By Ali Lopez
December feels like the perfect time to write about cookies. (The kind you eat, not the ones on your computer!) Winter time, holidays, parties, cookie swaps… you get the picture. Personally I am not a big cookie fan. Shocker, I know! But I do live with a cookie monster and many of my friends enjoy cookies. And I also thought it would be cool if the cookie could serve as pre-run fuel. So I set out to create a cookie that could please everyone, yet still have nutritional value! I love a challenge.
When I started thinking about the perfect “Chef Ali-Approved Cookie,” I knew it needed to have some veggies in it, but also some chocolate and some nuts, of course! I decided on a sweet potato for the veggie, since that is definitely one of my favorite foods and I thought it could work well in a cookie. You can read more about my love of sweet potatoes here.
I also decided to keep it gluten free and vegan. I even kept them refined sugar-free and used my favorite sweetener, maple syrup! (I mentioned I love a challenge, right?) And I wanted to make the recipe flexible so that you’d be able to customize and substitute based on what you like and what you have in your pantry.
The cookie recipe I came up with is like a power-packed oatmeal cookie with a bunch of my favorite nutritious and tasty things. I also have included some ideas for swaps. Also, if you are going to use the cookie as a treat vs. running fuel, you can vary the ingredients and size of the cookie as well. I hope you try it and make it your own.
Healthy Chef Ali’s Runner Cookies
4 cups rolled oats
1 tablespoon cocoa powder or cacao powder (or you can even add a scoop of your favorite protein powder if you are using it for running fuel!)
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (remember to do this ahead of time, or better yet the night before when you are making dinner. In a pinch you can used canned!)
1/2 cup REAL maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup nut butter
1/2 cup mix-ins (chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dates, crystalized ginger, your choice)
1.) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.) Divide the oats in half. Take 2 cups of oats and put in a food processor or blender and process until they become oat flour. Place the oats in a mixing bowl and add the cocoa powder, flaxseed, baking powder and cinnamon.
3.) Heat the nut butter and the coconut oil on the stove until they both melt, then add to the mashed sweet potato and maple syrup in a separate bowl. Mix together and then add to the oat mixture along with any mix-ins and stir until blended. It will be very thick.
4.) Depending on what size cookie you want, you can use a 1/8 cup or 1/4 cup measure; a small ice cream scoop works well, too. Place the cookies about an inch apart on your cookie sheet and lightly press down on them to slightly flatten. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, then let cool for a few minutes on the tray.
5.) Keep them in an airtight container and share them with runners and non-runners!
Ali Lopez is a northern Michigan runner, chef and health coach. You can learn more about her at her web site Healthy Chef Ali. She’s also on Facebook here »