It’s a time of year when there’s been no shortage of sweet treats. I certainly feel like I’ve eaten a huge amount of indulgent celebratory food since I made these cookies a few weeks ago, but perhaps it bodes well for the new year that this first post’s recipe will keep you (or set you!) on a path of healthiness.

Since I am a person who, whatever the season, feels the pangs of a snack attack most afternoons, I’m particularly grateful for the invention of this “healthy cookie”.  Initially I wasn’t sure about the recipe for many reasons: I’ve never really ventured into vegan baking, I was a bit sceptical about whether the words ‘healthy’ and ‘cookie’ could legitimately be used to describe the same food item, and I was unsure about using coconut oil*.  However, the simplicity of the recipe and the many positive comments about it encouraged me, and I now want to spread the word.

These yield a tasty,  soft cookie that you can put together in a matter of minutes (seriously, the measuring out takes the longest time). I made a few alterations to the original recipe: replacing some of the banana with apple puree to make the banana a bit more of a background flavour, and replacing half the chocolate with raisins.  I’m sure you could do many other variations, and even – amazingly – make the cookies sugar-free by omitting the chocolate altogether and substituting your favourite dried fruits.

Also, in a blitz of new years’ assiduousness, I have made an index of the recipes on this blog (see the link on the top right of this page).  I hope it helps you to locate recipes a little bit more easily.  Happy new year to all!

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Surprisingly virtuous choc-oaty cookies
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 ripe banana, well mashed (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup unsweetened apple puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil (warmed just enough to be stirrable; or you can substitute olive oil)
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (a heaping half cup)
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 170C and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Into a bowl mix together the banana, apple, coconut oil and vanilla.  Into another bowl mix the oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon salt and baking powder.  Stir in the fruit mixture into the dry mixture until well combined.  Fold through the chocolate and raisins.

Drop into bite-sized mounts onto the baking paper, a few centimetres apart.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating the pans if needed, until the bottoms of the cookies are golden and they have firmed up a little.  The cookies will continue to firm up a bit more on cooling.

Yields: about 40 bite-sized cookies

* While many promote the positive health benefits of coconut oil, and health food shops seem to readily stock the stuff, it does seem like there are just as many people who aren’t sure if it is any better than other kinds of saturated fat.  Following the guidance of the trusty Harold McGee on the kitchen-scientific (I’ve mentioned him before), I’m content to cook occasionally with good quality coconut oil (I used organic extra virgin),  and enjoy the riches of the coconut in small doses.  Also, I think that in this kind of recipe it adds a subtle coconut flavour to the whole thing which I rather like.  And what’s 1/4 cup of oil anyway divided between 40 cookies?

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