Hi, me again with yet another cookie recipe. I swear I used to post healthy vegetarian and vegan recipes and I still cook this way just, it’s so much more fun to share my baking recipes here. And do I bake a lot, even more (maybe?) than I used to. There are plenty groups to participate in, where home-baked goodies never go amiss, and then there’s Sierra who has become quite vocal about what she likes/dislikes, wants/doesn’t want. What she often wants is cookies. I get it. I often want cookies, too. But I also want them to be slightly on the ‘better for us’ side, meaning less sugar and fat and lots of whole grains. These applesauce oat cookies I’ve refined over the past few weeks are definitely in that category.
In addition to cookies, the past few weeks have seen my return to a regular yoga practice and it’s been pretty amazing to realize how much I’ve missed it without even fully recognizing the lack. I started taking classes soon after I moved to San Francisco in 2006 and would go once or twice a week until I left. I attribute my morning classes at Yoga Tree (Stanyan) as a main reason I kept sane through a fairly intense stretch of months that included pregnancy + cookbook writing + planning and executing an international move. After Sierra came and we relocated to Morocco it was much harder to keep it up; I have dipped in and out of classes/private instruction but it’s just been lately that I’ve recommitted to a regular home practice.
I mention yoga because it’s all about balance — on the mat, of course, but also off of it. I will freely admit I don’t take advantage of nap time in a way I might; rather than lie down or read (though I do do this, just rarely) I prep dinner, do a bit of work, etc. Certainly I could benefit from more down time, and I will try to incorporate some of that … soon. Still, when would I bake cookies?!
Balance is key in diet, too. I feel like I’m always posting about cake, banana bread, cookies, etc. and there is a lot of that coming out of my kitchen. But for our three meals of the day we tend toward oatmeal with a sprinkling of seeds and a drizzle of peanut butter for breakfast, all-vegetable soups or big bowls of quinoa and sweet potatoes for lunch, and lots of vegetables, legumes, and whole grains for dinner. The sweet treats are little necessary indulgences – we are living in Saudi Arabia after all, which sometimes makes me feel like who deserve a whole lot of indulgences once we move on from here; an onward assignment to Paris perhaps? – but I do feel better about them when they’re balanced out with those good main meals. And when I lighten up the sweets with applesauce instead of butter and/or use unrefined sugars I feel even better – mentally and physically.
So in these cookies the applesauce stands in for butter, with a bit of coconut oil to give them that rich, buttery flavor but just as a minor undertone. I think toasted walnuts would be so good, but I keep forgetting to look for them at the store. I’ve been really into fresh ginger so included some here; you could omit it if you like a mellower cookie. The dried cherries are chewy and lovely and contrast nicely against the spice mix. Using oat flour makes them gluten-free and I’ve experimented with half oat flour and half almond meal, the result being a denser cookie that’s higher in protein. We’ve eaten them up quickly in each iteration, but I think the one below is the final winner.
I’ll check back in tomorrow with a little announcement; until then, eat your veggies. And cookies.
As always, use whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour if you don’t need to keep gluten-free and/or try 1/2 cup almond flour for 1/2 cup of the oat flour.
Makes about 20 cookies.
1 cup (gluten-free) oat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2-2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, fresh ginger, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon and cardamom, and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the coconut oil and honey until smooth. Mix in applesauce and vanilla.
Stir in the dry ingredients, then the oats and dried cherries, and mix well to combine. The dough may be a bit wet, so add more oats as necessary to help bring it all together. You want the dough to be thick enough to be able to roll cookie balls between your hands. Place dough in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Heat the oven to 375ºF and set the rack on the lower and upper thirds of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls and place them 2-inches apart on the baking sheets. Use a fork to gently flatten the dough slightly.
Place in the oven and bake until the cookies are a gentle brown all across the top, about 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven and place cookies on a wire rack to cool thoroughly.