Being a diabetic with a sweet tooth is a recipe for disaster. Most of the time I’m pretty good and just deal with my sweet cravings by getting grumpy until I’m over them. Sometimes though, I don’t do so hot and then things like Snickers bars and cakes (I cannot overstate my love of cake) start showing up, and my pancreas struggles to cope.
Sometimes though, I get grumpy, then I get mad, and then I get creative.
Like my Wholemeal Lemon Bundt Cake, sometimes it’s desperation, rather than necessity that is the mother of invention. One of the things I’ve loved ever since I was a kid is peanut buttery, chocolatey no-bake oatmeal cookies. Honestly, what’s not to love? With peanut butter and rolled oats, they’re packed full of protein and taste divine. With two cups of sugar, however, they are also not at all ideal for those watching their sugar levels.
I’ve done a lot of experimentation over many years with reduced sugar/no sugar recipes and let’s be honest, they’re just never as good as the full sugar real thing. Store bought items are not much better, and I find it downright insulting that a few of the “diabetic friendly” cakes I’ve tried not only aren’t very good, but they have the audacity to be too sweet!
I’ve spend some time developing this no bake cookie recipe and I feel it’s a winner. Rather than sugar, the sweetness in this recipe comes from Xylitol* and molasses. Xylitol is a great product which tastes like sugar and comes from natural sources, but because of the way it is metabilised, it doesn’t affect your blood sugar levels. Similarly, though molasses is sweet, it has much less impact on your blood sugar levels and is diabetic friendly. Can I take a moment to wax lyrical about all the reasons I love molasses?
Firstly, it’s a by-product of sugar production, so not only is it sweet, technically it’s a waste product. I LOVE the idea of reducing waste as much as possible, though I have to be fair and say that there are a lot of uses for molasses, not least of which are animal feed and even fertiliser. I still feel virtuous about using it though. Molasses also has good levels of several essential nutrients, including calcium and vitamin B6.
Despite being sweet, molasses is also a low GI food product. The GI (glycaemic index) of a food stuff scores how quickly a food breaks down in your body. The higher the GI rating, the faster the food stuff breaks down in your body and the sharper and more steeply your blood sugar spikes (spikes are a bad thing!). There is even evidence that molasses can contribute to better blood sugar control when taken as a supplement.
In the past when I would make these cookies I would use brown sugar (most recipes call for white) as I prefer the rich, caramelly flavour that brown sugar lends to these cookies. In this lower sugar version however, I’m adding two tablespoons of molasses to the Xylitol for the same effect. This is an essential step if you would like to use “brown sugar” in your recipe. If you add the molasses straight, your cookies will be too soft and won’t set. You need to add the molasses to the Xylitol itself, mixing thoroughly (I find a fork the best way to do this) until it is as incorporated as possible and the Xylitol looks like brown sugar. If you want to make these as low sugar as possible without losing the flavour, you can also use a reduced sugar or sugar free peanut butter.
Besides their diabetic friendly nature and fantastic taste, the other thing I love about these cookies is that they are only 105 calories each – less if you use a reduced calorie peanut butter and/or butter and skimmed milk. To put that in perspective, a plain, boring, non-chocolate digestive biscuit is 73 calories. Between the two, I know which I’d prefer with a cup of tea!
No Bake Choco Coco Cookies
Makes: 30 cookies Approx. 105 calories each
Time: 15 minutes, plus cooling time
You will need:
- ½ c butter
- 2 c xylitol
- 2 Tbsp molasses
- ½ c semi-skimmed milk
- 4 Tbsp cocoa powder (I use the Cadbury Bournville powdered cocoa because I like my cookies dark!)
- ½ c creamy peanut butter
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 – 3 1/2 c instant jumbo oats (start with 3, add more oats if the mixture looks too runny)
- 1 c shredded coconut (this is the moist coconut, you will need to adjust your levels of oats and coconut if using dessicated coconut)
- Add two tablespoons of molasses to the Xylitol and incorporate thoroughly to make “brown Xylitol”.
- Combine the butter, brown Xylitol, semi-skimmed milk and cocoa powder in a sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil.
- Once the mixture has boiled for 1 minute, remove it from the heat. I can’t emphasis enough how important it is to ensure that this boils for at least a full minute (I let mine go for 90 seconds). If you don’t allow the mixture to boil for long enough, it won’t set properly (trust me, it took me several tries to figure this out!) but if you let it boil too long you get dry, crumbly cookies.
- Add the peanut butter to the pan and stir for one minute.
- Add the vanilla, then pour over the oats and coconut.
- Mix quickly but thoroughly. Using a spoon, divide the mixture into 30 cookies, then leave to cool and enjoy.
*Please note that Xylitol is TOXIC to cats and dogs! After handling, please wash your hands before touching your pets, ensure that there is none left on any surfaces where your pets can reach (dogs especially love all things sweet), and do not feed them any food items containing xylitol. My understanding is that they would have to eat a decent amount before being affected, but better safe than sorry!