Peanut butter cookies

This recipe makes a delicious, quintessential peanut butter cookie.  It’s from a great cookbook by Alicia Simpson, which you can check out here.  The author has graciously agreed to let us publish her recipe and the carbon footprint on this site.


Makes 24 cookies.

You’ll need:

½ cup granulated sugar

½ brown sugar

½ cup non-hydrogenated margarine (I like Earth Balance), softened

½ cup natural peanut butter

¼ cup unsweetened applesauce

2 T plain soy or almond milk

1 ½ cups flour

¾ t baking soda

½ t salt

Note: You may want to experiment with the type of flour you add.  Depending on the flour, you can add a fraction of whole wheat flour up to 2/3 or so before it starts feeling too heavy.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix the first four ingredients together.  You can use an electric mixer if you have one handy, but it’s okay if not.  Mix in margarine and peanut butter, then the applesauce and soy or almond milk.  You should mix together the baking soda and salt with the flour before adding it to the mixture, so you don’t get clumps.

Make 1” balls, drop them onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and use a fork to make a cross-hatch pattern.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like them.

These cuties have just 30 g CO2-eq per cookie, with 10 g CO2-eq coming from the peanut butter, 4 g CO2-eq from each of the sugars, and 5 g CO2-eq from both the margarine and the flour.  The applesauce contributes less than 1 g CO2-eq, and the soymilk less than 0.5 g CO2-eq, all per cookie.  If you used butter instead of margarine, the difference in impact would be a whopping 51 g CO2-eq per cookie, for a total of 81 g CO2-eq per cookie (the added butter contributes 56 g CO2-eq per cookie, roughly twice the total of all of the other ingredients)!!  An egg added to this recipe would contribute 7 g CO2-eq per cookie.

Baking just one batch of cookies with a plant-based margarine saves the equivalent of taking a 6 mile drive in a 40 MPG car.

This calculation shows the important role cutting down on dairy can play in reducing our carbon footprint.  The reason is that cows are ruminant animals, which means their natural digestion process produces methane—a greenhouse gas with greater warming potential than CO2.  In fact, an omnivorous diet very low in dairy can have a smaller footprint than a vegetarian diet that includes lots of cheese and milk.

If you are into low or no added sugar desserts, please stay tuned!  I will be adding some great recipes along those lines soon.

Note:  These calculations use conversion factors from: Heller, M.C. and G.A. Keoleian. 2015. Greenhouse gas emission estimates of U.S. dietary choices and food loss. Journal of Industrial Ecology. 19(3): 391-401.

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