By Tim Scallon, MS RDN LD
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
As we prepare once again for that brief moment of visitation by the grand old elf, it is ever so pressing that we attend to every detail in order to show our undying gratitude to the one who makes our Christmas jolly. All through the year, he and his associates have labored to bring to the world good cheer and of course those tokens of his dear affection, the gifts under the tree. And as many of you know, his labors are not without cost. To make such a journey all in one night must leave our dear friend fatigued and famished. And so let us prepare for him. In addition to our selfless giving and little acts of kindness that we do to emulate the source of all goodness, let us prepare a small token of our appreciation to the jolly one and leave them on the counter for his refreshment and good cheer on the night before Christmas.
I am one of those who finds little desire for sweets. Cakes, pies, candies, ice cream, I could live the rest of my life and never miss any of them. However, I do here confess that I have always been a cookie monster. A few years ago, Kathy, a true connoisseur of sweets, asked me for my preference in cookies. For me there has always been only one answer to that question, chocolate chip, of course. And over the years I have refined my taste to oatmeal chocolate chip. You know, in the store you can find chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal cookies but it is rare to find them combined. And this I happened to relate to Kathy. Thereupon, she commenced developing her own recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. She worked for months reviewing recipes, testing various ingredients, and honing every aspect of the perfect cookie. Kathy is one with a very focused mind and when she sets upon an objective, she doesn’t relent until she has achieved perfection.
I have had the pleasure on a few occasions to be a judge of cooking competitions. As such, one learns to evaluate the product on several criteria for example, aroma, texture, appearance, taste, temperature, etc. When applying these skills to the elevated task of tasting Kathy’s cookies, it became immediately apparent that she had produced a superior confection.
Kathy’s cookies show excellent balance of flavors, sweet but not too sweet. Dark chocolate chips provide a depth of flavor to the sweetened cookie dough. The cranberries bring a tartness that balances well the sweet of the cookie. Butter is a key ingredient in cookies and one that will distinguish any recipe from cookies bought in the store. Cinnamon and vanilla lend background flavors. The texture of the oats marries well with the soft chocolate chips and the chewy cranberries. The pecans add yet another texture and subtle flavor to the mix. And when prepared by her detailed directions the cookies are soft yet hold their shape well. While cookies are not usually a place that we look for health, this recipe includes several ingredients that have health promoting benefits such as whole oats, cranberries, cinnamon, pecans and dark chocolate. As with any food we enjoy, a disclaimer is in order. Eating too many cookies will limit your ability to maintain a desirable weight.
It is a fact that I have since told many people that these cookies will change your life. And on this momentous occasion Kathy has graciously consented to my sharing with you her recipe, a crowning achievement of her focused labors. Dear Santa will be most impressed. I swear I think she is genetically related to Mrs. Claus in the effort that she puts into caring for this old elf. Merry Christmas!
Tim Scallon is a registered dietitian nutritionist with years of experience practicing nutrition therapy in local hospitals and clinics, teaching nutrition and developing healthy recipes. He is a Nacogdoches resident and he helped create the popular TV show Memorial Cooking Innovations celebrating the world of food and health. Memorial Cooking Innovations has featured in 62 cities and is locally available on Sudden Link cable channel 2 in Nacogdoches.
Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies
Developed by Kathy Griffin
Makes about 36 cookies or 18 servings
Serving Size: 2 cookies
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened to room temp (~ 65 F)
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups old fashion oats
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped pecans
1 cup Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips
•Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
•In a medium bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, ~ 1 min. Scrape the bowl and beaters once during the creaming. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Scrape once during the beating. With the mixer running, gradually add the flour mixture until well blended. Then with a spoon stir in the oats, cranberries, pecans and chocolate chips. Mix until just incorporated (dough will be stiff). Refrigerate the dough before baking.
•Place tablespoons of dough on a baking sheet spaced 2 inches apart. Gently shape them into round balls. Keep the dough in the refrigerator between baking batches. Cooled cookie dough holds its shape better while baking.
•Bake at 350 degrees for 15 min. Allow to cool.
These cookies are so good, you might want to make a double batch and freeze half of the dough to bake later.
Exchanges per serving: 2 Carb Choices, 2 Fats
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 233,Calories from fat: 99, Total Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 23mg, Sodium: 146g, Total Carbohydrate: 32g, Dietary Fiber: 2g, Protein: 4g