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Vegan Cookies Made Easy!

vegan-cookies-585I’ve never denied my weakness for baked goods. If you put a cookie, cupcake, bar, or muffin in front of me, I will eat it. There will be no discussion; that is just the way it will be. You will turn away for just a second, and when you return, there will be an empty plate and chocolate crumbs all over my face.
Rather than try to deprive myself of the joys of baked goods (because, let’s face it, that ain’t gonna happen), I’ve begun doing damage control by choosing to bake my own goodies, using whole, plant-based ingredients whenever I can. For the most part, it hasn’t been too difficult — using vegan substitutions for eggs, cutting back on the amount of sugar and swapping out oils with applesauce.
But one recipe has been stubborn in coming over to the vegan side: My mom’s favorite cookie recipe. These treats are made with LOTS of butter, shortening and eggs — and they are delicious. No matter what healthy tweaks I made to the recipe, I was disappointed. The cookies were too flat, too bland, too gross — not something you want to associate with the warm-fuzzy memories of your childhood. I was starting to think it was impossible, until an “Eureka!” moment arrived in the mail.
nuttzo creamy
A few months ago, I reviewed (and loved!Nuttzo, an organic, good-for-you nut butter. Recently, they sent me their newest product, a creamy nut butter full of good-for-you Omega 3s. The consistency is different than processed peanut butter, making me think it might hold up well as a butter/shortening substitute for baking. On the first attempt using Nuttzo Creamy in my mom’s cookie recipe, I knew I had hit a vegan home run.

Mrs. Lacke’s Favorite Vegan Cookies Recipe (Version 2.0)

1/2  cup Nuttzo Creamy
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden flaxseeds
6 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups rolled oats
1 12-oz package chocolate chips (vegan)
1 cup dried fruit (I like dried blueberries and cherries, though raisins and cranberries work well in this recipe, too!)
1 cup walnut pieces
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cream together Nuttzo, applesauce, sugars and vanilla.
3. In a spice grinder or coffee grinder, process the flaxseeds until they are powdery. Add to a small bowl with 6 tablespoons water and whisk vigorously until they resemble the consistency of beaten eggs. Add to Nuttzo mixture.
4. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt all at once to the mixture. Mix until well blended. Add remaining ingredients and blend. (The dough may be too stiff for a hand mixer. You may need to use a strong spoon and mix by hand.)
5. Using a spoon or cookie scoop, place rounded teaspoons of dough on lightly greased cookie sheet.
vegan cookie dough
6. Bake at for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes approximately three dozen cookies.
These cookies are amazing served warm with a glass of almond milk; but they also store and travel well — nosh on a few at the office, or bring a big bag to share with your friends after the Sunday group ride!
Have you attempted healthier versions of your childhood favorites? What ingredients have you used as substitutes? —Susan 

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