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Really, Whole Grain Cookies Can Taste Great - The Reeducation Of The Cookie

Posted Jan 15 2009 11:46pm

People who know me well also know how much pleasure I get from baking. For me one the greatest joys is the hypnotic scent of freshly baked cookies wafting through the house and even more pleasing to my senses is when my kids come through the door at the end of a busy school day and say “What smells so good?” I’m not sure, but I think what I most love about baking is its intrinsic sense of simplicity – a simple combination of humble ingredients that evoke mind and body with the feelings of safety and warmth – a symbol and a demonstration of love – it says to me “home.” It warms you up immediately, makes even the worst of days seem so meaningless – its magical ability to slow you down with a tall glass of milk in hand, side-by-side with your kids, remembering what matters most of all. In my inexpert option, what this crazy world of ours could use right about now is a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie made with a mother’s tender loving care -- I’m sorry you just can’t get that kind of poetry out of a box of Oreos!

Anyway, enough of all that. While (of course) we all need to keep the amount of sweets we eat to a limit, I would be kidding you and me if I did not admit I love not only to bake, but to enjoy a fresh out of the oven cookie! After all, what we’re trying to teach our children is that life is about balance not deprivation, right?! However, with that said if you’ve learned anything about me so far, you’ve probably figured out that while I still enjoy the taste of cookies I also wrestle with finding ways to improve the overall health and nutrition of my children – and unfortunately, even the homemade variety does not always scream "healthy."

For me personally, I’ve actually come to the conclusion that homemade cookies will always be a bit better for my family than the prepackaged, overly processed cookie brands most commonly found on the shelves of our grocery stores. Unless you are shopping in the health food aisle, the majority of these brands are loaded with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and all kinds of artificial colorings, flavorings and preservatives. I feel that if I’m going to treat my kids to something sweet, I want to make sure it is enhanced with as much goodness as possible – which is generally why I like to bake my own.

I’ve tried tons of fat-free, low calorie recipes in the past with very little satisfaction. The final results from these “healthier” recipes tend to be too sticky, rubbery or just plain awful tasting. So the question for me remains -- “Ok, so if I will never give up cookies – how can I at least make them healthier for me and my family to enjoy?”

The answer for me was in the end quite simple -- improve on the type of flour I use. I discovered that by simply replacing the white flour with either all whole wheat flour or for the weak of heart, at least replace half the white flour in a recipe with 100% whole wheat will enhance the overall healthfulness of the cookie. Now bear in mind, these cookies will still have the same calories, but at least they will be enriched with all of the benefits of whole grains.

It might surprise you but 100% whole wheat flour will work in most baked goods recipes. However, if you find that the texture of the finished product is less than ideal, you can use 100% whole wheat pastry flour.Whole wheat pastry flour is lower in wheat gluten, which is the protein in wheat,making baked goods such as cookies, brownies and cakes smoother.

Here is my family’s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe make with 100% whole wheat. My family, including my cookie monster of a husband, really love the taste of this cookie. In fact, I never hesitate sharing this cookie with the outside world the same way I might hide some of our other healthier food alternatives (I reserve that kind of torture for my husband).

Good Harvest Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 24 large cookies

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 cups rolled oats
2 eggs
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon milk
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Whisk the first four dry ingredients in a bowl, set aside.
2. Beat together brown sugar and butter until well combined. Add oats, eggs, molasses and milk; beat well. Add dry ingredients to beaten mixture; beat until blended. Stir in chocolate chips
3. With a ¼ cup measuring spoon, scoop dough onto an ungreased baking sheet or baking sheet lined with parchment leaving about 3” apart. For smaller cookies, scoop generous tablespoon. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, rotating cookie sheets half way through baking. Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheets then remove and let cool completely.

Here are links to some other family favorite whole wheat cookie recipes.

Kitchen Sink Cookies
Easy Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies
Whole Wheat S’more Cookies
Banana Chip Cookies

But remember, you can take your favorite recipe and either completely replace it with whole wheat flour or find the right balance for you and your family. Now, who has the milk?
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