Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

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 My go to cookie for when a sweet tooth hits. These cookies are gluten free, vegan and naturally sweetened with mashed banana, with a soft cakey texture and rich chocolaty flavor! 
 
healthy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

Despite my role as "the teacher," I actually learn a lot from my clients.  One of the best ideas I've heard was from a man I worked with a few years ago, when I first started doing outpatient nutrition counseling. He had struggled with controlling his blood sugars for years, and although his meals were generally healthy, his sweet tooth was killing him.  Literally.

He could go through a box of Little Debbie cakes in a day. A gallon of ice cream lasted two days. Half a box of cookies was a normal bedtime snack.  If there was ever a poster child for sugar addiction, this guy was it.

vegan chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

Right off the bat, he said "there's no way I'm giving up my sweets." A reasonable request.  I mean, I couldn't live the rest of my life without cookies either. So, I spent the next hour teaching him all abou healthier treats, like dark chocolate. I taught him how to change his environment at home so sweets were less visible and tempting. And I did my best to identify any emotions triggering his sweet cravings. As hard as I tried, after his appointment was over, he joked "well, I'm off to get some Krispy Kremes!" I was skeptical he would make any real changes.

gluten free chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

But, when I reviewed his chart for our follow up appointment, I saw his blood sugar was almost completely under control without any medication changes. I was so happy for him, and I'm to be honest, pretty proud of myself too! Something I said must have clicked and inspired him to change his life.

He walked into the clinic looking like a new man. There was a striking difference in his energy level. I emphatically congratulated him on lowering his blood sugar, then asked, "So, it looks like you did everything we talked about!"

"Actually, I didn't do anything we talked about."

Say what?

naturally sweetened chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

I wish I could tell you I was the inspiration behind his transformation, but that's not what happened. He drove through Sonic for a milkshake on his way home. Sigh...

The "aha moment" came few days after our appointment, when he was hit with a cookie craving and an empty box of Chips Ahoy. He remembered I gave him a recipe for healthier chocolate chip cookies and since he happened to have all the ingredients, so he gave it a try. He said they were some of the best cookies he ever had.

banana sweetened chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

He realized a few things. First, how crappy store-bought sweets taste compared to something cooked at home, from scratch.  He also realized if he made his sweets at home, not only would he enjoy them more, but he could control the ingredients.

So, he set himself a rule.  He knew if he made sweets off-limits, they would be even more tempting.  Under his new rule, he allowed himself all the sweets he wanted.  The catch - he had to make them himself, from scratch.

Or in his words: "I made my laziness work in my favor. I have to really want something to get off my a**!"

I love this rule.  So much so that I've basically adopted it at our house. Setting restrictions based on deprivation creates forbidden fruit. This rule gives free reign, but under guidelines. It pushed him to eat less sweets without noticing. And when he did eat sweets, he was enjoying them a heck of a lot more.

no added sugar chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

These cookies are one of the nutritious treats we frequently enjoy at our house. I was surprised to find something that was gluten-free, flourless, butterless, eggless and made with no added sugars could be so good. Friends and family frequently request these cookies at tailgates, potlucks and other events. I highly suggest you keep these ingredients on hand to whip up a batch whenever your sweet tooth hits!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Serves: 30
Run almonds through the food processor if you can't find any almond meal. I purchase mine in bulk from our local health food store. Adapted from [url href="http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/nikkis-healthy-cookies-recipe.html" target="_blank"]101 Cookbooks [/url]
Ingredients
  • About 1 1/2 cups mashed banana (from about 3 large)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed slightly, or olive oil
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
Instructions
  1. Put the oven rack in the top third.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the mashed banana, coconut oil and vanilla extract.
  4. In another bowl, mix together the oats, almond meal, coconut, cinnamon, salt and baking powder.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until well combined. Fold in the chocolate.
  6. Drop tablespoon sized balls of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchement paper or sprayed with canola oil.
  7. Bake about 14 minutes.
  8. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire cooling rack.