Happy National Nutrition Month! I’m not surprised if you did a double-take at that greeting. Surely the month of March is better known for St. Patrick’s Day, the NCAA Tournament, and the beginning of spring. But even in the midst of these exciting events, it might be wise to set down the pint of Guinness and NCAA bracket for just a moment to acknowledge the value of nutrition. Why is nutrition so important? Today, the American population is facing an increasing number of debilitating and life-threatening diseases. According to the CDC, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and hypertension rank among the top 15 causes of death in the United States. Not only are all of these diseases preventable, but they are all preventable through proper nutrition. Seems simple, doesn’t it? And yet so many people still have a problem eating healthfully. Why?
One reason may be simple: taste. Consumer research has shown that taste frequently overrides nutrition as a factor in determining food purchases. Sure, it cannot be denied that we all have our guilty food pleasures. We adore chocolate cake for its rich sweetness and idolize pizza for its cheesy goodness. But we must not forget that nutritious foods can be tasty as well! That’s why the focus of this year’s National Nutrition Month is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” It’s a reminder that adopting a healthy lifestyle does not mean living a tasteless life. Quite the contrary! Nutritious foods can be delightfully satisfying. And these cookies are one fine example.
How can a cookie be nutritious, you ask? With a wonderful combination of nuts, fruit, and whole grains, of course! Say hello to the Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookie. The name may be a mouthful, but I assure you that it is a delectable, nutritious mouthful! So what exactly makes this cookie so healthy?
Peanut Butter: Nuts such as peanuts provide protein, which is essential for bones, muscles, cartilage, and blood. Peanuts also contain vitamin E, an antioxidant which can help reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as magnesium, which aids in bone building. And by selecting a peanut butter that only contains “peanuts” in the ingredients, it is also low in sugar and sodium.
Banana: Bananas are an excellent source of potassium and vitamin C. Potassium helps maintain a healthy blood pressure while vitamin C aids in growth and repair of body tissues and wound healing. Because ripe bananas are naturally sweet, adding bananas to foods also reduces the need for extra sugar.
Oatmeal: Oats are nutrient-packed whole grains. First and foremost, they are a rich source of soluble fiber, which can reduce cholesterol, increase satiety, and help decrease blood sugar levels. Fiber has been shown to lower the risk of a number of chronic problems including heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. This cereal grain is also a great source of folate, which helps in the formation of red blood cells, as well as iron and magnesium.
All of that in a cookie? Sounds nutritiously delicious, doesn’t it? Believe me, it is! And if you are still a bit skeptical, you can see the nutritional analysis calculated from NutritionData.com below!
Wishing you all a happy, healthy March!
Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies
Yield: 1 dozen cookies
½ cup mashed banana
⅓ cup unsalted peanut butter
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup gluten-free rolled oats
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together mashed banana, peanut butter, maple syrup, and vanilla until smooth. Add in baking powder, baking soda, salt, and oats. Stir until evenly combined.
Drop tablespoon-sized portions of cookie dough onto prepared cookie sheet. Using fingertips, slightly flatten cookies into even, round discs.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let cookies cool on sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
(1 cookie) 80 calories, 9 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat, 3 g protein, 1 g fiber, 134 mg sodium
Additional Healthy Eating Tips:
Oatmeal: Satisfy the need for cream by adding a splash of low-fat milk at the end of the cooking.
Yogurt: Jazz up plain yogurt by layering with chopped apples, walnuts, and drizzle of honey for a parfait.
Pancakes/Waffles: Boost the nutrition of your weekend favorite by using a fresh fruit puree instead of syrup.
Baking: Lower fat and add nutrients by substituting 1/2 of the oil in a recipe for banana puree or applesauce.