J.M. Hirsch

A Cookie Fit for Lunch

It happens every year. The holidays arrive and as soon as Thanksgiving is done, all attention turns to baking, particularly of cookies.

I try not to do much of it myself. Baking tends to be a bit fussy for my whatever-however-goes approach to cooking.

Trouble is, my resident 9-year-old believes it is his duty to remind me at every moment that a December without cookies is like a stocking full of coal.

Not as though he has any lack of cookies in his life; the onslaught of holiday parties presents endless platters of treats for him to sample.

But it got me wondering whether I could find a way to let him indulge more regularly without sugar-bombing him all month.

In fact, if I had a fast and easy drop cookie that was moderately healthy, I’d even be willing to entertain it as a lunch indulgence.

But I set a rule for myself. No oat bran-flax seed-hemp flour-soy nut concoctions that taste like cardboard. A lunch cookie has to look and taste like a treat, even if it’s a healthier treat. Otherwise, it’s not a treat (and probably won’t get eaten).

It turned out to be easier than I expected. I started with a basic drop cookie recipe, but substituted white whole-wheat flour for regular white flour. White whole-wheat flour has the same nutrition and fiber as conventional whole wheat, but a lighter taste and texture. In most recipes it can be substituted 1:1 for all-purpose flour.

Next, I loaded up on oats! Healthy, chewy, delicious.

But I ditched the butter. Butter is yummy, but it isn’t essential (nor is the saturated fat that comes with it). Substituting a vegetable-based oil isn’t just healthier, it also produces a better texture in this style of cookie.

Next, I cut the sugar. Well, at least one form of it. Sugar is fine, but I prefer that it come from a source that has fiber and nutrients (granulated sugar has neither). My solution? Unsweetened dried apricots. I pureed them and added them with the liquid ingredients. It was a delicious addition, adding not just sweetness, but a wonderful tender texture, too.

Add some raisins and a handful of mini chocolate chips (Hey! It’s got to be a treat!), and the result was a cookie I could live with packing in my son’s lunch.

Lunch-friendly (and healthier) Raisin Oatmeal Drop Cookies

Via J.M. Hirsch

Via J.M. Hirsch

Start to finish: 45 minutes
Makes 70 cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup canola, safflower, or sunflower oil
3/4 cup orange juice
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened dried apricots
2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions

1. Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.

2. In a blender, combine the oil, orange juice, eggs, and apricots. Puree until very smooth and creamy looking. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and oats. Add the oil-apricot mixture. Mix well, then mix in the raisins and chocolate chips.

4. Working in batches, use a tablespoon to drop the dough on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between cookies. Use the back of a fork to slightly flatten the cookies.

5. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes, or until just starting to brown at the edges but still soft. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


2 Responses to “A Cookie Fit for Lunch”

  1. Joanne Morse says:

    Is there a way I can adapt this recipe for high altitude? I look forward to hearing from you. Most Sincerely Joanne Morse, Springville Utah 84663

  2. I was delighted to see your alternative the the sweetness factor in this recipe along with being ecstatic about the fact that your substitute ingredient could be found in any supermarket!

    I am a month out from undergoing Bariactric Surgery. I’m also a first generation Slovenian/German/English American who was brought up on the most incredible pastries and desserts you could imagine.
    With it being the Holiday Season I knew it was going to be a challenging time to rethink and restructure my idea’s of sweet treats while staying on my path towards a healthier lifestyle. THANK YOU SO MUCH for the sugar substitute and flour information in this recipe! I am eager to try it.
    I am also a Grandmother to a beautiful little girl who’ll be turning 2 this spring during the month she will be welcoming her little sister into the world.
    Over the years I have accumulated a ton of fun kitchen gadgets to make shaped and cut out cookies, candies, cupcakes, pies…you name it! I look forward to more recipes from you as to how to make some of those more health conscious while maintaining the image of Grandma’s house always being filled with treats. I don’t know about you but when I think back to my Grandparents homes…..I always smile thinking of the smells & good eats.
    Love to have a recipe for a little healthier ‘pastry dough’ next. MMMMMMMM the possibilities of that would be endless.

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