I don’t know about you, but I find it rather challenging to feel loving, compassionate and kind at all hours of the day when I’m faced with snow, sleet, gusting winds, freezing temperatures, and city the buses that simply do not run on time. When facing the elements, and the overwhelming feeling that winter is quite possibly never going to end, I tend to lose perspective and ignore all the positive, loving things in my life. Luckily, February has a built-in reminder: Valentine’s Day!
Unfortunately, a day that should be dedicated to expressing love to both ourselves and others has been hijacked by the candy and flower industry and turned it into a commercialized and consumerist holiday with little heart. While it is certainly lovely to give (and receive) flowers and candy from a loved one (or as a gift to yourself), spend a little time this year focusing on what’s behind that gesture. Acknowledge the beauty and strength in yourself and others, show kindness to a stranger, and choose your words wisely so they always generate from a place of honesty and gentleness.
However you choose to spend your day, remember that you are a divine, beautiful being and through love, any goal you wish to achieve is possible. Personally, I will be my own date this Valentine’s Day. I will be enjoying a massage at a spa, taking myself to a tasty brunch and then treating myself to a romantic movie on my couch with a glass of wine and my homemade chocolate chip cookies (see recipe below!). I hope your day is just as fulfilling and joyful and that you can allow love to keep you warm throughout this season.
I love a good chocolate chip cookie. I had been having a hankering for a while but just couldn’t seem to find the perfect cookie, no matter where I looked. Then it hit me: make them yourself! I always forget the two best things about baking your own batch of cookies versus buying them somewhere else:
1. You know exactly what’s going into them, no unpronounceable ingredients or added chemicals and preservatives.
2. You get to lick the bowl!
I followed a generally traditional recipe but made a few healthy changes to both enjoy a lower-calorie treat and to avoid having to buy extra ingredients, allowing me to use things I already had on hand. I always encourage home bakers, and home cooks, to experiment with their tried and true favorites, you might discover an even healthier, and tastier, version! You can adjust for any sensitivity or preference, like gluten-sensitive or vegan, allowing you to bake a batch for any group.
For these cookies, I replaced the butter with applesauce and whole wheat flour for all-purpose. These came out with a more cake-like texture and were very moist, so if you’re looking for a crunchier cookie, you might try using all-purpose flour and/or replacing or omitting the egg. For a great guide on what ingredients to use to bake the kind of cookie you want, read this article from About Food.
1 1/4 cups whole wheat or all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup applesauce, drained
1 cup packed brown sugar (I used light)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used chunks for more chocolately deliciousness)
Preheat oven to 375
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and whisk together.
Spoon applesauce into a fine sieve over a bowl and let stand for 15 minutes; discard the liquid and scrape drained applesauce into a large bowl. Add sugar and butter and beat with a mixer at medium speed (or if you’re looking for an extra bicep workout, just use a wooden spoon!) until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and egg. Add the flour mixture, on a lower speed if you’re using a mixer, until well blended. Fold in chocolate chips.
Drop by tablespoons onto a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes depending on the consistency you’re going for (less time=less density). Cool on pan for 2-3 minutes then transfer the cookies to a wire rack.