Cookies For Breakfast (High-Protein Yum)
My daughter is not a morning person, to put it as kindly as possible. She doesn’t want to get up, she doesn’t want to talk, and she most definitely doesn’t want to eat. My challenge with her is to find ways to get sufficient nutrition into her each morning in the smallest amount of food possible. For a while I was able to coax her into a protein bar each morning, but she tired of those, and I started working on alternatives.
Surely if I could doctor up a cookie recipe, we’d have a hit on our hands. Even grumpy teenagers like cookies! I started with this Taste of Home banana-oatmeal cookie recipe as my base, and then went to work. If a muffin and a granola bar had a baby, it would be this cookie. My version ups the protein and fiber, decreases the sugar (and uses molasses, which not only imparts a richer taste, I think, but adds nutrients and minerals you don’t get from plain sugar), and uses coconut oil instead of butter (and less of it, too). I’ve also used one of my favorite baking tricks: Miniature chocolate chips. When you use the mini chips, you can use fewer without your taste buds feeling like there’s not enough chocolate. My cookies have twice the nuts, half the chocolate, and zero complaints.
Those of you who checked out my multigrain pancake recipe will recognize many of the same ingredients in this recipe. Hey, I like to stick with what works.
Ingredients for Banana-Oatmeal Protein Cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup white chocolate whey protein*
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup coconut oil
2 cups mashed bananas (4-6 bananas, depending on size)
1/4 cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups almond slices
1 cup miniature chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat for best results.
In a large bowl, mix together the first group of ingredients (everything from the all-purpose flour to the ginger) and incorporate with a fork to make sure you’ve gotten out any lumps. Add the second group of ingredients (coconut oil through vanilla extract) and beat with a hand mixer until blended. At this point you’ll want to set the mixer aside and fold in the final ingredients by hand with a wooden spoon or similar implement—this will minimize breakage—to finish the batter.
Scoop by quarter-cupfuls onto your baking sheets, doing your best to keep the dough in mounds (it will spread out while baking). I can fit just nine cookies per sheet; if you crowd them you will end up with a giant cookie blob, so resist the urge!
Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cookies are done when the edges start to brown. Cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to cooling racks. This recipe yields 24 giant cookies.
Nutrition and Notes
According to my calculations, these cookies have about 9g of protein (I didn’t calculate the fiber, but it’s also quite high) and around 9g of sugar apiece. For reference: That’s the same sugar content as a bowl of Honey-Nut Cheerios, and as much protein as 1.5 eggs. In the grand scheme of nutrition, I’m willing to call these pretty darn healthy.
I played around with this recipe quite a bit before settling on this version as the one we I like best, but don’t be afraid to experiment. My use of the white chocolate protein powder, for example, wasn’t calculated beyond, “Hey I bought this flavor on sale, I bet it would work well in these.” Any flavor that sounds good to you would probably be yummy (I may try it with strawberry…), just remember that if you use unflavored protein you may wish to increase the sugar a bit. Also remember to read protein powder labels; I always buy unflavored or sweetened with stevia (Designer Whey and MRM are the brands I usually get when buying sweetened), but a lot of big name protein-makers use aspartame and sucralose, which I prefer to avoid.
Make these cookies vegan with egg replacer and a non-animal-derived protein powder, if that’s your thing. They can also easily be made gluten-free by using a non-wheat flour, but I didn’t trust myself not to eat them all if I did that, so I used wheat because I was thinking of my children. (And how I probably don’t need to be eating cookies for breakfast, no matter how healthy.)
These would still be yummy without nuts, though that will of course decrease the overall protein. They’d also be yummy with different nuts, if you’d rather. I use almond slices because my kids “don’t like nuts” but something about the texture of the slices in baked goods—maybe because they end up with a similar mouth-feel to the rolled oats?—is acceptable to them.
These freeze beautifully, but are a little bit sticky, so I usually separate them in freezer bags or storage containers with parchment paper to prevent the dreaded block-o’-cookies problem. (You can use the parchment you baked them on; just cut it up into squares.) Keep the “current” batch in the fridge for maximum freshness, and either send off a cold cookie in the lunchbox for later, or pop one in the microwave for fifteen seconds to warm it up and get the chocolate chips a little soft.