Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, and Why You Should Treat Yourself

Farmers Market Haul

 

Food writer and author Michael Pollan has said that everything he’s learned about health and food can be summed up in just seven words: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The often repeated advice forms the crux of several of his books including “In Defense of Food” and “Food Rules” — and it’s just generally good advice.

Plants — veggies, fruits, legumes and more — have so many vitamins and minerals, which our bodies need to run well. Much like you’d fill your car with good gas and quality oil, you should fill your body with good food. Real food.

Pollan’s advice is something I’ve taken to heart this summer. When I listened to an audiobook of his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” over the winter, it really got me thinking about what we eat and how we eat.

Fortunately, it’s a good time of year to recommit to eating well with a diet of mostly plants (and some lean proteins). Farmers markets are overflowing with greens and other veggies are starting to come into season. And while the brilliant red strawberries have been picked and consumed, we’re narrowing in on raspberries and blueberries. Melons will follow too. There’s also poultry, meat and fish there, and eggs.

We can practically do our entire week’s grocery shopping with a visit or two to the farmers market. It’s rad.

fresh peas

Summertime really does make it easy to fill a plate with mostly veggies. Over the weekend, we chopped up big scallions and plucked fresh peas from their pods for a risotto. Big beets and their greens also dotted a fried rice recipe last week. And a cauliflower roasted to crispy perfection for a recent dinner.

While I am approaching cucumber saturation — we’ve been eating them daily since they came into season a few weeks back — I saw the first peppers appear at the Orono Farmers Market this past weekend. Summer squash has also started to pop up. The beets are mature, and there’s even some broccoli and cauliflower to be had too. Oh, the joys of variety.

But even though I heartily agree with Pollan’s advice, I also believe that treat foods are okay in moderation. This past Sunday, we celebrated National Ice Cream Day with ice cream cones. And sometimes I’ll whip up cookies or cookie bars to tuck into our homemade lunches. Why not have a little treat?

See, to me, there’s no sense in depriving yourself if you really enjoy something. I’d rather have one really great chocolate chip cookie bar than overeat something processed from the supermarket. And when you enjoy something that’s really good, it satisfies that want. You don’t need to over do it.

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

These Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars are a great treat. Though you cut them into a small size, they are so rich and chocolatey that they are satisfying as is. No big portions required.

Dark Chocolate Cookie Bars Ready to Bake

To make these, you start by whipping up a batter with butter and sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, flour, baking powder and salt. Then you mix in a lot of chocolate. Bake them in a greased and floured pan, and let them sit for a bit before you slice and store them.

Recipe for Dark Chocolate Cookie Bars

Hint: To keep these cookie bars fresh, stick a slice of bread in the airtight container with them. Works every time.

Buttery cookie and rich chocolate … such a delight. And treats are okay, especially when you’ve made them lovingly from scratch in your kitchen.

What have you been eating lately?

Dark Chocolate Cookie Bars Recipe

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, and Secrets of Eating Well
Author: 
Serves: yields 24 bars
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch baking pan. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the softened butter and brown sugar, until it's uniformly brown. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat well on medium speed to combine (about 1 minute).
  3. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. With the stand mixer running on low, add a little at a time to the butter mixture until just incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and mix briefly to combine.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread out into one even layer.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden. Let cool for 20 minutes before cutting into 24 bars. Enjoy!

 

Sarah Walker Caron

About Sarah Walker Caron

Sarah Walker Caron is senior features editor for the Bangor Daily News, and resident cook. She writes a cooking column, Maine Course, and is also author of "Grains as Mains: Modern Recipes Using Ancient Grains." Her recipes have appeared in the BDN, Betty Crocker publications, Glamour.com and more.