Cookies with Perks

Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies postCookies with perks.

That’s dietitian-speak for a cookie that gives you great flavor AND lots of health benefits. So put those extra bags of cranberries to use that are in your freezer (leftover from Thanksgiving!) and whip up a batch of these easy cookies: Cranberry Orange Walnut Oatmeal Cookies.

Hot & Spicy Grammy Perks:
*Oats for soluble fiber to help promote healthy cholesterol levels and heart

*Cranberries for natural phytonutrients that help promote healthy urinary tract and ward off urinary tract infections. And even help with heart health and fight inflammation.

*Walnuts for plant-based omega-3 fatty acids for healthier heart.

*75% whole grain goodness from white whole wheat flour and oats; whole grains help provide satiety, offer many vitamins, minerals and fiber and helps promote healthy heart, blood pressure and digestive system.

Cooking with Grandkids:
*Young toddlers can help measure flour and sugar, whisk flour mixture and add ingredients to mixer, and even help turn mixer on and off and scrape sides of bowl. They can even click the cookie scoop and help get dough on cookie sheet – as long as they’re old enough to have a strong grip with the scoop.

Great opportunity to teach all young children oven safety, too.

Liam (2 1/2) and Elijah (5 1/2) making Papa Pancakes with Grammy Kim. Aug 2015

Liam (2 1/2) and Elijah (5 1/2)  baking with Grammy Kim.

Eli Grammy Aprons

                                                    Elijah & Grammy Kim in our favorite aprons.                                                           

 

 

Cranberry Orange Walnut Oatmeal Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: snack, dessert
Serves: 48-52 cookies
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup white whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 heaping teaspoon orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats (dry)
  • 1½ cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ⅔ cup each butterscotch and chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, whisk together both flours, baking soda and powder and salt. Set aside. In large bowl of electric mixer, combine butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla until nearly blended. Mix in orange zest. Mix in oats. Add cranberries and both chips and mix again just until thoroughly blended. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake about 8-9 minutes for a chewier cookie (slightly browned) or 9-11 for a crispier cookie. Cool cookies on cookie sheet about 1-2 minutes before removing cookies to wire racks to completely cool. Store in tightly covered container. Makes about 48-52 cookies.

 

Kid Friendly Treats & Desserts

I’m headed to the Indiana State Fair for the first of five cooking demonstrations. Today’s topic: The Dietitian Does Dessert and Kid-Friendly Treats. I’ll be showcasing four of my favorites. Several of these, like the clusters, trail mix and dip, are super easy and the kids can make themselves or help you. Get them involved….and they’ll be more inclined to enjoy these nutrient-rich treats!

Decadent Chocolate Fruit & Nut Clusters

 1 bag (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

1½ cups dried fruit, chopped if necessary*

1 cup finely chopped nuts*
Cover a large baking sheet with parchment or wax paper; set aside. Melt chocolate chips in double boiler over slightly simmering water.  (Create your own double-boiler by using a small saucepan or heat-proof bowl over a bigger saucepan that contains the simmering water.) Combine the dried fruits and nuts in a small bowl. Add to melted chocolate and stir to completely coat all ingredients. Using a measuring tablespoon, dip leveled clusters onto covered baking sheet about 1-inch apart. They will look uneven and shaggy. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until clusters are hardened and set. Store clusters in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Serve cold or at room temperature. The clusters taste most flavorful at room temperature, however.  Makes 30 to 36 clusters.

 *Cherry Walnut Version:
Dried Fruit:  1½ cup dried tart cherries     Nuts: 1 cup chopped walnuts

 *Date Fig Walnut Version:
Dried Fruit: ¾ cup chopped dried figs and ¾ cup chopped dates      Nuts: 1 cup chopped walnuts

 *Create your own version using any mixture of dried fruits and nuts: Cherries, cranberries and pecans. Dried apricots and almonds. Golden raisins and pistachios. Dates and cashews.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip with Apples & Pears

 1 package (8 oz.) 1/3-less fat cream cheese

1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin      

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 

Apples, pears and Asian pears, cut into thick slices

 Combine cream cheese, pumpkin, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a food processor until thoroughly blended. Chill at least one hour before serving. Serve with slices of fresh pears, apples and Asian pears. Makes about 2 ¾ cups dip (11 servings of ¼-cup each)

   Hike Bike & Swim Trail Mix           

 2 cups plain, frosted or honey-nut O-shaped cereal

1 cup whole-grain goldfish crackers

1 cup honey-roasted peanuts

1/2 cup dried tart cherries

3/4 cup raisins

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Keep in a tightly covered container or Ziploc bag.

Makes about 5 1/2 cups (or 22 servings of 1/4-cup each)

 

Whole Grain Oatmeal Raisin & Date Bars  (100% whole grain) 

½ cup butter (1 stick), softened slightly

1/3 cup canola oil

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 extra large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1½ cups white whole-wheat flour (prefer King Arthur brand)*                            

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground allspice

½ teaspoon salt

3 cups old-fashioned oats, uncooked

2/3 cup raisins*

1 package (8 ounces) chopped dates

 

 

 Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 10x15x1-inch jelly roll baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. In a large bowl with electric mixer, beat butter, oil and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt and mix thoroughly. Add oats, raisins and dates and mix until blended. Spread or pat batter in pan and bake 22 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Bars may appear slightly sticky in center with toothpick and they will appear a tad “puffed”. They’ll deflate once cooled. Be sure not to overcook, as bars harden slightly as they cool. Cool on wire rack; cut into bars and store in tightly covered container. Bars can be frozen. Simply wrap individual bars in plastic wrap and place all bars in zippered freezer bag.  Makes about 24 to 30 bars. 

*Toss raisins in small bowl with about a teaspoon of flour before adding to batter. This helps separate all the raisins. 

 Enjoy with a glass of 1% low fat milk for a calcium, vitamin D and protein boost.

Two-for-One Special: Oatmeal Raisin & Date Bars

Who doesn’t love a “Two-for-One?” A two-for-one dessert or treat is when you get to savor a satisfying, comforting sweet treat, like cookies, cake, pie, cobbler or candy AND reap the disease-fighting, immune-boosting benefits of nutrient-rich ingredients like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy products. I’d say that’s spending your Treat or Dessert Calories Wisely!

Oatmeal Raisin & Date Bars are one of my go-to choices for the fastest and easiest nutrient-rich treats.  Oats and white whole-wheat flour provide 100% whole-grain nutrients.  Raisins and dates combined create a sweet, antioxidant boost. (Look for pre-chopped dates in packages or containers right next to the raisins.)

Recently I tweaked this recipe to contain a little less saturated fat; it used to call for two sticks of butter. Switching one of those sticks with an equal amount of canola doesn’t reduce the total fat, but it does reduce the saturated fat content. My next tweak will be to reduce that oil amount even further; I have a sneaking suspicion the bars will still be moist and chewy. I’ll keep you posted!

Oh, and like many of my decadent desserts or treats, these bars can easily be mixed, baked, then cut into squares and frozen in big zippered bags. When it’s time for a snack or dessert, just grab one or two, microwave and enjoy!

Whole Grain Oatmeal Raisin & Date Bars

½ cup butter (1 stick), slightly softened

½ cup canola oil

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 extra large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ½ cups white whole-wheat flour (prefer King Arthur brand)*

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground allspice

½ teaspoon salt

3 cups old-fashioned oats (uncooked)

2/3 cup raisins

1 package (8 ounces) chopped dates

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 10x15x1-inch jelly roll baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. In a large bowl with electric mixer, beat butter, oil and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt and mix thoroughly. Add oats, raisins and dates and mix until blended. Spread or pat batter in pan and bake 22 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Bars may appear slightly sticky in center with toothpick and they will appear a tad “puffed”. They’ll deflate once cooled. Be sure not to overcook, as bars harden slightly as they cool. Cool on wire rack; cut into bars and store in tightly covered container. Bars can be frozen. Simply wrap individual bars in plastic wrap and place all bars in zippered freezer bag.

Makes about 24 bars (4 x 6 cut) 

Enjoy with a glass of 1% low fat milk for a calcium, vitamin D and protein boost! 

*Use ¾ cup all-purpose and ¾ cup regular whole wheat flour if you can’t find the White Whole Wheat flour.