Sunday, September 4, 2011

Butternut Squash Cookies and This Week's News

Before we get into this week's butternut squash recipe, check out this week's health and nutrition news highlights.

Pro/Con Does Obesity Qualify As Child Abuse?
(I think my opinion on this is based completely on the individual situation. There are plenty of parents out there who need more resources, such as money and expert advice/guidance, in order to create a healthy food environment for themselves and their children. There are some parents who live in areas that are lacking healthy choices and are surrounded by violence that deters them from even sending their kids out to play. Is this abuse? No. But then there are others who just don't care. That's abuse.)

Penalty For Unhealthy Teachers

(Do you think it's fare to penalize employees for not taking part in a wellness program? I do!)

Ingredients of Shady Origins, Posing as Supplements
(This is a must read. Bottom line: don't be a full when it comes to buying supplements. Stick to well-known and trusted products that don't make outlandish promises.)

Coffee Break? Walk In the Park? Why Unwinding is Hard
(You know that time in the middle of your day when you just feel like oyu want to crash? Well, first, try some protein, then take about 1-5 minutes and go outside to get some fresh air. It may really help!)

Sugary Drinks Add 300 Calories a Day to Youth's Diets
(And we wonder why there is an obesity epidemic??)

Breast Cancer Risk Drops When Diet Includes Walnuts
(Yeah for walnuts! This study was pretty impressive. More reasons to make the cookies I posted below :) ).

And now it's time for this week's butternut squash recipe. A while back I asked for some butternut squash recipe recommendations. I received some great ones, including this Butternut Squash Muffin With Graham recipe from Chava of Food For Laughter. I was going to make these, but at the last minute I opted for a cookie recipe that someone gave me a couple years ago. I'll have to try the muffins another time, thanks Chava!

Butternut Squash Cookies

Here is the original recipe from My modifications are in red


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup almond butter)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar (1/4 cup + 2 T Splenda brown sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed, cooked butternut squash
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cup brown rice flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup raisins (omitted)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (2 cups chopped walnuts)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (omitted)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and squash. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices; add to mixture, stirring until well blended. Stir in walnuts. Spoon onto cookie sheets spacing cookies 2 inches apart.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until edges are golden.

Nick can't get enough of these cookies. I'm actually really surprised by this because they aren't very sweet. I contemplated adding chocolate chips in hopes of Nick actually enjoying these, but I'm glad I didn't because they clearly were not necessary!

QUESTION: I'm curious about your opinion of the first article I posted above. Do you think obesity should qualify as child abuse? If you don't want to answer, please tell me your favorite type of cookie or tell me what your plans are for the holiday weekend.


  1. The cookies look great!
    I think I agree with you on the obesity/child abuse. It's a very individual thing--parents seem to feel badly if they say no, and they get into a really unhealthy cycle of rewarding and punishing with food. It's bad parenting, but at the same time, maybe instead of just thinking in terms of child abuse, we should be trying to figure out ways to educate parents about it before they even have kids... I have no clue how that would be done though, since doctors are not likely to take on that responsibility.
    I recently showed a video in my nutrition class about this, and got a lot of good comments from students (a couple are nannies)--the expert in the video advises parents to "take back their power" and set guidelines---it might be a struggle at first, but it pays off in the long run. The commonality of all of it seems to be that the parent has to want to Try. maybe they do need that external pressure of it being a form of child abuse in order to make it a priority? This is a tough one!

  2. I agree with you about obesity + child abuse- depends on the situation. I read the whole teacher article and it's very interesting- at first glance I definitely think it's a TERRIBLE idea and yet another example of how the world blames teachers for the problems of kids when we are not the ones who feed the kids and/or schedule their outside of school time! On the other hand, I have to pay a lot of my own money for my health insurance, so I really wouldn't mind if this happened at my school because I would probably get free exercise opportunities AND not have to pay for my health insurance- so although I don't really agree with it, I wouldn't mind :) haha. I do think they should do things to encourage teachers to be healthy because it's hard for us to make time to do it. We need more incentives in education, rather than just constantly taking things away from us!

    Butternut squash cookies look delicious. Might have to try these!

  3. I should also probably mention, I can see how unfair the program is now for teachers as I know Eric would probably still have to pay for his health insurance despite the fact that he is a very in-shape PE teacher who has a LOT more affect on getting kids to be healthy than probably anyone else in his district. However, his BMI is never going to be at whatever they consider the okay level- he is one of those people BMI just doesn't work well for- he has too much muscle and his body is just built in a way that if he got down to "healthy" he would look like he was not eating at all and he probably would have to BE not eating at all to get there.

  4. I don't know if I would call it child abuse... That's a little harsh. Parents definitely need to take more responsibility for what they feed their children though, which starts with educating themselves.

    Your cookies sound delicious! I must get my hands on some butternut squash soon... It is almost fall too which means winter squash heaven.

  5. I agree with you... it's a controversial and hard to define topic... so it must be analyzed case by case. If it's ignorance, then its better to take the child to the right person and maybe also teach the parents to continue with the treatment. But when it's because parents are careless... then it's abuse and government must intervene.

    Squash cookies? I love love them!!! you know... everything squash related food, I love!!!

  6. I agree with the idea that the question of abuse lies within the situation. Yes, there are terrible people out there who are negligent and that would absolutely qualify as abuse. In my experience however I have met so many parents who are just uneducated, or have limited resources etc. I know we can't entirely blame the system but when we know there is a direct relationship between poverty, lack of education and obesity then we have to admit that the blame can't all be placed on the individuals.

  7. i love the cookies Gina! i think you need to make sure your children are eating right and playing outside.....child abuse-maybe borderline.

  8. I agree with you on obesity and child abuse/neglect whatever. It is entirely a case by case basis. If the parent has had education, met with MD and RD, been referred to a program, informed of health risks, but they are non-compliant, this could be a real issue. But, I have seen plenty of parents who just plain did not know or realize how they were feeding their kids incorrectly. Didn't realize portions for kids versus for adults. Didn't know the differences between whole milk and low fat. Didn't realize juice packed so many calories. And so on and so on. Really depends on the situation. With all the public service messages out there more parents should be catching on, but I still think it will take some time to understand what those messages really mean. Thank heavens we have so many great RDs out there to get that education piece to the public.

    Awesome work on the cookies. You have done a great job with all the butternut squash recipes. Time to write a cookbook!

  9. Hi Gina, as always, love the news roundup!!! The cookies look great, I've bookmarked them! Have a wonderful Monday.

  10. girl you really did think of everything to use butternut squash in! i feel like it's such work though to like get it steamed and then use it hahaha i'm so lazy especially when pumpkin already comes in a can. i DO want your b-nut squash ice cream though!

  11. Yummy cookies! I agree with you regarding your opinion on the obesity/child abuse issue, that it's really an individual decision. Unfortunately, neglect doesn't extend to food issues...What about the parents who don't even care about/promote their children's education {and from my teacher friends I know this happens a lot}-shouldn't this be thought of as abuse too? The teacher issue is interesting-I hadn't read about it. In theory it sounds good, but I can imagine a lot of negative reactions from teachers over this. Hmm...You've given me more to think about :-)

  12. Great cookies. I made the with gluten free flour mix and some gluten free oats and turned out well. Thank you.

    Obesity = chile abuse? Well, I'd put it in the same catagory as negligence in training kids about many important issues: bullying, reproduction, career path, gambling, smoking, etc. Everyone plays a role - society as a whole, teachers, parents, and the kids themselves.