Lightened Up Cowboy Cookies

by Maris Callahan on April 9, 2009


Admit it with me. You’ve vowed that you’ll start your diet tomorrow and gorged on chocolate chip cookie dough, (well, except for Joey). You bought your salted kettle chips from the gourmet grocery because, well, someone else might want to eat them. But you live alone.

You’ve sworn that after this sandwich, you’ll give up eating carbs (well, I’ve never personally done that, but you know, OTHER people).

I’m not going to pretend I’ve done the research, but I do know that at any given time there are a lot of people that claim to be dieting. Your aunt claims to be dieting as she drowns her steak caesar salad in house dressing and the woman next to you at your Weight Watchers meeting doesn’t come right out and say it but you KNOW she polished off the box of Oreo Cakesters last night when she was watching American Idol, even though she probably said she only had two.

I’ve done my fair share of dieting in my life. In high school, I used to eat a reduced-fat blueberry muffin for breakfast thinking I was eating health food. After college, I lost twenty pounds of unwanted beer weight only to promptly start a food blog and gain about half of that back three years later.

I digress.

Throughout all of my experience with weight reduction and dieting I’ve learned two things:

1. If you cheat, you’re only cheating yourself. No one other than you really cares if you’re going to eat a second brownie or if you’re lying through your teeth when you say you had a salad for lunch.

2. Deprivation will never work. While there are some people who have had success losing weight by cutting carbs, cutting dairy, cutting fats, I believe that if you’re able to erase a entire food category from your diet then it probably isn’t that much of a sacrifice. I could never give up bread and I would ever give up chocolate but what I can do when I’m trying to shed or maintain weight is eat these things in moderation.

It was my quest last weekend to make some type of dessert to eat in moderation that ended in these cookies. The recipe is an adaptation of a more indulgent recipe I found in the Moosewood Dessert cookbook. In the Moosewood book these are called Cowboy cookies because it’s supposedly an adaptation of a recipe . And come on, don’t “Cowboy Cookies” sound way more fun than “No-Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies?

That’s what I thought.

I will be forthcoming and tell you that while these cookies don’t contain any butter, they taste quite like they don’t contain butter. They were hearty and definitely took the edge off my yen for chocolate, but don’t make them expecting something like this. Or you will be sorely disappointed.

Lighter Cowboy Cookies


1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
In a large bowl, mix together the applesauce, white sugar and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

2. Gradually stir in the flour and oats, then fold in the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.

3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bottoms are golden. Cool on wire racks.

Tell me about your favorite indulgences. What could you never give up if you were dieting?

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

VeggieGirl April 9, 2009 at 3:00 am

Life is always better (and tastier) with a great batch of cookies :-)


Stacey Snacks April 9, 2009 at 3:00 am

I agree w/ you. you can’t deprive yourself of anything.
I have been really good, but tonight at a Passover seder I wanted to have wine, dessert and try everything, so I just had a taste of each thing. I feel a little guilty, but will eat a salad for lunch tomorrow!


Sara April 9, 2009 at 3:00 am

I could never give up chocolate! These look good though, I tend to do a lot of baking from Cooking Light, the recipes are reasonable in calories and mostly taste great.


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) April 9, 2009 at 3:00 am

I think one of the tricks of making lighter food is to think of it as something completely different, not as a lesser version of the original. Lesser implies that something is missing. Giving these cookies credit for what they do have — chocolate — makes them just a different cookie than the original Cowboy Cookies. And a bite of chocolate always helps to kill the cravings, doesn’t it?


Sophie April 9, 2009 at 3:00 am

MMMMM…Maris, those cookies look georgously yummie 8)!!!!


Pearl April 9, 2009 at 3:00 am

ooh i will look into those cookies.. my dad can’t really eat anything with butter right now but i know he loves chocolate chip cookies… so i think this would be a nice way to present them to him :)


ksgoodeats April 9, 2009 at 3:00 am

Those cookies sound fantastic!! I could never give up tiramisu – healthy?! I think not ;)


jshively April 9, 2009 at 3:00 am

I could not last 10 minutes on a diet. Lack any willpower and self-control.
These cookies look and sound amazing!


Matt April 9, 2009 at 3:00 am

“In high school, I used to eat a reduced-fat blueberry muffin for breakfast thinking I was eating health food”
In high school I didnt give one thought about what I ate. I ate as much and as fast as I could.
boy how things change.


Ashley April 9, 2009 at 3:00 am

I love sweets, but once I get off of them for a while, the cravings go away. But, I really can’t live without pizza. Last time I dieted, I would have pizza once a week for my cheat meal. It actually worked really well.


Food Hunter April 9, 2009 at 3:00 am

Life is too short to give up food…of any kind :-)


Melissa April 9, 2009 at 3:00 am

Good commentary on dieting. As for the cookies, even if they were the light version, that extreme closeup is total food porn.
I’m not a sweets person at all. For me, my “must haves” are things like Thai curries, pho and melty sandwiches. Those are things I would have a hard time living without.


Cate O'Malley April 10, 2009 at 3:00 am

I totally agree on not depriving oneself from things – it only makes you indulge more, you know? All things in moderation. ;)


kate April 10, 2009 at 3:00 am

For me it’s all about proper portions, a high health context in the food I eat and plenty of exercise. With all that, I can have a little ice cream, or a small piece of cake and I never am deprived. With this mentality, I’ve managed to drop nearly two pants sizes since December. Gotta love it!


ingrid April 10, 2009 at 3:00 am

Yup, you just described me. Really I need to just stopping eating so late and start exercising more regularly.
Your cookie looks pretty good and I’m not a cookie person.


FatFighterTV April 10, 2009 at 3:00 am

I would NEVER give up chocolate. Ever. :)


Chrissy April 11, 2009 at 3:00 am

This post was hilarious. And so true. :-) I would also never give up bread. Or pasta. And probably not cheese. I can cut back on chocolate and other desserts when I try (or, you know, if I don’t come across them for long periods of time), but I’d eventually need to eat a cookie and a bowl of ice cream.


Melissa April 11, 2009 at 3:00 am

I have such a hard time cutting down on sweets- it is much like an addiction. I’m actually trying really hard to recall just how I was very successful on Weight Watchers 3 years ago- when this year I haven’t been able to stick with it for a week.
I do know I do much better when I plan my eating in advance, provide plenty of healthy snacks, and bring my lunch to work.
All that said- I couldn’t live without cookies. I LOVE them.


lisamichele April 11, 2009 at 3:00 am

LOVE Cowboy cookies, and basically most cookies in general. I want to eat your cookie dough! Hmm..what would I NOT give up if dieting? lie. I can’t diet to save my life, so I have to exercise like crazy. OK, one thing I absolutely would/could never give up would be pasta..just can’t imagine life without it at least once a week :)


Joey April 11, 2009 at 3:00 am

Cookie dough is terrifying.


Joie de vivre April 12, 2009 at 3:00 am

Alas, I can never give up pepperoni pizza, I have one ordered and on its way right now! I’ve been curious about Cowboy cookies after they were on the Better Homes and Garden’s presidential cookie ballot as George Bush’s favorite cookie. Shame on me for still not trying them. Yours look wonderful. I love the addition of applesauce. I love your imagery of the Weight Watcher polishing off the cakesters while watching American Idol. We all need our indulgences, but we do need to be honest with ourselves.


Leslie April 12, 2009 at 3:00 am

NO BUTTER? Isnt that a punishable crime?


burpexcuzme April 12, 2009 at 3:00 am

I could never ever give carbs or cheese. the world will shudder at my fury without carbs or cheese.


Nirvana April 12, 2009 at 3:00 am

But I love butter!!!! (in moderation, of course)


Joey April 12, 2009 at 3:00 am

This blog doesn’t do enough with mustard.


Food Hunter May 6, 2009 at 3:00 am

They sure look good!


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