Vegan Chewy Orange, Date, and Oatmeal Cookies

I made my cookies with soft, fresh Medjool dates, which are currently in season. You can substitute dried dates. However, if they're really hard, I'd suggest soaking them in some warm orange juice or water for 20-30 minutes prior to baking. The texture of these cookies is similar to a biscuit with a crusty exterior yet soft, chewy interior.

Makes about 18 cookies.

15 fresh dates, preferably Medjool, pitted and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons soy milk (or regular milk, if you're not making them vegan)

4 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon orange juice

zest of 1/2 medium orange (about 2 teaspoons)

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons flax seeds

crystallized sugar for coating cookies

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place dates, milk, oil, orange juice, and orange zest in a processor or blender. Process until dates are broken down into tiny pieces.

3. In a large bowl, stir oats, wheat flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and flax seeds. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Pour the date mixture into the well, and using your fingertips, lightly combine until a ball forms. Cover with Saran Wrap, and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

4. In a small bowl, add about 3-4 tablespoons crystallized sugar. You may need more.

5. Using a cookie scoop or spoons, form cookies into approximately 1-inch balls. Drop in the sugar and roll until coated. Place two inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned on the outside, but still soft to the touch. Transfer to a cookie rack. Cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.