Friday, September 18, 2009

Peanut Butter Banana Oaties

These cookies have very quickly become my favorite cookie! I'm lovingly calling them "Peanut Butter Banana Oaties" - and they're a sweet, salty, and creamy little piece of heaven! I have used healthy alternatives to butter, all-purpose flour, and peanut butter; and these cookies just so happen to be Vegan (even though I'm not). If you don't have my alternatives readily available feel free to substitute regular butter, all-purpose flour, and your favorite peanut butter.

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter alternative, like Earth Balance

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup crunchy peanut butter

2 bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cups all purpose flour
1.5 cups whole wheat flour

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet melt 1 stick of butter alternative over medium heat. Add the oatmeal and cook, stirring until toasted. About 5 minutes. Don't skip this step, toasting the oatmeal really adds a great nutty flavor and softens the oats perfectly for the cookies! Meanwhile, mash the bananas with a potato masher.

Mix 2 sticks of softened butter alternative, brown sugar, and granulated sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy. Add the peanut butter, bananas, and vanilla and beat until fluffy again. Add the salt and baking soda and beat until combined. Add the oatmeal and beat until incorporated. Add the flours one at a time and mix until just combined.

Using a large spoon, scoop the cookie dough into medium sized balls and place onto the cookie sheet about an 1 1/2'' apart. Bake for 10 minutes. Take cookies out of the oven, flatten with a fork, and place back into the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then move to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

NOTE: I wanted the health benefits of using whole wheat flour, so you'll notice in the recipe, I pretty much used half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour. If you're using whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour, you have to use a little bit more than you would all-purpose flour, because it's finer. But the combination of the two worked great for these cookies. If you only have all-purpose flour, you should use about 2 1/4 cups in the recipe.

Now, a word of advice about butter alternatives. I never used to be the type of gal to substitute anything for butter, I wanted the real thing. Then I started learning more about eating healthy and the difference between good and bad fats (trans fats = bad, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated = good). I'm not going to delve into the science of it all, but lately I just try watch what I put into my body without sacrificing flavor and quality. With my sweet tooth, I sure wasn't going to stop making baked goods, so I found a great substitute for butter! It's called Earth Balance. Whole Foods carries it, I'm sure other grocery stores do as well. They make buttery spreads, and buttery sticks for baking and cooking (which is what I used in these cookies).

I also used Earth Balance peanut butter in these cookies. I was always a JIF lover (and I still am), but I wanted to try a lightly sweetened natural peanut butter, that I don't need to stir or refrigerate. Believe me when I say this is the best all-natural peanut butter I have ever had. It's flying off the shelves at Whole Foods, they were out of it last week!

I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I did! The recipe makes a lot of dough (approximately 3 dozen cookies), so bake half and freeze half, and that way, when you're craving something sweet, you can whip up a fresh batch of cookies in no time!


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