Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Deliciousness

To me, the term “comfort food” indeed invokes visions of rich chocolate cake, cheesy pizza, and thick slices of homemade bread slathered with jam. However, I’ve come to learn over the past few years that not everything that soothes my soul must eventually settle around my waist. It’s actually true: although a part of me lives for sugar-laden delicacies, I do try to eat as healthfully as possible, making nutritious choices with all my snacks and meals, and giving myself a bit of leeway when it comes to dessert. But still, the bombardment of information on wholesome eating has brainwashed me slightly, so that cookies that are too overbearingly buttery or treats like fried Snickers bars no longer have the appeal they might have once had.

It was with a mind full of nutrition propaganda that I created this recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies. The thing about these cookies is that, while I perhaps would not start consuming them as a breakfast item, they are made with a surprisingly nutritious array of ingredients. Perhaps even more shocking, is that whenever I’ve had a rough day, these cookies take on all of the qualities of comfort food (especially when eaten directly from the oven): they are satisfying and chewy, and neither too sweet nor too bland.

One day, when I open that cookie catering business of mine, I believe these will be a top seller.

Today has been particularly harrowing, and I’d been working hard to get out of my mindset of self-pity and self-flagellation. As of my return to my apartment, I had tried every trick to improve my mood, and I still was nowhere near 100 percent. So, I went into my kitchen, opened my cabinets, and about 30 minutes later, I was substantially closer to utter bliss. Now, some of you may start to blame the carbohydrates and the sugar, and get all science-y with words like “serotonin” and “neurotransmitters.” That’s all very well and good, but I prefer to just believe in the magic restorative powers of my oatmeal raisin cookies.

P.S. Comfort food can render the complete opposite of its intended effect when consumed in mass, binging quantities. That’s why I love how easily these cookies freeze, to be saved for another day when your outlook is cloudy.

Here’s what you do: roll the dough into small 1-inch balls and place in rows, in a single layer on waxed paper. Then place the paper inside a gallon-sized freezer bag, or another freezer-safe container. When you’re again ready for the cookies, take them out of the freezer and bake right away (no need to defrost) for a couple of minutes longer than the given time.

Since I did freeze most of the cookies today, I don't have any pretty pictures of my own. But, a visual aid is essential, in my opinion, for baking, and so here are some yummy looking oatmeal raisin cookies (sans chocolate).

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Yield: About three dozen

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. Lighter Bake* or unsweetened applesauce
2 egg whites
2 tbsp. skim milk
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup uncooked quick oats
3/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Beat together Lighter Bake or applesauce, sugars, and vanilla. Beat in egg whites, one at a time. Add milk and beat well. Add flour mixture and beat. If the dough feels too dry and crumbly, add a small amount of milk. Stir in oats, raisins, and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 11-14 minutes.

*Lighter Bake is a brilliant butter/oil replacement made from pureed apples and plumes. It's available at most supermarkets and is all natural. And never fear, it does not generally leave a noticeable fruity track in your baked goods!

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