We’ve just ended a breathtaking bout of Spring weather. One of the Pacific Northwest’s top charms has to be the brevity of winter and the length of spring, which, in addition to lasting for a long time, always comes much earlier than expected. The daffodils begin blooming in late February, followed quickly by the camellias. Have you ever seen camellias? Before moving here, I had not, and I was both confused and mesmerized when I first encountered them. Here we were, in the middle of a misty, gloomy, rainy winter, and all of a sudden there were these bushes bursting with thousands of flowers. And not just any old posies, either. They are so spectacularly gaudy you’d expect so see them in the tropics, not alongside towering conifers. They come on with such force that the sidewalks become littered with petals, ranging from delicate whites and pinks to dark lipstick reds.
When the camellias first begin to bloom, we make regular detours on our frequent neighborhood walks to a massive camellia tree that grows in the no-man’s land between the railroad tracks and the nearby apartment complex’s fence. We load the stroller with blooming boughs and place vases of the blossoms all over the house. The bright-red splashes of color brighten the house when gray clouds cover the sky, as is so often the case at this time of year.
Despite spring’s reputation for rain, we often get intermittent spots of absolutely glorious sun and attendant robin’s-egg-blue skies. Luckily, we had just such weather last weekend. Perfect timing for Easter. We spent the weekend going on long walks, eating dinner with some dear friends, and, of course, coloring and hiding eggs, making Easter baskets and crafts, and going to Church on Sunday. Every other moment was spent wandering around the yard, admiring the peach blossoms, cooing over the tiny lettuce and spinach sprouts poking their heads out of the soil, and gazing longingly at the strawberry bed and rows of raspberries. It was lovely.
The weather returned to normal soon after, though, and so I found myself turning to the kitchen for entertainment. This is one of my favorite kid recipes, because they love to help make the cookies and, of course, to eat them. And I love them because they’re so healthy. Other than the chocolate chips, these goodies contain no refined oils or sugars. They’re high in fiber, healthy fats, and protein. Plus, they only take about 5 minutes to mix up. Above all, they’re delicious, particularly straight out of the oven, when the chocolate chips are gooey and melty.
I have tried forming the cookie dough balls a couple of ways, all of which work just fine. You can dip your fingers in water before handling the dough if you want smooth cookies, or simply plop the dough on the sheet, which creates a jagged outside that browns nicely on the peaks during cooking. If you go for the smooth option, you can also flatten the cookies to make them look more like a traditional chocolate chip cookie; these don’t spread out and flatten like a normal cookie would in the oven.
I adapted this recipe from a bean-and-peanut butter cookie I found online, but I mixed it up a bit by adding the instant oats, which I think provide a firmer texture. I’ve tried some variations, including using raisins instead of chocolate chips, but those weren’t as popular with the kids I made them for. So far, I’ve had great success with the chocolate chip version; I baked these on Thursday with a crowd of preschoolers, and they were all gobbled up (the cookies, that is). My daughter has been asking for them ever since.
So, if you are having a rainy day today, or even if you’re not, pull your kids into the kitchen and whip up a batch. Or just make them for yourself. I guarantee you’ll want to eat them all anyway.
Special Diets and Allergies: Vegan and dairy free if you use dairy-free chocolate chips (like the Trader Joe’s brand), soy free, vegetarian, gluten free if you use GF oats.
Healthy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 18 to 24 cookies
These cookies are so yummy you’ll never guess they’re full of health-boosting ingredients. They’re best straight out of the oven, when the chocolate chips are still warm. You can make them into balls or flatten them to look a little more like a conventional cookie, but either way, be prepared for a softer texture. This recipe can be made entirely in a food processor if it is large enough; if your food processor is smaller (6 C or so), then half the recipe or puree only the wet ingredients, then place in a bowl before stirring in the dry ingredients. Lastly, get the beans as dry as possible before adding them in; otherwise, they’ll make the dough too wet.
1/4 C agave<
1 1/4 C white beans, rinsed, drained, and patted dry with a paper towel
1/2 C + 2 T natural peanut butter, chunky or creamy
1 C instant oats
1 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 – 1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a large cookie sheet.
- Place the beans, peanut butter, and agave in a large food processor and puree until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.
- Add the oats, baking powder, and salt to the food processor and pulse until combined.
- Stir in the chocolate chips.
- With wet fingers, roll the dough into 1 1/2″ balls and place on the cookie sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Let the cookies sit on the pan for a minute or two, then remove to a wire rack. Serve warm.