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Few people can resist the temptation of a well-made, scrumptious cookie – but imagine how much better the experience would be if you knew the cookie was both tasty and a healthy start to your day.
Jennifer Chandler, a holistic nutritionist in Falmouth, N.S., who also operates a catering service called Forest Floor to Fork, knows having a healthy breakfast isn’t always easy.
“Most of the population is really busy – they don’t have the time to sit down and prepare a big meal (for breakfast),” she said.
“With kids and work, you want something quick and easy, but we tend to go to the drive-thru for muffins and croissants.”
One item Chandler offers is an apple pie breakfast cookie, made with almond flour, oats, and some grated apple, plus ‘superfoods’ like chia seeds and hemp hearts.
And while these baked goods are enjoyed by clients, they’re also a hit at the Chandler family table.
“(The kids) love them. They’re easy and portable, and I know they’re getting everything they need,” Chandler said.
“My children have never not asked for seconds.”
In Beaver Bank, Nova Scotia, Maria Tynan can make s’more cookies that will, well, make you want s’more. Her Healthier S’more Cookie is among other plant-based treats she offers in gift baskets as part of her Veggies and Love business.
“I use oats, ground almonds, a little bit of maple syrup,” she said, adding that the cookie includes such ingredients like vegan marshmallows, which don’t have corn syrup or other additives.
Tynan said it was easy to persuade her children to eat the healthy option. While at the grocery store, the kids noticed the s’more cookies on the shelf. When they asked for some, Tynan suggested they make their own when they get home.
“You get good food and also make memories at the same time,” she said of baking with her children.
Tynan said her children hoped to bring the tasty morsels to school for lunchtime. But, because the cookies had almonds and almond butter, Tynan had to replace it with oat flour and tahini, respectively.
She said the modified version was equally successful: “You don’t want to feel like, I’m eating healthy and it tastes bland.”
Packing a protein punch
Kimberly Davey, a cookie artist based in Charlottetown, P.E.I., said that in general terms, breakfast cookies avoid refined sugars and certain types of fats.
“(They’re) healthier than other cookies … and other surgery cereals and even some granola bars,” she said.
One of her most popular creations are ‘power balls,’ which operate under a similar concept as the breakfast cookie, in that it offers more nutritional value. Some ingredients in the power balls include flax or hemp seeds, for example.
“It offers that punch of the protein,” she said.
Some of the other varieties Davey is developing include mashed banana or applesauce as the base, with additional ingredients like nut or seed butter.
“It still presents as a really nice cookie,” she said.
Davey acknowledges the cookies aren’t “perfect”; some aren’t suitable for schools because of the nut factor, while others aren’t diabetic-friendly. But, as the other bakers also point out, these cookies can be modified for all dietary needs.
“There’s a lot of recipe manipulation, such as ground flax or chia instead of egg,” Davey said, adding, “P.E.I. has a really big population of (people either) gluten-free or vegan.”
Davey, who operates At Your Services Creations, promises full shelves of breakfast cookies when she opens up a summer location in Cavendish. She said they’re great quick snacks for numerous summer activities including hanging out at the campground, or swinging the clubs at the golf course.
“It’s something quick, not so messy,” she said.
Heidi Murphy, a dietitian at the Dominion grocery store in St. John’s, Newfoundland, certainly approves of nutritionally-improved version of cookies.
She has her own recipe for oat banana cookies that she recommends to some clients – a creation that includes two bananas, one egg, 1/4 cup of milk, a cup of oats and a dash of cinnamon.
“I use banana and oats as the base to get that actual sweetness.”
But you can certainly give it an additional boost with extras like flax, chia, hemp hearts, nuts or dried fruit.
“Three tablespoons of hemp hearts (for example) have 10 grams of protein,” Murphy said. “(Breakfast cookies are) versatile based on what your dietary needs are.”
With a baking time of 12 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees, the result is “a nice, moist cookie,” she said.
But Murphy points out one has to be mindful even when baking breakfast cookies that are ideally more nutritious. For example, there is a misconception items like molasses, honey or maple syrup are healthier than other sugars because they’re ‘natural.’ The body still processes them in the same way as other sugars, she explains.
“So you should be mindful if you’re diabetic or are watching your sugars,” she said.
A hit with kids
While breakfast cookies are easy to make and carry around, Murphy said to ensure that the cookie is well-balanced nutritionally, especially if it’s the only thing you eat for breakfast.
Regardless, a well-made, nutritious cookie is good for people of all ages. Murphy said her oat banana cookies are a hit with her children, as they’re easy and healthy snacks at any time of the day.
“If it’s more of a snack, I’ll add some chocolate chips, but if it’s more of a breakfast thing, I’ll refrain from that.”
And Davey agrees the cookies strike that perfect balance between creating smiles on kids’ faces and getting some nutrients into them.
“Every parent knows the tricks, and breakfast cookies will fall into that trick category,” Davey said. “It’s a very child friendly way to get some of their nutrients, especially if you throw in some chia or flax seed.”
Apple Pie Breakfast Cookies by Jennifer Chandler
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup GF quick oats
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Pinch of cardamom
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1Tbsp hemp hearts
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1/4 cup apple sauce
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 of an apple, grated
Tahini caramel sauce:
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1 tbsp plant- based milk
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans (to sprinkle over the sauce)
- Preheat oven 350 F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment.
- Mix all the dry ingredients together. Then add the wet ingredients. Fold in grated apples and mix until combined.
- Using a cookie scoop (1 1/2 tablespoon), scoop out the dough and place in the baking sheet. Flatten each cookie slightly with your hands.
- Bake for 15-18 min or until cookies are lightly brown (top and bottom).
- Set aside and let cool.
- Meanwhile, mix all the caramel ingredients and microwave for about 30 seconds and mix vigorously.
- Drizzle caramel sauce over cookies and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Enjoy
Oat Banana Cookies by Heidi Murphy
- 2 bananas
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup of milk of choice
- 1 cup of oats
- Dash of cinnamon
- Other options to add in: ground flax or chia, hemp hearts, nuts, dried fruit or chocolate chips
- Mash the bananas, eggs and milk together. Mix in the oats, cinnamon and other dry ingredients.
- Measure approximately 1/4 cup per cookie and bake on 350 degrees of 12-15 minutes