Healthy Whole Food Gingerbread Cookies
The sweet and spicy aroma of cinnamon and molasses filling the kitchen….ahhh the smells of the holiday season! Gingerbread cookies baking in the oven always makes me think of the special memories created with my family throughout the holiday.
I’ve been on a search for a healthier replacement to our traditional gingerbread cookie recipe. My internet searches came up with a lot of options, but many calling for less healthful ingredients like coconut oil, brown sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup… so I finally put my own recipe idea to the test (Ha! My day job at NutritionFacts.org is rubbing off on me!).
These cookies are made with wholesome plant-based ingredients. No added sugar, just fruit (dates) and molasses. No refined flours, just almonds and oats. They are naturally sweet, slightly crunchy, slightly chewy— and of course, delicious!
A few notes before you get started! The recipe written here is a bit more mild, in my opinion. If you like your gingerbread cookies to have a bit more spice, I’d suggest start by adding a little more cinnamon. If you love ginger, feel free to add in another 1/2-1 teaspoon. Adjust the clove to your liking. Clove is a stronger spice, so start with less (1/8 teaspoon) for a more mild gingerbread cookie and work your way up to 1/4 teaspoon for a bit more flavor. If you’re not a fan of clove at all, feel free to omit from the recipe.
The dough is stickier than other gingerbread recipes. Add a bit more oat flour if needed to help the dough roll out better. My mom (who helped me with the rolling and cookie cutting for the cookies photoed on this blog) used about 1/4 cup of oat flour for rolling out the dough. We didn’t add any more flour to the recipe than what is called for here. However, if you are having difficulties. Feel free to add a bit more oat flour to assist in the process.
Let me know how these turn out for you!
- 1 cup raw almonds*
- 1 3/4 cup oats*
- 1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon*
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon ground clove (optional)*
- 8 medjool dates
- 3 Tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Blend oats in a dry, high speed blender until fine like flour. Set aside ¼ cup of the oat flour for rolling out the cookies.
- In a food processor, blend the almonds until fine like flour. Add the oat flour, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Blend until well incorporated.
- Remove the pits from the dates. Add the molasses, pitted dates, and vanilla to the food processor. Blend until the batter rolls into a ball. Refrigerate the dough for about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven 350F (or conventional bake at 325F). Line a pan with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
- Dust a cutting board with the oat flour. Roll part of the dough out until about ¼ inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters. Since the dough is more sticky than traditional cookie dough recipes, it’s helpful to use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies from the cutting board to the baking sheet. If the cookies are a bit white from the flour, optional to brush them with a little water. Due to the nature of the healthy ingredients, there may be more white on the cookies than a typical gingerbread cookie.
- Space the cookies out on the pan. Bake for 6-8 minutes. For a softer cookie, bake for 6 minutes. For a crispier, chewy cookie, bake for 8 minutes. Once the cookies are finished baking, transfer them to a rack or a plate to cool. The dough makes about 9-10 dozen 2 inch cookies. Enjoy!
- *I have not measured ratio to ratio with the almonds vs. almond flour and oats vs. oat flour, however feel free to swap in store bought almond flour and oat flour if that is easier.
- *For a spicier cookie, add more cinnamon. I have fixed up this batch using 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon vs. ½ Tablespoon and it turned out lovely! Feel free to adjust the ginger and clove to your desired taste too.
- *If you don’t have cookie cutters, no problem! This also makes a really delicious, dense gingerbread cookie! Take a small pinch of the cookie dough between hands and roll into a small ball. Repeat this until all the cookie dough is gone. Space the cookies out on a baking sheet. Bake for about 12-14 minutes. Allow to cool and enjoy!