Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Banana Oat Cookies

Either I have an obsession with bananas or I don’t use them fast enough before they start turning a speckled color. Probably the later, but it’s a good thing. I’m always looking to use up the over ripe bananas in new and yummy ways. This is another one of those recipes that was in my mother’s recipe box. It reminds me of banana bread flavored oatmeal sprinkled with sweet chocolate chips. I love that it is has some healthy ingredients such as bananas and oatmeal; perfect for a lunchbox treat.¬†

Feel free to omit the dairy free chocolate chips, but I think they add the perfect amount of sweetness to the moist and chewy cookie. The smell in the oven is reminiscent of¬†freshly baked banana bread. On a cold, snowy spring day here in Chicago, I can’t think of a more perfect treat.

Enjoy and Happy Baking!

Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Banana Oat Cookies 

3/4 c. dairy free margarine (12 T.)

1 c. granulated sugar

1 1/4 c. mashed overripe bananas

1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1 3/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 1/2 c. quick cooking oats

1/2 c. dairy free chocolate chips ( I use Divvies or Enjoy Life)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dairy free margarine, sugar, mashed bananas and vanilla until smooth. In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg with a wire whisk. Add to margarine mixture and combine thoroughly. Stir in oats and dairy free ch0colate chips.

Use cookie scooper to divide dough evenly on prepared cookie sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until light brown. Cool completely on cookie sheets.

What’s it like to have a typical child?

As a mother of a child with severe food allergies, there are¬†tough days when we have to advocate for our kids through meetings at school, tell them what they can’t have and can’t do, and then there are even tougher days when we have¬†had¬†to witness a potentially life-threatening¬†allergic reaction. But as a mother of four children who have had developmental delays since their preschool years, I’ve also had many other types of tough days,¬†filled with therapies, difficult play dates and parties, long IEP meetings, 504 Plan meetings, and then even more meetings with teachers and aides to ensure those documents are being enforced at school. But the hardest part of¬†these issues is when your child comes home from school to say they felt different because of a harsh comment made about them.

Which is exactly what happened earlier this week when my 9-year-old daughter told me¬†she overheard a group of kids make fun of her because she has to take her state standardized tests in a different room. “That’s where all the dumb kids go to test” is what she heard as she left. It crushed her spirit and broke my heart. It isn’t the first time my kids have had to endure¬†rude comments from other kids, whether it was about making fun of John because he can’t have pizza and cake at a party, or when he was teased last summer at camp for his stuttering, or even when John sat at a separate table at camp because of his allergies. But when my daughter told about the “dumb” comment, it infuriated me for¬†many reasons.

The biggest reason is obviously their words made my otherwise bright and sweet girl feel like she was stupid and different. As someone with visual processing difficulties, she simply requires certain accommodations in the classroom to help her succeed. For the record, she is a pretty smart cookie, and takes advanced writing classes at a local university. So I would hardly call her dumb. I had to fight very hard to get her those accommodations through a 504 Plan, because once she tested out of special education in first grade and lost her IEP, it was nearly impossible to get any additional support or help  for her learning difficulties. So to hear my daughter beg me to get rid of her 504 Plan made me feel frustrated and defeated.

Every year around this time I¬†have meetings at¬†my children’s schools to discuss their progress,¬†limitations and to draft new educational goals¬†per their IEP’s.¬†In addition,¬†it is the time of¬†year to start thinking¬†about camps¬†and how to handle them with food allergies.¬†During “IEP¬†Season” I often wonder what it is like to not have to address the special limitations our children face, whether it is¬†development concerns, food allergies or other¬†issues. What is it like to have a typical child?

But then I eventually remember that¬†though all my children have some¬†challenges, they also have incredible strengths,¬†and to embrace¬†both. If¬†my kids didn’t have special needs or food allergies, maybe I wouldn’t have gone down the road to advocacy, or even¬†bothered to write a cookbook for families¬†with allergies. Maybe I would¬†find something else to write about, or maybe not.¬†I have no idea why my¬†children¬†face the issues they face, but I can¬†honestly say¬†I am¬†very proud¬†of my children and¬†am honored to be their mother.¬†They’ve worked harder¬†because of these challenges and have continued to thrive. Will¬†baby Michael face the same paths? I don’t know, but¬†we’ll get through it if that is the case.

So¬†how did I try to make Chloe feel better? Well,¬†a trip to Baker’s Square for French Silk Pie and a long talk about why kids say stupid things did the trick.¬†John was pretty jealous¬†about the pie, so he made me promise to make him a dairy¬†free version of the French Silk Wonder soon. I will someday soon, when I get a little more sleep!

Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Chocolate Banana Bread

bananachocolatebread 003.resizedI don’t know what it is about the combination of banana and chocolate. It is hands down one of my favorite flavor combinations. I remember last summer when I was going through wicked morning sickness, and couldn’t keep any food down, the only thing I wanted was frozen chocolate covered bananas. It hit the spot every time. I also loved to make my banana chocolate chip muffins often too, and had them often for breakfast.

Of course, I’ve posted several variations of banana recipes; muffins, breads and snack cakes. But this one is pure decadence and one my whole family loves. It is moist and not too heavy. It doesn’t contain a ton of sugar or fat but has the perfect balance of chocolate and banana flavor. I’ve purposely rough mashed the bananas in this recipe because I love to see the specks of mashed banana in the bread; feel free to mash finer if you so please. I also love to add a rather generous amount of dairy free chocolate chips to the batter because it gives a delightful added taste of rich chocolate in every bite.

This is one of those easy recipes that can be mixed in one bowl by hand with a rubber spatula. It is perfect to make with your kids; have the younger ones mash the bananas, and have the older ones learn how to mix and measure the ingredients into the bowl. With school  spring breaks right around the corner, it is the perfect activity to do with everyone when you are all tapped out of projects.

Happy baking everyone!

Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Chocolate Banana Bread

1/2 c. dairy free margarine, melted

1 3/4 c. ripe bananas, mashed (about 3 large)

2 T. water

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 3/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour

1/4 c. cocoa powder (I use Hersey’s)

3/4 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 c. dairy free chocolate chips (I use Divvies or Enjoy Life)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 inch loaf pan generously with dairy free baking spray. Set aside.

In small bowl combine the melted margarine, bananas, water and vanilla with spoon. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk. Add margarine mixture to the flour mixture and stir with rubber spatula just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool and serve.