LUNCHBOX COOKIES with Chilean Guava (NZ Cranberries)


Chilean Guava & Chocolate Lunchbox Cookies

I make a variation of these cookies most weeks for school lunches. Usually I add chopped dried apricots but this week I experimented with adding some Chilean guavas we picked from my Dad's garden. Because the flesh is on the dry side they worked perfectly in the cookie dough adding a lovely aromatic flavour which I complimented with a sprinkle of finely chopped rosemary from the garden. They are a little fancy for everyday school lunches but my kids certainly approved by sneakily eating half of the first batch I made while they were cooling - you know they are up to no good when it all goes suspiciously quiet! If dairy, is OK butter can also be used in place of the peanut/nut butter.


  • 2/3 cup dates chopped
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter or another nut/seed butter
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds or oat flour*
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds or whole chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 50 g quality dark chocolate min. 70%, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup Chilean guavas dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary optional


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the chopped dates into a small sieve and rinse with 1 cup boiling water to soften the dates. Set over a bowl to drain for several minutes.
  • Place the dates, egg, peanut butter, coconut, almond flour, flaxseeds or chia seeds, baking powder and salt into a food processor and pulse 6 times to combine. Scrape down the sides and pulse 6 more times until the mixture comes together. Tip into a mixing bowl and add the chocolate and guavas. Use a spatula to combine.
  • Roll the cookie mixture into walnut-sized balls and arrange evenly on a lined baking tray. Press down with your fingers to slightly squash the balls. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a cake rack. Store in an airtight container and consume within 5 days.


*To make these cookies nut-free for school lunches replace the peanut butter with sunflower seed butter and the ground almonds with oat flour. I love using oat flour in baking as part of the flour component to add a tender crumb. I make it myself by simply blending rolled oats as needed in a coffee/spice grinder until finely ground into a soft flour.

I was asked recently in an interview how much time I spend in the garden each week. I flippantly replied around 1-2 hours. Afterwards I thought some more about this, had I been overzealous with my estimation? Surely I must spend more time each week than the length of a movie growing the majority of the fresh produce we eat? And yes, some weeks it would certainly be more, particularly during summer and autumn, while other weeks very little beyond a quick weeding while I am harvesting for dinner. On average, spread throughout the year, around 1-2 hours a week is about right.

But I did ponder how I have simplified my gardening over the decade I have been growing in this garden. I know what grows well in my cooler garden and I mostly stick to that – herbs, silver beet, spinach, salad, brassica, celery, peas, beans, carrots, beetroot, onions and garlic + recently tomatoes, cucumbers and chillies in the glasshouse. When I weed, unless it is a weed I don’t want in the garden (convolvulus and oxalis I’m talking about you), I simply pull it out upturn the roots and leave it right there on the garden bed to decompose into the soil. In winter I rest most of the heavy producing summer garden under a green crop to add nutrition to the soil while also preventing weeds taking over. Keep it simple.

Gardening does take time but on reflection it is less time than I actually thought. And the more you do it the more you learn, and I suppose the easier it becomes. And then just when you think you’ve got it sussed a new summer arrives completely different to the last summer and everything is new again! Happy autumn gardening, it really is a lovely time of year to BE in the garden, not too hot nor cold, and the soil is wonderfully hydrated from the recent rains.

The cookies I share here were inspired by my Dad and his wife’s garden that we visit most weeks. This time of year their 1-acre property is a garden of eden literally dripping with fruit in their semi-subtropical location. It is interesting to see how different a garden mere kilometers away from our own can be. Including a hedge of sweet and aromatic Chilean guavas that my children contentedly sit under and eat to their heart’s content. In between mouthfuls I managed to get a few handfuls into a bag to bring home to add to our weekly batch of lunchbox cookies.













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  1. LIz Narbey says:

    Look forward to seeing you at your booklaunch Nicola:) Liz N

    1. Thanks Liz, see you then!

  2. Perfect! We have a whole hedge of Chilean Guavas, have been meaning to find something to do with them (apart from just eat them) for years. Thanks x

    1. Enjoy Vic! Cookies with chocolate and Chilean Guava are a wonderful match!

  3. Thanks for this recipe. It is great to have something to do with my Chilean guavas apart from just eating them by the handful.

    1. Thanks Penny, something a little different, they are also lovely in an apple crumble 🙂

  4. Karina S. says:

    Can’t wait to make these!! Was wondering what to use in place of dessicated coconut, though. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Karina, you could use more ground almonds or other nuts or even seeds, otherwise rolled oats blended into a fine meal would work well too. I hope that helps, enjoy!

  5. The name of “Chilean guava” is murta o murtilla

    1. Thanks for sharing, in New Zealand they are also known as NZ cranberries.

  6. Hi Nicola, we’ve got some Chilean guavas in our new garden too. Red and yellow ones. But I think they are slightly different to your dads as ours look bigger, are juicy and have pips in them. Do you know the different botanical names?
    Trying to use some of our guavas in your fruit leather recipe.

    1. Hi Yvonne, sounds interesting. There are also guavas that are bigger but I am not sure of their botanical name. Chilean Guavas are Ugni molinae (Mrytus ugni), here is some more info on the Incredible Edibles website:
      For the fruit leather you may need to sieve or mouli the pulp to remove the seeds if they are large. Enjoy!

  7. Hi Nicola,
    I am so excited I’ve been given some Chilean guavas. I’ve always wanted to try this recipe but didn’t know where to find them. Just wondering what I could use instead of the nut/seed butter? Would regular butter work?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Julia, thanks for checking in. Yes, using butter will be fine in place of the nut/seed butter. I was making this recipe dairy-free at the time for my son but he has mostly outgrown his dairy intolerance so use butter more in baking now.

      1. Wonderful! Thanks so much for letting me know!

  8. When we were children, cranberries cooked with apple were a tasty dessert

    1. That would be a great combo 🙂

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