Dec. 16. 2014
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Dietitian, Founder and CEO

I took a quick poll on the Nutrition Stripped Facebook page last week asking about your favorite holiday cookies that you’d like to see a healthy remake of and the largest request was about sugar cookies! Not surprising though since sugar cookies are THE classic holiday cookie especially around this time of year when cookie swaps and cookie decorating is a part time activity. Beetroot Coconut Sugar Cookies involve one of my favorite root vegetables, beets, coupled with gluten free flours, coconut oil, and some other goodies. And they can be made vegan friendly too, bonus.

I developed the concept for these cookies on a whim. I was at Barista Parlor, my favorite working/coffee spot here in Nashville, a couple weeks ago and was oddly inspired to do a beet sugar cookie when I had one of their brewed coffees that had subtle notes of beet in it- there was an earthiness to the coffee that was amazing when I paired it with a little something sweet, one of their amazing macaroons, and hence inspiration struck! I had multiple taste testers, the most important being Bennett to see if I could pass the test as he strongly dislikes beets- he whooshed out of the kitchen sliding on the floor with a mouthful saying “I lobue deas”, I said  “what?”, “I LOVE THESE!”.

My take on sugar cookies is quite different than you may be expecting, as I’m sure you can quite easily see these aren’t white or any “normal” neutral shade of cream as most are. My variation involves beets, oats, and coconut- far from a traditional sugar cookie yet reminds me of this classic with it’s tender and chewy texture. Not to mention the presentation of this cookie is incredibly beautiful with the contrast of maroon from the beets and white from the shredded coconut flakes if you choose to sprinkle a bit on top.

Beets. In comparison to other vegetables, my love for beets is new yet the novelty hasn’t worn off, I still appreciate them just as much as the first day trying them. They contain special antioxidants that are great for fighting inflammation and supporting and detoxification, read more about their health benefits on my Whole Pantry page. I know I’m an outlier when it comes to food bloggers out there incorporating vegetables into desserts, and I won’t be stopping anytime soon. Vegetables are far too underused and it’s my mission to share how you creative you can be in the kitchen by incorporating them beyond salads and roasts. Beets are especially great used in these cookies because of their smooth and silky texture after they’ve been roasted and pureed. Beets also contain a natural hint of sweetness that amplifies after being roasted- an added bonus using these in sweet desserts without having to call on the use of other sweeteners.

The natural sweetener I use in these cookies comes from mineral and amino acid containing coconut sugar, a touch of maple syrup, and again the natural sugars from the roasted beets! If you’ve never tried coconut sugar before it reminds me of brown sugar, a beautiful brown shade with large granules. For that reason, I recommend dissolving coconut sugar in the coconut oil, which I describe in the recipe, before mixing the cookie dough. I very seldom add sugar, even natural sugars like coconut sugar, to my recipes. But baking is a WHOLE OTHA ball game when it comes to recipe development. I was pretty lucky to come up with an recipe I was giddy with on the first try- but believe me this doesn’t ever happen with me and baking (remember my multiple tries with Nourishing Nut & Seed Bread?!). If I add any sugars to my cooking/baking it would be from maple syrup, honey, dates, fruit, or coconut sugar! The one thing I can’t say enough is to still use these sparingly even though they’re all natural sugars.

I enjoy these most with a drizzle of slightly warm or melted coconut butter, like this brand here or here, followed by dusting them with toasted coconut shreds. There’s something so familiar in using coconut butter on a cookie, like glaze on a donut or a corn syrup glaze on a cookie- yet I’m taking the whole food version over the latter any day. You can of course enjoy these without adding coconut butter on top, another way to enjoy these is plain and dipped in almond milk!

What I love most is you still feel amazing and energetic after indulging in these cookies, it’s all about the quality and combination of ingredients. I highly recommend making these to share at your next girls night or with your friends and loves over a big mug of tea, glass of Vanilla Cashew Milk, and PJ’s- I’m all about those comfy PJ’s. Oh and an added bonus, when you dunk these into your homemade almond or cashew milk, the cookies make it turn a beautiful shade of pink, something Bennett got a kick out of.



Beetroot Coconut Sugar Cookies
Recipe Type: dessert, snack
Author: McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDN
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 30
A gluten free sugar cookie made with beets, oats, and coconut. GF
  • 6 medium beets (yields 3 cups), roasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl whisk the oat flour, almond flour, brown rice flour, shredded coconut, salt, baking powder and cinnamon until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the melted coconut oil with the sugar until dissolved followed by the egg. In a food processor or blender, puree the roasted beets until smooth, add in maple syrup, coconut oil and sugar mixture, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until combined.
  5. Using your hands, form small balls of dough about a tablespoon and evenly place on a lined baking sheet.
  6. Chill the cookies for about 10 minutes in the refrigerator, remove from fridge, and place in oven to bake for 13-15 minutes.
  7. Bake until the cookies are firm, remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. Enjoy warm or cool completely before storing.
VEGAN: use [url href=”” target=”_blank”]vegan egg[/url]


I hope you all find these fun to make as much as I do… and of course fun to eat and share this holiday! Be sure to check out my gift DIY on how to wrap cookies up in an adorable way on my blog Pistachio Crusted Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies (also the longest title for a recipe ever, haha).

xx McKel