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Sneaking in health food on the cookie monsters

The desperation in my 19-month-old’s voice sounds like, “Get me a cookie or I’ll just die!”

I guess I kind of understand. Being pregnant, sometimes I feel like I need something and if I don’t get it I might explode. I know I won’t and neither will he, but it’s a little frustrating when my child wants a cookie morning, noon and night. I have given in a bit but I’m hiding some good stuff into the cookies so I don’t feel so bad about giving them to him.

Now, if I could just put broccoli, spinach, and other greens in them, while still making them taste good, I might have the best kid-friendly cookie in the world. Until then, try these out on your little ones. You might even like them too.

Hidden Trail Cookies

1 cup golden raisins

three-fourths cup peeled and finely grated carrots

one-fourth cup plus 2 tbs fresh orange juice

half cup finely chopped dried, sweetened pineapple

1 cup ground oatmeal

half cup ground almonds

1 and a half cup whole wheat flour. You can use AP white flour, but they are not as healthy

1 and a half tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground allspice

three-fourths tsp baking soda

half tsp ground nutmeg

one-fourth tsp ground cloves

one-fourth tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg plus one large egg yolk

1 tsp finely grated orange zest

1 and a half tsp vanilla extract

1 cup chopped almonds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan, stir together the raisins, carrots and orange juice. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook while stirring for five minutes. If the mixture becomes dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water. Remove from heat and stir in the pineapple. Let stand until cooled to warm.

In a food processor, grind together oatmeal and half cup almonds. In a large bowl, stir together the wheat flour, oatmeal mixture, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter with a hand-held mixer in a separate bowl until smooth. Add the sugar, egg and yolk, orange zest and vanilla. Beat on medium for about two minutes until everything is evenly incorporated. Stir the carrot mixture into the butter mixture. I like to then add half the butter and carrot mixture to the flour mixture and stir it in with a fork. Add the other half doing the same to control it better. Then add in your chopped almonds if you like them chunky, like a trail mix.

Drop the dough onto baking sheets by heaping tablespoonfuls, spacing about two and a half inches. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time in the middle of the oven for about 9 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned all over and slightly firm in the center. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack and let stand about 2 minutes until the cookies firm up slightly, then transfer the cookies to the wire rack and cool completely. Store up to one week in an airtight container. Makes about 35 to 40 cookies.

Until next time, have fun in the kitchen, experiment and indulge your cravings.

Laura Clements is the pastry chef at Napoleon’s