oats and cashews although you could use other nuts if you wish. I chose cherries for the fruit but any dried fruit would work. If you can say “I have never tasted anything too sweet” you might want to try using dates which have a high sugar content. A touch of honey would also work but then you could no longer claim, “no added sugars” or “vegan” if that is important to you. Next time I make them I am going to try adding some unsweetened coconut and play with using unsweetened applesauce in place of the banana. I say this because the banana flavor is very pronounced and I want to experiment to see if that will help some of the other flavors to better shine. In addition, I confess, banana is not my favorite flavor of anything.
Here is how it goes down.
OAT AND NUT COOKIES Makes 3 doz (small)
Recipe adapted from Yummly
Sweet and delicious guilt-free cookies with no added sugar, gluten free, vegan and without dairy.
- 3 large, very ripe bananas
- 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries (I used dried cherries)
- 1/4 cup peanuts, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350º F, position oven rack in the middle of oven and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Combine ripe bananas, cashews, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until mixture is smooth and there are little to no lumps remaining.
- In a bowl, combine oats with dried fruit, sesame seeds and chopped peanuts, and pour wet banana mixture into the dry ingredients.
- Mix together so everything is fully incorporated and combined, then, using a spoon or your hands, begin forming your cookies and transfer them to your baking sheet. Note: you can place them close together since the cookies won’t rise.
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until edges just begin to brown, but centers are still a little squishy.
- Remove from oven, let cool 10 minutes and serve warm or room temp.
The original recipe said it would yield 1-2 dozen but I made them small and got three. Keep in mind they do not spread so don’t worry about spacing them too far apart. As with all recipes, using high quality ingredients will make a difference in the outcome. The difference can be as small as the 3/4 t of cinnamon. It may seem insignificant, but the effect of a fresh spice could be what takes a dish from OK to over the top. Because of their freshness and variety, my favorite place to buy spices is Penzey’s and my hands down favorite favorite favorite cinnamon of theirs is the Vietnamese Extra Fancy. Extremely aromatic, I cannot adequately express how special it is.
The high temperature for today in Southern Wisconsin is predicted to be -1 degrees with a low tonight of -13. Yea, you read that right, MINUS those degrees. Smelling the beans simmering in the oven is causing my tummy to rumble and I cannot wait to sit down to a steaming bowl of “red beans and rice”, with a twist of course. Sure to warm the inners, I hope to highlight this recipe next time, so tune in. In the meantime, stay warm and safe regardless of where you are, and keep spreading the love, one dish at a time. I see a lot of love brewing in my kitchen this week and look forward to sharing it with you. Sending warm thoughts and love from my kitchen to yours. Jeanne