Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nourishing Makeover: Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Cookies

A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for my mother's favorite cookie:  Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Cookie

I promised a more nourishing makeover, and here it is.  I grew up with lots of  "healthy cookies" because my mother used to replace oil for butter and add whole wheat whenever she could.  But this makeover is of the Weston A. Price variety: keep the butter, treat the grains, and use nutrient-rich natural sweeteners.

The result:

Yum. Yum.

They baked up perfectly. They are sweet, chewy and also slightly crunchy. The chocolate was gooey, the pecans were even more buttery due to soak-and-dehydrate method, and I once again enjoyed the salt-sweet play of these cookies.  Because of the sprouted flour, these cookies are hearty and filling, and even one cookie is very satisfying.  My toddler who is known to whine, Hungry!  Hungry! all afternoon ate one of these and was satisfied until dinner.  My husband said that they tasted a little like granola.  

The process may seem a little labor intensive, particularly preparing the pecans and the oats, but I found that while there were several steps, each step only took a minute or two and was very easy. I made a double batch of the oats and lots of pecans and crammed them all in my oven to let them dehydrate, so I can actually make another batch of these cookies sometime in the future with very little effort. Plus, I am happy to take a little extra time if it means that I can give my family delicious cookies that will nourish their little bodies while making them smile.

Elements of the Makeover

The first challenge was to soak the oatmeal.  Normally, we soak our oats in water and an acidic medium (whey, kefir, or yogurt) to reduce the phytic acid content, but I was worried that this would make for a wet dough.  I followed the recommendation on Cheeseslave's blog (found here) and soaked my oats overnight, dehydrated them in my oven, and then ran them through my food processor to break them up into small clusters. 

Second, I also needed to soak the pecans, as nuts contain natural enzyme inhibitors that can tax our digestion.  Personally, I have found that raw nuts make me feel quite ill and often give me canker sores, and that roasted nuts are very heavy on my stomach, but these "crispy nut" recipes, all found in Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions, are delicious and easy on our stomachs.  I make large batches of them and they store well in the pantry.  Crispy pecans are an irresistible treat, as they only become more buttery through soaking and dehydrating. 

Third, I substituted natural sweeteners for the refined sugars of the original recipe.  Sucanat has a lovely molasses flavor, similar to brown sugar, so I used some of that, though I reduced 1 cup of brown sugar to 1/2 cup sucanat as the flavor can be strong.  I think that coconut sugar makes a delightful substitution for white sugar because the flavor is mild and it tastes only faintly of coconut (which of course, I love and works well in this recipe).  One note about the sucanat:  I have noticed that the molasses flavor is always pronounced the first day that I use it (in ice creams, cakes, cookies), but the second day the flavor mellows and becomes barely discernable, and no longer competes with other flavors.  Isn't that strange? 

Soaked and Dehydrated Oat Flakes  (from Cheeseslave)

3 cups rolled organic oats
1/2 cup whole wheat
6 tablespoons whey, kefir or yogurt

1.  In a bowl, combine oats, wheat, and whey, and cover with water until just submerged.  Soak, covered, overnight and up to 48 hours.

2.  Drain well by pressing a few cups at a time through a sieve.

3.  Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at as low a temperature as you can (my oven starts at 170 F) for 6-12 hours, until oats are dried through.  You should be able to stick a spatula underneath sections and they will come up in sheets.

4.  Use your food processor to break the oats down into small flakes and clusters.  Be sure to not to take them too far or your will have oat powder instead. 

Crispy Pecans (from Nourishing Traditions)

4 cups pecan halves
2 tsp sea salt
Filtered water

Mix pecans with salt and filtered water and leave in a warm place for at least 7 hours or overnight.  Drain.  Spread on a baking sheet and place in a warm oven for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally, until completely dry and crisp.  Store in an airtight container. 


 And finally, the recipe: 

Nourishing Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Cookies

1 cup grass-fed salted butter, such as Kerrygold, melted
1/2 cup sucanat
1 cup coconut sugar
2 eggs, pastured or free range
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp almond extract
2 cups sprouted wheat flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups soaked and dehydrated oat flakes
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup organic fair trade chocolate chips or carob chips
1 cup soaked and dehydrated pecans, chopped
Additional sea salt to sprinkle

1. Heat oven to 375 F.

2. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat melted butter, sucanat, and coconut sugar until smooth and only slightly grainy.  The sucanat is hard to dissolve, so you may need to gently heat the mixture a little bit and then beat again. 

3. Beat in eggs, vanilla and almond extract until well blended.

4. Add flour, baking powder and salt, mix thoroughly until well blended. 

5. Stir in remaining ingredients. 

6. Using two large spoons, scoop out dough onto baking sheet. Flatten gently into two inch rounds. Sprinkle cookies very lightly with a little bit of good quality sea salt.

7. Bake 13-15 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges but still pale in center and slightly soft. Remove from oven; immediately slide onto wire racks to cool.

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies


Linked up at Real Food Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesday,  Fight Back Friday, Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday .


  1. These definitely look satisfying! Where do you find coconut sugar?

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  3. Coconut sugar is also sometimes called coconut palm sugar. I buy it at my local Costco and have also seen it at my regular grocery store (Wegmans) in the natural foods section. I have tried the Madhava Organic variety, but I am sure others are good as well. You can certainly find it online as well. Hope that helps. And yes, these cookies are satisfying! I froze half of the dough because we weren't able to eat them all.

  4. Oh my goodness, I just made these and they are FANTASTIC!! I made a couple changes, I used coconut oil in place of half of the butter, and cut back a bit on the chocolate chips and pecans. I didn't soak and dehydrate anything, but next time I will. The almond extract in these is awesome. It really adds to the flavor. They are perfect! Thank you so much for such a yummy recipe.

  5. You are welcome! I am so glad that you enjoyed them! I know, they are my favorite cookie, hands down. There is something about the almond extract that takes it to the next level. Thanks for commenting!

  6. Do you think using sprouted oatmeal would be just as good as the soaked and dehydrated oats? I think it would cut down having to soak the oats if sprouted oats were used. I get my sprouted oats from "To Your Health Sprouted Co." Also get all my sprouted flours from them. Great company.

  7. I have never tried sprouted oats, but I would certainly give that a try! I will have to look into getting my hands on sprouted oats. Thanks for the recommendation.


Trying this recipe? A question or a comment? I'd love to hear from you!