Antioxidants, Heart Health, and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

My husband sometimes makes me look like I have a healthy diet, and that’s saying something, because one of my daydreams is to wake some morning and discover that pizza and cheesecake are health food and leafy greens are, like I’ve always maintained, rabbit food.  Or better yet, green will be recognized as nature’s way of telling us food has gone bad.

When Rick worked construction, before the abrupt and insane rise of residential construction in Nevada and then complete and total fall of it with the last great recession, he ate terrible breakfasts on the run.  He’s not a coffee guy but he’d pick up a Dr. Pepper and a chemical-laden, fat-and-carbohydrate-filled muffin the size of his head and eat it on his drive.  Thinking that I’d like to be with him for a good many years, I scrounged around for alternatives.  Neither of us is ever going to leap out of bed (or even crawl, groaning) early enough to make breakfast.  Not even a semi-healthy cereal, which wouldn’t have lasted him all morning anyway.  Getting him to actually eat oatmeal – as oatmeal – was what I figure asking your average 8-year-old to eat broccoli would be like.

So I dredged up an old family recipe for oatmeal cookies.  Because the family member who loved the recipe liked them big and soft, with crispy edges, they’re made enormous – the entire batter turns out eight or nine cookies. These had always been made with walnuts, so I started fiddling with them to see what I could do to turn them in to a not-hopelessly-bad breakfast alternative to the commercially produced muffin.

Oatmeal is generally considered fairly healthy.  So I started with that.  Then came the welcome news that dark chocolate is a powerful antioxidant and good for high blood pressure, which runs in Rick’s family.  There’s an article in Web MD that explains the whole healthy chocolate thing. 

In addition, walnuts are heart healthy antioxidants so I started throwing walnuts into the mix.  They’re still cookies, but I cut the sugar – which was kind of at egregious levels – by a third.  There’s also two eggs and a stick of butter in the recipe.  I suppose I could go one more step and use half whole wheat flour, but he eats these and I feel pretty good about that.

Since the recession Rick works in a totally different, non-construction job and two big fat cookies aren’t enough to keep going for five and a half hours before lunch.  He’s been eating Jimmy Dean biscuity things that remind me of a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin® which I find a lot like two stones surrounding a couch cushion and some tasteless sausage.  I’m hoping to experiment with actual Jimmy Dean sausage, the kind that comes in the roll and is cut up, and floury Scottish Baps, which are lovely with an egg and some sausage or bacon in them.  The meat could be cooked the night before, the baps made and frozen to be microwaved, or made on Sunday and tossed by Wednesday.  Just, no idea how to get the egg cooked.

Because we’re still not getting up any earlier than we have to.    

The Dough

2 eggs, room temperature

1 stick salted butter, softened (13 seconds in the microwave will do wonders for softening butter)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

2 cups old fashioned oatmeal, uncooked 

1 handful walnut pieces

1 handful dark or bittersweet 60% cacao chocolate chips (we love Ghirardelli)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper, or use nonstick cookie sheets, or grease the sheets.

Break eggs into a separate bowl to avoid getting eggshells into the batter.  Transfer to a mixer bowl with the butter, vanilla, baking soda, salt, brown and white sugars.  The baking soda for some reason doesn’t mix well into the batter and will sit about in little lumps if added with the dry ingredients.  I add the salt at the same time because if I don’t and the soda’s already added, I’ll forget.  Mix well on medium speed, until ingredients are blended.

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Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the flour, then the oatmeal.  This is a really, really thick, sticky batter, which will stand a spoon straight up with no problem.  Dig the spoon into the bottom of the bowl, because dry ingredients in this one tend to accumulate there.  Add the nuts and chocolate chips and mix well.

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I make these big, about the size of the palm of my hand when flattened out, and maybe half an inch thick.  The entire batter usually yields about nine cookies.  Bake for 17 minutes at 350, then remove and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

 It‘s possible to feel almost virtuous when having these for a snack.

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Desert blooms on baking day.

 

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