If you ate too much over Thanksgiving, raise your hands. OK, put 'em down (wow, that was a lot of hands). How many of you are now suffering from PHCG? (That's post-holiday calorie guilt in case you were wondering). Lots of hands again (I raised both). Now, how many of us skipped breakfast this morning, thinking it was a perfectly acceptable way to kick-start our Monday-get-back-on-track plans? Or, how many are guzzling sugar-free energy drinks instead? Oh my...way too many hands. Well, we all know the dangers and pitfalls of skipping real meals--research has shown that we usually end up taking in more calories in one sitting than we do by eating more frequent and smaller meals throughout the day. Did you know that there is a definite link between obesity and higher BMIs for those who routinely skip breakfast compared to those that don't? Breakfast is a golden opportunity to get those metabolisms going, and a chance to provide much-needed nutrients. But, life is just too darn complicated sometimes! That is where these super easy, delicious and nutrition-dense breakfast cookies come in. After all those mashed potatoes and pies, I offer up a protein and fiber rich breakfast cookie, full of complex carbohydrates and heart-healthy nuts and fruit, to help jump start the day and get back on track with those health goals. And (oh my goodness), more holiday meals are just around the corner. Bake up a batch of these, pop them in the freezer, and gird your loins against the calorie onslaught that is looming. A perfect grab and go breakfast. Did I mention they were delicious, far more interesting, and definitely better for you than anything you could possibly find in a can?
I never really understood the whole drink-your-calories food approach (although I must admit to a
severe moderate chai latte addiction). Good gravy people, I need to chew on something. Oats, whole wheat flour and flaxseed are a perfect triad of fiber-rich, cholesterol-lowering ingredients and are the backbone of these cookies, and provide all the chew you could possibly want in a breakfast (or snack). Heart-healthy nuts and dried fruits add crunch and texture. The minuscule amount of fat is monounsaturated (I used olive oil, but you could use any nut oil or oil of choice). The protein content provided by the nuts and whole grains is boosted even further by a generous amount of yogurt, which also provides a healthy dose of calcium.
Since I'm notorious for demolishing the kitchen every time I cook, I love that this recipe comes together with a minimum amount of mess. Everything is thrown together in a large bowl and mixed together...easy, peasy.
Flaxseed is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as many other health benefits. However, flaxseed is one of the few seeds that we may not be able to digest without some help (more info on that provided here). I keep a stash of whole flax seeds in the refrigerator, and take out a few tablespoons here and there to add to my baking as needed. The seeds are easily ground in a small food processor, literally taking only about a minute (really).
Healthy tip #173: use parchment paper instead of greasing your pans. You may not even need to wash them...love.it. That 'grease the pans' step can be skipped entirely, resulting in fewer calories (OK, OK, I know we are talking only a few, but hey). I invest in a large roll of high-quality parchment paper every so often...it is worth every penny in my book. Can we really put a price tag on fewer dishes, I ask? To answer your questions (come on, I know you noticed), yes, I own an iron, and yes, I obviously hate to dust it off and use it, and no, I didn't realize how glaring those wrinkles would be in the photos. Apologies.
These come out of the oven with just a slight crunch to the exterior while the interior remains soft and moist. Like a deliciously complex bowl of portable oatmeal. The dried fruit adds a nice little fruity zing of sweetness, and the nuts add crunch and interest, all wrapped up in the chewy goodness of oatmeal. After I bake a batch, I let them cool completely and then pop them in the freezer. I grab one on my way out the door, and it usually defrosts by the time I get to work. Paired with an ice-cold glass of milk, or hot and steamy cup of tea or coffee, these cookies make breakfast a real event, and will curb those mid-morning hunger pangs that come cruising down Empty Stomach Street right around ten o'clock in the morning. These should provide you with energy to spare, all the way through to lunch.
Being the texture addict that I am, I choose to use a thick and chewy oat for this recipe. I've never made them with quick oats but don't think the cookies would turn out nearly as well. My favorite oat brand is Bob's Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats (no kick-backs were received in the making of that endorsement...sadly). Oats are a great whole grain choice. They provide a nice serving of protein and fiber (7 grams and 5 grams respectively). Oats also help maintain an even blood sugar level for hours after eating, and help reduce cholesterol. I love them just because they taste so darn good. Cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander add a lovely, subtle hint of spice.
During this hectic, and calorie-laden, time of year, it's important to remember what mamma said. No, not that there'd be days like this, but that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. These cookies are the perfect antidote to PHCG. They will bowl you over with their taste and texture, and will amaze you with the pep they provide, naturally.
Ring. Ring. Hello? Oh, it's for you...it's your energy drink...calling to say goodbye.
3 cups old fashioned oats (not instant or quick oats)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
3 tbs ground flaxseed
1 cup dried fruit (I used 1/2 cup each dried cherries and dried cranberries)
1 1/2 cup nuts (I used 1/2 cup each walnuts, almonds and pepitas)
1 1/2 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs milk
2 tbs orange juice
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, agave or honey
Preheat the oven to 350 F. In very large mixing bowl, add all of the dry ingredients, including the nuts and dried fruit. In a smaller bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients, lightly beating the egg into the liquid. Add the wet ingredients to the large mixing bowl, and mix well with a large spoon until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. With a large 4-tbs scooper or large spoon, evenly place nine cookies on the cookie sheets, and slightly flatten with the back of a spoon. Each cookie should be about three inches across. The cookies will not spread while baking. Bake for 22 minutes, rotating pans half way through, or until just lightly golden brown on the edges and the centers are no longer wet looking. Allow to cool on the pans for a few minutes, then remove to racks to completely cool. Once cool, place in air-tight containers or bags. Cookies freeze very well and will keep for many weeks in the freezer. The recipe will yield approximately 22 three-inch cookies.