Monday, November 30, 2009

Recipe: Low Fat Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these cookies last week, adapted from my friend Bri's recipe, and my son had this comment:

"Mommy, these are not good cookies. Not good at all. Mommy, these are GREAT cookies. No, wait, they are not great. They are AMAZING. Can we have them all the time?"

Meanwhile, my mother's input was:

"Hmmmm. Not exactly what I'd call a dessert cookie. Maybe something I'd enjoy for breakfast."

So, there you have it - two differing opinions, one recipe:

Low Fat Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

1 28 oz can of pumpkin
3 eggs
2 cups brown sugar, packed
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
4.5 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup canola oil
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, eggs and oil. Combine dry ingredients in a different bowl. Slowly add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop cookies on a cookie sheet in the shame of a ball or use a fork to flatten them out.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes before moving to wire rack.

The recipe makes about a thousand cookies. Seriously. I doubled it, not knowing that the result would be plates and plates and plates of cookies. But they freeze very well and now I can send Ben to the freezer for a "good" cookie, rather than to the Oreo package in the cupboard.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lusciously Decadent

My director left me a package of the most amazing cookies today. They are not at all healthy. You're going to have to use butter - the real thing - for these, but they are worth every divine calorie. What makes these cookies interesting is the contrast between the butter, the sugar and the salt. Delicious. She shared a link to the recipe - apparently, there is a Brown Butter Cookie Company somewhere that sells these little cookies - and the recipe has been adapted and posted on the web.

Brown Butter Cookies with Sea Salt


1 cup salted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
Sea Salt

1. In a small saucepan, melt butter on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned. Stir in sugars and vanilla and remove from heat.
2. Let the sugar mixture cool to room temperature.
3. In a mixing bowl add flour and baking powder. Stir in sugar mixture until combined.
4. At this point I recommend letting the mixture rest for at least an hour to let the flour absorb all the butter. The mixture may be stiff afterwords and crumbly- microwave handfuls of dough for 10 seconds. The dough will be easier to roll.
5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
6. Roll 1 inch balls of dough and dip in sea salt. Place on cookie sheet with sea salt on top.
7. Bake for 15 minutes.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cookie Obsession

I am obsessed with cookies. When I was a child, I would sneak cookies out of the freezer (where my mother stored them - a not-so-good hiding place!) and hide them under my bed. I would have quite a stash going and then the dog, inevitably, would discover them. My parents called me "Cookie" growing up and still do, to this day.

Times have changed, though. I'm no longer satisfied with an Oreo cookie and Toll House usually doesn't fit the bill either. If I'm having a cookie, I want a good cookie. A Whole Foods cookie. A cookie that has high quality ingredients and isn't too sweet.

Lately, I've been experimenting more than usual in my kitchen with cookies. Recently, I posted a recipe for Chocolate Chip Flax Cookies (see below) which, in my mind, are pretty delicious. I made them again this morning for a friend's birthday and added more chocolate and lots of cranberries. I've already had four. They are addictive.

This week, I made chocolate cookies with white chocolate for my clients. I adapted a Weight Watcher's recipe and I think they came out quite nice. They are light and not too dense. The contrast between the chocolate cookie and the white chocolate shavings makes the cookie interesting. You could easily have more than one and still feel pretty virtuous.

As the holidays approach, I'm going to spend some more time in my kitchen adapting cookie recipes and posting my successes. In the meantime, here is the recipe for the Weight Watcher's cookies:

Chocolate/White Chocolate Cookies

1/3 cup white chocolate shavings (I used Ghiradelli White Chocolate; you could also use white chocolate chips)
2 eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (try a high quality powder for more intense flavor)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Smart Balance spread (melted)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat butter and brown sugar. Fold in regular sugar. Add cocoa and eggs. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.

Bake cookies for 10 to 13 minutes. Let cookies stand on cooking sheet, when removed from oven, for at least five minutes. Cool on racks.

This recipe yields approximately 20 cookies.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What We Do On Wednesday

I'm going to let you in on a great secret: Wednesday night yoga at Del Norte Club!

I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to teach the Wednesday evening yoga class at Del Norte Club for the last two, going-on-three, years. When I started at the club, which was my first teaching gig, we had eight, maybe nine, on a good night - ten, people attending class. Now, we've had as many as 24 yogis practicing on Wednesday night!

Just over a year ago, I approached the management at the club requesting permission to take the class up to a higher intensity, with a Level 2 class title. My request was approved and I've had the chance to move the Wednesday night crowd from simple stretches to more complex poses and sun salutations.

More than anything, we have a kula on Wednesday nights. In Sanskrit, kula means "community." Most nights, class starts at least five minutes late because I'm busy hugging my yogi friends and catching up on each other's lives. Two of the women from class, Briana and Nancy, have become dear friends. One woman had me over to her home for a Greek dinner that involved NINE courses, as a thank-you, just for being her teacher. In the summer months, we designate select Wednesday evenings as "yogi parties." We congretate on the lawn and share food and wine and we learn about each other's lives.

The group feels like home to me. They know my son. They know my mom. They eat my cookies. They are wonderful.

One of the best parts about the Wednesday night class is the price: just $10 for drop-ins! With the going rate for a single yoga class in Sacramento hovering at nearly $17 a class, this is a great deal.

Are you looking for a fun group to practice with? Come join us! I always have guest passes in my bag and you're guaranteed to meet warm people who love to laugh while enjoying the spirituality and the reverence of a deep and connected yoga class.

Om shanti!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

250. Ouch.

High cholesterol runs in my family. So, despite the fact that I eat virtually zero saturated fat and regularly integrate "good" fats - like nuts, olive oil and avocados - into my diet, my cholesterol keeps climbing.

Last month, my doctor called me with the startling news of the huge increase in my overall cholesterol over the last year. 50 points. I went from 199 to 250 in just under 12 months. Whoa. She then ordered a breakdown and I fasted and did the necessary blood work only to find that I'm no better off with the "good" and the "bad" levels. She then suggested that I contact an internist and get myself on a statin. Soon.

Given the fact that I'm 38 years old and in very, very good health, I was reluctant to go this route. Do a google search on statins and you'll find many reasons to NOT take them. I began to research natural remedies to reduce cholesterol and came up with a list of foods to eat regularly. It looked my weekly grocery list: Oatmeal, nuts, beans, fruits, vegetables. Are you kidding me?

Next, I researched supplements and found some interesting ideas. Co-enzyme Q-10 is supposed to be "the bomb" in terms of lowering cholesterol and it has some nice added benefits such as: increased energy, brain function, and alertness. I'll take all of the above. Problem is Co Q-10 is one of those supplements that requires a huge financial commitment. The generic brands aren't readily absorbed into the body and seem to have no impact on cholesterol, whatsoever.

So I went to see my friends at Elliott's (how much do I love that store?) and posed the question to them. I was immediately steered toward the premium bottle of Co Q-10 that didn't cost quite as much as my mortgage payment, but the amount wasn't far off. At least they were have a sale - 10% off on supplements. I bought a 2 month supply with the idea of re-resting my cholesterol at the end of the year to see what impact - if any- it might have.

My dad also told me about a Costco product called "Cholest-off." He's been taking it for six months now and he's shaved nearly 50 points off his cholesterol. I'm planning on adding that to the regime, as well.

Health is a funny thing. You can exercise like a demon and eat straight from the earth and still wind up on the every-five-year-colonoscopy-AND-mammogram-plan with high cholesterol, to boot.

Times like these, I'm glad I pay the big bucks for my health insurance plan. But I'm still shaking my head in amazement over the 50 point increase from last year. Must have been that one omelet I had.