Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

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You know what I love? Cookies. You know what I love even more? Delicious cookies that are healthy too, like these yummy banana chocolate chip cookies. They only have 6 ingredients: bananas, oats, peanut butter, chocolate chips, vanilla, and salt. Yep, that’s right – no flour, butter, or sugar. I suppose one could argue that chocolate chips aren’t really healthy, but we don’t know any of those people, right?

Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are super easy to make too; just throw all of the ingredients into one bowl, mix it up, and bake for 15 minutes. If you’re wondering, yes, they do taste like bananas. I’m not a huge fan of bananas myself, but I really like these cookies. They remind me of chocolate chip banana bread. My oldest daughter doesn’t like bananas very much either, but even she devoured these cookies (I may have neglected to tell her that bananas were one of the main ingredients).

The sugar in the bananas make the cookies plenty sweet, so no need to worry about that. In fact, I would recommend that you use semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips in this recipe; the bitterness will complement the sweet cookies nicely. As you can see from my photo, I didn’t skimp on the chocolate chips. You can probably reduce the chocolate chips to 1/2 cup, if you want a less chocolately cookie.

I used ripe, but not overripe bananas (yellow, not brown). For those with peanut allergies, you can either omit the peanut butter, or substitute a different nut/seed butter. If you do omit the peanut butter, increase the amount of salt a bit.

Ingredients
2 bananas, mashed
1 cup uncooked oats
3/4 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat, or parchment paper.

Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl, and stir well to combine. If you used large bananas, you may need to add a bit more oats. The mixture should be sticky and wet, but not runny.

Plop rounded tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheet. (Note: I experimented with flattening a few of my “plops” before baking, but the taste and texture was the same.) Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden brown on the bottom. Let cool a few minutes and enjoy!

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Triple Berry Crisp

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Hello everyone! Sorry for the long hiatus. My summer activities seem to be keeping me busier than I expected. Oh, plus, we got a new puppy (it’s like I have a new baby in the house again - but with very sharp teeth). His name is Raleigh.

Isn’t he cute?

Anyway, I hope this recipe is worth the wait. It really is delicious (if I do say so myself)! My kids and I went berry picking at a local farm (so fun!), and we came home with a bounty of Marion berries, Ollalie berries, and raspberries. This was my first experience with Marion berries and Ollalie berries, which are similar to blackberries, and just as delicious. I combined all three berries for this recipe, but feel free to experiment with other berries, if desired.

My family began devouring the berries immediately, but I managed to set aside enough berries for this wonderful dessert. It’s similar to a fruit cobbler, but the fruit is sandwiched between two layers of yummy oat “topping”. I love the combination of hearty oats with sweet berries. I topped the crisp with walnuts, because everything is better with nuts (in my humble opinion).

Ingredients
3 cups fresh berries (I used Marion, Ollalie, and raspberries)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8×8-inch baking dish (or other medium baking dish – I used an oval dish).

Add the berries and white sugar to a medium bowl and gently stir together. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, and salt. Add the butter pieces and then cut the butter into the oat mixture using a pastry blender or 2 knives (you can use your fingers too), until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add half of the oat mixture to the bottom of the baking dish and press gently with your hand, packing the mixture slightly.

Add the berries to the baking dish (you may need to drain the accumulated juice from the berries first) and spread evenly over the oat layer.

Top the berries with the remaining oat mixture. I like to take handfuls of the oat mixture and flatten them slightly with my hands before placing them on top of the berries. Sprinkle the walnuts on top of the oat mixture.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the topping is firm and browned. Let cool for 20 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

Store any leftovers in the refrigerator (it tastes great cold too!).

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Fresh Blackberry Pie with Walnut-Oat Meringue Crust

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Wild blackberry bushes grew in abundance along the American River in Northern California, where I grew up. In early summer, I would spend hours plucking sweet berries from those thorny bushes, until my lips and fingers were stained purple. I’ll always remember the taste of sweet blackberries, right off the bush.

This blackberry pie brings back memories of those days spent gorging myself on blackberries. There isn’t any sugar added to the filling – just big, beautiful, sweet blackberries. The walnut-oat meringue crust is from Shirley O. Corriher’s CookWise cookbook, and is amazing! It’s light, hearty, mildly sweet, and it pairs beautifully with the unsweetened blackberries. It’s really easy to put together, and tastes so much better than an ordinary pie crust.

One word of caution: since the blackberries aren’t cooked, they won’t last more than a day or two. This pie is definitely best when eaten the same day it is made. So, invite some friends over to share in your blackberry bliss!

Ingredients
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 large eggs whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 big baskets of fresh blackberries (try your local Farmer’s Market)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lay the walnuts out flat on a baking sheet, and roast for 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.

Add the egg whites and cream of tartar to a large bowl, and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is lifted. (Note: I think I could have beaten my egg whites a bit longer, so I would say beat until “medium peaks” form.) Beat in the sugar and baking powder. Gently fold in the walnuts, salt, oats, and vanilla with a rubber spatula.

Spray a 10-inch pie plate with cooking spray and dust lightly with flour. Spoon the meringue into the pie plate. Spread thinly over the bottom and pile higher on the sides. (Note: my meringue was a bit too thin, so it all just settled in one layer. If this happens to you, don’t fret, because it will still turn out great.) Bake at 325 degrees until set and lightly browned about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely on a cooling rack.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a glass measuring cup. Press about 1/2 cup of the fresh blackberries through the strainer using the back of a spoon, collecting the juice in the measuring cup. Discard the blackberry pulp. Add enough water to the blackberry juice to make 1/2 cup.

Add the cornstarch to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in a small amount of the juice/water mixture, until the cornstarch is smooth, then pour in the remaining juice/water and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (this will probably only take about a minute). Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes, then gently fold in the blackberries.

Spoon the blackberries onto the cooled meringue crust, and refrigerate to cool thoroughly. Serve with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Almond Butter Balls

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My kids love peanut butter and almond butter. They would eat it right out of the jar, if I let them. These no-bake balls are ready to eat in minutes and make a perfect after-school snack. The oats provide fiber and energy, and the almond butter adds protein and healthy fats. Just what tired kids (and moms!) need after a long day. This makes a small batch; just enough for a day or two.

Ingredients
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup flaked coconut
2 tablespoons honey (use less if your coconut is sweetened)
Coconut flakes, unsweetened cocoa, and finely chopped almonds for coating

Combine the oats, almond butter, 1/2 cup flaked coconut, and honey in a medium bowl and stir well to combine. It may take a few minutes of stirring to completely combine the ingredients.

Using your hands, press the mixture into 1-inch balls and roll them in the coating (coconut, cocoa, or almonds).

The balls can be stored at room temperature, but I prefer to store them in the fridge to help them keep their shape (less messy to eat too).

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