Healthy Diplomat: Chocolate superfood cookies – paleo, vegan, and packed with chocolate

Clearly, I wouldn’t have started a food blog if I did not enjoy food.  I love to experience good food.  As you have seen from my posts thus far, and in particular, during Chocolate Month, I enjoy chocolate, and I don’t shy far away from good, rich, indulgent chocolate recipes.

But that’s not how and what I eat on a regular basis. I typically enjoy at least a bit of unadulterated dark chocolate on most days, but I’ve also found healthier ways to satisfy my chocolate cravings.

While I am known to eat chocolate regularly for breakfast – a not so indulgent protein or energy bar, at night I like something a bit more sophisticated. As I discussed in my last post, a twist on my signature chocolate chip cookie recipe, I have been baking for nearly my entire life. Last year, while trying to maintain a healthy balance with a group through the Whole Life Challenge, I challenged myself to devise a recipe for cookies that tasted delicious but packed a nutritious punch and complied with the constraints of the challenge (no wheat or refined flours, no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, and no dairy (though butter was allowed).  I found it very difficult to find tasty, compliant, and nutritious packaged versions at the grocery store.

After several attempts, I finally arrived at a recipe that will satisfy the most health-conscious sweet tooth and chocolate lovers. This recipe is vegan and has a low glycemic index and can be made paleo-friendly without oats. On the positive side, these cookies are packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants, and other vitamins and minerals. Cocoa powder and optional bittersweet chocolate add that beloved richness; if you have no restrictions on sugar, it adds a minimal amount.  Applesauce and banana add both sweetness and moisture, and peanut butter supplies needed healthy fat to bind the dough, add richness, needed protein and great flavor.

Treat yo self right! (Parks and Recreation, anyone?)

Chocolate superfood cookies

  • Servings: 20
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3 oz. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 c. natural peanut butter – smooth or chunky
  • 1/4 c. dried fruit, finely chopped (dates, apricots, or unsweetened cherries)
  • 1-2 tsp. stevia extract – sugar equivalent (1-2 packets)
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c. chia seeds
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened coconut or defatted coconut
  • 3/4 c. whole oats* (see below for instructions if omitting)
  • 1 oz. finely chopped or shaved bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao or higher), optional**

Preheat oven to 335 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small to medium mixing bowl, mash the banana with a fork. Using either the fork, a whisk, or electric mixer, beat in the applesauce and peanut butter until smooth. Add stevia to taste. Add the cocoa powder and mix thoroughly. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix in the dried fruit, chia seeds, coconut, and oats. Fold in the chopped chocolate.

Roll cookies by hand into 1″ spheres. Arrange and bake on a cookies sheet for about 15-20 minutes or until slightly firm and crisp on the exterior, yet soft inside. The cookies should be easy to remove and cool.

*If you wish to omit the oats for a paleo-friendly and lower carbohydrate version, double the amount of chia seeds and coconut. Bake for approximately 20 minutes; it is ideal to refrigerate cookies made without the oats to store and serve.

**I would recommend not using unsweetened chocolate, as the bitterness is a bit much for the fruit and stevia.  Lindt makes 90 and 99% bars with great mouth feel and texture, with minimal sugar.

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