Saturday, December 04, 2010

Recipe for Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Ranger Cookies with Pecans, Coconut, and Chocolate

Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Ranger Cookies, with Pecans, Coconut, and Chocolate are delicious for a healthier cookie option!

Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Ranger Cookies, with Pecans, Coconut, and Chocolate.

We're just heading into the time of year when there are cookies and other sweet treats everywhere you look.  I doubt many people are religiously dieting during December, but even for those of us who are just trying to limit our consumption of holiday sweets, it can be a challenge.  For a few years now I've been experimenting with recipes for low-sugar cookies for the holidays, and this recipe for Ranger Cookies, which comes from The South Beach Diet Parties and Holidays Cookbook, is one of the most satisfying low sugar cookies I've tried.  It's full of flavor from pecans, oatmeal, unsweetened coconut, chocolate chips, and whole wheat pastry flour, and even if you skipped the Splenda or Stevia-in-the-Raw Granulated Sweetener and used regular sugar, this would still be a pretty healthful and low-sugar cookie. 

The book claims the cookies are named for forest rangers who like these cookies for their energy-boosting ingredients, and if you're looking for a barely sweet cookie to get you through December, this might be just the one.

Whole wheat pastry flour is a type of whole wheat flour that's more finely ground than traditional whole wheat flour, and it's a great ingredient for baking.

Toasting the pecans on a small cookie sheet placed in the oven really brings out their flavor in these cookies.

Then process together the bran cereal, oatmeal, coconut, and chocolate chips until it's a coarsely ground mixture.  (It took a bit longer than I expected to get the chocolate chips ground up.)

In a small bowl, mix together the whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and salt.

Use a small hand beater to cream together the margarine (or butter), Stevia-in-the-Raw Granulated Sweetener or Splenda (or sugar), egg, and vanilla.

Then add the flour mixture and beat on low until it's all combined.

Stir in the oatmeal-pecan mixture and mix until all ingredients are well combined.

Use a tablespoon to scoop out heaping balls of dough and arrange 2 inches apart on cookie sheet that's been sprayed with non-stick spray.  (The recipe said 16 cookies, but I only got 12.)

Bake cookies at 375F/190C for 16-20 minutes, or until the bottom is golden and the top of the cookies feels dry.  (The original recipe said 10 minutes, but I baked mine for 18 minutes, and I don't think a couple minutes more would have hurt.)

Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Ranger Cookies with Pecans, Coconut, and Chocolate
(Makes 12 cookies but recipe could easily be doubled because these cookies freeze well; recipe adapted slightly from The South Beach Diet Parties and Holidays Cookbook.)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup pecan halves or pieces
1/4 cup bran cereal (I used Fiber One, which has no added sugar)
1/4 cup rolled oats (I used Bob's Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (the recipe called for bittersweet, but I only had semi-sweet)
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup trans-fat free margarine, butter, or coconut oil (Use margarine for the South Beach Diet)
1/4 cup Stevia-in-the-Raw Granulated Sweetener, Splenda, or sugar (use Stevia or Splenda for the South Beach Diet)
1 egg
1 T vanilla

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375F/190C.  Put pecans on a small baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 6 minutes, or until they are becoming fragrant and lightly toasted.  Let pecans cool for 2-3 minutes.

While pecans are toasting add bran cereal, rolled oats, unsweetened coconut, and chocolate chips to food processor.  Add pecans as soon as they are cool, then process until the mixture is coarsely ground.  (It took about a minute for me to get the chocolate chips ground.)

In a small bowl, combine whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a larger bowl, use a hand beater on high speed to cream together the margarine (or butter), Splenda, Stevia, or sugar, egg, and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and use a low speed to mix until all ingredients are combined.  Remove beaters and use a spoon or rubber scraper to mix in the oatmeal-pecan mixture, stirring until it's well blended into the batter.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.  Use a tablespoon to scoop out heaping spoonfuls of batter and place them 2 inches apart.  (Original recipe said 16 cookies, but I only got 12.)  

Bake cookies 16-20 minutes, or until the bottom is golden and the top of the cookies feel dry.  (Cookies in the photo were baked for 18 minutes.)  Let cool 20-30 minutes.  These cookies freeze well.

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South Beach Suggestions:
These cookies (made with Splenda or Stevia and margarine) would be approved for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet.  Bittersweet chocolate chips would be the best choice for South Beach, but the semi-sweet chocolate chips I used only had 8 grams of sugar in 30 chips, so if that's all  you had these would still be pretty low sugar cookies.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Low-Sugar Cookies You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Whole Grain Low-Sugar (or sugar-free) Chocolate Cookies with Pecans from Kalyn's Kitchen
Flourless and Low-Sugar (or sugar-free) Chocolate Shortbread Cookies from Kalyn's Kitchen
Healthy Oatmeal Cookies from Whole Grain Gourmet
Nikki's Healthy Cookie Recipe from 101 Cookbooks
Gluten-Free Sugar-Free Almond Cookies from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

Blogger Disclosure:
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
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36 comments:

  1. Ranger cookies are one of my favorites. I always have Fiber One in the house but not the Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. Will have to keep my eye open for the Hodgson brand.

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  2. A cookie! Even without the thought of dieting, I would prefer these cookies anytime to the regular sugar ones. So much texture and flavors here.

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  3. Paula, I also like the Whole Foods brand (365 Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour.)

    Soma, thanks! They really are good, and just sweet enough.

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  4. Yes, moderation. That's exactly what I'm going for. And if I lose a few pounds by trying to add in some extra exercise...then I won't argue. :P

    Love the sound of these cookies! A treat that I can indulge in without any guilt!

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  5. Joanne, that sounds like a good plan. (I'm working on that extra exercise mojo myself!)

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  6. These sound great, but I can never find unsweetened coconut. I even asked once at the grocery store and they thought I was crazy. Any suggestions?

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  7. Monica, I have Bob's Red Mill brand which I bought at Whole Foods. I think any health food store will have it, or you can order online: http://www.bobsredmill.com/coconut-flakes.html

    (They're a little pricey, but I keep them in the freezer in a plastic jar with a screw-on lid, so they last forever.)

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  8. what a great recipe! such cookies sounds great!

    have a nice time,
    Paula

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  9. Love the heartiness of these cookies, Kalyn! I bet I could convert the recipe to gluten free, too. I've never heard of Ranger Cookies, but I love the concept. I've never toasted pecans before for a recipe, but I'm developing a new cookie recipe and plan to try toasting some for that.

    Thanks!
    Shirley

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  10. Thanks Paula!

    Shirley I was skeptical about the toasting step, but after I tasted the pecans I tasted a plain one vs. a toasted one and there was a big difference in the flavor.

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  11. Kalyn, low sugar and whole grain sound sweet to my ear. Wonderful recipe!

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  12. I love the rustic and hearty taste of ranger cookies made with whole wheat flour; this cookie is one I would make year round!

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  13. I've never used whole wheat pastry flour but I keep meaning to!

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  14. So glad people are liking this. I agree about preferring the hearty taste of this to sweeter cookies. It's just sweet enough for me.

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  15. A few years ago I set a goal to lose five pounds during the month of December. My husband thought it was a crazy idea with all the temptations of the holidays - but I ended up losing four pounds. Hey, I figured four out of five was 80 percent and that was pretty good. Having a few treats like these Ranger Cookies that aren't off the chain with sugar and fat is a big help.

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  16. Low sugar! Just what I need... Thanks for sharing.

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  17. These look just right--nice and substantial, and low on sugar!

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  18. The cookies sound yummy, but my husband is allergic to coconut. Has anyone tried making it w/o or substituting anything else for it? Thanks, M

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  19. Denise, I'm impressed! I think even maintaining your weight during December is an achievement.

    I'm not sure about substituting for the coconut but personally I'd be inclined to double the pecans since they're a flavorful ingredient.

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  20. I think I'll prepare with sweetened coconut for now because I don't want to wait, it looks so delicious!

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  21. any combination of coconut and chocolate instantly makes my mouth water, great job!

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  22. Low sugar and whole grain allow me to "cheat" on my diet. Thanks for sharing this goodness!

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  23. I've been looking for this recipe online for a very long time, so thank you for posting it! And as expected, the cookies were delicious :)

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  24. Andi, so glad I could help and that you enjoyed the cookies!

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  25. I'm curious, I have both whole wheat flour and white whole wheat, can I just use one of those without making an extra purchase of whole wheat pastry flour? I just can't imagine what else I'd use it for and I hate to buy, use a bit, then let it sit.

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  26. I don't honestly know how it will work with those flours; whole wheat pastry flour is more finely ground.

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  27. Sorry, but I didn't like these at all. My husband and I are both bariatric patients so we are used to low-sugar foods. So it wasn't the lack of sweetness but I think the dryness of the cookie. They didn't spread out at all and after cooling, they were falling apart.

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  28. Hmm, that's odd because my cookies were not dry and they also didn't fall apart at all. Sorry it didn't work for you.

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  29. Kalyn, I made a double batch using Bran Buds, white whole wheat flour and agave nectar. These cookies are so good! Even folks who normally do not like whole wheat baked goods, kept going back for more. I don't know what happened with lagardner's batch, but my cookies were moist and held together perfectly. Thanks for the recipe!

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  30. Marsha, thanks for letting me know you liked them. They were a huge hit with my friends, so I was also surprised that someone didn't like them.

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  31. I'm having fun playing around with this recipe. Since I'm following Weight Watchers and not South Beach, I made a batch replacing the margarine with unsweetened applesauce. However, I had to double the flour in order to make the batter stiff enough for the cookies to hold their shape. They came out a bit chewier than the original recipe, but OK. Just for fun, I also added some dried cherries for a little zing of flavor. Even with the extra flour and cherries, the cookies are only 2 points each(as opposed to 4 points with the original recipe. It's not quite right yet, but I'll have fun tweaking it!

    I really do enjoy your blog Kalyn - keep up the great work!

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  32. Cindy, that's fun to hear how you're adapting it! Glad you're enjoying the blog.

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  33. Hi Kalyn!
    Love your blog! I stock both red wheat and white wheat flour, not the pastry flour. Any reason the pastry flour would be better than white wheat?

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  34. Sara, here is a post about the reasons Whole Wheat Pastry Flour is different than other whole wheat flours. I'm guessing you could make these cookies with white whole wheat flour, although the results would not be exactly the same.

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  35. Thank you for this recipes. I made a few adjustments, based on what I had on hand and my tastes.

    I used walnuts in place of pecans, which worked out really well.

    Left out the coconut (don't care for it), added in a bit of chopped candied ginger, and just a small amount of candied fennel seeds (store this idea from a local cafe).

    They turned out great, and how love the low sweetness level.

    Thanks again.

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