Zucchini Peanut and Oatmeal Cookies

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1/2 cup unsalted butter -- softened

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated green zucchini -- loosely packed

1 cup finely chopped pitted dates

PREHEAT oven to 375F.

In a large bowl and using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat together the butter, peanut butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Then stir in the oats, zucchini and dates, mixing well. Drop the dough by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.

Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Makes about 4 dozen cookies. [PER COOKIE 92 Cals, 4g total fat, 14g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 2g protein, 53mg sodium]

VARIATIONS: Replace dates with a combination of chocolate chips, raisins or dried cherries. Replace zucchini with other squash -- winter or summer varieties.

COMMENTS: A chewy and moist drop cookie. These cookies are not good keepers: plan on eating them within a day of baking.

*Recipe from SQUASH: A Country Garden Cookbook by Regina Schrambling (1994: Collins). Nutrition by Mastercook, edited by Pat Hanneman (9/98)

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