Posted by: Deborah Drezon Carroll | January 12, 2011

Cookies Are Good. Sometimes They’re Great.

I just baked the most amazing chocolate chip cookies. They are cookie heaven. They are thick and crisp on the outside yet chewy on the inside. I used an App on Ned’s iPad called Cookulus. It comes with a basic cookie recipe. Then, you slide the bars to pinpoint the exact cookie type you want, thick or thin, crispy or chewy, crumbly or soft and as you slide the bars, the recipe changes right before your eyes. Amounts and/or ingredients are adjusted, baking temperature and time may change, etc. I can’t do the math or even understand the math behind its clever little algorithms. But, I know a good cookie when I taste one and these are fantastic.

I’ve long believed that cooking and baking with kids is one of the all-time best parent/child activities. I even cooked with kids when I was a classroom teacher because I think there’s so much kids learn from that. It’s language arts, it’s math, it’s even chemistry. As a parent there’s a bonus, too. Not only can you help your kids learn (they read the recipe, they measure the amounts, they witness chemical reactions, etc.) but you can impact their eating habits, too. Lately, with 67% of Americans overweight, I’ve been thinking a lot about a parent’s responsibility to teach kids how and what to eat.

Which brings me to my Cookulus-perfect confection. (I downloaded the app from iTunes, by the way). Yes, it’s a cookie. No, it’s not a health food, and yes, I think it’s okay for kids to eat them.Full disclosure, I did use whole wheat flour instead of just white so that there is some whole grain/fiber in the cookie. But, I don’t think it’s a good idea to teach kids that treats are forbidden. I think it makes more sense to make treats together that kids are allowed to eat, that way at least you know what’s in them and then you can teach kids that the key is moderation.

When I used to pack my kids’ lunches, there would be a sandwich (whole grain bread), a fruit and vegetable pack (which I packed each night as I made dinner and was cutting fruits and vegetables for dinner, I’d put extras in ziplock bags for lunch) and a home-made cookie. Just one. They might have another small treat after dinner but that was about it for snack foods. I didn’t encourage gorging on sweets but I didn’t think it made sense to label them as “bad” foods. Of course, it wasn’t all as lovely as it sounds. My girls did ask often why our cookies were home-made while other kids had store-bought ones. And, no, they didn’t mean that as a compliment to the chef, either!

My daughters (the teachers) tell me that some of the snack and lunch foods that their students bring to school are really quite horrifying. Cupcakes galore, tons of candy and empty-calorie chips, sodas and all kinds of nutrient-free food. We’ve also talked about how some kids who could use a healthier diet (lower sugar and/or gluten-free foods for those kids whose parents see a connection between food and behavior and/or focus) have a hard time when they compare their foods to the foods of the kids around them.

That made me wonder whether my daughters ate those healthy lunches I spent years packing. And, do they think those years of balanced lunches impacted the way they eat today? So, girls, what do you think? And, moms, what are you packing in your kids’ lunches? Or, if they buy lunch at school, do you talk to them about what they eat? I think it’s true that you are what you eat. And, sometimes, it’s okay if it’s a cookie, but only in the scope of a whole balanced life. (And, if I’m going to eat a cookie, it’s great if it’s exactly the way I like it!)

Ned Writes: I just tasted the cookies Debby made using our Cookulus App. I think Debby chose to make them soft, chewy, and thick using the sliders. They were delicious. I had two, but the night is young.

Alexis Writes: The way Mom packed my lunch definitely influences what I pack now. I usually include a sandwich, veggies and fruit but I have to have dessert. I need something to look forward to. Treats are a part of life, and it’s important to teach your kids to eat balanced meals. I think when you completely deprive your children you’re doing them a disservice by not teaching them a way to handle foods that aren’t as nutritious. I’ve asked the parents of my students to specifically label their child’s snack in a bag because I can’t act as the food police for their child. There are many times where I raise an eyebrow about what someone is eating, but if a parent deems it okay for their child who am I to judge?

I know there are times when the kids try to trade snacks, which I discourage (too many problems and someone always confuses a “trade” with “taking” something). But I know there were times as a kid that I tried to trade one of my friends for her Jello pudding (at the time it seemed like nectar of the gods). I think it’s part of life that kids are curious about food.

So if I want to use Cookulus do I need an iPad? Because I definitely think I could talk John into buying one.

Mom Writes: I just checked the Cookulus


website ( and it says that right now it’s an iPad app but other operating systems (and other tweakable recipes — brownies, chili, other cookies) are coming soon. I like this because even though I make a lot of substitutions in my cooking (as my family knows well  from the now-famous spinach brownie debacle which has become family lore), I don’t know the exact ways to change the recipe so that the flavor is still good. This is the first program I’ve seen which lets me choose the final product and then tells me how to get there. As to talking John into buying an iPad, I think you could. Now whether you should… .that’s a whole other question. And, a newly married couple learning how to manage money, that’s a whole other blog post.

Tamra Writes: I love cookies. And I definitely love them if someone else is baking them exactly how I like them. I do like my cookies in a specific way, I like them chewy and chocolatey, and again, I like them when someone else is making them for me. There is nothing wrong with having a cookie for a snack. I don’t give the parents any instructions about snacks to bring in, because it is opening up a can of worms about me telling them how to parent, and really, it isn’t my business. Do I think an 8-year-old needs to eat a bag of Doritos at 9 in the morning?  Not really, but that’s not for me to say. I think the more we deprive ourselves, we end up teaching ourselves, and kids, that treats are NEVER okay, which is totally not true. It is important to incorporate treats into your eating plan to show yourself, and children if you have them, that it is okay as long as you are not overdoing it. I’ve been known to house many a cookie, and don’t get me started on my candy addiction (I can’t buy Halloween candy early or it won’t make it for the trick or treaters).

I am not a great cook. I don’t like spending the time doing it when I have worked a long day, but occasionally I have to eat something. I often struggle with knowing what I like to eat and taste, but not being sure how to create those tastes. If someone wanted to buy me an iPad, I probably still wouldn’t cook, but it would be a step in the right direction.



  1. I’ve heard nothing but good things about that app. If I were an iPad owner, I would have it but, sadly, it is not to be…yet.

    Making a good cookie is easy. Making a great cookie is not. I think that you should mail some of those out this way so that Sara and Harper can enjoy them.

  2. I pack nutritious lunches for my two girls, ages 8 and 5. I used to let them buy at school, but then I discovered A) they didn’t like the food and weren’t eating most of it B) chips and snack cakes were also available in the lunch line and C) kids were allowed to purchase the junk food with their lunch card even if there wasn’t any money available on it. I got a bill from the school at the end of the month for food I didn’t intend for my kids to eat!

  3. I can’t believe the school billed you and just to add insult to injury, they billed for foods you didn’t want them to eat. Well, maybe it was a good thing after all. Now your kids are able to eat lunches that cost less and taste better. It’s a win-win.
    Thanks for commenting. We really do appreciate it.

  4. Just wanted to pop in and say Hi. I’m over from bloggymoms, but I was suprised to see that I’ve been to your blog before a hundful of times — probably from becoming Sarah 😛 New follower, hope you’ll follow back. Love to hear from moms on my blog, too.

    • Oh, I am a follower of yours. You crack me up. I suspect it won’t be long before other moms who are becoming hooked on motherhood (despite their former selves) find you too. Ooh, “Hooked on Motherhood”…. good blog title.

  5. New follower! Love the blog

  6. Thanks so much. I’m off to “visit” your blog.

  7. Will definitely have to check out that app. Sounds interesting. We have baked lots with 5 snow days off of school.

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