Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookies

I realize that I might seem a bit Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde with this blog- One week decadent desserts, the next healthy treats, with almost no in between. That is actually pretty much the way I roll with my diet in real life, too. I love to eat for absolute pleasure and look for rich, gooey sinful treats that are no good if made “low fat” or “low sugar” or my favorite… “low carb.” I eat that way until it catches up with me, then it is time to reign it in and eat a healthier, whole food type diet. Recently, I decided that this oppositional yo-yo approach is not great for me, mentally or physically. So, I am going to work on balance this year, having the occasional decadent treat, but mostly opting for better choices for my health. Enter the “Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookie.”

I had been seeing a similar recipe pop up on Facebook from time to time. That other recipe pretty much consists of bananas, applesauce, almond milk (a no-no in this nut free home), oats, raisins, and a couple of other ingredients. I decided that the recipe looked flawed to me (too much liquid), and I could recreate it in a yummier (albeit slightly less perfect nutritionally) way. I cut a lot of the liquid, added some soy nut butter (you could use almond or peanut butter), and added a small but satisfying amount of brown sugar and mini-chocolate chips. Voila! A healthy cookie that would make the perfect pre-workout energy/carb boost without breaking the caloric bank. There is no butter in there, and only a minimal amount of brown sugar for flavor. They have a nice dense, chewy texture and are best enjoyed warm. You could reheat them in the toaster oven for a minute before serving.

Overripe bananas
I always have overripe bananas laying around.

Begin with 3 very ripe (brown) bananas. Mash those babies up with one egg, a teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, and 1/4 cup of soy nut butter (or almond or peanut butter!). Stir in 2 cups of old fashioned or rolled oats and 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips. The dough will be wet, but will firm up during baking. Scoop out cookies and spread them out slightly on the parchment, leaving a little bit of space between cookies. They won’t spread much. Bake for 14-16 minutes at 350 degrees on parchment lined baking sheets. Makes 12 large cookies (about 100 calories each) or 24 smaller cookies (50 calories each). The larger ones are great as a breakfast cookie. Serve warm or reheated.

Allergy friendly versions:

You could definitely make these dairy-free by using chocolate chips that contain no dairy ingredients.  You could leave out the egg, and I think they would still work, though I have not tested them.  At that point, they would be vegan.  If you used gluten-free oats, they would (obviously) be gluten free as well.  If you are not eating added sugar, feel free to leave out the brown sugar and/or chocolate chips.

Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookies

Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookies

Healthy cookies, warm and ready to enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3 overripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy, sun, almond, or peanut butter
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mash bananas in large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in egg, vanilla, brown sugar, and "nut" butter.
  4. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon 12 large cookies or 24 smaller cookies onto parchment paper, spreading batter out slightly until 1/4 inch thick. Batter will be wet, but will firm upon baking.
  6. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden around edges.
  7. Let cool 5 minutes and serve warm.
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Million Dollar Recipe, Nut Free Version! “Soynutty Pie Crust Clusters”

As I might have mentioned 100 a few times, I was lucky enough to be a contestant in the last two Pillsbury Bake Off Contests.  The winner of the 47th contest was just announced live on The Chew tv show the other day, and boy was I thrilled that my new friend and fellow Virginian, Beth Royals, walked away with the Grand Prize of 1 MILLION dollars!  Her absolutely addictive “Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters” are amazing, and I would encourage you to make a batch for your holiday cookie tray or exchange parties.  The original recipe can be found here. Not wanting to be deprived of these treats in my nut-free home, I set about making a peanut-free version, “Soynutty Pie Crust Clusters” .  It is a tad bit more involved than the original version (mostly because of the toffee chips!), but still took me around 30 minutes to throw together.

First, cut the pie dough into 16 strips in both directions.  I did this on top of parchment, with my pizza cutter.

The cut pie crust for my Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters

Then you spread the little pieces apart a bit, so that they don’t stick together.  This part would totally appeal to those of you that are obsessed with crossword puzzles.  It was kind of fun!  Kids can help make this recipe easily, by the way…

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters dough on the baking sheet

Then you bake them at 450 degrees for 6-8 minutes or until light golden brown.

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters dough baked

While those were baking, I set about making my own toffee.  It is super simple, takes about ten minutes, and is necessary if you want to avoid nut products.  You also could buy nut free hard candies, such as Werthers Originals and crush them up, if you wanted to skip this step.

Just place butter and sugar in a pot over medium-high heat and whisk occasionally until it reaches 305 degrees (hard crack stage).  If you don’t have a candy thermometer, it will turn a lovely toffee color at this point.  Pour out onto a lined pan onto parchment or Silpat mat.  Let cool and bust into pieces with a mallet.  Told you this was fun!

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters toffee 1Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters toffee 2Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters toffee 3

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters toffee 4

Not only do you get to bash toffee, but you get to smash pretzels in this version as well!  Great holiday stress relief.

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters Smashed Pretzels

Now, put your white chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl.  An aside about white chocolate chips- It is hard to find a coconut oil-free brand that is not made in a plant with nuts, but Trader Joes makes them, and they are perfect for this recipe.  They do contain milk, however.

Anyhow, stick one bag of the white chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon crisco (butter variety or plain works as well), 1 tablespoon of soy-nut or sunbutter, and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring well until completely melted.

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters soy nut butter and white chocolate chips
The chips and Soynutty butter I used.

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters soy nut butter and white chocolate chips in the bowl

Now all my bits and pieces are ready to go!  Just fold the pie crust bits, the smashed up toffee, and the broken pretzels into the melted chocolate goodness.

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters ingredients

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters ingredients mixed

Dollop onto parchment in little clusters.

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters on a baking sheet

Pop into the fridge for 15 minutes and you have the best sweet and salty munchie ever invented….1 million dollars good!  Enjoy.

Nut Free Pie Crust Clusters yum
The focus group loved these!

(Peanut-Free) Soynutty Pie Crust Clusters

(Peanut-Free) Soynutty Pie Crust Clusters

Ingredients

    For the Clusters:
  • 1 pillsbury pie crust, room temp and unrolled
  • 1/3 cup toffee bits (recipe follows) or crushed hard caramel candies like Werthers
  • 1 cup pretzels (Rold Gold is nut-free), broken into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 bag (2 cups) white chocolate baking chips (Trader Joes)
  • 1 tablespoon crisco (butter flavored or plain)
  • 1 tablespoon Soynut butter, golden peabutter, or sunbutter
    For the toffee:
  • 2/3 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cut pie crust into tiny squares or16 rows in each direction.
  3. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until light golden brown.
  5. Let cool.
  6. Meanwhile, make the toffee by combining the butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat.
  7. Whisking occasionally, heat to 305 degrees or until toffee colored (about 10 minutes).
  8. Pour out onto a lined baking sheet covered with parchment or a silpat .
  9. Spread out with an offset spatula and let cool completely.
  10. Break up into tiny pieces with a mallet or rolling pin.
  11. Place the pretzels into a zip topped bag.
  12. Crush into small pieces with a rolling pin.
  13. In a large, microwave safe bowl, heat white chips, crisco and Soynut butter on high in 30 second intervals, until melted.
  14. Gently fold in pretzels, toffee bits, and pie crust pieces.
  15. Make sure that everything is coated.
  16. Dollop by heaping tablespoon onto parchment paper and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  17. Store covered, if they last more than 10 minutes!
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Some other allergy thoughts- If you have a peanut allergy, but are not allergic to tree nuts, you could add pecans or hazelnuts, lightly chopped.

If you are gluten-free, you could use Pillsbury’s gluten-free pie and pastry dough in place of the crust, and make sure to use gluten free pretzels.

If you are Milk free- you could use milk free chocolate chips in place of the white chips. A brand like Enjoy Life would work well. You could make the toffee with non-dairy margarine instead of butter.

If you are allergic to soy, use sunbutter or golden peabutter.

Cookie butter might also rock in this! Just a thought…