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Fall is here, kids are back in school and for some students, it’s time to think about college. This year, that’s a topic of almost daily conversation at my house. I remember when back to school time meant a new lunch box, the trendiest backpack and checking off the school supplies list. But now that my daughter’s high school years are coming to a close, we’re all wrapped up in SAT prep, pre-SAT testing and looking at colleges. That’s a lot more stressful than deciding on a new lunch box! Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely an exciting time and I couldn’t be prouder, but even the most exciting events get stressful. With college, the anticipation of change – especially because our daughter is looking at schools across the country –and all that comes with it can lead to some nervous moments. Sometimes, we just need a cookie!
Ok, I’m kidding about needing a cookie (kind of). You know I would never tell you to “eat your feelings”. That solves nothing. But college planning does bring to mind an important point. When my sweet girl is far away from home, she will miss out on my nutritious home cooked meals and better-for-you homemade treats. These last months of high school can be so stressful that paying extra attention to nutrition is critical, with the stress of testing, college visits, applications, etc. It can be tough to make sure you nourish yourself, but luckily, these delicious Oatmeal Spice and Everything Nice Cookies are here to fill in the empty spaces.
Oatmeal Spice & Everything Nice Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen cookies (using 1 ½ tablespoons of batter for each cookie).
The idea of her going off to college, living dorm life and snacking on toaster pastries at 2 a.m. is a little disconcerting to me. I know I can’t be there every minute with her (she’s already told me I’m not allowed to move in the dorm!), I can send her off with tips for how to maintain a nourishing and balanced way of eating. I can also mail healthier goodies like these oatmeal cookies! So while she’s preparing for her SAT, I’m preparing to be recipe-ready with treats that fit my college cookie criteria:
- My daughter and her friends must love them (always #1 in recipe development!)
- The cookies must be nutritious, packed with nourishing ingredients
- They must ship well (no one wants to open a box of crumbs)
- They must store easily (i.e., no fridge needed because dorm life!)
If you have kiddos away at college, make these right away and pack them up (see my tips below) into a sweet care package. If you don’t have anyone to ship these to, make them anyway because they are amazing cookies without junk preservatives and additives. They store well at room temperature and freeze well, too (tips after the recipe).
Oatmeal Spice & Everything Nice Care Package Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen cookies (using 1 ½ tablespoons of batter for each cookie).
Everything I make is free from gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts and tree nuts due to my celiac disease and multiple food allergies. If you do not need to be gluten-free, feel free to use “regular” oats. As for the other allergens, manage yours accordingly.
Here are some more helpful recipe ingredient notes:
Seed or nut butter – use what you like. Some options are almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter or tahini (sesame seed paste). I recommend a no sugar added product. I use organic sunflower seed butter made with only toasted sunflower seeds and salt. If you use a salted nut or seed butter, you may not want to add the additional salt in the recipe.
Spices – I like adding all the ones listed, but feel free to omit one if you don’t like it. Add more or less, according to your own tastes, but note that too much ginger may be too pungent and excess allspice will come off tasting peppery. Cardamom is another option you may like along with the cinnamon.
Sweeteners – the maple syrup and honey add plenty of sweetness. I use pure maple syrup and local organic honey. Feel free to use an equal amount of molasses instead of honey if you prefer. It lends a deeper flavor that’s really nice. Unsweetened applesauce is naturally mildly sweet, which also adds to sweetness and keeps the cookies moist.
Oats – these, along with the nut or seed butter and egg are the binder in this recipe – they hold it all together. If you are gluten-free like me, be sure to choose a gluten-free purity protocol grown oat. (Learn more here.) Be sure to use rolled (not quick) oats and don’t skip the pulsing in the food processor step.
Add-ins – you can use what you like here. To keep the sugar low, I like unsweetened dried fruit like cranberries. They add a tart contrast to the sweetness of the other ingredients. If you eat nuts, use them. If you don’t eat coconut, leave it out. Mini chocolate chips are great in these cookies! What you add is up to you and you can customize the cookies to your tastes, and even change them up for different times of year. Aim for a total of about 1 cup of add-ins in whatever combination you choose. If you add ground flax seeds or chia seeds, those will alter the outcome of this recipe, changing texture and making the cookies a bit dry, so I do not recommend those as add-ins.
These Oatmeal Spice & Everything Nice Cookies are tender, but won’t fall apart on you. Think of the best chewy oatmeal cookies you’ve ever tasted! Customize the flavors by switching up nut or seed butters, as well as any add-ins you choose for your cookies.
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt (if your nut or seed butter is salted, you may want to reduce this amount to ¼ teaspoon)
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
½ cup no sugar added sunflower seed butter (substitute another nut or seed butter such as natural peanut butter, tahini, almond butter, etc.)
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg (preferably organic from pasture-raised chickens)
1 tablespoon honey (or molasses)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup dried cranberries (I use unsweetened)
¼ cup hulled hemp seeds
¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas)
¼ cup toasted coconut (I use unsweetened)
Additional add-ins as desired for topping cookies prior to baking
Pulse the oats in your food processor 12 pulses, just enough to break them down a bit. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or grease baking sheets lightly).
Add oats and other dry ingredients to the bowl of your stand mixer and turn on low speed to combine for 30 seconds.
Add non-dry ingredients, then blend on low speed to incorporate into dry ingredients for about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix until batter is smooth and no dry ingredients remain visible. No need to over-mix.
Stir in add-ins by hand.
Chill dough (in mixing bowl) for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Spoon mounds of the dough onto the prepared pans using a cookie scoop (I use a #40 scoop, which is about 1 ½ tablespoons capacity) or measuring spoon.
If you use a scoop and the mounds of dough are very round, flatten them slightly. The cookies will not spread during baking.
If you wish to top cookies with additional add-ins, now is the time to do so.
Bake approximately 8 minutes, remove from the oven, and cool completely at room temperature.
Enjoy the cookies or store in an airtight container at room temperature in a single layer, or with a sheet of wax paper between layers if stacking cookies.
These cookies freeze and thaw well. Simply pack in zip top baggies, then store those baggies in an airtight freezer safe container. Freeze up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature or heat a few seconds in the microwave (10-15 second increments until desired warmth).