In high school and college, I had a pretty rough relationship with my weight. [This circles back to cookies, I promise; just keep reading.] This is something that those who knew me back then might remember well, but something that those who know me now might not even be aware of (…surprise). I don’t talk about it a lot. Or ever, really. I’m not sure why. I guess no one really enjoys bringing up past embarrassments, or times when they were not their best. But in this little corner of the internet at least, I’m wondering if it’s worthwhile to acknowledge, just so people understand that I’ve been on all sides of the health spectrum. I know what’s it’s like to struggle with weight, but I also know how it feels to come out on the other side (where I plan to stay, permanently). I’m certainly not here to preach, but I would like to share with you what I know, in the hopes that we can all get to where we want to be.
So here are the basic facts of my story: I was overweight for most of my adolescent years. At 14, my doctor recommended the Weight Watchers program to me. I signed up (well technically, my mom signed me up, ha), followed the program, learned a ton, and lost about 50 pounds.
I kept the weight off for about a year, only to have it slowly creep back on as I entered my final year of high school and then college. Obviously, neither of these times are an especially great time to be overweight (I still thank and appreciate everyone who was kind to me back then).
By the summer after my freshman year of college, I had had enough. I wanted to be healthy again—and happy too. Using the basics I had learned before, I began making simple changes on my own: eating less and exercising more. I didn’t cut out anything entirely (I was stuck eating dining hall food, after all), I just became more conscious of how I was fueling, and treating, my body. Over the course of the next six months, I lost more than 60 pounds and finally reached my goal weight. For the first time, I felt like the real me—both on the inside and the outside. It was the most freeing experience of my life.
That was 13 (!!) years ago now. In that time, my interest in health and nutrition has gone from a prescription, to a personal interest, to a career, to a lifelong devotion (and now to a blog!).
People still ask me what “the secret” to good health is, and I always answer with the most honest—albeit the most boring—response: moderation and real food.
To me, that’s really it. The second you start cutting out entire food groups, or eating more things out of a package than out of a garden, things go down hill. You feel unfulfilled, both physically and mentally, and a dangerous cycle begins.
This is why I do not follow any “diet,” per say, and but instead choose to simply celebrate foods that are nourishing, wholesome, and real.
This is why I value balance, not perfection, above all else.
This is why, every once in a while, I treat myself to a cookie.
Sprouted Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt
Sprouted spelt flour is made from spelt grains (an ancient type of wheat) that have been sprouted and then ground into flour. Much like the process of fermenting (see my sourdough post), sprouting helps unleash hidden nutrients in the flour, and makes it easier for us to digest. Flour made from sprouted grains is richer in vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium, with fewer calories and carbohydrates. More importantly, it makes these cookies superbly delicious, as spelt flour is mildly sweet and nutty in nature, and therefore great in baked goods. The cookies are soft and chewy on the inside, with delicately crisp edges. Just be sure not to overbake them—10 to 12 minutes is key for keeping them soft.
2 cups sprouted spelt flour (I like One Degree brand; I find it at Whole Foods)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled (you can sub coconut oil for half the butter if you like)
3/4 cup light brown sugar or coconut sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together spelt flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In a stand mixer or with beaters, beat the melted butter and brown sugar (or coconut sugar) on medium speed until it combines into a caramel colored syrup, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the whole egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Mix in the chocolate chips.
Using a small scoop (I use a 1-inch cookie scoop), portion out 12 to 18 cookie dough balls. Place however many as you’d like to bake on your baking sheet. I like to just bake a few at a time, and freeze the rest for another day (instant portion control). The frozen ones don’t even need to be thawed; just bake an extra minute or two.
Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt on top of each cookie; I use Morton brand, or Maldon if I’m feeling really fancy—just a few flakes will do. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are just slightly golden but the centers are still soft and puffy.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.