Kids love treats. Heck, I love treats too. Unfortunately, many of the treats that you can buy at the store are filled with partially-hydrogenated-this and high-fructose-that. Not only are they bad for you, but they're bad for the earth as well, filled with corn and soy products that are fArmed in non-sustainable ways. Andsince some types of treats (such as a yellow cake with a white filling inside which I will leave unnamed) don't rot, if they go into the landfill they are going to sit there forever.
Now, I'm not saying that given the choice between Airheads and these cookies, kids will choose the cookies (in case you're curious, click here to see the ingredients in Airheads, which are a favorite treat of every child I've ever met). And I'm not saying these are healthy. They are, after all, a treat. However, they are filled with recognizable ingredients, including whole grains, and they taste exactly like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but without the stuff that, you know, destroys the planet.
You could make a version of these that would not make Mama Earth smile, so I'm putting tips for using sustainable ingredients in parentheses after each ingredient. Enjoy!
Auntie's PB & J Cookies
3/4 c. butter (organic butter is the more sustainable choice, but it's expensive. Although butter gets a bad rap, I choose it over margarine, which is partially-hydrogentated vegetable fat, or cottonseed oil that has had hydrogen shot into it. Um ... I don't want to eat that.)
1/2 + 2 tbsp peanut butter (choose a kind that contains only peanuts and maybe salt - I use Laura Scudder's or O Organics)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. firmly-packed light or dark brown sugar (organic sugars are readily available)
1 egg (go for organic/cage-free. Farmer's markets often sell local eggs, and in some natural markets you can find packaged eggs from specific local farms)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (there are lots of organic and sustainably-produced flours available, but you may have to go to your store's health-food section)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 - 2 1/2 c. quick-cooking oats
your favorite flavor of jam or preserves (check labels carefully. Even many "natural" brands contain high-fructose corn syrup or refined sugars. Look for those that are sweetened with fruit juice).
Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars together. Then mix in egg. You can use an electric mixer or wooden spoon to stir until it's all light and fluffy.
Step 2: Mix flour, baking soda, and salt.
Step 3: Pour the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Stir until well-incorporated.
Step 4: Begin pouring in oats. Stir after each addition. You don't want the dough to be too crumbly, so use your judgment to determine how much to add -- but it should be between 2 and 2 1/2 cups. If you want cookier cookies, use less; for oatier cookies, use more.
Step 5: Grease a cookie pan and form generous tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Put it onto the pan and press your thumb into the ball. You want a deep well -- it should look sort of like a kid's volcano project. Take about a teaspoon-full of jam and put it into the thumbprint. (If you don't create deep thumbprints, the jam will melt and run all over the place.
Step 6: Bake for 13-15 minutes. Let cool for a minute or two and then transfer to a wire rack.
Step 7: Eat!