I’ve been inspired to renew my commitment to healthier eating after reading my friend’s blog bread with honey. I wanted to make a treat of some sort yesterday when I opened a new jar of our favorite peanut butter, and I found this:
Peanut Butter Cookies made with no sugar or animal fat.
The reviews are in and it’s thumbs up around the table here. I cooked the first sheet a bit too long, so the texture was chalky. The second set has a moister, more pleasing cookie-like softness without the dryness. I’m also considering using applesauce in place of some of the maple syrup and oil next time (great suggestion from my mother-in-law). Oh – and I used creamy peanut butter instead of chunky and that seemed to work out just fine. Also I baked these at 325 in my convection oven instead of 350 – but I reduce the temperature on almost every recipe I bake so go with whatever your oven usually does for you.
Keep in mind that you need to use REAL maple syrup. If you’ve been buying imitation syrup (on the label it will say something like “with the taste of real maple syrup” and on the back it will list high-fructose corn syrup as the #1 ingredient) you are in for sticker shock. As with most things that are not bad for you, it costs more because it is not made of a by-product or sustained by chemical preservatives and therefore requires a completely different (and usually more labor-intensive) method to bring it to your table. This, in turn, means it costs more for you, the consumer, in monetary terms.
I like to think of it this way: It is usually true that you get what you pay for. I have found this to cross over to most aspects of life. Whether you are paying in time, elbow grease, sweat, practice or dollars, the more you put in the better the results tend to be. This often makes something you want to buy worth waiting and saving for in order to invest in something that will last. The same is true with food – the more expensive foods will reap the greatest benefit and do the most for you. Also, they usually taste much better once you get used to eating actual food instead of nutritionally-fortified boxed items.
You can buy pasta that is incredibly inexpensive, and it will keep you from starving. However, your body will suffer from the poor nutrition, lack of fiber, and energy expended digesting something with so little return. You can also buy really healthy pasta (our favorite is this kind) but it is going to cost a lot more because it has *real food* as the ingredients. I could probably make extremely healthy pasta and it would be moan-worthy, but only after a lot of practice and time. So I’m going with the box version for now and that is close enough.
Fruits and vegetables are another great example. It is unarguable that a diet high in vegetables and fruits is the healthiest, and the more you consume raw, the better. It’s like breastfeeding – indisputable fact that it is what a body needs and performs best with. You can buy canned fruits and vegetables, and yes they are still nutritious though many of them have added salt or preservatives you probably want to avoid. Frozen is a bit more expensive, but frozen vegetables retain more of their nutrients than canned vegetables do. But the best for you? Of course fresh vegetables are healthiest, and eating them raw is the best way to get every good thing you can from them. So as you would guess, fresh vegetables not only cost the most, but if you are cooking them require a different level of involvement to prepare. But it’s worth it.
I have also found that, since I began working to change how we were eating (around nine years ago) I have come around to the understanding that it may *seem* like a lot more work to make peanut butter cookies from scratch with all-natural ingredients – but actually it is not. It’s just a different way of doing things, and the more practice I have had with making meals from “whole” foods, the easier and simpler it has become. Not to beat a dead horse, but once again it is like breastfeeding. Our culture has a strange idea that bottle-feeding an infant is easier than breastfeeding. In actual fact, nothing could be further from the truth – artificially feeding a baby is SO much more work, between purchasing and mixing the formula, washing and sterilizing all the equipment, not to mention the cost of all that formula and equipment! I was fortunate that I saw other mothers breastfeeding, so I had an idea of how it would work for me. Sit down (or sling up) and the only effort required on my part was lowering the flap on my nursing tank. It required an investment of practice and frustration instead of dollars, but the payoff was astronomical. (BTW kudos to all those mothers who pumped and bottle-fed. It is all the work of formula-feeding, but with the medical benefits of breastfeeding.)
Feeding my family with simple recipes made from a variety of foods in as close to their natural state as possible – that’s my mantra and I’m sticking to it. I hope your family enjoys these cookies as much as mine have!