Everyone has a guilty pleasure, something that soothes after a long day or helps ease you into the night ahead. Mine is – er, was – a certain diet soda with a “cherry” flavor and just enough caffeine to occasionally recharge my battery.
But the other night, after seeing a screening of Fed Up, Laurie David’s and Katie Couric’s sobering documentary about our deadly national diet, I 86’d soda from my life for good.
I was so moved by the film, I went on a pantry rampage as well, tossing every box of processed food that had found its way onto my shelves. The next day, three ravenous kids came wandering into the pantry looking for snacks.
Gone were the breakfast cereals, power bars and chips they usually grabbed before attempting homework. Luckily, I had just taught a cooking class for thirty and had a big platter of these left over.
I never thought I would be that mom who has cookies and milk waiting for the kids when they come home from school. In fact, I had stopped making cookies at home because they were just too hard to resist, and frankly, I’d never met a “healthy” cookie that was worth eating.
But leave it to my teenage daughter, who loves to tinker in the kitchen. Ever since she concocted her first recipe before she could walk, she loves to help me with dinner and even makes her own beauty products (I promise to post her miraculous deodorant recipe soon).
This was the result of one of her experiments, a healthful cookie dough that could be nibbled raw and kept in her school locker to share with friends. The batter was so scrumptious, I decided to bake it into cookies. But since it contained no eggs, I ended up with a giant tray-shaped pancake.
A well- known vegan substitute did the trick. Turns out that chia seeds (or flaxseed) soaked in water for a few minutes work like eggs to add structure and a tender crumb to baked goods. With just a teaspoon of natural sugar per cookie and some quality fuel to boost your energy, these cookies earn their keep as a new household snack…along with a tall glass of milk, of course.
Go ahead, call me a soccer mom…it’s my not-so-guilty pleasure.
Makes 14 medium cookies, or 24 mini cookies
½ cup vegan butter (like Earth Balance or coconut oil), at room temperature
½ cup coconut sugar or maple syrup
1 tablespoon chia seeds, soaked in 3 tablespoons water or almond milk for 5 minutes
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt (make sure it’s coarse; if fine, use half)
1 cup whole spelt flour (or brown rice flour for gluten-free)
1 cup whole organic oats (not quick-cook)
½ cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup chopped pecans (or your favorite nuts)
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line a doubled baking tray with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
2. In an electric mixer or food processor, beat the vegan butter with the sugar until creamy. Beat in the chia seed mixture.
3. Beat in the remaining ingredients. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the chocolate chips and pecans. (Note: if the dough is too sticky to handle, pop it in the fridge until it firms up.)
4. Drop tablespoonful or teaspoonful balls of dough and place on the baking tray. Bake 12 minutes until formed but slightly soft to the touch (for crisp cookies, add 2 minutes of bake time). Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a rack to finish cooling. Will keep in an airtight container for 3 days, or freeze them for later!
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