Want to get a super food like pumpkin into your family? Put it in cookies! My husband, who doesn’t even like pumpkin, loves these healthy pumpkin cookies. The whole wheat version of the recipe hardly tastes different than the unhealthy pumpkin cookie recipe I started out with, and they remain quite easy to make. It’s one of those recipes that I’ve had saved on my computer since long before I started blogging, because so many people ask for it after I bring the cookies to an event!
Of course, I was tickled to see that the saved version still had shortening and only one cup of whole wheat flour in it. I’ve tweaked it a lot just like my healthy pumpkin muffins which even became gluten-free pumpkin muffins. (UPDATE: It took some testing, but I’ve perfected the gluten-free version of these cookies!)
If you’re a die-hard soaker, I’ll be sure to update this post after I try the cookies with sprouted flour once we’re back to grains this fall. UPDATE: Sprouted flour works wonderfully!
Easy Healthy Upgrades to Pumpkin Cookie Recipe
When starting with a white flour, Crisco-based recipe, I always used to move up slowly. My initial healthy upgrades include some baby steps you may want to take if your family is still pretty used to white flour and you’re trying to upgrade your own dessert recipes:
- Substitute ground flax seed (also called flax meal) for some of the fat. Substitute using a 3:1 ratio, meaning you can pull out 1/2 cup of the shortening and add in 1 1/2 cups of flax meal. It sounds like a lot, but it works out and is very tasty. (Be sure to understand how to store flax so you don’t let it go rancid!)
- Sub butter for the shortening. Do this one at the very least! Then throw away your shortening can!
- Reduce the white sugar by up to 1/2 cup.
- Sub in one cup of whole wheat flour for one cup of the white flour.
That’s how I started, and then I just kept making changes and realizing the final product didn’t change all that much. And I landed all the way to here –>
- 2 cups butter or coconut oil or palm shortening (see above to use some flax seed, as well)
- 1 or 1½ c. sucanat (unrefined cane sugar) OR ½ c. + 2 Tbs. honey
- 16 oz. can pumpkin or 2 c. pumpkin puree (squash works, too!)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 4 c. white whole wheat flour or spelt flour*
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp.nutmeg
- ½ tsp. allspice
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 c. chocolate chips or raisins
- 1 c. chopped nuts
- *If using spelt flour, make up the dough and allow to rest overnight in the refrigerator to allow the spelt to soak up the liquid.
- Preheat Oven to 350°
- Cream fat and sweetener.
- Add pumpkin, eggs and vanilla; beat well.
- Stir together flour and next 6 dry ingredients.
- Add to batter; mix well.
- Stir in choc chips and nuts.
- Drop rounded teaspoonfuls two inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Makes 6 - 7 dozen cookies.
If you can make your own homemade pumpkin puree, there's no comparison in these cookies. My preferred method is real pumpkin and the honey, which make the cookies so fluffy and sweet, you'll be shocked there's so little sweetener. Even non-real-food eaters ask for the recipe when I bring them to share made that way.
Perfect for a Halloween party, Thanksgiving dinner, or potluck at your kids’ school, healthy pumpkin cookies will be a huge hit! The recipe is so simple, too, that your kids will love helping you out in the kitchen. This is a huge batch, but the cookies freeze excellently and are even good right out of the freezer (or thaw in half an hour on the countertop).
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