Kids crave sweets because they taste good. While diabetic children can have room in their diets for candy and cookies, healthier options for school lunch boxes and snacks are always good to have on hand.
While this recipe for soft, delicious Pumpkin Cookies does contain sugar, you can substitute Splenda® if you’re okay with artificial sweeteners. If not, just remember that the serving size is small and these treats pack nutrition in every bite. And you can use coconut oil instead of butter to avoid saturated fat, too.
We don’t recommend substituting stevia or agave nectar for the sweetener in this recipe because it would alter the cookie’s structure, causing a less-than-satisfactory outcome. However, if you want to experiment and tell us the results, leave a comment. 🙂
1/2 cup sugar or Splenda®
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (use dark brown for more “molasses” depth to the flavor)
1 cup softened butter, margarine or coconut oil
1 cup canned, cooked pumpkin* (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. ground flax seeds (omit if using oatmeal, see next ingredient)
2 c. whole wheat flour (or 1 c. whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 c. quick cooking oatmeal)**
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. toasted pumpkin seeds, shelled
1/2 c. toasted walnut or pecan pieces
1/2 c. raisins or dried cranberries
1 tsp. cinnamon + 1/4 tsp. ground dried ginger + 1/8 tsp. each nutmeg and cloves
OR 1 heaped tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a flat cookie sheet and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
In large bowl, beat together sugars with butter or coconut oil until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. Stir in flour, flax seeds, baking powder and salt. Add pumpkin seeds, nuts and dried fruit with spices. Stir to combine well. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet about 2″ apart (the cookies will spread a little while baking). Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until edges begin to turn golden brown. Remove from sheet onto cooling rack.
*Don’t have pumpkin on hand? No problem. Butternut squash makes a delicious substitute and it’s naturally sweet, too. Just cut your fresh squash in half, put upside down in a roasting pan into which you’ve poured an inch or so of water, and bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until the squash is soft. Remove from oven, turn over and let cool, then scoop the flesh from the rind and mash. You can treat a fresh pumpkin the same way.
**If using the whole wheat flour/oatmeal combination, you may need to add another whole egg or egg white to the dough if it’s too dry. The dough should stick together smoothly, not crumble.
We recommend Cooking Up Fun for Kids with Diabetes (Patti B. Geil, American Diabetes Association, 2003) for ideas on snacks and treats – and games and activities – for diabetic children. Each recipe, ranging from simple to those needing a little more skill in the kitchen, contains full nutritional and carb exchange information, making it easy to keep track of your child’s diet.