Ultra-Fluffy Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes (Clean)

I’m in a bit of a dilemma.

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By the time I post this, my mock exams will probably be over, but right now, they haven’t happened yet and I don’t know what to expect. (Yep. Mocks ended today and I’m just posting this now.)

See, I had a week-long break recently, and I spent the whole time watching movies and sleeping because senioritis hit and I just couldn’t be bothered to do anything. Not to mention, I kept reminding myself that mock tests don’t matter, because they just count towards Semester 2 grades and nobody ever sees those. But now, just a night’s sleep away from my first exam, I’m starting to question that philosophy. I’m starting to wonder, what actually matters??

If you think of it in the perspective that everything contributes towards university, then wow – that changes things. When I was in middle school or when I just started high school, upperclassmen would always say “ah, don’t worry, none of that actually matters”. If I ever complained about how much homework I had, upperclassmen would always say, “that doesn’t matter, and that’s nothing in comparison to what’ll come later”. As we get older, we tend to play down the things that happened in the past. I think it’s because, once things are over, we realize how insignificant each thing was because we already know how it turned out.

Let me explain that. Say you have an essay due. It stresses you – of course it does. But once you find out what your grade was, and you did alright, it becomes something of the past. The grades go by and because nothing devastating or life-changing happened, it becomes relatively insignificant. What we don’t understand is that, for the people who are experiencing what we’ve already experienced, it’s all that matters.

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I think I’m starting to understand my thoughts now. I think my point is that all that matters, for anyone, is now. The simple concept of what is happening in the present, or in the recent past/near future. It all matters.

Okay, I’ve finished that thought. Now I’m going back to the concepts about how we learn. Technically speaking, mock exam grades don’t “matter” in terms of university applications, since those have already been sent. But, they do quite accurately predict how you’ll do on your final exams, and are also a good way to refresh what you’ve learned in the past two years of IB.

All those tests you take in middle school are “useless” and “pointless” in terms of college applications, but really, they’re not. The numbers themselves will never be seen, but grades are a representation of what you learn. Thus, if you don’t give a damn in middle school, your grades will tell you that you’re not learning, and you won’t do well in high school or university. If you do well in middle school, you will build the core skills you need to become a good learner and a good student. It all matters. Think about it. The kids who didn’t learn well in middle school usually don’t change much in high school, and the kids who worked hard continued to do so through all their years of education. It matters. It’s not all about grades and university applications and Ivy Leagues, it’s about learning. That’s it.

In conclusion, don’t look back at a younger kid who’s determined to do well and tell him/her that “it won’t matter”, because it does. That determination will grow with them and become a part of their personality, which is a wonderful thing. Each step of life has its significance, but it’s not always shown through numbers and letters and quantity – it just becomes a part of who we are. Everything matters.

Okay so none of that made any sense, but I’ll keep that there because I’ll probably enjoy rereading that when I’m like, 30 years old.

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Well, then. My mock exams are now over so all of that^ is now irrelevant. Now, it’s time to talk about these pancakes! *insert heart-eye emoji here*

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Okay, these pancakes are really special. They’re asiudhjnk ridiculously fluffy!!! I mean, if they weren’t super duper fluffy I wouldn’t have added the word “fluffy” to the title, right? So, I think my point has already been proven.

These pancakes are honestly just a dream. They’re full of that classic pancake flavor. You know the one I’m talking about – the sweet sweet scent of pancakes that just reminds you of fluffy little patties drenched in syrup. That’s the one.

The added yogurt makes them super moist without much oil, and the blueberries are just sweet little blobs of goodness that provide wonderful flavor and happiness 🙂

Because I didn’t manage to finish all of the pancakes in one sitting (despite my best efforts), I stored the leftovers in the fridge or freezer, and they were just as perfect when I heated them up in the microwave. They make the perfect 2-minute breakfasts. Just plop a few on a plate, microwave them, cover in honey and fruit and you’re good to go!

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Ultra-Fluffy Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (optional)*
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Toppings of your choice (blueberries, honey, maple syrup, yogurt, banana…)

*If you want to eat the pancakes plain, then I’d recommend adding a little sweetener, but if you plan on eating them with maple syrup or honey, then it’s fine to omit as well

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, oil and eggs.
  3. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together until just combined
  4. Fold in the blueberries
  5. On Working in batches, scoop 1/3 cup batter for each pancake and cook until bubbles appear on top and underside is nicely browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook pancakes on the other side, about 1-2 minutes longer; keep warm in oven.
  6. Serve immediately with maple syrup.
  7. Lightly grease a skillet and heat over medium heat. Add in a 1/3 cup of batter and cook until bubbles appear and the bottom is golden brown. Flip over until cooked. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
  8. Serve with your desired toppings!
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Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (Clean)

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Happy New Year, everyone! (yes, I know, it’s been like two weeks but still).

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I hope that you all had an amazing Christmas and New Year’s. I definitely did. I spent the first Christmas at home for as long as I can remember. It was full of good food and good times and was probably one of the best ones ever.

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Now, it’s back to school. To be fair, workload was alright in the first week back, but I’m also training for a swim meet, which requires waking up early sometimes and leaves me tired all the time. So, you could probably guess (and if you follow me on Instagram, you’d know) that I’ve been pretty lazy with breakfast and food in general these days. I’ve just grabbed a Squarebar and a couple bread rolls for breakfast, but also – these cookies!

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I’ve always had my doubts with making healthy cookies. Cookies are just so technical, but these turned out beautifully. They aren’t super sweet, so they make a perfect on-the-go snack. I’d definitely want to have a batch of these in my fridge at all times. They’re healthy and delicious and studded with chocolate and they’re perfect.

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These cookies are soft, but hold their shape very well. They’re also slightly chewy thanks to the added oats.

And of course, chocolate makes everything better, so there’s that…

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Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius or 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda
  3. In another bowl using an electric hand mixer, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the coconut oil, coconut sugar, vanilla extract, and egg together until smooth
  4. Mix in the mashed banana
  5. Fold in flour mixture until just combined, before folding in the oats and chocolate chips
  6. Use a cookie scoop to drop dough onto prepared baking sheet, flattening them down slightly
  7. Bake for 10-13 minutes until edges are golden brown

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Dark Chocolate Chunks (Clean)

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Ooh been a while since I’ve posted a muffin recipe. Been a while since I’ve posted at all, to be honest. Sorry about that, end of semesters are always ridiculously chaotic, but at least Winter Break is just around the corner! One more day!!

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Let me start off talking about the muffins so that you can skip directly to the recipe later without having to read all my random rambling.

I’ve made plenty of muffins in my life, and I have to say, that this is one of my all-time favourites. The crumb is absolutely perfect. It’s not dense, and it doesn’t fall apart when you bite. It’s soft and light and perfect.

And the flavour! It has a very distinctive banana bread flavour, but these are just so much easier. With banana bread, you have to wait over an hour for the banana bread to bake! With these, you need less than 20. Not to mention, muffins are the perfect snack size and easier to bring along as a to-go snack or even breakfast.

But of course, my favourite part would have to be the chocolate. I have a rule when it comes to muffins with chocolate in them. I either eat them cold – straight out of the fridge, or hot – microwaved or baked. When the muffins come straight out of the fridge, the chocolate chunks become so distinct in their tempered texture, demanding you to notice the chocolate chunks and appreciate them fully. On the other hand, when the chocolate chunks turn into melty globs of perfection…well then, they’re melty globs of perfection. It’s quite simple, really.

I happened to have hazelnut dark chocolate on hand, which I thought would add texture and contribute a nutty texture, and I’m really glad I did. Nevertheless, if hazelnuts aren’t your thing, then dark chocolate works fine as well.

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I’m so excited for break. Like, so excited. It’ll be the first time in forever that I’ve spent Christmas at home, and it’ll be extra special now because my family is rarely together nowadays. My brother’s off at university and my dad comes home once every two weeks because he was relocated. My mom is really excited too, going out and buying all sorts of Christmas decorations and gifts while I plan all the Christmas activities and movies and desserts. It’s going to be a good one.

And of course, this weekend my friends and I are going to have the best time ever. They’re both leaving quite early on in the break, so we’re making the most of this weekend – movie nights, visiting TianAnMen square, dinner dates, hot pot…

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If you’re still reading this, which I doubt many of you are, I have a question for you: Would you rather know how you die or when you die?

My friends and I were discussing the question. One friend and I wanted to know when, and the other wanted to know how. It’s an interesting topic and a question worth discussing.

I’d rather know when I die. My reasoning was that I would be able to truly cherish my last moments, whereas, if I knew how I would die, I’d just be paranoid of everything relating to that. For instance, if I knew that I would die by getting hit by a car, I’d just have a fear of cars for the rest of my life.

But then I asked someone else while walking home and he said that he’d rather not know anything about his death. I can’t believe it hadn’t crossed my mind, but as soon as he pointed it out, I realized that it’s not necessarily a good thing to know anything about your death.

If I did know when I would die, I’d see my life as a ticking bomb. I’d feel guilty every second I don’t do something “meaningful” and I’d live in constant terror of finding meaning to life. It’s better to just sit back and go with the flow. Enjoy life, friends xx

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Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 3 large bananas, mashed (about 1.5 cups)
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I used hazelnut dark chocolate)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C or 350 degrees F
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg
  3. In a separate large bowl, whisk the egg and coconut sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract, coconut oil, and mashed bananas until combined
  4. Gradually add in dry ingredients, mixing until just combined
  5. Stir in the milk and mix until just combined
  6. Fold in the chopped dark chocolate
  7. Fill each muffin liner 2/3 of the way full with batter. (Optional: Place a very thinly sliced banana slice on top of the muffin and a little chopped chocolate before baking)
  8. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until tops are slightly golden. Remove and let cool

 

Chunky Coconut Granola (Clean)

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How is it already Saturday? I was so looking forward to using this October break productively. I was going to finish all my college essays and come up with a Math IA topic and finish my Extended Essay and study for my upcoming math integration test and my psychology socio-cultural level of analysis test and get started on writing my psych IA and oh god I’ve done nothing. Well, then again, I didn’t do nothing. I mean, I did watch more movies than I’d normally watch in half a year, and I finished a book. Oh – and I ate a lot of food. That counts for something, right?

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I just read my first Lee Child book – Killing Floor. It’s the first book in the Jack Reacher series and I have to admit that I was mildly disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high, or maybe the book just wasn’t as good as it’s hyped up to be. I watched the movie afterwards, which was based on a different book in the series, and I feel like I could pretty much predict aspects of every story in the series. Always has to be a damsel in distress (or any hostage really), a betrayal, a car being tailed, and Reacher shoving his thumbs in someone’s eyes. Has anyone read the whole series? Am I close?

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Oops I haven’t even told you anything about this recipe yet. I’m tired and cold. Forgive me.

Now, I have a lot of granola recipes, but this one is definitely a favourite. I’m not usually the biggest fan of coconut-flavored things, but this is seriously amazing. The granola is suuper chunky. You know granola’s gonna be chunky when the whole sheet of it just sticks together and you can break it into chunks as big as you’d like. Check this out (warning – bad quality phone pictures incoming):

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“Is that what I think it is?” YES. It’s a giant sheet of granola. You could’ve broken it in half and called it reaaally chunky granola.

Point is, this granola gives you the clusters of your dreams, and is infused with such an aromatic and sweet coconut flavour that you will not be able to resist.

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Chunky Coconut Granola

Adapted from Minimalist Baker

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (135g) old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup (40g) toasted and salted coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup (80g) raw almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 cup (25g) raw pecans, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) coconut sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius or 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, coconut flakes, almonds, pecans, coconut sugar, and salt
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut oil and maple syrup over low heat and whisk until fully combined. Add in the vanilla sugar and whisk to combine.
  4. Pour the coconut oil mixture over the dry ingredients and stir together until the dry ingredients are thoroughly coated in the coconut oil mixture
  5. Spread the granola mixture evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes. At 20 minutes, turn the pan around so that the granola bakes evenly, and bake for another 5-7 minutes. Granola has a tendency to be a little unpredictable in the oven, so keep and eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  6. When the granola is golden brown, remove from oven and allow it to cool completely before breaking it into chunks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy!

Banana Bread Waffles (Clean)

So relieved that it’s October break. It’s a very well-needed break. I wrote up a list on my whiteboard of all the things I need to accomplish over these next 7 days, but just looking at it makes me want to cry…UGH LIFE.

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On the bright side, not having school early in the mornings means that I can take a little more time to put together the perfect breakfasts (best meal of the day amiright?). I realise that my last post was also a breakfast post, but this just goes to show how important breakfast is. If you’re into pancakes, go check out that post, but if you’re into waffles, stay right where you are. I’ve got a hella good banana bread waffle recipe for you.

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Anyways, I’m going to take a few minutes here to just focus on how wonderful these banana bread waffles are, and hopefully forget about all my troubles for a bit.

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You’ll notice that I pretty much always top my waffles with ice cream. I’m not really sure why, I just think that waffles and ice cream are the best way to go. Especially when you drizzle over some melted chocolate and let it set and cover it with all sorts of delicious sprinkles and toppings and whatever you like. You know all the little pockets in waffles? The little indents? I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to fill those with ice cream so that you get 50% waffle and 50% ice cream in each bite.

God, I totally need to host a waffle party sometime. Look at all these different combinations! I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have a great time making these.

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The waffles themselves are just what you’d expect from a recipe called “Banana Bread Waffles”. They taste just like banana bread – but in the form of a waffle! They have that sweet flavour of banana infused in a light, fluffy waffle with a wonderfully crisp edge. Yumm! *insert heart-eyes emoji here*

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Banana Bread Waffles

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 cup overripe mashed bananas (about 2 bananas)
  • 1 large egg or 1 flax egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Vanilla ice cream, melted chocolate (optional, highly recommended)
  • Other toppings (banana, berries, granola, nuts etc.) (optional)

Method

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, almond milk, mashed bananas, egg, and vanilla extract
  3. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Do not over mix.
  4. Heat a waffle iron. When it’s ready, spray or brush it, to cover it in a layer of oil. Pour the batter into the heated waffle iron, adding enough to just cover the bottom layer of the iron. Everyone’s waffle iron is different, so just estimate this and make adjustments as you go. Cook the waffle according to the waffle iron’s instructions.
  5. Top with vanilla ice cream, melted chocolate, and topping of your choice

Pumpkin Banana Spiced Pancakes with Pumpkin Fro-Yo (Clean)

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This one day during September, my inbox began filling up with pumpkin recipes from all the blogs that I follow, and that’s when I realised that I should probably get started on these pumpkin recipes, so today I’m giving you not one, but two pumpkin recipes!

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Here in Beijing, the temperatures are still in the high 20s, so part of this recipe is a Summer-Fall hybrid. Pumpkin Fro-Yo. All the flavours of Fall, but still keeping the temperature cool for Summer. If you’re not really up for cold food, don’t worry! The pancakes are hot and full of cozy spices, and of course, you can (should) top the whole stack off with a warm chocolate drizzle. Chocolate is great. It’s available year-round and it makes everything better.

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Also – did I mention that the frozen yogurt is only 4 ingredients? Yaaay!

Pancakes are my go-to breakfast these days. I like to make a large batch of them over the weekend and keep them in my fridge or freezer. They’re a perfect grab-and-go breakfast, which is essential now that swim training has started. Having breakfast ready everyday is the ultimate time-saver to maximise my much-needed sleep.

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Pumpkin Banana Spiced Pancakes with Pumpkin Fro-Yo 

Ingredients

For the pancakes:

  • 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

For the frozen yogurt:

  • 1 cup vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Melted chocolate, optional but recommended
Method
  1. For the fro-yo, mix everything together in a large mixing bowl until completely combined
  2. *Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker until it is a smooth and has thickened. Store in freezer.
  3. For the pancakes, in a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the soy milk, vinegar, egg, pumpkin puree, banana, and melted coconut oil
  5. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and fold until just combined
  6. Heat a pan over medium-high heat and scoop on 1/4-1/3 cup of batter
  7. Cook until bubbles appear and the sides start to dry before flipping. Cook another minute or so
  8. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  9. To assemble, stack the pancakes and top with a scoop of the fro-yo and a generous drizzle of melted chocolate. Enjoy!

*If you don’t have an ice cream maker, place the bowl in the freezer and stir the mixture every half hour until it reaches desired consistency

Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Clean)

I think I found my new favorite cookie recipe.

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I pulled my first batch out of the oven and omg the chocolate was all melty and it looked so good. Seriously, this recipe is definitely not short of chocolate. I grabbed a cookie without letting it cool and gobbled it down. It was delicious. I did burn my fingers on the melted chocolate, but all was worth it. I knew this was a killer recipe. But then, after I had let the cookies cool for a bit, I went to grab another one and – would you believe it – this one was better than the first!! The chocolate doesn’t set very easily, as it’s been in such a high temperature, so the chocolate was still ooey and gooey, but the cookie itself had firmed up. The straight-out-of-the-oven cookie was still a little crumbly and had a very even texture throughout. The cookie I’d left to cool for about 10 minutes had a crispy exterior layer with a soft inside. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it made it so much better.

Then? I had another cookie. Yeah, that’s like three cookies within 15 minutes. #noshame

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The next morning, I added two cookies onto my papaya smoothie bowl, and yet again the cookies awed my taste buds. Either they had gotten better or I was just really hungry – and I had just eaten half a large papaya, so I’m pretty sure they’d gotten better. I couldn’t stop myself. I ate another two. That’s four cookies within 15 minutes. Are you starting to see a pattern?

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The weird thing is, I’m not usually a fan of coconut in sweets. Macaroons? Bounty bars? Never liked them. Never even really liked coconut yogurt (then again, I only had that once). But undoubtedly, this cookie wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for that coconut. It adds texture and flavor that is addicting and irresistible. Hence, why I’ve been eating about a dozen of these a day…

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By the way, you might notice some darker chunks of chocolate in these photos that don’t seem to have melted. In case you were wondering, for my first batch, I mixed in some chunks of chocolate date fudge, just as an experiment. It was fine, but it didn’t really make the recipe any better or anything, so I omitted it in the second batch.

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These photos do not do the cookies justice. You have to eat one to know how insanely and unexplainably delicious they are. Please make them now. They’re suuper easy to make too! One-bowl and you basically just dump all the ingredients together.

Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

Makes 20-30 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or another 1/2 cup coconut oil)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut or almond milk
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut*

*You can also use sweetened, depending on how sweet your chocolate is as well

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients except for the chocolate chunks and shredded coconut until well combined
  3. Stir in the chocolate chunks and shredded coconut
  4. Clump together a tablespoon or two of the dough into a ball (if it’s a little too crumbly, add another tablespoon of oil) and place it onto a lined baking sheet
  5. Repeat with the rest of the dough
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until set and golden