Make This! Add bananas for the perfect blend of sweetness and nutrition
by Deirdre Long
Feb 17, 2013 | 4519 views |  0 comments | 278 278 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Banana Nut Cookies. Photo: Deirdre Long/The Anniston Star
Banana Nut Cookies. Photo: Deirdre Long/The Anniston Star
I’ve been on a bit of a health kick lately, trying to limit the amount of processed sugar and preservatives we eat. It’s resulted in some interesting concoctions from my oven: the homemade Nutri-grain bars that only I would eat, the cheese crackers that no one would eat, a loaf of rye that collapsed in on itself ...

Among those experiments, I’ve been trying to find the Perfect Healthy Cookie Recipe. To me, the perfect healthy cookie doesn’t have a ton of sugar, but should still have enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. All the ingredients should be recognizable (so no preservatives) and my kids have to like it. My husband does not have to like it, because he seems to have an innate distaste for most of my “healthy” recipes — probably because they don’t have a lot of sugar or meat in them.

After a couple cookie fails (like the two ingredient cookies: just banana and oatmeal), I finally found a recipe that passes my test — Banana Nut Cookies. It’s full of whole grains and not full of sugar, and is nice and chewy on the inside with great flavor, like eating a little bite of banana bread. Using ripe bananas works the best, but it seems gross to some to use brown bananas. Don’t worry, it’s not rotten and still tastes delicious. When bananas get too ripe on your counter (i.e. a little mushy with brown spots on the peel), just throw them in the freezer and they’ll keep until you need them. You don’t even need to bag them — the peel guards the fruit against freezer burn.

With just a couple of tweaks to the recipe, you can also make delicious “healthy” Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

These cookies are kid-approved and make a great breakfast cookies. Or a great dessert cookie, since I did end up eating most of them one night after the kids went to sleep. But at just 65 calories each, I didn’t feel too bad about it — it’s health food, right?

Banana Nut Cookies

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unpacked brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup mashed ripe banana (I used one ripe banana)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups quick oats
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350; line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silicone baking mat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, with a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars on medium speed.

Add the egg, followed by the mashed banana and vanilla extract.

Working by hand, stir in the flour mixture and the oats until just combined and no streaks of flour remain; stir in the chopped walnuts.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies become light brown at the edges.

Let cool on baking sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 30 cookies.

— Adapted from a recipe on

To make Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, use 1⁄4 white sugar, and 1⁄4 cup maple syrup as sweetener and 1⁄4 cup applesauce in place of the banana. Add 1⁄2 cup raisins along with the walnuts. The rest of the ingredients and baking methods are the same.
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