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Arthritis-Friendly Peanut Butter Cookies for the Holiday Season

Managing RA

November 27, 2023

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by Alexis Rochester

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Medically Reviewed by:

Adrienne Seitz, MS, RD, LDN

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by Alexis Rochester

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Medically Reviewed by:

Adrienne Seitz, MS, RD, LDN

•••••

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These cookies are the perfect treat, and they don’t worsen my arthritis symptoms or flares.

Certain sweets or foods might aggravate your arthritis symptoms, and that can be difficult to manage when visiting friends and family for meals during the holidays.

If you’re looking for an arthritis-friendly treat to make this holiday season, why not try these easy peanut butter cookies?

They’re soft and fluffy, similar to a cake or muffin texture, and slightly sweet, with a wonderful peanut butter flavor.

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What makes these cookies arthritis-friendly?

Dairy-free

Dairy is the biggest trigger for my rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

There is conflicting evidence about whether dairy can trigger inflammatory reactions, with some research claiming that it has anti-inflammatory effects.

It’s the saturated fats in whole milk and full-fat dairy products that could worsen existing inflammation. Since milk and other dairy products have many other health benefits, such as being a source of vitamin D, you might want to try low fat dairy options.

But with the growing abundance of nondairy alternatives such as almond and oat milk, it can be easy to swap those into your diet to see whether they reduce your arthritis symptoms.

For me, this swap has led to fewer arthritis flares, and these cookies don’t contain dairy for this reason.

Gluten-free

Gluten is found in several grains, including rye, barley, and wheat. This means it’s present in most breads, pastas, and baked goods.

Some people may have an intolerance to gluten that can lead to inflammation. While research is limited, some people living with arthritis may find that gluten makes their arthritis symptoms flare.

I try to avoid gluten whenever possible, and these cookies are also gluten-free.

Low in sugar

Another trigger for me is excess sugar. A little bit here or there doesn’t worsen my symptoms, but eating sweets with a lot of sugar will always contribute to more pain and swelling the next day.

Excess sugar can cause your body to produce more cytokines, which are inflammatory proteins. And when you have arthritis, this can make existing inflammation worse. You can read more about sugar intake and arthritis here.

These peanut butter cookies are low in sugar, so they make the perfect treat.

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Ingredients you’ll need

This recipe makes 16–18 cookies when you use a medium-sized cookie scoop that holds 1–2 tablespoons of dough.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the eggs and sugar until completely combined and smooth.
  3. Add the baking soda, vanilla, and salt and stir until combined. At this point, the mixture should be smooth and everything, including the sugar, should be dissolved.
  4. Add the peanut butter and gently stir the mixture until the peanut butter is fully incorporated. Since peanut butter is thicker, you might want to use a whisk for this step to break up the peanut butter and make sure it is evenly combined.
  5. Add the oats and nuts and stir just a little, until they’re evenly distributed. Don’t overmix the dough at this point — it will be a little sticky.
  6. Using a cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet. These cookies will not spread very much, but it’s a good idea to space them apart on your cookie sheet.
  7. Gently pat down the top of each cookie to form a circle. Since these cookies don’t flatten like traditional cookies, you want to make sure to push them down for even baking.
  8. Bake for 9–10 minutes, or until the cookies are set.
  9. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer the cookies from the cookie sheet to a wire rack for about 5 minutes to cool. These cookies can be eaten warm or allowed to cool all the way.
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Helpful baking tips for these cookies

The peanut butter I use is a natural peanut butter, which is a little more watery than regular peanut butter. If you’re using regular peanut butter, keep in mind that it might make the texture different. If the dough seems too thick to stir, add no more than 1 teaspoon of water. I would only add water if you’re using regular thicker peanut butter.

I use a cookie scoop to help ensure that the cookies turn out the same size. A basic cookie scoop holds 1–2 tablespoons of dough and makes the perfect-sized cookie.

Another helpful tip is to make sure the cookies are still slightly soft in the middle when you remove them from the oven. As the cookies cool, they will continue to harden. It might take a little extra time to carefully remove the cookies from the cookie sheet when they’re soft, but it’s worth it so they don’t overbake.

These cookies don’t have butter in them, so they might stick to a baking sheet. The fat in the peanut butter will help with this, but using a good nonstick surface can be beneficial. You can line the cookie sheet with parchment paper or use a nonstick baking mat. But don’t use cooking spray, as it will burn the bottom of the cookies while they bake.

How to store these cookies (if they aren’t all gobbled up!)

I store these cookies in an airtight container once they’re cool.

They will stay fresh for about 5 days, but they’re definitely best the first few days after baking. I recommend making them a day before any party or other event you plan to take them to.

You can also put these in the freezer, where they can last for 6 months. To thaw them, just set them out on the counter for a few hours.

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Make them festive with different toppings

In the spirit of the holidays, why not make these cookies festive?

You can top them with sprinkles, cinnamon, or even a little bit of icing to make them decorative. Feel free to add anything you’d like to the top of the cookies.

They also taste great with some sea salt sprinkled on top.

Enjoy!

I minimize the amount of dairy, gluten, and sugar I eat throughout the year, but during the holiday season this can become more difficult. If I’m going to a party or get-together, I usually bring a dessert like these peanut butter cookies.

They are soft, delicious, and great for holiday gatherings, especially for anyone with arthritis or other inflammatory conditions. They’re very easy to make and a great substitute for any traditional cookie.

Medically reviewed on November 27, 2023

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About the author

Alexis Rochester

Alexis Rochester is an investigative chemist, blogger, and founder of Chemistry Cachet. She shares science-based skin care, cleaning, gardening, and health tips. She was diagnosed with RA at age 10, so she has a passion for pain management tips and research, along with sharing her journey through this disease. She lives in Texas with her daughter, husband, and bulldog. You can find her posting pictures and fun stories daily on Instagram. Also look for Chemistry Cachet on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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