Published on pg. 10 of the SMDP newspaper weekend edition April 5-6, 2008, click link for original article
It happens every march without fail. It has nothing to do with age, experience or will-power. You order them out of habit and there they are — Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs and Do-Si-Dos. You empty box after box and consume, thousands upon thousands of calories.
March is known in this country as Girl Scout Cookie month. It is also National Nutrition Month. Coincidence? I think not. In 1933, the Girl Scouts held their first “home-made” cookie sale and 40 years later the dietitians created National Nutrition Month. As a dietitian, it is my duty to educate. OK, here goes, “Those cookies are not very healthy, please limit your intake.”
Actually, what I want to say is, “Please don’t eat them.” I was a girl scout too. I’m sure I pushed my fair share of these processed sugar and fat bombs, and I definitely ate more than my fair share. But now, as an educated Dietitian, I simply cannot advocate their sale. Cookies were my downfall; a true comfort food. They don’t really provide any comfort at all, instead they cause weight gain and blood sugar fluctuations that make you want to eat and more, and more and more… until…now you’ve got a weight problem.
Still got a craving for a cookie or two? Well that’s simple to satisfy by making your own from the exact same ingredients. Simply start with sugar, add enriched flour (a.k.a. processed flour without any naturally occurring nutrients), some more sugar disguised as corn syrup, followed by “vegetable shortening” which could be any combination of tropical or hydrogenated fats, plus some sweetened condensed milk (milk and more sugar) intertwined with high fructose corn syrup (sugar that decreases your inhibitions) and then cocoa, but it is processed with alkali, a.k.a. “dutched” cocoa which negates the health benefits. To top it all off, a list of not one, not two, but four artificial colors, dyes.WOW! With all that sugar and artificial stuff, I need to recover just from writing about them.
You might think I should just offer up a more calorie friendly cookie recipe, but frankly, when it comes to cookies, portion control is the underlying issue. Portion control is usually the issue for most foods and for many of us who battle with our weight.
Research has shown that it is shear volume (big portions) that we seek when we eat. The best way to meet your flavor needs and be truly satisfied is to fill up on fluid filled foods, such as fruits, vegetables, soups, salads and shakes where the “bulk” macro-nutrient is water. And water will never add “bulk” to your bod. Maybe that is why cookies and milk are so much more satisfying than just the cookies alone.
The most popular Girl Scout cookie in terms of sales is the Thin Mint, followed by Samoas and Tagalongs. So in lieu of Thin Mints, I offer my Chocolate “Make You Thin” Mint Recovery Shake for recovering from cookie overdose, plus suggestions for adapting this shake as a Tagalong, which in the shake form is called a “Fat-Be-Gone.” Both shakes are chock full of fluids, for filling and hydrating, plus protein for post workout muscle recovery, good carbs for repletion of glycogen stores (stored energy in the muscles), and a host of vitamins, minerals and antioxidant nutrients to facilitate energy pathways and protect precious cells.
Start with alkaline-free (non-dutched) cocoa which is rich in catechins, a class of antioxidants like those found in tea, red wine, apples and pomegranates. Catechins may help protect against certain cancers and aid in the prevention of heart disease. Next add some mint leaves. They are rich in a natural anti-inflammatory agent known as rosmarinic acid. Mint leaves and most leafy greens are also rich in carotenoids, typically thought of as the yellow-orange pigment in particular fruits and vegetables. The 450 known carotenoids offer a plethora of protection such as the prevention of heart disease, cancer and macular degeneration; the leading cause of blindness. Mint leaves are also a good source of vitamin C.
Then add cinnamon. Cinnamon offers some more disease fighting protection in the form of an antioxidant known as cinnamaldehyde which helps to reduce blood clotting thereby reducing the risk for heart attacks and strokes. Cinnamon has also been shown to reduce the rate at which the stomach empties after a meal and can in-effect aid blood sugar control. Plus, cinnamon enhances sweetness, especially in chocolate (cocoa) and fruits.
Simply follow the recipe, blend and enjoy. Guilt free, energy enhancing and disease preventing, as eating and drinking should be.
1 cup almond or organic milk of your choice
6-8 ice cubes
1 Tbsp unsweetened, Alkali Free or Non-Dutched cocoa powder (Bulk or Ghirardelli, Dagoba or Chatfield’s)
30 fresh mint leaves (If available, buy chocolate mint from Maggie’s at the Farmer’s Market)
1/2 cup protein powder such as Whey
1-2 tsp blackstrap molasses
1 tsp cinnamon
To make a NUT Butter “Fat-Be-Gone,” omit mint leaves and add 1-2 tsp natural organic peanut butter or raw almond butter
Pour milk in the blender. Throw in the powdered stuff and cinnamon. Add the molasses and the mint leaves (or peanut butter.) Blend. Add ice cubes gradually and more liquid as needed to reach a milkshake consistency. Pour, drink and enjoy!
Per serving: 260 calories, 6g fat, 23g carbs, 6g fiber, 33g protein, 10% DV Vitamin A, 6% Vitamin C, 25% Calcium, 36% Iron