Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
MAKES 14 COOKIES
And so the eternal “food balance” struggle continues, and it gets particularly tricky with the kids around Halloween time. On one hand, I am passionate about trying to maximize the nutritional content of all of my family’s food to optimise our health and wellbeing. But on the other hand, I never ever want my children to feel like they are deprived of anything, whether that be sweet treats, chips or pizzas. I am very against restrictive or exclusion diets, unless of course it is medically necessary, and I am very anti the current unhealthy obsession with so-called “clean eating”. What we eat certainlyhas absolutely nothing to do with watching our weight or changing the way our bodies look on the outside, and ALL to do with how our bodies work and feel on the inside.
So whilst I can’t control how much refined sugar and artificial colourings go into their heaped Halloween buckets (and let’s be honest, that would be a losing battle even if I tried!), I can control what goes into their treats at home. Are these deliciously sweet and gooey chocolate chip cookies? Oh yes, they are! But are they also only naturally sweetened with dates, high in plant-based protein and fibre, and contain nutritionally dense ingredients too? Yes, indeed they do!
So when my kids get home from school and are desperate for a sweet afternoon pick-me-up, I have no qualms about them devouring these healthy cookies that have the perfect combination of complex carbs from the wholegrain oats and healthy fats and anti-inflammatory Omega 3’s from the walnuts, not to mention all of the micronutrients from the pumpkin puree itself. I normally make these cookies without the cream cheese filling and oddly, they are great eaten cold only two or three minutes out of the freezer.
One cookie is less than 200 calories, provides a massive 48% of my daily Vitamin A requirements and has no added sugar. Let the Halloweeny fun begin!
For the Vegan Cookies
· 275g Mashed Pumpkin or Pumpkin Puree
· 140g Dates (quick soaked for ½ an hour in boiling water)
· 60g Walnuts (20g to crush and 40g to make into Walnut Meal)
· 150g Hazelnut Butter
· 25g Gluten-free Oat Flour
· 20g Gluten-Free Oats
· 30g Dark Chocolate Chips
· 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
· 1 Banana (the riper the better!)
· 1 tsp Baking Powder
· 1 tsp Baking Soda
· Pinch of Salt
· Optional — 20g Collagen or Unflavoured Protein Powder
For the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling (Optional)
· 180g Cream Cheese
· 30g Xylitol (or icing sugar)
· 3 tbsp Pumpkin Puree
· Zest & Juice of ½ Orange
For the cookies
· Preheat oven to 180°C.
· Line 2 baking trays with non-stick parchment paper.
· Peel, dice and steam the pumpkins for 10-15 mins or until tender. (TIP — just use pumpkin puree from a tin if you are short on time.)
· Take 40g of walnuts and blitz them in the food processor to make walnut meal. NOTE — Any pre-prepared nut meal would work well here, I just didn’t have any to hand!
· Roughly chop the remaining 20g of walnuts to keep a bit of texture to the cookies.
· Set both aside.
· Put the pumpkin, banana, soaked dates, vanilla extract and hazelnut butter into a food processor and blitz until smooth.
· In a large bowl combine all of the remaining ingredients (oat flour, oats, walnut meal, chopped walnuts, baking soda, baking powder, collagen powder, chocolate chips and salt).
· Add the pumpkin mixture into the large bowl and mix well.
· Spoon the batter onto the parchment lined baking tray and flatten slightly.
· Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven, press down gently with a fork, sprinkle with some sea salt and return to oven for a further 10 minutes.
· Remove from the oven and leave them to cool and harden slightly for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
· NOTE — I like mine crispy on the edges, but soft and gooey in the middle. Adjust cooking times according to how soft you like your cookies but remember that they will firm up more as they cool.
· TIP - Either enjoy warm from the oven, or else freeze once cooled. These cookies don’t last particularly well so anything we don’t eat that day, I freeze and then eat straight from the freezer!
For the pumpkin cream cheese filling
· Put the xylitol in a high speed blender and blitz until you form a sugary powder (like a healthier version of icing sugar).
· In a medium bowl, zest and juice the orange.
· Add the cream cheese, pumpkin puree and powdered xylitol and mix until fully combined.
Macros for 1 cookie with the cream cheese topping
Calories — 201
Protein — 5g
Fat — 12g
Carbohydrates — 17g
Fibre — 2g
Vitamin A — 48%
Macros for 1 cookie without the cream cheese topping (Vegan)
Protein – 4g
Fat – 11g
Carbohydrates – 17g
Fibre – 2g
Vitamin A – 48%