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Saturday, February 21, 2015


 Here is a perfect example of how to take a recipe and make it healthier. The original recipe for these Peanut Butter Oatmeal cookies is delicious but it always bothered me to be serving my family solid vegetable shortening.

We know that shortening is a trans fat known as hydrogenated vegetable oil, and although we are aware how harmful it can be, we often use it for our baked goodies simply because that is what the recipe calls for.

Now that we know that coconut oil is, in fact, a healthy addition to our diets, using it as a butter or shortening substitute in our cooking and baking is wonderful. I used unrefined virgin coconut oil and didn't notice a disagreeable coconut taste to the cookies. It is there very subtly, but unless I confess that I made the switch I doubt anyone would even notice.

The butter or shortening ratio to coconut oil isn't exactly a 1:1 ratio. There is no water content in coconut oil, so being more dense use slightly less. This recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of shortening which is 12 oz. For greasy or sticky ingredients I like to use one of those push-up sleeve type measuring containers. I just shaved off 1 oz per cup so I added enough coconut oil to reach the 10.5 oz. mark.

Keep in mind that coconut oil is solid at room temperature but will melt at temperatures above 76 degrees F. You may need to soften it a bit before trying to blend with the other ingredients or you'll just be beating hard lumps. If you put the coconut oil in a metal or glass bowl and stick it in the preheating oven for a few minutes, it'll soften up quickly.

First I'll give the original recipe:

1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and peanut butter.
Add brown sugar, eggs and vanilla; mix well.
In another bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt.
Add this dry mixture to the peanut butter mixture.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
You may find it easier to just use your hands to form the dough balls.
Flatten with a fork  (dip the fork in a bit of water so it doesn't stick to the batter).
Bake at 350 degrees 12 - 14 minutes depending how crisp you like your cookies
Let cool a bit on pan before removing or they'll fall apart.
Makes about 5 dozen

Here is the healthier version:

1 1/2 cup - 1 1/2 oz so use 10.5 oz unrefined coconut oil
1 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
  (natural doesn't have added hydrogenated oils to keep it blended)
2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs (free range is best)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups quick cooking oats or rolled oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Follow the same directions as above


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