Several years ago I met with a holistic nutritionist who was one of many (about 6 professionals) that told me I need to eat more protein. I used to eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables, some grains and too much alcohol (fruit, right?) I explained to her that protein tends to be expensive and time consuming. There aren't too many natural protein foods you can carry in your purse with you. Everything needs to be refrigerated (yogurt, cottage cheese) or cooked (eggs, chicken, beef) and nuts, while high in good fat, were difficult for me to eat knowing how fatty they were. She was against anything not natural so protein powders and protein bars were out of the question (way out). She suggested I make ‘cookies’. Except these aren’t really cookies because there is no butter or sugar involved. I LOVE cookies and found it rather cruel for her to tempt me with the word ‘cookie’ but then describe something that truly wasn’t a cookie. Rather than grabbing and shaking her while screaming about the sacrilege of naming these THINGS ‘cookies’, I realized I could give them a shot. After all, who has time to whip up a veggie omelet every morning?
My first few attempts at this ‘cookie’ were not bad. I have renamed them protein nuggets because they are NOT a cookie. They don’t melt flat from the sugar and butter in the oven into precious yumminess. Nope, these protein nuggets come out of the oven about the same shape they go in. But, I make these nuggets every few weeks, throw them in the freezer and munch on one every morning on my way into work- commonly referred to as my first breakfast (yes, I eat two breakfasts, another around 10. I eat two lunches too- but that’s another story).
So I’ve tried several recipes, discovered some fantastic new additions and realized when you omit the dried fruit they are too hard unless you let them completely defrost- who has time for that? I generally use some basic ingredients and then toss in whatever else I have in the house. The measuring and formulas are ‘some of this, some of that’ but this batch, holy moley, is AMAZING. And before I forget what I did, I need to write it down because WOW, these ones are good. I’m not sure if it’s the large amount of dried fruit, the steel cut oats rather than the rolled oats or the added coconut. YUM! I’ve also made nuggets with rolled oats and have added cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves for flavor. I’ve even added protein powder to them too, but that seems to give them an acrid flavor.
So, here it is:
Colleen’s Protein Nuggets (makes 3-4 dozen)
1 cup almonds
1 cup peanuts
1.5 cup steel cut oats
1.5-2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup peanut butter
¼ cup honey
1 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling, just pumpkin- find in the baking aisle)
¾ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped dried dates
½ - ¾ cup coconut
1 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375.
Put 1 cup almonds and 1 cup peanuts into food processor for approximately 20 seconds. You’ll want to make smaller bite-sized peanuts and almonds. When happy with the chopping size, throw them in a bowl. Add oats, baking powder and baking soda to bowl.
Using a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer, beat peanut butter, honey and pumpkin with the flat paddle until blended and creamy. Turn mixer to low/stir using the flat paddle (not the whisk). Add the nut/oat mix to the bowl. Mix thoroughly. Add 2 eggs. Mix thoroughly. Then add the dried fruit and coconut mix thoroughly. With a spoon, stir in chocolate chips. If you don’t have a stand mixer, I suggest blending the eggs in with the PB, honey and pumpkin then stirring in the nut/oat mix, then the dried fruit and chocolate chips. The batter will be thick and dense and heavy.
Using a large spoon, spoon dollops onto a greased nugget/cookie sheet. Be sure to pat down any little batter sticking up since they will not melt when cooked. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes. Until the bottoms are brown. After removing the nugget sheet from the oven, wait a minutes before removing from pan. Delicately place nuggets onto cooling rack. Let cool completed and then freeze.
Let nugget defrost for 5-10 minutes before enjoying- goes well with coffee. You can eat them hot too- hot steamy protein nuggets, yum.