I have no business putting out this recipe today. I don’t mean because it’s full of butter and sugar and I’m a registered dietitian after all…shouldn’t I know better?

No, I mean I have no business putting out this recipe because I have no business puttering in the kitchen with cookies when I have a “to do” list a mile long, dinner to make, children to tend to, and emails to send. Not to mention the fact that Virginia doesn’t have a suitable sleeping bag for the backpacking trip that starts tomorrow and I have a deadline for a magazine story that is far from completion.

Cowboy Cookies

But I woke in the middle of the night, the night before last, out of nowhere, thinking about these cookies. It was the cookies, more than anything else, calling for my attention. And so I put down my “to do” list and pulled out the recipe. It was scrawled on a scrap of paper some 16 years ago by Esther, the doula who showed up at my door the day I got home from the hospital when Rosie was born. The same Esther who listened when I blubbered my way through Rosie’s traumatic birth story, who coaxed me into a warm bath even though I didn’t want to, and insisted I rest when the baby did. She also got me to eat when I swore I had no appetite, appearing at my bedroom door with a dish of softly scrambled eggs, a bowl of lamb stew, or a plate of cookies, still warm from the oven, and suddenly I would find I was hungry after all.

When it came time for Esther to leave, I asked her how to make the cookies. She wrote up the instructions by hand,  calling them, appropriately, Those Yummy Cookies. Over time, I’ve come to think of them as Cowboy Cookies, loaded as they are with oats, nuts, whole grain flour, coconut, seeds, and chocolate chips. Indeed, it has all the ingredients a cookie needs to sustain and restore, whether a cowboy on a rigorous trail ride, or a child after a rough day at school, or a mother, bouncing back from childbirth and nesting with her newborn baby.

Make them for yourself, or your children, or for the next new mom who needs them.

P.S. if you’re a fan of chocolate chip cookies, you might like this recipe from Cooking Light using browned butter or these Toll House Makeover Cookies.

Cowboy Cookies

Cowboy Cookies
5 from 2 votes

Those Yummy Cowboy Cookies

I think of these as Kitchen Sink cookie because they are packed with practically everything in my baking pantry. It's a spin on a recipe I got from Esther Gallagher, who made them for me when I was just home from the hospital with my second child. I didn't think I was hungry for anything but sleep and gazing at my newborn, but whenever Esther showed up with these cookies, still warm from the oven, I always found my appetite.


  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup almond butter (or cashew, peanut, or sunflower butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled or quick oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 3/4 cup dark or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons hemp , chia, or flax seeds (or a combination)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries , dried cranberries, or chopped dried apricots (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (or lightly grease with butter or oil).
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together until creamy and blended. Add the egg, almond butter, and vanilla and mix again until smooth.
  3. In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir together the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add the dry mix to the butter mixture and beat just until blended. One by one with the mixer running, add the coconut, pecans, chocolate chips, hemp seeds, and dried cherries. Mix until the ingredients are evenly incorporated into the batter.
  5. Roll1 1/2-inch balls of batter between your palms and arrange them on the baking sheets, figuring 12 balls per sheet.
  6. Bake the cookies until the batter sets and just begins to go lightly brown, about 11 minutes. Remove from oven and use a juice glass or jelly jar to press down gently on the top of each cookie to flatten slightly.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes and store in a container.

Adapted from a recipe by Esther Gallagher.