I don’t know how I let this happen, but after being preoccupied for years with baking all sorts of delectable treats, I just made my first batch of oatmeal raisin cookies two weeks ago.

I have made hundreds of batches of chocolate chip cookies, but despite having what I now know is probably the best recipe ever staring me in the face most mornings while whipping up some oatmeal, I never gave oatmeal raisin cookies a chance to win me over.

I was about to make my go-to chocolate chip recipe, when I suddenly had the urge to dump a bunch of oatmeal into the batter.  Instead, I grabbed my canister of trusty Quaker Oats and gave their classic Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe a try.  Oh…my…gosh!  What have I been missing?!?!  Chewy oats, sweet raisins, and cinnamon meld to create a flavorful cookie that is both soft and crunchy.

To be honest, while cookies are one of my favorite desserts, I primarily make them to eat the dough.  Bad?  You know you do it too.  Then I eat one cookie and ship the rest off with my husband to take to work.  This pattern continued with the oatmeal cookies, but I ate more dough, ate two cookies, and was rather sad to see them go.

So, I made them again…and once more they disappeared, leaving me itching to bake them yet again.

To keep the Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies from vanishing too quickly, I made my own personal batch of healthy banana oatmeal raisin bars that entice me, but keep a certain significant other focused on their own batch of cookies.  No, these aren’t exactly like the Quaker recipe, but they boast the same oat-y cinnamon-y goodness with the added benefits of whole wheat flour, natural sweeteners, and are low fat and vegan.

I see many oatmeal cookies in my future and it never hurts if they are healthy too.

Chewy Banana Oat Bars

Makes about 24 bars or cookies

Adapted From Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Note:  You can either make these as bars like I did (in a 9×13 baking pan) or as large cookies by dropping 1/4 cup portions of batter onto cookie sheets (bake cookies for only 14-16 minutes).

2 medium ripe bananas, well mashed

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

1/4 cup almond milk

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup agave nectar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup walnut halves, toasted and roughly chopped

1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine banana, flax seeds, and almond milk and mix until smooth.  Mix in the oil, maple syrup, agave nectar, and vanilla.  Add all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt and mix to form a moist batter.  Fold in oats, walnuts, and raisins.  The dough will be moist yet thick and sticky.

Dump batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until slightly puffy and golden brown.  Cool completely and cut into squares.