Friday, May 20, 2011

Healthy Cookie Experiment #1

These are my first stab at trying to capitalize on my cookie addiction by filling cookies with all the healthy things I SHOULD be eating.  These came out a little gummy, quite heavy, and tasting, well... healthy.  But Tessa liked them and they're kind of growing on me.  Everyone says they need more sugar.  Must work on texture next time -- hard to accomplish with only 2 tablespoons of olive oil!

Model #1 contains:

1 grated zucchini
2 grated carrots
1/2 cup raisins

1 diced Granny Smith apple
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups oats
1 /2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup sorghum
1 cup of the pear juice that my canned peaches were packed in
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Next time I think I'll add applesauce, banana, canned pumpkin, honey and baking soda (instead of baking powder).  Maybe walnuts too!

Any suggestions?

I'm kind of glad you can't taste them!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The World's Healthiest Cookies

Hi, my name is Annie and I'm an addict.

I have a serious milk and cookie habit.  I could live on milk and cookies.  Often, I do. 

I'm pretty sure my youngest daughter was formed almost entirely out of milk and cookies because that's largely what I ate for the nine months I was cooking her.  Forget "bun in the oven" -- she was my "cookie in the oven"!  "Cookie" is one of her nicknames.

I remember lovingly a little friend who's first word was "cookie".  The word served Hilary well in that it also meant "Daddy" and "Katie".  We often interrogated her to determine which she meant.  She had the right idea:  all things cookie!

When I was in high school I came across a recipe for Breakfast Cookies.  They had oatmeal and apples and raisins and cheddar cheese.  They were great and carried a lesser load of guilty than regular cookies.  For some reason, I only made them once.  But they have remained in my mind for the couple of decades since -- always with the thought that I could improve on them in terms of healthiness.

Yesterday, I bought two packs of Oreos (actually, the Walmart Great Value generic called "Twist and Shout" which are just as good).  One package is for the church office (keep in mind that I'm often the only one there!) and one goes in the top drawer of my night stand next to my bed (I must have milk and cookies and bedtime, of course, and sometimes for breakfast too). 

The Oreos made me think though:  I don't need decadent cookies.  Really, I just need the carb hit.  So I could stick some healthy things on the carbs and be much better off while still indulging my weakness.  Why not make it work for me?  I was telling my daughter yesterday that the good thing about addictions in that you can make yourself become addicted to something that is good for you!  So here's my new strategy:  I will devise the healthiest cookie recipe possible and then hope the resulting cookies go as well with V8 juice as they do with milk (because I should only have so much milk).  And then I will cultivate the proper addiction.

A few years ago I got curious and did some independent research on alternative cures for cancer.  I'm not sure I discovered the cure for cancer but I did learn about nitrilosides, Vitamin B17, amygdaline, and laetrile.  Basically, these three substances are different versions of the same thing -- all of which can potentially prevent or destroy cancer cells.  The theory is that cancer is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin B17 just as scurvy is a deficiency of Vitamin C.  I'm not saying that this is 100% fact, but adding some healthy foods into my diet isn't going to hurt anything.  (Here's one reference to an article on the subject: though I don't vouch for this author or agree with some of this other topics).

Foods that are high in vitamin B17 tend to be traditional foods that have largely fallen out of our diets. In the modern American diet, sugar cane has largely replaced sorghum and wheat has replaced millet.  In the past, our ancestors regularly ate many B17-leaden foods that we no longer eat such as quince, choke cherry, elderberry, huckleberry, gooseberry, alfalfa, cassava, watercress, lentils, beet tops, lima beans.  Thus we seem to be getting much less Vitamin B17 than people did in the past. 

Other foods that contain B17 are fava beans, garbanzo beans (chick peas), mung beans (often used as bean sprouts), black-eyed peas, black beans, squash seeds, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, flax seed, buckwheat, millet, sorghum, maize, grasses, linseed, and bitter almonds (

Always one to go for prevention, I have tried to add Vitamin B17-containing foods into my diet where ever possible.  I start most days with 12-grain toast (containing millet, flax, and buckwheat) with sorghum.  I try to snack on hummus (made from garbanzo beans).  I serve lentils and sweet potatoes more often than most people do.  I add spinach to recipes whenever possible.  Buckwheat pancakes are still pancakes and will be willingly consumed by most children.  And I ADORE gooseberry pie!  It is my very favorite kind of pie.  It's just hard to find goose berries these days!  Have you ever had gooseberry pie?  I'm willing to bet you haven't!

I have worked dilgently at cramming as many healthy things as possible into my cookie recipe.  I'll let you know after I have destroyed my kitchen in a grand endeavor to figure out the proper proportions of the ingredients.  Here's what I have so far:

The World's Healthiest Cookie Recipe Ingredients

flax seed
olive oil
honey or sorghum
egg white
whole wheat flour or buckwheat flour

In the course of looking for healthy cookie recipes, I found a really wonderful blog called Sweet Potato Soul (  It has wonderful, healthy, colorful recipes that just make me want run to the farmer's market and then to go home and cook until I can't find the counter anymore and there are no more clean dishes in the kitchen!

For now, I have bottle of milk and a piece of multi-berry pie which I almost completely justified above so...

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hairnets and Halos: The Fairy-Godmother Lunch Ladies

My second daughter, Tesakiah (sounds like "Hezakiah" from the Bible in case you need a little help with the pronounciation), is an 8th grader at Ramay Junior High School.  Yesterday, as I was giving her lunch money for the cafeteria on the way to school, she started telling me about the lunch ladies.

I remember lunch ladies.  Hair nets and grumpy attitudes are the stereotype.  During my school years, I'm not sure I ever overcame the stereotype indoctrination enough to flesh out the true humanity of the hard-working women who were behind both the stereotype and the lunch counter.

Tessa began to tell me about her lunch ladies (actually, one is a "lunch man" but, for the sake of poetic simplicity, I will lump him in with the ladies -- sorry Sir).  It turns out that my daughter's lunch ladies are angels in hair nets instead of halos.  I was so touched as Tessa (short for Tesakiah) told me that these 7 or 8 ladies pass out daily complements like cookies to the kids as they come through the lunch line.  Daily!  Tessa says she receives a compliment EVERY day.  They all do.

Tessa says she is known as "pretty necklace girl" as she often receives compliments on her jewelrey.  This is particularly special to Tessa because she often uses her jewelry to clarify her racial identity and communicate that her heritage is Native American.

The lunch ladies even remembered my first daughter, Emily, noticed the resemblance in Tessa, and remember that Emily ate mostly rolls and cookies during her junior high lunches.  That's an amazing personal touch.

Tessa recounted to me that many times the lunch ladies and their compliments have made her day.  "Even on your worst day...", she explained, the lunch ladies provide a loving boost.

I could just go hug each and every one of the lunch ladies.  In fact, I just might!  The gift they give my daughter in particular and the whole student body in general is priceless!  And the piece of mind they give me, as a mother, that my child is in loving hands during her school day is priceless as well. 

The more I think about it, the more impressed and intrigued I become.  These ladies could just sling peas and glob mashed potatoes on plastic trays and shove them at the kids, get their modest paycheck at the end of the week, and be done with it.  Instead, they make a difference.  That can't just be an accidental convergence of natural complimenters.  I would be willing to wager that this is a conscious effort -- a ministry of sorts.  These ladies must have pointedly chosen to distribute a little love with lunch. 

Those of us over 15 can remember how emotionally fragile we all were in junior high.  We were insecure, unsure, scared and fragile, raw nerves with our guts hanging out -- just trying to figure out, on a minute-by-minute basis, who we were and how we fit into the world.  With our changing bodies and voices, we navigated the social minefield while the world around us became increasingly complex with every increase in maturity.  Not an easy time.

A compliment is a silly little thing.  "I like your shirt" is just a superficial opinion.  But, oh, how it can make one's day!  Ever been trudging through a challenging day or a negative mood and been given a complement only to have it completely spin you in a positive direction?  It can be magic!  There's a lot more to my Tessa than her pretty necklaces but most compliments are more about lifting up the person than about mere ojects and fashions. 
I wonder how the lunch ladies' ministry began?  I'm willing to bet that one of them sat through a sermon at church in which the congregation was encouraged to minister to those around them on a daily basis.  Perhaps a light bulb went on above one hair-netted head!  Serving lunch at a junior high is not glamourous work, but what an opportunity it presents for ministry when several hundred fragile adolescent egos file past you on a daily basis and you figure out a little something you can do to make a difference!  These ladies touch more lives in the course of a week from behind the green beans than most ministers can touch from behind the pulpit on a Sunday morning. 

The lunch ladies may never know exactly how they helped or see the full reach of the impact they had on young lives but their touch is undoubtably precious and far-reaching.  I still remember and cherish the daily positive regard I received from my junior high bus driver (God bless you Dan Dunn!).  He got me off to a good start in the morning and put a salve on the end of some bad days.  I'm sure he has no idea.

This is ordinary magic -- that is, magic found in the ordinary.  I try very hard to remember that God is in every moment and that, in each moment, there is an opportunity to give or to receive the grace of God.  Here is a wonderful example.  God bless the lunch ladies!  The grace of God flows through them.