Easy as 1,2,3 (or Let’s eat Cookies!)

Cookies

We used to play a game at work (during the weekly Work In Progress meeting), where someone would come up with a question which everyone had to answer on the spot.   The question would be completely non-work related, and the idea was that it allowed everyone to get to know each other a bit better, and encouraged team bonding.  I swing between absolute crap and complete genius when put on the spot, and would generally fall into the former category when we played this game.  However there was one question which I thought I answered pretty well:  If a song played every time you walked into a room, what would it be? I replied “Every Day Should be a Holiday” by the Dandy Warhols, which no doubt led to some sort of permanent mark on my record (something about ‘needs to improve attitude’).

Anyway, if I wasn’t so technologically incompetent, I would have a song play every single time you read one of my posts.  So consider yourself lucky that I’m the sort of person who takes over a month to work out how to set up a subscription service on a blog (and if you’re wondering how I did it, the answer is that I asked my friend Andy to install it for me).  Just for the record, the song for today’s post would have been “ABC” by the Jackson 5.  Why you ask?  Well, because today we are going to talk about carb counting, and it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3… (maybe).

So, what is carb counting?   Very simply (which is as far as my understanding goes), carb counting entails counting the number of grams of carbohydrates in a meal, so that the correct dosage of insulin can be taken.  Not enough carbs, and blood glucose levels (BGLs) can fall too low.  Too much carbs, and BGLs can go too high.  So a rather important exercise all in all.

Insulin is measured out in exchanges, and for Louis each exchange is equal to 15g of carbohydrates.  In my recipes, in addition to listing the kilojoules and Calories, I also list how many exchanges there are per serve.  Louis aims for 3 exchanges per meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner), and a couple of snacks between 1-2 exchanges each.  So I aim for this number of exchanges for each recipe.

My nutritional knowledge is still pretty pathetic, which means I now spend a lot of time reading the nutritional labels on packages, and looking at spreadsheets.  This is not at all natural for me – I am still continually surprised by the carb content of foods.  Look at the below, would you have guessed these were all one exchange each?

All of these are one exchange each (from L to R, top to bottom): Once cup of skim milk, half a cup  of apple juice, 600g cherry tomatoes, 333g pine nuts, one banana, one apple, one and a half crackers, one slice of multi-grain bread, six jelly beans, 23g milk chocolate
All of these are one exchange each (from L to R, top to bottom): One cup of skim milk, half a cup of apple juice, 600g cherry tomatoes, 333g pine nuts, one banana, one apple, one and a half crackers, one slice of multi-grain bread, seven jelly beans, 23g milk chocolate

Now keep in mind that one meal is three exchanges.  So if Louis has a glass of milk, a banana and a slice of bread for breakfast, that’s it, he’s done till lunch.  Are you as dumbstruck as I was?  My gluttonous little stomach grumbles at the thought.  Well, it’s not all bad news.  It turns out that there are ‘free’ foods, i.e. foods which have no, or such low, carbohydrate content, that they don’t need to be counted.  Oil is completely free.  It would take 150 eggs, 3 kilograms of butter, or 15 kilograms of brie to make up one exchange.  15 kilograms of brie. You have no idea how tempted I was, to include brie in the above photo, instead of the below.

I didn't have a fridge large enough to demonstrate how much of these foods would be equal to one exchange, you'll just have to use your imagination....
‘Free’, or might as well be free foods (clockwise from top right): Water (or vodka – take your pick), brie, eggs, butter, oil

As much as I would like our fridge to resemble the dairy hall at the Vic Market, there doesn’t seem to be much point in trying to help Louis keep his BGLs steady, if I’m simultaneously clogging his heart with brie and butter.  So in addition to counting carbs, I also try to consider kilojoules.  I work on the basis that daily intake for the average adult is 8700 kilojoules or 2079 Calories.  If a recipe is about 23% of Louis’ daily exchanges, then I’ll try to make sure it is also no more than 23% of the average daily kilojoule intake.  Which means I get to do a lot of 1, 2, 3 in spreadsheets.

This is the first of what will probably be many cookie recipes.  I have a dream of producing gigantic, chewy, yummy cookies – which are just one exchange each.  My cookie love was originally brought on by a recipe in the Poh’s Kitchen cookbook: chewy choc-chip and macadamia cookies – so I started there.  Then I added the browned butter from the How Sweet It Is recipe for chewy potato chip chocolate chip cookies.  Finally I used Amy’s Healthy Baking hint of adding cornflour.  Then I started slashing the ingredients to try and get each cookie to one exchange each.  It involved a lot of fiddling in the spreadsheet, not to mention about a dozen batches of cookies.  This is the result so far.  I haven’t managed to crack the whole chewy thing, but these are tasty.  So give it a go, and let me know what you think!

Ingredients

Brown butter - if it smells like cookies, you are on the right track!
Brown butter – if it smells like cookies, you are on the right track!

Sifting

Cookie dough

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 20 cookies
Per serve (one cookie): 596 kilojoules, 142 Calories, 1.0 exchanges

I’m convinced these cookies are best the day after they are baked.  It can’t be a coincidence that the day after I tested these in my mum’s kitchen, she just happened to eat five of them for lunch.  Enjoy!

One cookie for you, one cookie for me
One cookie for you, one cookie for me

Ingredients

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 90g soft brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste
  • 2 eggs (50g each)
  • 210g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons corn flour
  • 90g milk chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160° Celcius (fan-forced).
  2. Melt the unsalted butter in a pot, over low heat.  As soon as all the butter is melted, start whisking continuously, until the butter starts to brown and your kitchen smells like cookies!  Immediately turn the heat off and continue to whisk for a couple of minutes as the residual  heat continues to brown the butter.
  3. Put the butter in a mixing bowl and leave to cool.
  4. Once the browned butter is cool, add the sugar and vanilla paste and mix well.
  5. Add one egg at a time, mixing well to incorporate before adding the second egg.
  6. Sift the flour, baking powder and corn flour into the mixing bowl.  Stir to combine.
  7. Add the chocolate chips and mix again.
  8. Line some baking trays with baking paper (I have a tiny oven, and subsequently tiny baking trays – so I need four trays to bake twenty cookies!).
  9. Dole out about 1½ tablespoons of the cookie dough, spaced out about 5cm apart, onto the trays.
  10. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes.
  11. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool.
  12. WAIT.  No, seriously, I’m all for freshly baked cookies and cramming them into your mouth and burning your tongue – but not these cookies.  You have to wait for these cookies to cool, before you can truly appreciate them.
  13. Once cooled, eat with gusto!

Note

  • Lazy Power-up:
    • When I tested this recipe in my mum’s kitchen, she was rather disappointed by how much effort went into making these cookies – she didn’t think that it was at all appropriate for a lazy cook.  The next day she emailed me and suggested that instead of browning the butter, I just melt it in the microwave.  If you are short on time (or just feeling really lazy), then the microwave method definitely works.  However, if you have the time, then I strongly recommend you try browning the butter at least once.  The smell is amazing, and it really does lift the taste of the cookies up a notch!
I like to think I redeemed myself by failing to change out of my pyjamas to bake these - still the lazy cook...
You too, may emulate The Lazy Cook, by baking these in your pyjamas…

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