Last summer, my mom fulfilled a dream she had been chasing for over a decade: she bought a cabin in the woods on a lake. After searching in three different states and countless different zip codes, she and my dad finally found the perfect little home-away-from-home last June.
Because most previous owners include all of the furniture, appliances, dishes, and linens when selling their cabins in that particular neighborhood, my parents had very little to purchase after receiving the keys. Mom added moose-themed towels and a few paintings of aspen trees to turn it into the exact rustic cabin she had imagined, but our entire family could tell she was completely smitten from the first moment she stepped foot inside.
My parents gave both my brother and me a key to the cabin in case we wanted to visit one of the weekends when they stayed home, so last month, my brother and his best friend headed up to the mountains to escape the scorching hot 110° weather in our hometown. Even though the forest expected temperatures around 90°, the lake nearby made that much more bearable!
They planned a few hikes for their trip: a leisurely one to the aspen-lined meadow a mile away from the cabin; another down to the beach for an afternoon of swimming in the refreshing, icy cold lake; and a third steep trek up the side of a mountain to see an impressive set of waterfalls crashing over the top.
With so much exercise packed into one weekend, I thought the boys could use a sweet yet healthy treat to make it through their sun-drenched hikes. Because my brother loves anything lemon-flavored, I baked these Lemon Poppy Seed Protein Cookies specifically for him!
Protein cookies… That sounds a little bit like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? But I promise it’s not! These gorgeous treats are lower carb, lower sugar, and packed with 5 grams of protein! Moreover, they’re gluten-free and clean eating… And basically healthy enough for breakfast too!
The base of these cookies consists of coconut flour and vanilla protein powder. Coconut flour behaves very differently than other flours! It’s about 3 times as absorbent, so we’ll only use about a third of how much flour you’d expect in a cookie recipe. We’ll also give the cookie dough time to rest to allow the coconut flour to absorb the moisture from the lemon juice.
This recipe is designed for whey-based protein powder. I used Jamie Eason’s Lean Body for Her vanilla whey protein powder, and I loved how its whey taste was less noticeable than in some other brands. Unfortunately, it’s no longer sold in stores, but this protein powder (another one of my favorites!) and this protein powder are very similar.
Other brands of whey-based protein powder may work, but remember, many protein powders behave differently in baking recipes! They usually absorb different amounts of moisture, and they often result in varying textures too. Some are slightly more absorbent and will require a touch more milk; others are less so and may need a bit more coconut flour. See my Protein Powder FAQ Page for more information!
Note: I do not recommend using plant-based protein powder in this recipe. In general, plant-based protein powders are much more absorbent than whey-based protein powders, so the cookies would most likely turn out dry and crumbly.
These cookies are sweetened with a combination of agave and stevia. Stevia is a no-calorie, plant-based sweetener that’s clean eating friendly. Because stevia sometimes has a funny aftertaste, I used a mix of two different kinds—Truvia and Swerve—to minimize any strange flavors. If you can only find one or the other, that’s fine! Just substitute it for the other as well.
After letting the cookie dough rest and dropping it on the baking sheet, you must flatten the cookie dough to your desired thickness and width. These cookies do not spread while baking! Use a spatula (I own these—aren’t they cute?) because the cookie dough will stick to your hands.
Here’s my big secret to the chewiest cookies: slightly underbake the cookies; then let them sit on the warm baking sheet for a few extra minutes. This allows the centers to continue to cook through without the outsides turning crisp and crunchy. This little trick keeps your cookies chewy for up to a week, if they last that long!
So here’s to sunshine, summer days, and sweet hiking treats! 😉 And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your lemon poppy seed protein cookies!
Healthy Lemon Poppy Seed Protein Cookies
- ¼ cup (28g) coconut flour (measured like this)
- 2 scoops (84g) vanilla whey protein powder (really important – read Notes before beginning!)
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp xanthan gum
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp (9g) poppy seeds
- 1 tbsp (3g) lemon zest (about 1 medium)
- 1 ½ tbsp (21g) coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 large egg white, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp (45ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 medium)
- ¼ cup (60mL) agave
- 2 tbsp (24g) Swerve granulated erythritol
- 2 tbsp (24g) Truvia
- In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, protein powder, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, poppy seeds, and zest. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the lemon juice and agave. Mix in the Swerve and Truvia until completely dissolved. Stir in the coconut flour mixture until completely incorporated. Let the cookie dough rest for at least 10 minutes.
- Drop the cookie dough into 12 rounded scoops onto the prepared baking sheet, and flatten to between ¼” to ½” thick. Bake at 325°F for 11-13 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.