Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday Suggestion: Bake Some Healthy Banana Cookies

Today, I am thrilled to suggest a healthy recipe to bake. These banana cookies are a perfect treat for a cold winter day - or any day!

banana cookies with nuts, oatmeal and chocolate chips

My sister commented that I haven't been publishing many food-related posts lately.  She's right. In an effort to reinstate some healthy-eating habits, I've been avoiding trying new recipes and baking yummy desserts. Also, our short Montana winter days have made it a challenge to have natural light to photograph the meals
that I have made. Yesterday, however, I baked up some amazingly delicious and surprisingly healthy banana cookies. I took photos of them this morning, and I'm now thrilled to share the recipe with you!

My husband and son went out-of-town together this weekend. Before school yesterday, I asked my son if he wanted me to bake something for them to munch on during their trip. I felt like it was the perfect opportunity to indulge my love of baking since the goods (and the temptation) would immediately leave the house! 

My son's response to my question was "Well, I wouldn't say no!" 

But what to make? Some overripe bananas on my kitchen counter made me decide the ingredients should include bananas.  I've collected a lot of wonderful banana recipes over years, but the opportunity to try something new always appeals to me. 

Ripe bananas are great for baking

A quick Internet search and I found a recipe published by The New York Times for "Banana Everything Cookies." From the  photo supplied on their website, they appeared to be exactly the shape and texture of cookie that I was hoping to make.


These banana cookies are a perfect snack.

My cookies turned out exactly like the ones in the New York Times photo. A nice dense cookie that holds its shape without being dry or crumbly. The dough is so delicious that it's a challenge to avoid gobbling it up with a spoon. (With no eggs in the recipe, it would actually be safe to do so!)  The baked cookies, however, are even better than the dough - so try to avoid eating much of it when you make these!

I did modify the recipe in several ways. Following a suggestion left by someone in the comments, I substituted applesauce for all of the oil. It added a nice complementary flavor and worked perfectly. I did have to add more flour than was suggested (I think it really depends on the size of the banana you use) to make the dough the right consistency. It should be a little sticky, but scoop-able. 

I used more cinnamon and more vanilla than the original recipe calls for because I like to emphasize both those flavors. I was pleased that even after doing so, the cookies still also had a nice banana taste.

In the batch of cookies which I made yesterday, I used the same amount of sugar as was suggested in the original recipe. They were good but I will cut that by a third next time, just to make these even healthier. In a pastry-making class a few years ago, I learned that sugar (in addition to adding sweetness) is what makes baked goods brown and keeps moisture in. I am pretty sure, however, that reducing the amount of sugar by just a bit will not affect the cookie too much. 

These cookies are perfect to be eaten as a breakfast on the go; with a glass of milk or coffee as an afternoon snack; or with a dish of pudding or ice cream for a nice dessert.  The recipe makes 24 cookies but it could easily be doubled. I would have packed up the whole batch and sent them with my guys - but I needed to keep some cookies to photograph for this blog. 



The broken cookie in the photo (and one more) were what I had for  breakfast - the rest are now safely stored in the freezer! Otherwise, while home alone today, I just might eat them all!

Homemade cookies

Banana-Nut Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Printable Recipe: Click Here 

(This recipe has been adapted from the New York Times Recipe for Banana Everything Cookies.)

Makes ~ 24 cookies.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Ingredients:
  • medium banana (very ripe)
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (or follow the NYTimes recommendation of 2/3 cups)
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (divided)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 metal baking pans with parchment paper.
  2. Use an electric mixer on medium speed (or beat with a wooden spoon) and mix mashed banana, applesauce, granulated sugar and vanilla until well combined.
  3. Sift together (or blend well) 3/4 cup of flour and other dry ingredients. Add to wet mixture until well combined. 
  4. Add nuts and chocolate chips; blend well.
  5. Slowly add remaining flour until mixture becomes dough-like and scoop-able; still quite sticky but not really wet.
  6. Using a large cookie scoop, measure out round balls and place onto parchment paper, 2-inches apart. Use your palm or the back of a spatula to flatten into thick discs.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until tops are slightly browned. Remove from oven.
  8. Cool slightly, then remove from pan onto a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container or freezer.
What are your thoughts about reducing the amount of sugar in this (or any) cookie recipe?  

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

13 comments :

  1. They do sound good. However, I am strenously avoiding ALL treat foods at the moment. I will have to test this recipe later when I no longer resemble the Michelin woman.

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    1. I totally understand .... I needed a "reset button" on my eating habits, and that is why I haven't been doing much food blogging lately!

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  2. They look yummy and with reduced sugar might still be as yummy, but you would have to try them to know for sure.
    Here's a point I question: "..with a dish of pudding or ice cream for a nice dessert."
    I've heard of this before, cake and ice cream for example, but why? Cookies on their own are dessert, as is pudding or ice cream. Why have both?

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    Replies
    1. You ask a good question River. One or the other certainly is enough - but they compliment each other well. Making dessert is one of my favorite things about cooking for guests... so I am usually guilty of overdoing it!

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  3. These do look delicious! With the applesauce, the ingredient list really is pretty decent. I am going to have to give these a try!

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    Replies
    1. Let me know what you think Carlee. I wanted to make your whole grain banana bread cookies - but didnt have enough whole wheat flour, and thought the iced cookies might not travel with my guys as well. Another time!

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  4. Oh my! These look yummy and sound delicious. I smiled when I read one banana. You won't believe the number I have stashed away in my freezer awaiting usage. I think I'll double the recipe as you suggest and then cut back on the sugar a weensy bit. Will report back once done to let you know how they turned out.

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    Replies
    1. I have a big bag of frozen bananas as well Kelly - but I usually don't think about baking with them. We almost always have a ripe one or two needing to be used. When you make them, be aware that I already cut the sugar in the recipe on my blog from the original amount. Let me know how much you use and how it turns out!

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  5. Losing my brain again - I swore I commented here on Saturday! These cookies looks so good, and I'm getting tired of banana bread.

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    Replies
    1. I know what you mean Lana - I wonder where it is that all of our lost comments go!

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  6. I have been freezing my yucky looking bananas and popping them into the blender for a smoothie. Now I have something more fun to do with them!

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    Replies
    1. I like freezing bananas for smoothies too - because then there never is any need to add ice.

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  7. Apple sauce instead of oil?! I am SOOO THERE!!! Gotta try these for sure!

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Many thanks to everyone who leaves a comment here!