(Note: this post was originally published on July 7, 2019. It has since been updated with new photos and some tweaks).
Healthy Monster Cookies: A Nostalgic Remake
Remember those huge "Monster Cookies" we all used to get as kids? The ones as big as your head and jam-packed with all the goodies? They were totally the best.
These days though, I prefer my cookies to have some redeeming nutritional value. They should absolutely still be delicious and decadent (and BIG). But there's no rule saying that cookies can't be both indulgent and also nourishing for your body, right?
These healthy monster cookies are all of my dreams come true. The dough is essentially just dates, peanut butter, plant milk, and flax. They then get loaded up with all the best add-ins like oats, coconut, and chocolate (although feel free to be creative with the add-ins; this is definitely a situation in which more is more). I absolutely can't wait for you to try these vegan monster cookies!
What Are Monster Cookies?
Generally speaking, "monster cookies" are a type of cookie with a lot of add-ins and a lot of texture. Usually, the term "monster cookies" more specifically refers to cookies that include peanut butter, oats, and chocolate, plus possibly some other fun surprises like dried fruit. They're the best cookie on the planet because they have so many different and exciting tastes and textures.
However, most classic monster cookie recipes call for a load of butter, refined sugar, and refined flour. They're pretty devoid of nutritional value. Additionally, all that sugar and butter can obscure the flavor of the peanut butter, which in my opinion should be at the forefront. That's why I spent years (literally!) developing these healthier, vegan, fruit-sweetened, and gluten-free monster cookies. Keep scrolling to get all my secrets.
How to Make Healthy Monster Cookies
These healthier, vegan, and gluten-free monster cookies are everything I've ever wished for in a cookie. The biggest secret is to use blended dates in the dough; this allows the cookies to be fruit-sweetened (there's no need for added sugar with those sweet dates!) and flourless (because the sticky texture of the dates provides great structure). The stickiness of the dates also negates the need for eggs.
If you've never baked with dates before, you'll be hooked after making these vegan monster cookies. The dates make them wonderfully chewy and create a delightful caramel-like flavor. If you're looking for more ways to use dates, check out these Flourless Coffee Macadamia Blondies and these infinitely customizable copycat Larabars.
And let's not forget about the other great ingredients in these beauties! The peanut butter provides great protein and healthy fats, while allowing the cookies to be free of both oil and butter. Flax meal helps with binding (important in these vegan monster cookies) and adds healthy omegas. Overall, the ingredients are actually better for the body than the vast majority of "healthy" protein bars.
For Vegan Monster Cookies
Keeping these cookies vegan is a breeze. Just make sure you use vegan chocolate chunks/chips and chocolate candies. As an added bonus, some of the vegan M&M options are naturally-colored.
For Gluten-Free Monster Cookies
Good news: these cookies work great for a GF diet. They're naturally gluten-free because the only grain in the recipe is oats. If you're baking these for someone with Celiac disease, make sure to use certified gluten-free oats.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here's what you'll need for this healthy monster cookie recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Pitted dates. Pits often still hide in supposedly "pitted" dates, so you'll want to double-check. I highly suggest cutting open every single one; they can break teeth.
Natural peanut butter. This will work with another nut/seed butter if you have a peanut allergy, but good old PB definitely yields the best flavor. Opt for a natural nut butter with no added oils or sugar.
Plant milk. I like baking with unsweetened soy milk because of its richness, but anything will work.
Flax seed meal. This will help these vegan monster cookies bind together more effectively, plus it adds some good-for-the-body omegas.
Old-fashioned oats. This is the only grain in these naturally gluten-free monster cookies. Make sure to choose certified gluten-free oats if you're baking for someone with Celiac disease. You can also omit the oats for an entirely grain-free cookie.
Shredded coconut. Choose unsweetened to keep these cookies free of refined sugar.
Chocolate chunks/candies. I like to use a mixture of the two for the best combination of textures. Remember to choose dairy-free chocolate to keep these cookies vegan. You can also use unsweetened chocolate to keep them entirely fruit-sweetened.
Flaky sea salt. Optional, but it adds a lovely sweet/salty contrast to these cookies which complements the peanut butter perfectly.
These healthy monster cookies are all my dessert dreams come true! They're indulgent, super-flavorful, delightfully chewy, and packed with fun add-ins. But they're also friendly for virtually any diet, high in protein, and free of refined sugars, grains, and oils. They have such great ingredients, in fact, that they're absolutely fair game for breakfast or as a portable hiking snack.
I have to admit that, out of everything on my blog, this is one of the recipes that I make most frequently. We just can't get enough of them. I've made these magical vegan and gluten-free monster cookies a truly absurd number of times. Each time they're a little bit different because I change up the chocolate or add whatever dried fruit I have on-hand. They'll make you feel like a kid again!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
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Bursting with luscious peanut butter, chewy oats, and puddles of chocolate, these healthy monster cookies are delicious AND nutritious. You'd never guess that they're vegan, gluten-free, and entirely fruit-sweetened.