Last week I got an email from my brother sharing a new recipe. Most of my family likes to cook (except one brother who prefers frozen things in boxes, hates Foodie culture completely, and has vowed to start a new product line called Plain Ass, as in “Andy, what kind of pizza do you want?” “Plain ass pizza, with some plain ass soda to wash it down.”) so with us scattered around the country raising families of our own, sharing recipes is a fun way to stay connected. Normally I would’ve appreciated it very much. But one look at this one and my day was ruined.
Behold, from the Dr. Oz Show: Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies.
A while ago I wrote a piece, Nanny McState Returns, for a blog no one cared about. It was a reaction to Mrs. Obama’s crusade to lighten food in restaurants and healthify everything. I get it, I guess. But sometimes the best of intentions can go awry. Even presidential ones. Sometimes the day is long, the traffic is terrible and your favorite skirt gets caught on the gearshift, ripping into a useless wad of fabric that’s now dangling from your partially-clad bum as you climb from the car to say hello to your daughter’s kindergarten teacher. Sometimes it’s comforting to know there’s a Big Mac around the next corner, waiting to soothe your embarrassment with melting cheese on a salty beef-like product.
When I asked my brother why he’d subjected me to the horror of this recipe, he seemed confused. “I just thought it was a good way to add protein to a snack.”
This, perhaps, was the root of our problem. In my world, chocolate chip cookies are not a snack. Carrot sticks and hummus is a snack. Yogurt and an apple is a snack. Cookies are dessert, meant to be savored and enjoyed, with no hint of nutritional value clouding their bliss.
I should probably note, before you get the wrong idea, that I’m a fan of health food. I own a juicer, my oven has baked a batch or two of kale chips, and every morning I enjoy stevia and soy creamer in my coffee. Once, embarrassingly, I even offered soy nuts as a snack to my three-year-old nephew who’d just gotten off a very long cross-country flight. (Spoiler alert: he did not think that sh*t was cute). And during dinner last night, when I asked my daughter how she liked her pasta, she responded in the weary voice of one who gave in years ago. “It’s good. I just wish it had less broccoli and no arugula.” So, to be clear, I’m no stranger to almond milk or the Gluten Free aisle at Whole Foods.
That said, I also think there’s a place for fettuccini alfredo (with butter, cream, parmesan, and real noodles, full of gluten and eggs), french fries (done in duck fat and loaded with salt, please), honest to goodness ice cream (made with heavy cream, vanilla and eggs) and, of course, chocolate chip cookies.
I rely on the existence of those foods. I count on them as a soft (and delicious) place to fall.
Foods like that don’t deserve just any place, either. They shouldn’t be hidden in shame in the back corner of your closet (next to that unfortunate Metallica t-shirt you got for Christmas that year), but instead given a place of honor, next to the good bags and your expensive heels. Admittedly, you don’t trot that stuff out everyday, but they’re still important. Essential, even. As Spongebob noted years ago, eloquently speaking of his beloved Krabby Patty, “It’s good for your souououl.”
Testify, oh Square One.
And what could be better for your weary soul at the end of a hard day than a warm, gooey, lightly-crispy-on-the-outside-but-soft-on-the-inside chocolate chip cookie? I submit that nothing comes close.
Okay, maybe a smidge of vodka, but you get the idea.
Cookies, chocolate chip cookies most of all, are iconic. They’re boo-boo kisses for grown-ups, they’re that surprise smile in your lunch, they’re band-aids for worn souls the world over.
Quinoa doesn’t belong anywhere near such a masterpiece. Any child could tell you this. Its protein boost does nothing but suck the joy from the cookie. Is there such a wealth of joy in the world, such an embarrassment of happiness in our lives, that we can remove it, willy-nilly, from our cookies?
If you still aren’t convinced, close your eyes. Imagine your grandchildren have just come inside, breathless and teary-eyed from a game of Kick the Can gone wrong. You pause the finale of The Walking Dead, Season 26 (hey, a girl can dream) and reach behind you to the snacks on the counter. What do you see? A plate full of squishy protein-packed health wads, or a perfectly baked chocolate cookie dream–those dark dots of melty-ooey goodness peeking through a light brown crust, just waiting to fix those tear-stained faces and make it all better?
I know what I see. I will hold faith with smiles and silliness, with laughter and chocolate mustaches. I will spread love and joy…not protein. Quinoa be damned! I refuse to disappoint my future grandchildren.
Put spinach in my tuna salad, add brussels sprouts to my pasta. Trade whole milk for almond every day of the week. Hell, give me beet chips alongside my veggie burger, but for the love of all that’s holy, I beg you, Brother, do not put quinoa in my cookies.