I get asked on the daily for recipes that fall into one of these three categories: vegan, nut free or gluten free. So I figured, why not make something like these Lunchbox Cookies that ticks all the boxes?
The reality is that I’m like every other mom, always trying to find new healthy homemade things to pack for school lunches and snacks! And it’s no small feat my friends (check out this post on 50 different ideas for making healthy school lunches).
How to Incorporate Veggies into Baking
I had a pile of leftover vegetables from my last trip to the Kelowna Farmer’s Market and decided to take a stab at some healthy cookies as a switch up from the usual muffins I make. I was probably pushing the limits of what should go in a cookie to be honest. I mean, 3 different veggies? I have some nerve. And never mind all of the healthy grains and olive oil.
I add veggies into baking all of the time. I’ve learned that the finer you grate them the less visible they are in case you are trying to hide them. Use the finer grater on your boxed grater if being sneaky is your mom game. Not a single bit of judgement here.
Note that a food processor will be your best friend for recipes like this!. It’s days like this that I sit staring at the oven while my creations bake, crossing my fingers that they turn out. Because it really sucks when you destroy your kitchen and spend 3 hours of your time making something that turns out to be a massive flop. I’m happy to report that these were a HIT!
I’ve stopped judging my own cooking and baking, and simply rely on Max and Charlie to give me the honest goods. Because a 4 year old and an 8 year old don’t really ‘get’ the whole notion of sugar coating something to spare my feelings. Max will immediately spit something out when he’s not a fan (regardless of where he is, lots of fun) and Charlie’s face wrinkles up in an animated display that tells me he will be as bad of a liar as I am.
Ok, so back to these cookies. I gave the boys a cookie each after school and held my breath. They loved them! Charlie, with a concerned look on his face, confirmed that I wrote down the recipe and made me promise that there were some for his lunch the next day. MOM WIN!
These cookies are moist, lightly sweetened and freeze well. You can skip the brown sugar if you like a less sweet cookie but my boys didn’t love them when I left it out. They are filled to the brim with fruit, veggies and healthy seeds and olive oil for a seriously nutritious snack that is totally school-approved!
Make these Cookies Gluten Free
You can use gluten free 1:1 flour in place of the regular flour OR use oat flour with 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum for texture (if you don’t have xanthan gum you can still use oat flour, the cookies are still great without it)!
Nut free, gluten free and vegan cookies that are packed with veggies and taste amazing! Perfect for school lunches! You can add 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans if you aren't making them nut free!
- 2 tablespoons ground chia seeds or ground flax seeds
- 5 tablespoons water
- ½ cup grated peeled carrots
- ½ cup grated peeled raw beets
- ½ cup grated zucchini, skin left on
- ½ cup grated apple, skin left on
- ½ cup grated ripe pear, skin left on
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup (use maple syrup to make it vegan)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups flour (all purpose or whole wheat) (use GF 1:1 flour to make them gluten free)
- 1 cup raisins
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup hemp seeds
- ¼ cup brown sugar** (optional, see note)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (you may not need the parchment paper if you have a good quality non-stick pan).
In a small bowl, combine the ground chia or flax seeds with the water, stir to combine, and let it sit for 3-5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine the carrots, beets, zucchini, apple, pear, honey or maple syrup, olive oil, vanilla and chia or flax mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, raisins, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, brown sugar (if using), cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Stir the veggie mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon, stirring and folding until well combined.
Drop heaping tablespoons of cookie dough on to the baking sheet, spacing them about 1-inch apart (the cookies don't spread much). You may need to repeat this step depending on the size of your baking sheet.
Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes, until they are cooked throughout and the bottoms are golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack before storing in an air-tight container for up to 5 days. These freeze beautifully!
*optional to use oat flour and add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum for texture
**leave out the brown sugar if you want a less sweet cookie, it is a matter of taste preference!
IF you aren't making these nut-free you can add in 1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts along with the raisins.