Note: These 28 Day Healthy Eating Challenge posts tend to be part recipe, part journal. So if you’re just here for the recipe , feel free to skip all my yackity shmakity.

When we were teenagers, my friend Jenny and I traveled to San Francisco with her parents. Before they came to pick me up my dad said to me, “Have a good time in the land of fruits and nuts!” and chuckled to himself as he walked away. When I got in the car, Jenny’s dad said, “Alright, off to the land of fruits and nuts!” Dad joke. Like, mega.

Anyway, this recipe has very little to do with California or my two favorite guys, but as I was stirring them together I remembered rolling my eyes about that joke twice in the same day so I thought I’d share.

As you may or may not have noticed, I’m taking part in a 28 Day Healthy Eating Challenge, no small feat for the girl who lubes her pancakes with maple buttercream, but I’m getting by. Initially I was really concerned that my cravings for pizza and Chicago style veggie dogs would do me in – but it’s actually been really fun having to re-learn how to cook and eat, and challenging myself to even bake healthy has been the most fun of all.

No worries, though, my sweet tooth isn’t going anywhere. What would become of Bake and Destroy if I were suddenly to become one of those weird “I don’t care for sweets” people? Zoinks! And if you marvel at my junk food addition, let me introduce you to my son Teno. As a mini vegetarian with a natural little kid aversion to all vegetables, his diet has become heavily supplemented with dairy and starch. This challenge is a family affair, though, and he’s been a trooper about throwing away his candy stash and opting for homemade, whole wheat cookies instead.

Plant Strong, bitches.

The “more veggies” part has been tough with Teno, I’ll be honest. I’ve been sneaking them into smoothies and baking them into corn bread but other than peas, carrots and corn he’s simply unfuckwithable on the veggie front. But sneaking whole grains and fruits into his snacks? Dude, you would not believe how easy it’s been! I’ve also found that the more all three of us start to eat plant foods – straight up – without all the butter and salt, the less sweet I need a snack to be in order to be pleasing.

This week end I made oat bars for breakfast that Teno declared “the most delicious thing ever” and the other night we adapted a recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar for a batch of fruity, wholesome oatmeal cookies that made him ask for seconds and thirds. If you don’t already own this book, vegan or not, you should. The peanut butter chocolate pillows alone have earned Isa and Terry both a spot on my husband’s short list of vegans he doesn’t hate. That list also includes John Joseph, so it’s a pretty righteous list.

Anyway, we took the ladies’ simple and yum recipe and kicked up the wholesomeness with whole wheat flour and a mix of dried fruits and berries. (I like Trader Joe’s Berry Medley.) You could really flip your shit adding components to this recipe – walnuts, dark chocolate pieces, whatever you like.

You will need:

  • 1/3 cup soy milk
  • 2 Tbs ground flax seeds
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar*
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 & 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins, or the dried fruit/berries you like best (the medley we used contains golden raisins, cherries, blueberries and cranberries.)

*Yep, I’m aware that brown sugar is not a health food, it’s sugar. You could probably use agave, but baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Then you:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.

In a large bowl, mix the soy milk and flax seeds together with a fork. Add the sugar and oil and mix until it resembles caramel, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla. Sift in the flour, spices and salt, then fold in the oatmeal and dried fruit.

Drop dough by the tablespoonful onto baking sheets and flatten a bit (these don’t really spread.) Bake 10 minutes if you like them chewy, 12 if you like them crunchy. Cool on pans for 5 minutes, then move to wire rack to cool completely.

Two of these sandwiched together with some crunchy natural peanut butter in the middle? Excuse me for a moment, I’d like to be alone with that thought.