Monday, January 27, 2014

Banana Oatmeal Cookies: Easily Vegan, Gluten Free, No Added Sugar ( except for the totally optional chocolate bits)

According to whoever "They" are, this is the week when New Year's resolutions are broken.  That is why I tend to wait a few weeks into the new year to even think about mine.  Of course I always make the usual resolutions, but my biggest one this year is to be a healthier, better me.  That means eating healthier, with less fat and sugars added.  Boring?

When I saw this recipe on the blog Oh She Glows I  knew it was something I would try. They are called muffin tops on her blog, but after baking them I really think they are more like cookies.  I love sweets but I really love the idea of making something desserty with no added sugar ( except for the tad in the chocolate chips)  I would not call these sugar free because it has quite a bit of natural sweetener, but that being said, it is all sugar in its natural unprocessed fruit form.

Banana Oatmeal Cookies

2 ripe bananas ( make that very ripe, almost to the throw away stage)
1/2 cup pitted dates (firmly packed)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats, divided
3-4 tablespoons non dairy* or regular chocolate chips (no judgement either way) or unsweetened carob chips for zero added sugars
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans

In a food processor using the center blade blend 1/12 cups of the oatmeal until it is a very coarse flour.  Remove from the processor bowl and put aside.  Put the banana and dates in and blend.  Add the coconut oil and the vanilla and continue blending until it is relatively smooth. Because coconut oil remains solid at room temperature you might prefer melting it first.  I did not since I guessed it would incorporate pretty well as it was.  It did. ( Use a spatula to scrape down the sides a couple of times, being sure to turn off the food processor when you do it. Don't just stick a rubber spatula down the chute.  The spatula will lose that battle every time.)  Add the salt, baking powder, and cinnamon and blend a few seconds to mix well. ( Personally, I left the cinnamon out because I do not like chocolate flavors mixed with cinnamon)  Add the oat flour and blend about 5 seconds.  Scrape the batter into a clean bowl and stir in the remaining oats, chocolate bits and the nuts.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and scoop  the batter into mounds.  Do not smooth or flatten them. It made 12 cookies.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 6 minutes, rotate the pan and cook for another 7-8 minutes.  Let cool (so you won't burn your mouth) and enjoy.

I am always highly skeptical of recipes like this and thought they would taste like banana flavored sawdust, especially after  I saw the cooked product.  They are not very pretty.  I was actually kind of surprised at how good they tasted.  I had one with a cup of coffee and felt like I was indulging.  What a treat!  But alas, since they are ugly, don't serve them to your Mother-in -law or anyone else you are trying to impress.

I did learn a couple of things while making them. ( I tried a couple of batches to see what I liked better)
Blending the oats into coarse flour helped the consistency quite a bit.  The first batch was a bit more rustic. The ones pictured are the first batch.

I used pecans for the first batch because I had no walnuts opened and I did not want to open a new bag to use such a small amount.  They were good but would have been tastier if I had toasted them first.
In the second batch I added a little orange peel and cinnamon.  They tasted like banana nut bread cookies.  This is something I will make regularly.

It seems each time I buy bananas there is one that gets too ripe for eating.  I always put those, unpeeled, into the freezer.  Since this is so easy to make it will not take but 2 bunches of bananas to have enough to make them.

And this answers the question about my aversion to bananas.  It is not the taste I object to, but the texture.  So, a nice little banana oatmeal cookie works quite well.  Now the only critical question left is why on earth I had 3 pounds of dates on hand!

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