Nikki’s Healthy Cookie Recipe

Nikki’s Healthy Cookie Recipe

If you're skeptical that healthy cookies can be delicious, this recipe will convince you otherwise. I keep in touch with one of my best friends from high school. Her name is Nikki and she lives in rural Pennsylvania with her husband and four kids. Four! She's an inspired cook who can throw a meal together on a whim from a refrigerator she keeps packed with all manner of whole, natural foods. She's an enthusiastic supporter of local growers and producers and regularly sends me emails highlighting recent cooking triumphs and trials. A few months back she emailed me her healthy cookie recipe. Butter-less, flour-less, egg-less, and potentially sugar-less cookies, I promptly filed it under "can't possibly be good." How wrong I was.

A Healthy Cookie Recipe that Doesn't Disappoint

When I made a trip to Philadelphia a few weeks back and spent the day with Nikki the topic of the "healthy cookies" was revisited. Nikki mounted a compelling argument for these banana-battered treats, and I quickly bumped them to the top of my to-do list. My only regret is that I didn't try them sooner. The shredded coconut gives each cookie a hint of macaroon-esque texture, the oats lend heartiness, and melted chocolate chunks deliver bursts of dark, intense richness. You get just enough golden crustiness where the cookies touch the pan to play off the tender coconut-flecked center of the rest of the cookie.

Nikki's Healthy Cookie Recipe

Wayne and his brother Greg drove me out to see Nikki in Kennett Square, and for those of you who find yourself in the area I'll list off a few of the places Nikki took me to visit that day. First thing in the morning, on the drive out, we stopped off at Terrain at Styers. I bought enough that my suitcase barely squeaked under the fifty pound mark on the flight home - I should also thank Terrain for stocking my book! With Nikki we made the short drive from her house to Va La Vineyards, and then onto an organic mushroom grower to pick up a case of portobellos (which we would throw on the grill later). We hit "downtown" Kennett Square and I got a coconut popsicle at La Michoacana before hitting up their wonderful farmers' market (more on this later), on to Talula's Table, and then back to Nikki's house for an impromptu feast with the kids and a few of Nikki's wonderful friends.

Nikki's Healthy Cookie Recipe

Three of Nikki's four kids in a tree at the Kennett Square Farmers' Market, and a collection of birdhouses at Terrain at Styers

Give the cookies a try and let me know if you like them as much as I did.

Nikki's Healthy Cookie Recipe

3.9 from 58 votes

You can use unsweetened carob, or grain sweetened chocolate chips, or do what I did and chop up 2/3 of a bar of Scharffen berger 70%. I sort-of shaved half the bar with a knife and then cut the rest into bigger chip-sized chunks. You can make your own almond meal by pulsing almonds in a food processor until it is the texture of sand - don't go too far or you'll end up with almond butter. And lastly, the coconut oil works beautifully here, just be sure to warm it a bit - enough that it is no longer solid, which makes it easier to incorporate into the bananas. If you have gluten allergies, seek out GF oats.

Ingredients
  • 3 large ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil barely warm - so it isn't solid (or alternately, olive oil)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup coconut finely shredded & unsweetened
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 - 7 ounces chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks/chips. The dough is a bit looser than a standard cookie dough, don't worry about it. 

  2. Drop dollops of the dough, each about 2 teaspoons in size, an inch apart, onto a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 - 14 minutes. I baked these as long as possible without burning the bottoms and they were perfect - just shy of 15 minutes seems to be about right in my oven.

Serves
36
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • I have a variation of this recipe as well. You can use applesauce, baby food fruit, or even some jams work as a substitute for the bananas. You can tell Nikki's a mom, she has all kinds of "artful" stuff on her fridge. And it looks like a fun wall of photos in the hallway! Wish I had a better look. :-) Melissa

    glutenfreeforgood
  • Wow I really want to try this recipe. The picture looks amazing. I'll be trying out this recipe this week :)

    Grace
  • Excellent! I hardly eat sugar and I am trying to raise my 1 year old the same way. (We'll see how long that lasts). So these look great. I will definitely give them a try - despite being mostly sugar free I just don't feel that a cup of tea is complete without something adorable to nibble on:)

    Alison
  • I'm allergic to oats, almonds, and coconut... what to do? The cookies sound so good!

    SherriTX
  • So lovely that you and Nikki have kept in touch after all these years!! And so lovely that she shared her FANTASTIC-sounding vegan cookie recipe :0)

    VeggieGirl
  • Heidi, I noticed you said you don't cook with canola oil -- why is that? So many of my vegan cookbooks call for canola oil. Yikes!

    Lisa
  • I just made these cookies, but I used canola oil instead of coconut oil. They turned out great! Chewy and sweet. The banana flavor is fabulous! It's like eating chocolate chip banana bread in a the form of a cookie. Thanks for the recipe!

    Lisa
  • These look really good! I hate bananas, though, so maybe I will try the applesauce like someone suggested. I wonder how this would work with organic peanut butter? For the person asking about coconut oil: Try the ethnic sections of your local grocery store. Where I live (Maryland), coconut oil can be found in that area--plus it's cheaper than the health food stores. Actually, I've found that almost all of the spices and oils are slightly cheaper in the ethnic aisles.

    Elaine
  • I just tried making the cookies. They are fabulous for when you want a treat but don't want something super fatty or sugary. And the best part is the cookies require no mixer or other heavy kitchen machinery so clean up is a snap.

    Adrienne
  • I also don't love bananas (in recipes)... I'm wondering if I could somehow mash raspberries (and attempt to remove of the extra water/juice) and use Flaxseed as someone mentioned above, since I'm allergic to treenuts as well. The dark choc./raspberry mix would be delish. Love this site - I've never posted before but I come on almost once a day!

    Meghan
  • These cookies look amazing! Would they tolerate a trip in rhe mail ? Do they need refrigeration? HS: I'm not sure a trip in the mail is the best bet for these cookies, they are quite moist which could cause problems.

    Linda
  • These cookies are just what I've been looking for in a gluten-free recipe... something delicious all on its own without trying to be something else. It's also fun to see your post reflect some of my home sites in Pennsylvania! I work in horticulture and would be happy to help you find other great gardens and garden centers to visit on your next trip to PA.

    Rhoda
  • I'll probably make these, they look fantastic...but my kids can't take any nut products to school. I might substitute flax meal for the almond meal. For people who don't like bananas: use baby prunes !! and no, you don't taste them.

    Hilary
  • hi! This recipe sounds great! With wheat allergies in our family, we are always looking for something sweet that won't make us sick! Any substitute for the flaked coconut? the coconut oil is ok cuz it doesn't taste like coconut--but the flakes themselves....any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks Nikki for your creativity! As a mom of 4 also, we HAVE to be resourceful-there is always so much to do!!

    Karen
  • Looks like a winner! Must try ... must try ... must try :-)

    Sneh
  • I have three ripe bananas in my kitchen right now, carefully saved for your banana-espresso muffins, but I think they'll be taking a little detour this afternoon, right into these cookies. The banana means it's okay to eat these for breakfast, right?

    Katie in Berkeley
  • I had 3 bananas going ripe and I didn't know what I was going to do with them - low and behold comes this recipe! I've got a fresh batch out of the oven just now...and they're wonderful! I added about 2 more tablespoons of oats to the mixture to make it firmer. I used olive oil and they came out great, plus I like the fact that they're not overly sweet :)

    Maria
  • When making the almond meal, should the almonds be blanched or does it matter? These look amazing - I can't wait to try them! HS: Either is fine. -h

    Karin
  • Sounds amazing! All of my favorite things together... I like that there is no flour or sugar added, and I LOVE coconut oil; I've began to put it in anything that I can. Trader Joe's has almond meal, and for a decent price! PS your friend sounds amazing! Just the kind of cook I love and want to be... creative, resourceful. I am always looking for the interesting sugar-free, flour-free, yet DELICIOUS recipes. - That's why I am a HUGE fan of the black bean brownies, I have made them several times!

    Amanda
  • Sounds like you had a very fun time! I will try these straight away - I love all these ingredients, so it just makes perfect sense! Thanks!

    thepinkpeppercorn
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