I haven’t been doing much writing lately. Some days, I’m really inspired and have a lot of energy to do creative activities, and other days, I’ve got nothing. But what I have been doing a lot of while we’re
stuck safe at home is cooking and baking. It’s the rare upside to this weird time we’re living in, because I used to cook a lot, and had fallen out of that good habit when I moved back to Boston and became busier than I’d ever been. Now I cook every day, and often bake, too. I’ve learned that I feel better eating simple, fresh foods, but it’s more than that. Not only is it safer and more affordable than the few takeout or delivery options available – though we do like to have one meal delivered each week to support local spots – but preparing our own food ensures that I know exactly what’s going into our meals, and therefore, I know just how healthy (or unhealthy!) they are. Freshman psych taught me that this is my way of establishing some semblance of control over my life in a world that seems to have totally spun out of it.
Anyway, these cookies are something I came up with a few years ago, wanting to have a semi-sweet treat that didn’t upset my sensitive stomach or make me gain weight (diet culture is toxic, I know) so that I could stuff my face without feeling guilty (see previous parentheses about diet culture.) The recipe quickly became a favorite of my mom’s, who has the most astounding affinity for pastries and cookies. When we lived in Israel when I was growing up, she’d meet me after school and on the half-hour or so walk home, we’d stop in every bakery on the way so she could sample the various baked goods they offered. These “protein cookies” as she calls them are a healthier alternative to the chocolate rugelach she loves. And over the past few months, I’ve made them once a week, fussing and finessing the recipe until this week, my boyfriend called the latest iteration the perfect batch.
The dough takes about 5 minutes, the baking just 10-15 depending on how soft or crunchy you like your cookies, I’m not here to judge. They keep well in the refrigerator for a week or so, but in our experience, batches get devoured much faster than that! The recipe can easily be doubled or quadrupled or more if we’re ever able to entertain people again. A lot of my Twitter followers mentioned that they or a loved one were dairy-free and/or gluten-free, and good news: so are these cookies! They’re also a great snack to feed your kids that’s healthy enough for you to feel like a good parent, but yummy enough that they think they’re getting a treat. I’ve also included substitutions to make it vegan, and other alternative ingredient suggestions for those even more health-conscious than myself.
So if you’re bored out of your mind, trying to eat healthier, trick your kids, or just want something delicious to stuff in your face while you watch old sports games or TV reruns, these cookies have you covered on all fronts like a super-utility player. They’re pretty much the Brock Holt of cookies. There, I made this about sports!
– To make these cookies vegan, sub an egg-sized amount of applesauce
1 cup peanut butter
– I recommend using powdered peanut butter, because it makes the batter easier to mix. Just don’t forget to add liquid! For powdered PB, the ratio of powder to liquid is 1:1, so I use half a cup of water and half a cup of oat milk for added creaminess and flavor, but any water or milk works.
– You can also use other kinds of nut butters. My mom and I made this recipe with pumpkin seed butter last week, so the cookies were green! Just bear in mind that different nut butters have different flavors and levels of sweetness to them. For example, sunflower seed butter is much sweeter than peanut butter, so you can probably skip adding more sugar to the recipe.
1/2 cup flour
– I avoid gluten as much as possible, and as a bonus, flours like chickpea flour or almond flour have more protein in them, which makes these cookies even healthier! But really, any kind of flour works. We’ve been using coconut flour lately because that’s what was on sale. And no, it doesn’t make the cookies taste like coconut.
1/3 cup sugar
– We try to avoid sugar (emphasis on try, because we mostly do not succeed), so I’ve been using Lakanto’s monk fruit sweetener instead. It looks exactly like sugar, but it’s zero-calorie, zero-glycemic and derived from monk fruit, an Asian superfood believed to improve your chi (life energy).
– My mom and I like oatmeal in these cookies, my boyfriend does not. If you want to add oatmeal to yours, simply reduce the amount of flour, relative to the amount of oatmeal you are adding. For example, adding 1/4 cup of oatmeal means using 1/4 cup less flour.
– Our favorite candy is Reese’s, so to make these cookies more like that, I add chocolate chips to the recipe. Lily’s is a great brand of Stevia-sweetened chocolate with no added sugars that you can buy at most supermarkets.
– If you want to make these cookies even sweeter, add a few drops of vanilla to the dough.
– Cinnamon has a lot of health benefits, including being loaded with antioxidants, and being proven to lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. It also makes everything taste better, so I add it to my coffee or matcha every morning and I add a dash to these cookies.
– If you’re making this recipe with your kids, you can always add food coloring to make your cookies colorful! Liquid chlorophyll drops, which you can get at Whole Foods and other markets, will turn your cookies a beautiful shade of green while adding some nice health benefits that you’d typically get from eating alfalfa, spinach, or wheatgrass, which all get their rich shades of green from chlorophyll.
- Preheat oven to 325F and grease a large baking sheet.
- Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly to ensure all dry ingredients are absorbed.
- If you go the powdered peanut butter and water and/or some kind of milk route instead of using traditional peanut butter, your dough will be less, well, doughy. If this is the case, add a little more flour until it reaches a thicker consistency.
- Roll dough into ping pong-size balls and place onto baking sheet. If your dough is too dry and not holding its shape without crumbling, add a few drops of oil (olive, avocado, coconut, canola) to your dough and try again.
- Once you’ve used up all the dough, take a fork and gently press down on each the cookie ball, as pictured above.
- Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes, depending on how soft you want them to be. Their color will not change much, so that is not a good indicator of whether or not they’re ready. Better to take the cookies out and gently touch one with your finger to see if the top has become slightly firm.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy!