Oatmeal Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies

Holy cow are these cookies good!  If you love lots of chocolatey-oaty, sweet and crunchy goodness then this is the cookie for you.  It is also a great back-to-school treat you can share with the kids, without any guilt since the only things these little gems lack are eggs, butter, oil and soy.  To make them wheat-free, try substituting the whole wheat pastry flour with oat or barley flour.  These also freeze very well, so why not make a double batch and freeze some to enjoy later!  

A Helpful Note: The dough is a lot easier to manage if you can let it chill in the fridge for about an hour or so before baking, but this isn’t necessary.  Here I use applesauce and prune puree (baby food prunes).  If you only have one of the two on hand, it’s no problem.  Just as long as you end up with 1 cup of fruit puree, whether in the form of applesauce, prunes or a combo.  Mashed bananas may also work in a pinch, though I haven’t tested that substitution yet.  

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce 
  • 1/2 cup prune puree or baby food prunes 
  • 3 Tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 cup sucanat or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated can juice or raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  •  2 1/2 -3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 1 cup non-dairy chocolate chips, or roughly chopped vegan dark chocolate
  • 1 cup raw pecans, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees farenheit.  Place oven racks at 2nd and 5th positions.
  2. Combine water, flaxmeal, applesauce, prune puree and sugars in a large bowl and beat well.  Beat in vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, wheat germ, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Gradually add dry mixture to wet ingredients and stir until well combined.
  4. With a wooden spoon, stir in oats, cherries, chocolate and nuts.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight, if desired.
  6. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a parchment covered baking sheet.  Press to flatten slightly.
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes.  Rotate baking sheets half way into baking time.  Rotate 180 degrees and switch racks that the baking sheets are on, to insure even baking.
  8. Cool on baking sheet for 5-10 min., then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling…if you can wait that long.  🙂

Chocolate Banana Macaroons

 

These are so yummy!  As you can tell, my daughter couldn’t resist the temptation when she saw them out, while I took pictures for this post.  They are so easy you can whip up a batch just on whim, if you like. If you celebrate Passover, then you’ll definitely want to save this recipe for next year. Sorry I didn’t get it posted earlier.

I adapted this from a recipe I found online and jotted down. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down the source. If you know who originally posted it, please let me know so that I can give them credit! But this is a great recipe. Banana works so well with the chocolate and coconut. These macaroons are so moist and delicious and full of flavor. The only things they are lacking are sugar, oil, cholesterol, soy and gluten – stuff you won’t miss! The walnuts also add, not only crunch and flavor, but a nice little dose of omega 3s too!

Ingredients:
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Mash bananas in a large bowl, then add remaining ingredients.

3. Roll into walnut-size balls, or shape into pyramids on a parchment-lined baking sheet (you may need 2)

4. Bake 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. If you don’t wait to transfer the macaroons, they will be more likely to stick to the parchment. Enjoy!

Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes

After posting this tasty little picture on my Facebook Page, (yes, Mel’s Healthy Kitchen does have a Facebook page.  If you haven’t “liked” it yet, what are you waiting for?!) I got so many requests to post the recipe, that I decided to do it right away.

This recipe is adapted from one found in a great vegan cookbook by Jennifer McCann called The Vegan Lunch Box.   It has given me tons of inspiration in my own dishes too.

Here’s a handy tip I got from a friend who also happens to be another vegan mom:

TIP: When you make your cupcakes, freeze some (unfrosted) to keep on hand for those last-minute times when you want a healthier alternative for your child when treats are being offered either at school or a party.  Just pull them out of the freezer, frost with icing, and they will be thawed by the time they eat them.  Thanks, Leilani!  🙂

Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes (adapted from The Vegan Lunch Box)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups water

1 cup sweetener (i.e.: coconut sugar, date sugar, evaporated cane juice)

1 cup sucanat or light brown sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup canola oil (can substitute some or all of the oil with substitutes like applesauce or flaxseed meal.  For more info, check out the following blog post on oil substitutes: https://melshealthykitchen.com/2010/08/16/other-low-calorie-baking-substitutes-besides-applesauce/

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners.  You may wish to give them a quick spritz of cooking spray, if you’re concerned about them sticking to the paper.
  2. Using a wire whisk, sift the dry ingredients (flours, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt) in a large bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix either with a stand mixer or hand-held mixer until batter is smooth (no lumps).
  3. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into each liner.  There should be just enough batter for 24 cupcakes.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Be sure to check them after about 15 minutes and rotate the pans for even baking.
  5. When a toothpick can be inserted into the middle of a cupcake and comes out clean, they are done.  Remove from oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  6. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling
  7. Resist the temptation to frost the cupcakes before they are COMPLETELY COOL.  Otherwise your frosting may slide and get melty.  Yuck!

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (adapted from The Vegan Lunch Box)

This recipe yields enough frosting for 12 cupcakes, since I usually try to freeze the other 12.  If you are planning to decorate all 24 at once, then just double the recipe.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

3 Tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine (like Earth Balance), cut into small chunks.

2 Tablespoons rice milk (soy or almond milk would also work)

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a small or medium-size bowl and mix well either with a hand-held mixer or a wire whisk and a strong arm, and beat until the frosting is smooth.  If it is a little too thick, then just add a touch more rice milk.

TIP: If you want to avoid the mess of frosting with a knife, try this little trick that I used.   It avoids a lot of mess and makes your cupcakes look more professional:

Use a rubber spatula to transfer the frosting into a pastry bag or gallon-size plastic bag.  If using a plastic bag, snip off one of the bottom corners so that you are left with and opening that is about 1/2 inch wide.  Squeezing from the top,  push the frosting through the opening, and make a spiral motion working from the outer edge, toward the center of the cupcake.  Top with your favorite sprinkles!