Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies

Here in Hawaii, the shift from season to season is certainly less noticeable than in other places in the world. However, around this time each year, something changes in the air and it simply begins to feel like the holidays. While we don’t have the obvious cues of leaves changing color or significant drops in temperature, we have other signals that trigger those warm fuzzy feelings of the season. Suddenly we realize we haven’t been complaining as much about the heat, the grocery stores start smelling like cinnamon pine cones, and the crisp darker mornings get us thinking about whatever excites us about this special time of year. This year, I’m excited about busting out boots (finally!), visiting family over the Thanksgiving weekend, spending quality time with loved ones, checking out the Honolulu Christmas lights, getting a big Christmas tree (that our cats will surely destroy), teaching some killer holiday workouts at Egan’s Fit Body Bootcamp, baking seasonal (healthy) treats, and laying a solid foundation for a kickass 2015! 

As soon as November hit and I felt a tiny bit of crispness in the air, I picked up some organic canned pumpkin from Whole Foods and created my new favorite healthy seasonal treat – Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies! They tested well with my kids, which is always a plus. They are vegan, gluten-free, high in protein, and low in sugar. You can eat ‘um as is or they are healthy enough to eat as kind of a portable cereal/oatmeal. Simply pour any kind of unsweetened milk (cold or hot) over them and enjoy! Cookies for breakfast? Oh yeah! Happy holidays! 

Makes about 24 small cookies 

1-1/2 cups gluten-free oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp Himalayan or sea salt
3 tsp organic cinnamon
2 Tbsp organic ground flax
1 serving or scoop stevia-sweetened vanilla protein powder (I used a sample of Skinny Gut vanilla that I had, pretty tasty!)
3 Tbsp organic pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup (I just used a handful) organic dried sour cherries or cranberries
1/3 cup (or more) Lily’s stevia sweetened dark chocolate baking chips or other chocolate chips
1/2 can organic canned pumpkin
3 tbsp organic salted cashew butter or other nut butter

Mix everything together, except the pumpkin and the cashew butter, in a big mixing bowl. Once the dry ingredients are mixed, add in the pumpkin and nut butter to moisten the dough. Form into little balls (about a tsp of dough per cookie) and place on a cookie sheet greased with coconut oil. Cook 8-10 minutes at 350 F.

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