Friday, February 3, 2012

Easy Chai Spiced Banana Oat Cookies - Healthy, Simple, and Gluten Free!

I love cardamom. Love love LOVE it. My husband was in Saudi Arabia for business, and he came back bearing spices. Za'atar, sumac, cloves, mastic, etc ... and cardamom pods. I'm addicted to cardamom. I put it in everything - my tea, post-workout smoothies, and I've discovered it's absolutely amazing with banana and cinnamon.

I've been making my banana oat cookies for a few months now. While eating some baked oatmeal, I came across the simple idea of mashing a banana, mixing it with just oats, and baking it like a cookie. Oats aren't exactly paleo / primal, but they're not something I'm willing to cut out completely. I'll have it probably once a month or every other month, when I crave a cookie. Anyway, I started experimenting with different spices, and I think I've finally put together the perfect blend in this cookie.

This is seriously like a chai latte in a cookie. You don't need to add any sugar at all in these, if you're using ripe bananas. If you have a serious sweet tooth, then feel free to add honey or sugar if you want. 

If you don't have any cardamom lying around, you can still make these - but I highly recommend you invest in some cardamom. It makes a world of a difference. So does the added coffee in these.

By the way, to my friends who frequent my blog, Patrick and Susanna are biking the 4K for cancer - a 70 day 4000k mile bike ride from Baltimore to San Francisco. Please show your support!
Patrick's page
Susanna's page


Depending on how big your banana is and how big you make your cookies, this makes about 6-12 cookies. If you use 1/2 cup Quaker Rolled Oats and a large 100 calorie banana, this whole batch is only 250 calories! That's 20 calories / cookie if you make 12 cookies, or 40 calories / cookie if you make 6 big cookies. I don't  normally count calories, but I know some people that do to help maintain their caloric intake, which can be very helpful! (Edit: It's just been brought to my attention that Quaker Oats are cross-contaminated. Thanks, Annie! If you have a severe gluten allergy, I recommend you check out Trader Joe's Gluten-Free Rolled Oats or another brand that you are familiar with)

What you'll need:
  • One banana, mashed
  • ~1/4 - 1/2 cup of non-contaminated gluten-free rolled oats, depending on how big your bananas are (I usually use only 2 Tbsp to cut down on my carb intake, but you can use up to 3/4 cup for crispier cookies. When I make these for people, I use about 1/2 cup whole rolled oats in addition to 1/4 ground oats).
  • One cardamom pod or you can use 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of cloves
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/4 tsp instant coffee powder and a couple pieces of chocolate, or 4-5 pieces of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Expresso Beans, chopped. The coffee adds a complex flavor and really makes it taste like a chai latte, so I highly recommend adding it!
  1. Remove the cardamom seeds from its pod and crush with a mortar and pestle, or you can be ghetto fab like me and use a spoon to crush it. Preheat the oven to 340F / 170C if you're using 1/4 cup of oats or less, ~ 365F / 185F if you're using 1/2 - 3/4 cup of oats for crispier cookies. 
  2. Mash the banana. Add the vanilla extract. Sprinkle the crushed cardamom seeds in, add the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and baking powder, and mix well. 
  3. If you choose to, add the coffee and chocolate / chopped TJs chocolate expresso beans, and mix in. 
  4. Fold in the oats until just mixed - do not over mix! The dough will be wet.
  5. Scoop them by small spoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for ~20-30 minutes, until they start to brown or until the texture is the way you like them. These smell amazing when baking.
  6. Eat them straight from the oven with milk. Try to restrain yourself from eating the whole batch.

Since I don't use a lot of oats when I make these, mine tend to be very very soft, and perfect with a glass of milk. If you use more oats, yours will be crispier on the outside but still moist on the inside! Be careful if you decide to make these - they are very addictive.


  1. Is there a way to make this with gluten-free oats, which are generally steel cut? Quaker Oats are crosscontaminated, and are *not* gluten-free. Because the recipe sounds quite good, but definitely not something I can make for my house without getting at least myself sick.

    1. Hi Annie! You're right, Quaker Oats are crosscontaminated and would not be safe to use for someone with a severe gluten allergy. However, I know Trader Joe's has gluten-free rolled oats, uncontaminated. Here's a link:

      Try using those! I haven't made them with steel-cut oats yet, but that definitely sounds like something I will do in the near future. I love the texture of steel cut oats!

  2. I love how few ingredients are in these! Will have to give it a try!

    1. I hope you like them, Steph! Being lazy, I always try to keep my recipes as simple as possible :)

  3. Oh yum! These sound so awesome! I absolutely adore oatmeal cookies, but it seems like so many recipes for them aren't very healthy and tend to include a whole lotta butter and sugar. I love the idea of using simple ingredients with a lot of flavor, especially cardamom. I never would have thought to include those, but now I can't wait to try. Thanks so much for the recipe!

    1. You're welcome, Erika! The spices really make the cookie! I agree, I'm a health nut so I don't like using a lot of sugar or butter in cookies.

  4. These sound delicious! I love chai, and I love simple! Definitely need to try these out. :)

    1. Me too, Melinda ... I'm SO obsessed with anything that tastes like chai! Hope you like these! I make them pretty much every day for my cookie fix!

  5. My girlfriend did the 4K! What an amazing program (and amazing cookies). Thanks for sharing!

  6. Once I made the mixture I realized that to make 6 or the insane 12 cookies would be to make them literally microscopic. I opted for 4, 85 calorie cookies, even with adding some cinnamon chips, they were AH-mazing. Thanks!

    1. Mmmm, cinnamon chips? That sounds awesome! I'm glad they worked out for you!!

  7. Loved this!! Except we needed a LOT more banana than is listed here... Your cookies must have been itsy-bitsy!!

    Brought them to work where they were devoured, and people loved to hear that there was no flour or butter in them. Total hit!

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