Gluten-Free Healthy Cookie Bites
School is just around the corner and I’m all about having healthy snacks in the house for the kids and their friends to chow down on after school. I don’t know about you, but my kids come home from school ravenous and immediately ask me, “Mom, what can I have for snack?” I often just tell them to open the fridge or pantry and have a go at it. If I’m home I may make them up a smoothie, or some popcorn (well, now thankfully they’re old enough make up their own smoothies and popcorn). Most afternoons though we’re running from one activity to another, so I like to have an easy and healthy grab-and-go snack, like these gluten-free cookie bites, instead of stuffing their hands with something like goldfish.
Also, the new food guidelines are out and the biggest “NO NO” is refined sugar, most of us already know that too much sugar is not healthy, but since the FDA gave it the big “NO” many people are looking for natural sugar alternatives for their favorite treats! There are so many ways to cut back on sugar and still have a tasty, kid approved treat! These cookies, as well as my guilt-free chocolate chip cookie bites are the perfect segway from your traditional refined sugar chocolate chip cookie to a healthier unrefined sugar, whole-food chocolate chip cookie.
You’re going to be totally surprised at what’s in these cookie bites. First off, they’re paleo, butter and oil-free, grain-free (so yippee for those of you that are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease) dairy free, and the 2 main ingredients are dates and walnuts! Say what? Yep, I was a bit leary as well, until I sampled a spoonful of the batter and let me tell you, I was one surprised and happy mama, and I may have sampled more than a spoonful or two of the batter, shhhhh….
The walnuts add such a buttery flavor to these cookies. I mean these cookies seriously taste like there’s butter in them, but like I said earlier, these cookies are butter-free. You can also taste the sweetness of the dates, but the cookies aren’t overly sweet, or don’t taste like a date-filled cookie.
Nutritional highlight of walnuts: Walnuts are extremely nutrient dense. They’re a wonderful source of antioxidants, vitamin E, and minerals such as manganese, copper, phosphorous, and magnesium. They’re one of the few nuts that contain omega-3 fatty acids and ALA. They’re the main “non-fish:” source of ALA. Walnuts are also known as brain food, (I mean come on, they look like the human brain) not only is the fat in walnuts good for kids’ and their developing brains, but walnuts are also used to treat brain injuries and enhance cognition.
Nutritional highlights of Medjool dates: Medjool dates are an excellent source of fiber (8 grams per 3 ½ ounces). Dates are carbohydrates that are made up mostly of simple sugars. These simple sugars are easily converted into glucose for our cells to use as energy, so eating dates before and after exercise, will help fortify and replenish energy levels. They’re also rich in B vitamins and minerals copper, potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron and phosphorus. They’re a good source of folic acid and trace minerals, zinc and selenium (by the way, selenium is great for the thyroid). They also provide more potassium than oranges and bananas. Dates are also rich in antioxidants and anticancer compounds; so overall dates are better sweetener to choose than refined sugar.
Kid verdict? Well, my kids pretty much know they have to try anything I bake up, and they loved these. I think they’re getting used to eating these type of healthy treats, so they don’t balk anymore when trying a cookie that is basically made up of walnuts and dates. They just say, “ok mom, here it goes down the hatchet.” I’ve also tested these cookies out on my friend’s kids ages ranging from 7 to 15 and everyone one of them has really loved them! Seriously, I didn’t bribe them at all 🙂
gluten-free healthy cookie bites:
Note: If you want a sugar-free version of this cookie, substitute cacao chips for the bittersweet chips, just note that cacao chips can be a bit bitter that’s why I sometimes do half bittersweet chips and half cacao chips, so there’s some sweet in there. Also, the cacao chips add a crunchy fun texture to the cookies as well.
Note: If you want to make these cookies vegan you can make a chia egg. Take 1 tablespoon ground chia seed (grid this in a spice grinder), 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut milk, 1 1/2 tablespoons water. Combine the ground chia seeds, coconut milk and water, mix together and let sit until gelled, approximately, 10-15 minutes.
- 1 1/2 cups raw walnuts – you can use halves or pieces
- 1 cup (approx. 8-9 large) de-pitted medjool dates – You don’t need to buy pitted dates, just get the regular medjool dates and de-pit them
- 1/4 teaspoon fine kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large or extra-large egg – I used an extra-large egg – You can also make these vegan and use a flax or chia egg, see my note above on making a chia egg
- 1/2 cup dark or bittersweet chocolate chips, or 1/4 cup bittersweet chips and 1/4 cup cacao chips – I used these extra dark chips from Guittard
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and adjust the oven rack (or racks if you have 2 ovens) to the middle position.
Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a food processor, add in the 1 1/2 cups walnuts and the 1 cup dates.
Process until a crumbly texture is formed (about 15-20 seconds).
Add in the 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon vanilla and the egg.
Process to combine, using a spatula to scrape down the sides, until the mixture is well blended (about 15 seconds).
Transfer the dough to a medium bowl and stir in the chocolate chips.
Using an ice-cream scooper, (the ice cream scooper I used is a #40 1 1/2 T scooper) or a heaping tablespoon, scoop out the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. I really love my #40 ice-cream scooper from OXO. The dough comes out easily and the cookies are the perfect size every time!
Dip the tines of a fork into water and gently flatten each cookie. Don’t make them too flat, but just press down lightly in the cookie ball with the fork.
Bake the cookies for 12 minutes in the preheated oven until the edges are slightly golden brown. I baked mine for exactly 12 minutes, and they were perfect.
I have to admit, they may not be the prettiest cookies fresh out of the oven, but they taste amazing and darken up and get browner in color as they cool down.
Let the cookies cool on the pan for about 10 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to completely cool.
Storage: Store the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator (for 5 days) and if you want to keep them longer, then store them in the freezer (for up to a month). Just pull them out for a few minutes if storing them in the freezer for them to thaw out a bit.
We enjoyed these cookies at room temperature on the first day, and then we stored them in the refrigerator and WOW, they were SO amazing and even tasted better on day 2 and day 3 and so on… The chocolate chips get all crunchy and the cookies firm up when kept in the fridge, making for a nice texture.
If you’re looking for another kid and adult approved gluten-free treat, then you have to try these brownies. I know it’s a bit presumptuous to call these “THE BEST GLUTEN-FREE BROWNIES,” but to be honest, they’re the best I’ve tasted, and they also happen to be a gluten-free version of my favorite brownie ever, so you might say that I’m a bit biased, but I’m a bit of brownie and chocolate cake addict, so I happen to know a thing or two about chocolate desserts, and I know tasty brownie when I try one. If you like fudgey, chocolaty and rich brownies, then you’re going to LOVE these!
Guilt-free dark chocolate chip cookie bites! These are Zoe’s favorite cookies and she begs me to make them weekly!
Coconut granola bark. We go crazy for this bark. I break it up, store it in a large jar on the counter and it just goes..
I also break this bark up into smaller pieces and make yogurt parfaits for the kids.
You have to try these no-bake cacao superfood energy bites! These are made with with the following WHOLE FOOD ingredients; walnuts, Medjool dates, cacao powder, unsweetened coconut, brazil nuts and
chia seeds. These bites are also; gluten-free, grain-free, egg & dairy-free, paleo and don’t contain any refined sugars, plus they’re kid approved!
Oh, and I can’t forget our most popular recipe yet, my homemade popcorn with coconut oil. This popcorn gets made daily in my house, whether it be for a movie night, or after school snacking. Yum!