**Spoiler alert! To get to the really delicious cookie recipe, you have to read through lots of stuff about babies and what they do to your body. If you are squeamish or eating your breakfast, skip to the end!**
Friends of ours have just had a perfect, squishy, smiling, amazing-smelling baby and I confess my ovaries felt a little lively. So much so, that I opened our first family album to reminisce. That was an effective contraceptive. For all 365 days of 2008 I wore an expression of bewildered exhaustion. As if someone had engraved "WTF!" on my brow. The look that comes with understanding a) what it takes to get a baby out of your you-know-where and b) that sleep as you know it, is over. I lost that expression after a year or so but largely because I had learnt to fake it. Obviously I adored my children -- I mean I would literally lay down my life for them -- but it took me a while to come to terms with my new reality.
Eventually I understood that while people say wonderful things to pregnant women, they also tell them Bare Faced Lies. "Don't worry, you can sleep when the baby sleeps!" HAHAHAHAHA! When Chloe was sleeping I was pumping. I don't mean iron. I mean, I literally attached a milking machine to my chest while my husband sat next to me supportively. And when I say "supportively," understand that he sat next to me and proceeded to say "moooooo!" under his breath (while giggling like a school boy). If I hadn't been so worried about spilling those precious golden drops, I would have suffocated him with a breast pad.
Lie number two: "You have the kind of body that will bounce back." A nice thing to say, but also FALSE. Admittedly I have been lucky with the outer shell. But nobody told me about the demolition on the inside. I still remember my surprise the first time I got into a hot tub. Also, it's been seven years and I can't bounce with my kids on a trampoline without wearing Depends. Please don't tell me to do kegels -- because I do those religiously every day on the school run. My children think I am listening to them reading, but really I am counting sets of 20.
I could go on. But my intention here is neither to put you off having children, nor to appear flippant about the amazing enrichment of our (exhausted, financially crippled) lives. Life as I know it has changed and love as I know it has changed too. But not in a bad way. We all know the love for our spouses is conditional. In our house it's conditional on serious things like trust, and not so serious things like putting the top back on kitchen items. But having kids was the first time I experienced completely, openly, honestly unconditional love. I imagine this is true for most other parents too. Sure there are days when we don't like our kids (when they are playing endlessly with annoying toys, or refuse to talk and spend the whole day barking like a dog) but we always love them. Even when we are drowning in homework and laundry and lunch boxes and life, we know we would shatter without them.
Given those sentiments, kid's nutrition is obviously something that's close to my heart. The tricky part is when our children are young and feel invincible, how do we get them to understand how precious those little bodies are? We certainly don't want to clip their wings and yet we are programmed to protect them too. I know many parents who are torn between letting their kids do "awesome kid stuff" and wanting to keep them in a bubble. Whether it's adventurous activity or simple nutrition, I think the same conflict applies.
While I've personally experienced how good nutrition can help recovery and bring back vibrancy, it's hard to package that up and give it to my kids. Like any life lesson, they will likely have to learn it for themselves. So what do we do in the meantime? It's tempting to say "let them be kids!" and give them a free for all at all the "fun" stuff. But based on U.S. produce and culture, our food environment is crazy at the moment. With antibiotics and growth hormone in our animal products, GMOs throughout our oils and grain, pesticides all over our produce and suspect food dyes galore... I'm not sure that apathy is the best thing. I'm tempted to say that we should treat nutrition as a health and safety issue. We give our children helmets, we strap them in to cars, so should we not help them avoid dietary damage too?
So where do we begin and how do we find the fine line? The line that is effective, without blanketing food in fear. I honestly think it has to start with cleaning up our own diets. As parents, care-givers or influencers in our children's lives, we are their first role models when it comes to food. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting there should never be any treats (on the contrary) but perhaps we can show them a better way to make them?
This recipe is a great example of how to clean up a classic chocolate chip cookie, and it's allergy-friendly too. At the end of the day, it's still a cookie and it does contain sugar, so it definitely falls into the "moderation" category. But it's also packed with oats and a healthy dose of chia seed. There's lots of fibre (to help generate more sustained energy release rather than a vicious peak and dip) and it's also gluten and dairy free. Importantly though, the base uses a mix of almond and brown rice flour (in addition to the gluten free oats) so there are no highly processed "alternative" flours or fats here.
These Chia Choc Chip cookies changed my life in an amazingly delicious light-hearted way. They gave me a legitimately better option to share with family and friends. They perfectly demonstrate that healthier whole foods can be seriously tasty and are a good example of the small changes that can make a big difference. So next time you're tempted to pull out a refined cookie mix, try this recipe instead. I'll happily make some for you, but you'll need to visit our amazing Bermuda. Come and get them!
- 1 cup small oats (gluten free if need be)
- ½ cup almond flour
- ½ cup brown rice flour
- ½ cup sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
- ¼ cup mini chocolate chips (allergy friendly if need be e.g. Enjoy Life)
- 1/8 cup chia seed
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup non-GMO safflower, grapeseed or coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Using a hand whisk, whisk the dry ingredients together in one bowl and the wet in another.
- Combine the two bowls and stir well, then using your hands to completely form the dough.
- Chill the dough in the fridge for 1-2 hrs.
- Preheat oven to 355F. Lightly oil a large baking sheet.
- Roll the dough into small golf balls (should make approx. 14), flatten half way and space apart on the tray.
- Bake for 12 minutes, at which point open the oven briefly and check they are spreading. If they need extra help, lightly flatten the top of each cookie with the back of a fork.
- Bake for another 2-3 minutes until very lightly golden.
- Leave to cool COMPLETELY on the rack before transferring to a plate or storage.
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