Even though we’re dietitians, we still love dessert … and so do our kids. But whenever we bake cakes, cupcakes, and cookies, we try our best to make healthy swaps and substitutions (like using certain oils versus butter), and we incorporate nutrient-rich ingredients when possible. For our latest cookie recipe, we decided to take Monster Cookies — a recipe with 2 sticks of butter, 2 cups of sugar, M & M’s, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips — and give ‘em a healthy and yummy makeover. Monster Cookies are made with lots of oats, which are certainly healthy, but it’s all the mix-ins that get these cookies into trouble. We worked our kitchen magic and came up with a better-for-you cookie that we feel AOK serving to our families.

Monster Cookie Makeover
Makes 40

The mix-ins we chose for these cookies were colorful chocolate-covered sunflower seeds (no artificial colors), dried cranberries, and a handful of  semi-sweet mini chocolate chips. We reduced the amount of sugar and used expeller pressed canola oil in place of butter.

4 cups quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup chocolate sunflower seed drops (we found them at Trader Joe’s)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs (choose omega-3 eggs when possible)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup expeller pressed canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil or coat two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Whisk together the oats, sunflower seed drops, cranberries, chocolate chips, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until well combined.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla until well combined. Whisk in the peanut butter until the mixture is smooth. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir until just moistened.

4. Working in batches, scoop the batter using a 2-tablespoon cookie scooper and place on the prepared baking sheets, flattening slightly with the heel of your hand to create circles, about 2½ inches in diameter. Leave about 1 inch between each cookie.

5. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, about 10 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown. Cool slightly on the baking sheet before transferring the cookies to a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining dough.

For the “BEFORE” nutrient analysis, we used The Pioneer Woman’s Monster Cookie recipe, which calls for 2 sticks of butter:

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cookie): 200 calories, 9g fat (5g saturated), 160mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 2g protein

Here is the nutrient analysis for our “AFTER” creation with 1/4 cup canola oil!:

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cookie): 130 calories, 7g fat (1.5g saturated), 95mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 4g protein

About The Meal Makeover Moms
Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD and Liz Weiss, MS, RD are The Meal Makeover Moms, and together, they’re on a mission to help busy families eat better. For more recipes, check out their new cookbook, No Whine with Dinner. You can also read their blog, Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen or listen to their weekly podcast, Cooking with the Moms.

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