For Sarah Robbins, MD, MSc, FRCPC, a gastroenterologist and founder of Well Sunday, the ultimate low-lift, high-vibe recharge snack comes in the form of banana oatmeal cookies that she says are packed with gut-friendly properties and require almost zero prep. When Dr. Robbins clued us into the existence of such a thing, we knew we'd need to learn more. (Specially: how to make a batch of the gastro's secret microbiome-boosting banana oatmeal cookie recipe immediately if not sooner. Good thing they only call for two ingredients!)
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What makes banana oatmeal cookies good for the gut?
According to Dr. Robbins, one of the main staples in her daily routine are these simple two-ingredient banana oatmeal cookies. “These cookies are one of my favorite simple and digestion-friendly snacks because they only require mashed ripe bananas and rolled oats. Both are both gentle on the digestive system and provide a good amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals,” Dr. Robbins says. They're also gluten-free and can easily be adapted (or doctored up) to meet your own palate or dietary preferences.
The best part? These cookies are designed to be consumed at any time of the day. “They can be a great option for breakfast, as a mid-morning or afternoon snack, or even as a healthy dessert,” Dr. Robbins says.
But let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Dr. Robbins explains that five main factors make these banana oatmeal cookies her daily go-to snack:
1. Bananas + oats are a dynamic duo for gut health
The combination of bananas and oats in these cookies can contribute to a healthy gut environment, providing essential nutrients, fiber, and prebiotics that support digestive health and overall well-being.
2. They’re packed with loads of fiber
Both bananas and oats are excellent sources of dietary fiber. Fiber plays a crucial role in supporting gut health by promoting regular bowel movements, preventing constipation, and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, which is essential for proper digestion and overall well-being.
3. They also contain gut-boosting prebiotics
Bananas contain a type of fiber called pectin, which acts as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are non-digestible compounds that serve as food for beneficial gut bacteria. By promoting the growth of these beneficial bacteria, prebiotics help maintain a balanced gut microbiome.
4. They (most likely) won’t upset your stomach
Both bananas and oats are easily digestible foods, making them extremely gentle on the digestive system. For individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or those following a low-FODMAP diet, these cookies can be a suitable option. Bananas and oats are low in fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs) that can trigger digestive discomfort in some people with IBS.
5. Contain loads of nutrients and vitamins
Bananas and oats are nutrient-dense foods. Bananas are rich in vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin B6 and minerals like potassium. Oats, meanwhile, provide nutrients like magnesium, iron, and zinc. These nutrients support various bodily functions, including those related to digestion.
How to make these cookies even better for the gut
Although they’re incredibly tasty on their own, Dr. Robbins recommends a few pairings that can up the ante on the gut health potential of these cookies. For starters, she says this recipe goes really well with a side of Greek yogurt, which helps add protein and probiotics that further support digestion. She also suggests lathering them up with a bit of almond, peanut, or the nut butter of your choice. (Or you can also mix the nut butter into the dough before baking them off.) This helps give the cookies an extra dose of healthy fats and protein, making the snack even more satisfying.
On the other hand, if more fiber and omega-3 fatty acids are the goal, Dr. Robbins suggests sprinkling chia or flax seeds over the cookies or mixing them into the dough before baking. And for a healthy dose of antioxidants, she says serving the cookies with a portion of fresh fruit (like berries) always does the trick.
Still, it's a good idea to still rotate your snacks for gut diversity
So, we know Dr. Robbins likes to eat banana oatmeal cookies daily, but can following such a routine do the gut more bad than good? According to Dr. Robbins, yes and no. “Eating the same thing routinely has both pros and cons,” she says.
On the one hand, eating the same snacks every day can help with what Dr. Robbins calls “digestive adaptation,” or a routine diet that allows the gut to adapt and optimize its digestive processes for those specific foods, leading to more efficient digestion. Additionally, she points out that consistently consuming familiar foods may reduce stress on the gut, as it doesn't need to process new or unfamiliar substances.
Plus, if what you consume daily is part of a well-balanced diet (albeit routine), Dr. Robbins says there’s no need to give it up if it’s working for you. Meanwhile, she highlights that having a diet routine and “go-to” foods can help simplify the cooking routine, making it easier and simpler to adhere to healthier habits.
Like most things in life, every story has two sides. Consuming the same thing daily can lead to reduced gut microbiome diversity, nutrient deficiencies, and taste bud fatigue. “A diverse gut microbiome is associated with better health outcomes. A diet that is diverse in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes helps to support a diverse complement of healthy gut bacteria,” Dr. Robbins says. Additionally, if the routine diet patterns lack certain nutrients, fibers, and prebiotics, this can easily lead to nutritional deficiencies. Plus, Dr. Robbins says eating the same thing day in and day out can get just plain boring over time.
The best advice to ensure your gut is as well-balanced (and happy) as possible comes down to two words, Dr. Robbins says: moderation and balance. “While routine meals can provide stability, comfort, and adherence to a diet regimen, it’s crucial to incorporate a diverse range of foods over time to ensure the gut is exposed to different nutrients, fibers, and beneficial compounds from various sources,” she says. According to the gastroenterologist, the more fiber and robust the gut microbiome is, the better.
@cookingbykylie one of my fav breakfast/snack recipes ? #veganbaking #easyrecipe #bananaoatcookies ♬ Sunshine - WIRA
2-ingredient banana oatmeal cookies recipe
Yields 12 cookies
2 ripe bananas, peeled
1 cup rolled oats
Pinch of cinnamon, optional
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it.
2. In a mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until smooth.
3. Add the rolled oats to the bowl and mix until the ingredients are thoroughly combined. (Optional: For extra flavor, you can add a pinch of cinnamon or any other spice of your choice.)
4. Using a spoon or your hands, scoop heaping spoonfuls (about three tablespoons) of the mixture and roll them into balls. Place each ball on the cookie sheet and flatten it into your desired shape (note that the cookies will not spread much during baking).
5. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes or until they’re lightly golden on the edges.
6. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Don't forget to customize!
This recipe is modification-friendly and is designed to be adapted to meet your specific dietary preferences. A few suggestions:
- Add a spoonful of nut butter into the batter for protein, fat, and deliciousness
- Mix in chia seeds or flaxseeds for crunch and omega-3s
- Stir in dried fruits for natural sweetness and texture
- Use chopped nuts (like walnuts, almonds, or pecans) for added crunch
- Add anti-inflammatory spices (like cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger) for even more flavor
- Toss in unsweetened coconut flakes for fiber
- Boost the protein content with your favorite protein powder
An RD shares a guide to gut health:
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