Tag Archives: peanut butter

Peanut Butter-Banana Cookies

I went to a concert with a good friend last night. I bought tickets a few months ago, knowing that I would need to force myself out of the house during the month of November. Music has always been restorative for me; it makes me feel more intensely. I tend to intellectualize emotions instead of just feeling them. Towards the end of the show, I saw two elderly women singing along to the music and dancing in their seats. They were living in the moment and so full of joy. It made me smile. Whenever I witness someone saying or doing something that makes me feel the warm fuzzies I think, “That’s the kind of person I want to be.” I want to attend concerts and sing along to the lyrics when I am a senior citizen! Watching these women sing along to the music jolted me out of my despair. It was a good reminder that I am still alive, even if my sister isn’t. In a way, I am living life for both of us now. And singing along at a concert is definitely something my sister would have continued to do well into her eighties.

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of positive examples of the type of adult I wanted to become. I did have a mother who was, and is, very kind, and I knew I wanted to be like her in that regard. I also had some good teachers along the way, who awakened my curiosity to the world. But I also had a lot of bad examples of adulthood–adults who were selfish, angry, fearful of the world, and cruel to other people. There’s the old adage about relationships that says you may not always know what you want, but you find out along the way what you don’t want.

For most of my youth, I had so much anger inside of me, and I was fearful of becoming an angry, resentful adult. It took many years to learn how to express my feelings in a healthy way. It took me even longer to learn that I have the ability to be the kind of person I want to be, regardless of my upbringing. I have a magnet on my refrigerator that reads, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” It’s a great daily reminder. Even so, there are many ways I fall short of being the best version of me. But I hope I never stop striving.

I created this recipe four years ago when I wanted a sugar-free cookie that was fairly healthy but every bit as delicious as a “normal” cookie. I have fallen so in love with these cookies over the years that I now make sure that I always have a bag of these in the freezer. As soon as I see that I am down to one or two cookies, I make another batch. Obviously, I love the trifecta of banana-peanut butter-chocolate, but even if it’s not your favorite, I think you will like these. Because they are on the wetter side, I keep mine in the refrigerator. If you don’t want a wet cookie, feel free to add more oats to the recipe. Because they have oatmeal and bananas in them, I often eat these cookies for breakfast!

Peanut Butter-Banana Cookies

Yield: 16 cookies

3 bananas, smashed
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (if you use sweetened peanut butter, only use 2 bananas)
1 cup quick-cooking oats*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place parchment paper onto a baking sheet.
2. Mix smashed bananas and peanut butter in a medium-sized mixing bowl with a whisk
until fully incorporated.
3. Add oats, vanilla extract, sea salt, and chocolate chips to bowl. Mix thoroughly. Mixture will be very wet.
4. Using a 1″ cookie scoop, scoop batter onto baking sheet, making a total of 12 cookies per sheet.
5. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Wait 5 minutes before transferring cookies onto a cooking rack.
6. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in freezer for up to 3 months.

*If you prefer less wet cookies, add another 1/4-1/2 cup oats.

Peanut Butter Fudge Cookies

L1050494A few years ago, I turned a corner and started enjoying going to the gym. Like a lot of people, I used to dread it. Now, I actually feel better on the days when I’ve gone to the gym. Sadly, I don’t think I’m in much better shape than I used to be (damn you peri-menopause!) but my mental health has improved, thanks to my regular workouts. I love starting my day by pushing myself physically and increasing the dopamine that my 40-year-old brain produces.
L1050483I’m in week 4 of my food regimen, and so far it’s going pretty well. I haven’t felt too terribly deprived, despite the fact that I work at a bakery and smell cakes and cupcakes all day long. I really enjoy creating healthier versions of some of my favorite sweets. That definitely helps ease the pain of not being able to eat sugar. These cookies are a new favorite of mine, and I think most people would be surprised to learn that they are sugar-free, grain-free, and made with just a few simple healthy ingredients.
L1050499Peanut Butter Fudge Cookies

Yield: 16 cookies

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter (no sugar added)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place mashed bananas in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add peanut butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and sea salt. Mix until well incorporated.
3. Using a medium-sized cookie scoop, place 1″ rounds of batter onto lined baking sheet.
4. Bake for 10 minutes.
5. Let cookies cool completely. Can be refrigerated up to one week or stored in freezer.

Milk Chocolate-Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

DSC_4535I’ve been trying out something new lately:  I am forcing myself out of the apartment several days/nights a week.  That doesn’t sound all that strange, you say.  Well, for me it is.  I went through a pretty rough patch a few weeks ago.  It was one of the most depressive episodes I’ve ever experienced, and it really scared me.  I know that there are always setbacks in life, and the challenge is to turn it into something meaningful.  It was a brutal week, but I’m proud of myself for fighting my way out of it.  In fact, I can’t remember another time of suffering through a depressive episode and coming out on the other end feeling so fierce and determined to make changes to my life.  Besides reading heaps of books about living without fear, I have been forcing myself out into the world and not allowing myself to talk my way out of it.  Usually, I will make plans at the beginning of the week.  There can be book readings, comedy shows, and dance performances on my calendar on any given week.  But if it’s too cold, too hot—or frankly, if it’s a perfectly nice day—I will often talk myself out of going in the name of some unknown fear.
DSC_4510But last week I was determined to change this.  I compelled myself out of my apartment for 3 whole days last week.  3 whole days!  I made sure to schedule things every few hours throughout the day so that I would not have time to run home and inevitably talk myself into staying home the remainder of the day.  There were doctor appointments, book readings, lunch dates, dentist appointments and yoga classes scattered throughout the long days.  I left my apartment mid-morning and wouldn’t return until later in the evening.  It felt simultaneously wonderful and exhausting.  I was so worn out by the end of the first day that I had to close my eyes for 10 minutes while waiting for the book reading to begin.  I closed them again the following night on the train ride back to Queens.  Still, I felt very energized emotionally and knew my new routine was making a difference on my state of mind.  One important lesson I’m learning from this is that Action Precedes Feelings.  In other words, waiting for those good feelings to come about before I leave the apartment is futile.   I have to go out into the world, be present in this world, and the feelings will follow.
DSC_4512Ok people.  Who out there has been to City Bakery in NYC and had their incredibly delicious peanut butter cookies?  I was obsessed with said cookies for a few years.  Although I am vocal about my love of all things peanut butter, peanut butter cookies were never on that list.  Until, that is, I tasted City Bakery’s cookies.  They have an intense peanut butter flavor and a crumbly texture that I’m pretty sure is created by using powdered sugar.  When I was in graduate school, I would treat myself to a peanut butter cookie and coffee once a month since the bakery was just a few blocks away.  And now, after many, many years, I have finally found a recipe that replicates those cookies.  But better yet:  this recipe makes them even more addictive by adding milk chocolate chips and turning them into sandwich cookies with milk chocolate ganache.  I dare you, dare you I say, to eat just one!  Of course, if you want a deeper chocolate flavor, you can always use semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips.  I like the milk chocolate chips here if only because it lets the peanut butter have the spotlight.  Pair these with a strong cup of coffee, sit at your desk by the window, and fantasize about spring.
DSC_4524Milk Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Makes about 30 sandwich cookies

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (packed) dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup milk chocolate chips

3 ounces high-quality milk chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon course sea salt
6 tablespoons heavy cream

For cookies:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl.
3.  Using electric mixer, beat powdered sugar, dark brown sugar, and butter in large bowl to blend.
4.  Add peanut butter; beat until creamy.  Gradually beat in vegetable oil and vanilla extract, then egg.
5.  Add dry ingredients; mix just until blended.  Stir in milk chocolate chips.
6.  Drop cookie dough by level tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 1-1/2 inches apart.
7.  Bake cookies until puffed and golden brown, about 12 minutes.  Cool slightly, then transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.

For filling:
1.  Place chocolate, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and salt in medium bowl.
2.  Bring heavy cream to boil in heavy small saucepan.
3.  Pour hot cream over chocolate mixture; stir until mixture is melted and smooth.
4.  Chill until filling is thick and spreadable, about 1 hour.
5.  Spread about 1 rounded teaspoonful chocolate-peanut butter filling on flat side of 1 cookie.  Top with second cookie, forming sandwich.  Repeat with remaining filling and cookies.
6.  Store in airtight container at room temperature.