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Why I Give My Son Cookies for Breakfast

My son, a child so picky that other picky eaters think he's too extreme, gets the munchies more than I ever did in my pot-clouded college days. If nibbly, crunchy, finger food is on the menu, he's happy. This turned out to be a good thing, after I learned to use it to my advantage.

The stroke of genius: I build meals out of snacks. Snacks packed with nutrients.

RELATED: Baked Chocolate Doughnut Holes

Now that he's in third grade, I let him pack his own lunch (OK, I insist upon it—he's more likely to eat food he packs himself). His favorite is what we call "The Nibbly," small portions of multiple nutritious, snacky items. Today's lunchbox contains a tablespoon or two of honey peanut butter, sliced apple to dunk, a kid-sized handful of potato chips and some olives, all assembled by junior himself. Yesterday's featured mozzarella cheese, whole-wheat crackers, baby carrots and a cookie.

That would be a homemade cookie: one based on fruit, nut butter and two types of whole grains; a cookie I can get behind, easy to make and satisfyingly chewy, just sweet enough; a cookie I'd serve—and have served—for breakfast, in a pinch. My son's delighted when that happens because, well, what kid wouldn't be happy to have cookies for breakfast? He helps me bake them so he understands that they're actually good for him, but they're still cookies.

If a baked good can save a life, I'm pretty sure this one saved mine.

RECIPE: Almond Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from "Parents Need to Eat Too" by Debbie Koenig

Yields 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup mashed banana (from 1 medium, very ripe banana)
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and position racks in upper and lower thirds. Grease two baking sheets and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the sugars and butter on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and mix it in, then the almond butter and mashed banana. Mix until well combined.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the almond butter mixture and combine with the mixer on low speed. Stir in the oats and optional chocolate chips—the dough will be quite stiff.

5. Place tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, flattening each slightly with moistened fingers.

6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookies turn golden around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

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