Let’s talk about cults for a moment. At this time of year, when I’m harangued at the grocery store exit by Girl Scouts and their delectable cookies, I spend a hearty amount of time simultaneously loving and loathing those patch-wielding entrepreneurs. For at least four years of my elementary school life, I spent Wednesday afternoons sitting in a folding-chair circle in a dingy room in the mouldy basement of St. Robert’s school with my Girl Scout troop. It was the thing to do in second grade, and among anyone who was anyone, the focus on patch-accumulation ranked second only to that devoted to the selection of the prettiest white dress for First Communion. Since, as a non-Catholic, I was banned from First Communion, I wholeheartedly threw myself into Girl Scouts. We’d cheerily sing “Make New Friends but Keep the Old,” talk about the patches we were pursuing, compare how many boxes of cookies we’d sold, and formulate plans of attack for the next week. I always felt like the black sheep of my troop when any mention of sales came around. My numbers were always pitiful, as sales were supported singularly by my family. While my friends’ parents initiated all-out sales campaigns, bringing order sheets into their workplaces, enlisting the help of distant relatives, and forcing every contact – the mailman, the babysitter – to support their daughters’ goals, my dad had a thing against hawking products to anyone outside the immediate family. Even with a healthy sweet tooth, my family simply couldn’t compete. To make matters worse (in the mind of a second grader, of course), my dad bought only two types of cookies: Thin Mints (no arguing with these; they are bombdiggity) and Peanut Butter Sandwiches, a more expensive version of the equally boring Nutter Butter. These cookies, now called Do-Si-Dos in a thinly-veiled attempt to make them seem more special, somehow manage to taste healthy and distinctly un-treatlike. (Incidentally, I’ve been to a barn dance, and there lots of moves far more risque and fun than the do-si-do. Virginia Reels are sexy. Allemandes scream “cool.” Basically, the do-si-do is equivalent to the Electric Slide, a move so insipid and predictable that anyone between the ages of two and ninety-nine can easily pick it up.)
I digress. Anyways, I’m all for supporting Girl Scouts. Its mission – that “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character” (http://www.girlscouts.org/who_we_are/facts/) – is one I can get behind, and one to which I can testify:
1) Courage: I certainly gained bravura on our overnight camping trips when, after hearing lectures on the dangers of dehydration and eager to please my troop leader, I drank bottles of water and then spent the entirety of the night either trying to convince myself I didn’t have to pee or persuading myself to walk to the outhouse by myself. Even though we were a mere twenty minutes from home in woods that benefited from Milwaukee’s light pollution, I was terrified to journey into them. It was either go pee or die from embarrassment after I wet the bed. Courage. Boom.
2) Confidence: My troop leader, Mrs. P., had two daughters, one my age and the other two years younger. During a Brownie meeting in 2nd grade, Mrs. P. breastfed her five-year-old. I am fully confident that I will never do that.
3) Character: I definitely learned something about character during my stint with the scouts. This story is one that continues to be my most shameful — even now I’m blushing. On one of our annual excursions to that aforementioned suburban forest, my troop leader, Mrs. P., cooked us a special breakfast of pancakes and bacon, a send-off for our return home. By this point, I was firmly entrenched in middle school, a period I refer to as my “Dark Ages,” and I had graduated to “Juniors,” an ever-dwindling and motley crew of the decidedly un-cool. On that morning at camp, sitting on a faux-pine bench at a faux-campy table, I quickly finished my allotted two slices of bacon and without thinking – Bacon Brain, it’s called – I grabbed two more slices. No sooner had I licked my fingers clean of grease than Mrs. P. growled, “Who took my bacon?” Silence. “Who took my bacon,” she repeated, with an increasingly desperate and angry edge to her voice. Met by quiet again, she took a deep breath and spewed, “Who took the bacon? Who would think of doing that? One of the principles of this troop is consideration and it, along with honesty, I might add, has been breached today.” She was actually quiverring with anger. I felt my stomach drop out beneath me and decided, in that moment, that I was the worst human being alive. Despite not being raised Catholic, I had picked up no small dosage of Catholic guilt. I burst into tears, confessed my sin, and Mrs. P. reluctantly forgave me. Seriously…there was reluctance; she and I both share an unnatural love for bacon, apparently. That moment, when I stepped forward and uttered the words, “I did, Mrs. P,” I done built me some character.
So while I support Girls Scouts, here’s the thing, people: I just can’t bring myself to purchase a box of those cookies. With an ingredient list like this: http://s3.amazonaws.com/www.littlebrownie.com/downloads/NutritionInfo.pdf, I simply can’t do it…to say nothing of the gluten involved. When, last Saturday, I found myself salivating over a box of Samoas (or Caramel DeLites, as I knew them), I decided to take matters into my own hands. Behold: A HEALTHIFIED SAMOA.
Washed down with a glass of milk, it was just right.
½ cup of unsweetened coconut flakes, plus more for dusting
2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil
½ cup oats
⅓ cup cocoa
Directions: Place the dates and the oats in a food processor with a few tablespoons of melted coconut oil and pulse. Add the coconut flakes and cocoa and a little more coconut oil, and mix until all the materials are well-incorporated. Wait for the dough to cool a bit (it’ll be warm from the coconut oil), and then form into small balls. Roll in unsweetened coconut flakes, and enjoy!