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  • Writer's pictureKelly

Date-Sweetened Oatmeal Cookies (w/ White Chocolate, Raisins, & Walnuts) (Vegan, GF, Fruit-Sweetened)

Updated: Jun 11, 2022

Another classic cookie recipe in 3, 2, 1... Thought you couldn't do oatmeal cookies on your vegan/sugar-free diet ever again? Well, think again! This oatmeal cookie recipe is 100% vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, and date-sweetened and is the perfect treat for year-round. The wholesome cookies are warmly spiced, sweet as can be, chewy yet soft, and are loaded with whole-grain oats, unsweetened raisins, raw chopped walnuts, and white chocolate SWEETENED WITH FRUIT (say what?!). I based this oatmeal cookie recipe off of my Mom's legendary second-most-popular homemade cookie recipe, second only to her famous chocolate chip cookies. These oatmeal cookies are sure to satisfy, and even non-vegans will love them! The fun textures and flavors of the ingredients in these cookies unite harmoniously to create something magnificent. Read on to learn more about these cookies, their health benefits, and substitutions.



Like with so many of my other recipes (like my Overnight Oats or my Date-Sweetened White Chocolate), I was never able to find any recipes for oatmeal cookies that were sweetened strictly with dates that were also vegan and gluten-free. So I deemed it was time to create my own!


I mean what's not to love?! Healthy, delicious, comforting cookies? Sign me up for the next batch! (Anyone get the Grandmother Fa from Mulan reference?). These cookies are so good that they're in my top 5 favorite recipes on The Dimpled Date, right up there with both flavors of Pop-Tarts that I've posted!


The flavors that are the stars of the show in these cookies are vanilla, cinnamon, oat-y-ness (I know, that's not a word...), mild caramel notes (courtesy of the Medjool dates), and white chocolate. These oatmeal cookies are also a good source of protein and fiber. What's more, these cookies are satiating, and are a healthy, sugar-free treat to curb cravings and thus prevent over-snacking (that is, so long as you don't eat the entire batch all at once)!



As previously mentioned, these cookies are 100% vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, and sweetened only with dates. And you don't even have to miss out on the white chocolate because I have a vegan, paleo, date-sweetened recipe for it! These oatmeal cookies pack a double oat punch between the gluten-free oat flour and gluten-free whole rolled oats.


And if you're not vegan, gluten-free, or sugar-free and you found your way to this recipe, believe me when I say you won't miss the butter or refined sugar. I served these cookies to a non-vegan who LOVES sugar and gluten, and they loved these cookies and even went back for seconds! So do your health and your tastebuds a favor and make these cookies!!


I intend on coming out with a paleo version of these cookies made with almond flour and nuts/seeds instead of oats, so for my paleo readers, stay tuned!



Nutritional Profile of Date-Sweetened Oatmeal Cookies


Vegan butter- vegan butter (such as Earth Balance or Miyoko's) is mainly made of healthy vegetable oils and/or plant milks. Healthy vegetable oils are full of healthy fats that are good for your heart, brain, skin, and hair. Plant milks tend to be a good source of healthy fats, protein, and vitamins & minerals. Protein builds muscle, while vitamins & mineral generally nourish the body and help to keep it functioning properly. Choose soy-free vegan butter if necessary.


Coconut butter- coconut butter is a great source of healthy fats (specifically, medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs), fiber, protein, and iron. MCTs provide the body with high-quality, quick energy. Fiber can help prevent the absorption of cholesterol in the gut. Protein maintains muscle mass and iron builds hemoglobin. Coconut butter, which is essentially puréed coconut meat, is different from coconut oil, which is the oil extracted from pressing coconut meat. You may see coconut butter labeled as coconut manna.


Medjool dates- Medjool dates (or the "King of Dates") are one of the largest and sweetest variety of dates in the U.S., and are incredibly soft with rich caramel notes. They are my absolute favorite type of date, and my preferred variety to use on the blog. Dates are antioxidant powerhouses that are also rich in fiber, protein, potassium, and iron. Fiber slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream and aids digestion. Protein builds and maintains muscle mass. Potassium regulates blood pressure and balances electrolytes. Iron builds red blood cells that transport oxygen through the body. Antioxidants in general help protect against numerous diseases because of their ability to fight disease-causing free radicals in the body. Dates also benefit bone health, may help alleviate symptoms of PMS, and show potential as a way to naturally induce (or at least shorten) labor, according to emerging research. Opt for organic dates with no added sugar to reap the maximum benefits of the dates (I use Natural Delights' Whole Fresh Medjool Dates that are grown with zero pesticides and have no added sugar).


Flaxseed- flaxseed (and therefore flax eggs, which are just flaxseed meal + water) is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, and iron. Omega-3s are good for heart, brain, eye, joint, immune, metabolism, skin, and hair health. Fiber feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Protein maintains muscle mass and iron helps prevent anemia. When purchasing flaxseed, opt for flaxseed meal, as this is easier for your body to digest and is better for baking.


Oat flour- oat flour (which is just finely ground oats) is loaded with fiber, healthy carbohydrates, protein, and iron. Fiber is good for your digestive tract and heart health, while healthy complex carbohydrates give you high-quality long-lasting energy. Protein helps build muscle and iron helps build red blood cells. Purchase specifically labeled gluten-free oat flour if it must be gluten-free. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but are often cross-contaminated with gluten-containing crops.


Rolled oats- rolled oats (AKA old-fashioned oats) are an excellent source of fiber, healthy carbohydrates, protein, and iron. See above ingredient nutrition profiles for the health benefits of these nutrients. Again if you are strictly gluten-free, be sure to purchase certified gluten-free oats. Tip: rolled oats (old-fashioned), steel-cut oats, quick-cooking oats, and instant oats are all different and produce very different results in baking, so make sure you know which one your recipe calls for! (This recipe calls for rolled/old-fashioned oats).



Sea salt- sea salt is healthier than table salt because it is much less processed than table salt. Sea salt balances electrolytes, nourishes the body with numerous micronutrients, and may benefit adrenal health. As a result of being less-processed, sea salts tend to be rich in minerals and other micronutrients that you won't find in table salt. Choose Himalayan pink sea salt, Hawaiian black lava sea salt, Hawaiian red alaea sea salt, or another healthy sea salt. My go-to sea salt is Himalayan pink sea salt.


Cinnamon- cinnamon is packed with antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds and may have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. There are two varieties of cinnamon; Cassia cinnamon (the kind primarily sold in stores, and what we know as "cinnamon") and Ceylon, or "true", cinnamon. Out of the two varieties, Ceylon cinnamon has a lighter, sweeter flavor with more citrusy notes and is believed to be healthier than Cassia cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is richer and spicier in flavor.


Coconut oil- coconut oil is rich in healthy fats (including MCTs). Healthy fats are good for heart health, brain health, skin, and hair. Medium-chain triglycerides (or MCTs), specifically provide high-quality, quick energy for the body. Emerging research is suggesting that plant-based saturated fat (the kind found in coconut) may be better for you than animal-based saturated fat and may even benefit your health. Tip: choose unrefined, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil when purchasing to get the maximum amount of nutrients. Also, coconut oil can be used as an all-natural hair mask to boost hydration and shine (search online to see how to properly use coconut oil as a hair mask).


Walnuts- walnuts are an excellent source of healthy fats (including omega-3s), protein, fiber, iron, and other micronutrients. Healthy fats can benefit heart health by lowering "bad" LDL cholesterol, raising "good" HDL cholesterol, and lowering triglycerides. Omega-3 fatty acids specifically are great for heart, brain, immune, joint, eye, metabolism, skin, and hair health. Protein is responsible for nearly every bodily process, fiber aids digestion, and iron builds hemoglobin for red blood cells. Tip: to get the most nutritionally out of your walnuts, or any kind of nuts/seeds, opt for raw, unsalted, and unsweetened nuts.


Unsweetened raisins- unsweetened raisins are chock-full of fiber, protein, potassium, iron, calcium, and antioxidants, without all the added sugar. See above ingredient nutritional profiles for the health benefits of fiber, protein, and iron. Potassium regulates blood pressure, promoting heart health. Calcium builds strong and healthy bones and can help prevent osteoporosis. Antioxidants fight free radical damage, thus helping to protect against disease. Opt for unsweetened raisins over sweetened ones, because even unsweetened raisins are a high-calorie, high-sugar dried fruit naturally.



Substitutions


You may use any kind of vegan butter, such as Earth Balance or Miyoko's, but I don't recommend using margarine because it's unhealthy. You can try substituting the vegan butter with softened coconut oil with varied results. The coconut butter may be replaced with creamy almond butter, creamy cashew butter, creamy sunflower seed butter, or another mild nut/seed butter. The Medjool dates can be replaced with any kind of date. Possibly, you could use between 3/4 cup and 1 cup of date sugar in place of the whole dates, to taste. (***PLEASE NOTE: I HAVE NOT tried any of the substitutions mentioned in this paragraph and therefore CANNOT guarantee good results***).


The flax eggs may be substituted with two chia eggs OR 6 Tbsp aquafaba (the water from a can of chickpeas) per single batch. The vanilla extract can be swapped out with an equivalent amount of scraped vanilla bean, pure ground vanilla bean powder, or sugar-free vanilla paste/syrup. I don't recommend omitting it since it is one of the main flavors in these cookies. But if you must, you could try 1 tsp almond extract OR 1 tsp sugar-free coconut extract (like OliveNation's), plus more to taste, instead of the vanilla with varied results. The oat flour is ideal for these cookies, so I don't recommend replacing it. But potentially you could use a gluten-free 1-to-1 flour (like Bob's Red Mill's Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour) OR cassava flour for a grain-free version in place of the oat flour with varied results (***YOU MUST omit the arrowroot starch if trying either of these flour substitutions, otherwise your cookies will be a dry, crumbly mess***). The arrowroot starch can be substituted with tapioca starch OR possibly cornstarch with varied results. (***PLEASE NOTE: I HAVE NOT tried these flour substitutions and CANNOT guarantee good results). If you tried any flour substitution, please let me know how it turned out in the comments!!


The rolled oats shouldn't be replaced or omitted as these are oatmeal cookies. I truthfully believe that the rolled/old-fashioned oats are the best way to make these cookies because substituting one kind of oats for another can really change the texture. Nonetheless, if you are willing to experiment, you may substitute the rolled oats with quick-cooking oats OR instant oats with varied results, knowing that the end product will likely be a lot softer. You SHOULD NOT use steel cut oats in these cookies, as they are extremely hard and will likely ruin the cookies. Again if you try any of these oats substitutions let me know how it turned out in the comments!


The baking soda is necessary in these cookies and can't be replaced, as it is the leavening agent/leavener. For the sea salt, you may use any kind of sea salt (however, I DO NOT recommend using Hawaiian black lava salt, smoked sea salts, or other sea salts that will add an unpleasant flavor to these cookies). Alternately, the sea salt can be replaced with table salt, or can be omitted (I still think the salt is important for the flavor of these cookies, though). You may use either Ceylon ("true") cinnamon or cassia cinnamon (the kind sold in supermarkets). Or, you could leave the cinnamon out and these cookies will still taste great! (When I baked these cookies for the first time, I forgot to add cinnamon to the recipe, but they were still delicious!). The melted coconut oil can be replaced with avocado oil, another neutral-flavored oil, your unsweetened plant milk of choice, OR possibly applesauce with varied results (***NOTE: I haven't tried any of these substitutions and can't guarantee the same results***).


The white chocolate is completely optional, but you may use any kind of vegan white chocolate OR even vegan dark chocolate in place of my Date-Sweetened White Chocolate (make sure it's sugar-free if need be). For vegan, paleo, sugar-free, and date-sweetened White Chocolate and Dark Chocolate check out my recipes (here) and (here) (FYI my Date-Sweetened White Chocolate recipe has an option for Peanut Butter White Chocolate!!). Or, you could leave out the white/dark chocolate, and these will still be great! The walnuts for topping the cookies are optional, but you could even use another kind of nut/seeds like chopped raw pecans, chopped pistachios, slivered raw almonds, or even pumpkin seeds (pepitas). The unsweetened raisins are completely optional, but you can swap them out with your unsweetened dried fruit of choice, such as unsweetened craisins, unsweetened dried cherries, unsweetened golden raisins, chopped unsweetened dried apricot, or even an extra 1/3 cup chopped dates folded into the batter (adding these chopped dates would be in addition to the Medjool dates used as the sweetener in these cookies). You can add any other add-ins you would like in these cookies. The add-ins are customizable, so get creative! Some ideas: fresh diced apple, vegan dark chocolate hard candies (like Unreal's Dark Chocolate Gems), unsweetened shredded coconut, mini vegan marshmallows, natural vegan sprinkles, etc.



Future Recipes Sneak Peek...


It's here again!! The "Future Recipes Sneak Peek" for you to all drool over! 3 new recipes I've been working on/have perfected include:


1. Fruit-Sweetened Banana Bread

2. Healthy Shamrock Shake Cupcakes

3. Nutella Energy Balls


AND MORE!! (Stay tuned, more recipes are baking...)


Thanks for visiting my little healthy nook of the internet, enjoy this one!


Enjoy!

-K.



Date-Sweetened Oatmeal Cookies (w/ White Chocolate, Raisins, and Walnuts) (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Fruit-Sweetened)


Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 12 to 14 minutes

Total Time: 42 to 44 minutes

Servings: 16 to 20 cookies


Ingredients:


-1/2 cup vegan butter (like Earth Balance or Miyoko's)

-1/4 cup coconut butter

-1 1/2 cups Medjool dates

-2 flax eggs (Check out Minimalist Baker's "How to Make a Flax Egg" post!)

-2 tsp vanilla extract

-1 cup gluten-free oat flour

-1/4 cup arrowroot starch (can sub tapioca starch)

-2 cups gluten-free rolled (AKA old-fashioned) oats

-1/2 tsp baking soda

-1/2 tsp sea salt

-1 tsp cinnamon

-2 Tbsp cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, melted

-1 cup my Date-Sweetened White Chocolate, chopped OR 1 cup your vegan white chocolate chips of choice (optional)

-1/2 cup raw unsalted walnuts, finely chopped (for topping // optional)

-1/2 cup unsweetened raisins OR 1/2 cup unsweetened dried fruit of choice (optional)


Directions:


1. Make my Date-Sweetened White Chocolate ahead of time, if using. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 to 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper OR large silicone baking mats. Soak the Medjool dates in hot water for 5 to 15 minutes. Soften the coconut butter. Make the flax eggs. Chop the walnuts ahead of time.


2. Soften the vegan butter in the microwave for 5 to 7 seconds. Set aside.


3. Blend the soaked and drained dates in a food processor until a uniform paste forms, scraping down the sides and re-blending as necessary.


4. Transfer softened vegan butter and date paste to a large mixing bowl. Cream together manually with a wooden spoon.


5. Add softened coconut butter, flax eggs, coconut oil, and vanilla and stir until incorporated.


6. Add the oat flour, arrowroot starch, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and sea salt and stir until just combined.


7. Add the chopped white chocolate/white chocolate chips and/or raisins and fold into the batter. If you have any other add-ins you want to add, fold them into the batter now (see "Substitutions" section of this post for ideas).


8. Using a 1.5 Tbsp cookie scoop, scoop up a rounded 1.5 Tbsp of cookie dough and drop the cookies onto the lined baking sheets, flattening the tops as necessary. I usually get about 6 decent-sized cookies per large baking sheet. Add a little of the chopped walnuts to the top of each cookie and press down on them slightly so they stick.


9. Bake in the preheated oven (at 350 degrees F) for 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges & on the underside, puffed up slightly, and no longer wet on the tops.


10. After removing from the oven, allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes.


11. Serve warm with a matcha latte, chai latte, or vegan white chocolate hot cocoa. Or serve warm crumbled on top of some coconut milk vanilla bean ice cream or [once cooled] crumbled into your ice cream of choice while the ice cream is churning. Alternately, serve these cookies on their own or, once cool, store in the fridge in an airtight container for later use. Enjoy!


Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.


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