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Cookies you can feel good about eating

I have had many requests to write a more current version of a column I wrote years ago — and so I am.

In my family I’ve always been the one who made truly delicious chocolate chip cookies — moist, buttery cookies full of chocolate chunks. When my stepson moved into our household, at age 11, I quickly realized a cookie aroma in the air would help me win his heart. And so it did.

But then it happened. I was into my fourth decade when sugar and saturated fat started to get my attention. As I became more nutritionally savvy, I overreacted. I came to view cookies as a health hazard. My cookie-making nearly halted. It took me nearly another decade to come to terms with this issue (one bite at a time). Oh, sure, I could have made smaller cookies or replaced the trans-fatty Crisco in those original cookies with a mixture of butter and olive oil. Maybe used an artificial sweetener.

But I wanted it all — a cookie that looked, smelled and tasted like the one my stepson fell in love with. And I wanted to say to my family, “Have a cookie, it’s good for you.” I may have gone a little over the top. I now use a cookie recipe that’s more than just “good for you;” it contains all the food groups (fruits, vegetables, whole grains meat or meat-alternatives, fats/oils). Actually, I’ve not quite hit all the food groups — but you will if you have a glass of nonfat milk with this cookie of mine.

Before you reach for it, I must tell you that my cookies are made with beans. Don’t be put off until you’ve tried one. When you put beans in a cookie recipe you add protein and reduce the need for as much fat. Some bakers I know eliminate the fat entirely by adding only beans (and applesauce), but I’ve not gone quite that far. Beans are basic to good nutrition. And cooking with them ensures fiber in your diet. Most of us get less than half the amount we need. Each of these cookies has almost 2 grams of fiber and two grams of protein.

They’re good cookies — not quite the luscious, chunky, golden domes I used to make, but “not bad,” as my husband puts it (the ultimate compliment.). Ah, yes, have a cookie. It’s good for you.

The Johnson Family’s Chocolate Chip Cookies with Beans

1 cup whole wheat flour

1½ cup quick-cooking rolled oats

1 cup well cooked white beans (or use canned beans, well rinsed and drained)

¾ cup unsweetened applesauce

¾ cup brown sugar

¼ cup shredded zucchini

2 eggs

½ cup butter (or ¼ cup butter and ¼ cup olive oil)

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Puree beans and zucchini in food processor or mash well. Cream together the butter, applesauce, sugar and pureed beans/zucchini. Stir in vanilla and beaten eggs. Combine dry ingredients and stir into bean mixture. Mix in the chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto sprayed cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Enjoy.

— Sharon Johnson is a retired Oregon State University associate professor. Reach her at Sharon@agefriendlyinnovators.org.