Review of the "30 Day Well Challenge"... with cookies

When the New York Times offered to pop thirty straight days of wellness tips and techniques into my inbox, I hopped onto the challenge, and recruited a few of you.

After a month, the challenge dust has settled and here's what I think: Upbeat, varied, but spending only ten minutes per day is not enough to mitigate a winter that's making even hardened Montréalers cry.

The program is not exercise-oriented; "wellness" includes nutrition, social interaction and meditation, as well as planks and bird dogs.

I realized how much I dislike, no, detest guided meditation; the spoken directions cause me to re-write the exercise instead of meditating.

I also had a negative experience with the "close your eyes and stand on one leg while brushing your teeth" challenge because who wants to clean the bathroom mirror at 11 p.m.? There were many uses of the word "mindful" during the challenge, but calling this particular activity "mindfulness' seemed inaccurate. Good balance practice, though.

The day I was challenged to have a "phone free lunch" I realized just how pervasive social media have become.

The workout segments were gentle enough to entice non-exercisers and included modifications for all levels of fitness. I would have liked to see someone past early middle age among the demonstrators.

Overall, I'd grade the program a solid A for it's variety and gentle prodding to ramp up both activity and social interaction, a B for instructional design, but only a C+ for my results.  I do feel better but I'm not sure the program was to thank, it may be Jason Momoa in his blush pink suit at the Oscars.

I had to import more movement than the Well Challenge prescribed, no thanks to Le Duc's parallel mission: to find the irresistible oatmeal-cookie recipe.

As extra motivation, I promised myself a reward if I completed every single day, on the day it came in, no stacking.

I chose a pair of Brora cashmere wrist warmers which conveniently went on sale the day the program ended!

Here's the oatmeal cookie recipe, retrieved and adapted from They are simple, true and deeply buttery. Be well!

Oatmeal Cookies
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 23 large cookies
Calories 175kcal
Author Samantha Merritt
  • 1 cup butter room temperature (216g) and a bit more
  • 1 cup brown sugar tightly packed (200g)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (100g)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (215g)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (cornflour in UK)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon each of cinnamon and cardamon
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (285g)
  • 1-2 cups raisins or chocolate chips optional!

  1. Beat butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or using an electric beater) for about 30 seconds.  Add sugars and beat until light and fluffy (pause to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl, if needed).   
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined.
  3. Stir in vanilla extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  5. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture until completely combined.  Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl so ingredients are well-mixed.
  6. Gradually stir in oats until completely combined.  If using raisins or chocolate chips, stir them in at this point.
  7. Chill dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 375F (190C) and prepare cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper.
  9. Drop cookie by rounded 2-3 Tablespoon-sized ball onto parchment paper, spacing at least 2" apart.
  10. Bake on 375F (190C) for 10-12 (edges should be slightly browned, centers may still be slightly underbaked but shouldn't be raw, they'll bake completely as they cool).
  11. Allow cookies to cool completely on cookie sheet before enjoying.



KPD said…
Add some dark chocolate chunks and the cookies sound absolutely perfect. I'll give them a go tody.
Duchesse said…
KPD: You can add chocolate or butterscotch chips or chunks and/or dried cherries, cranberries, or nuts.
Leslie said…
Thanks for the update on the program, though the cookie recipe isn’t what I was expecting, [no complaints] I never received the emails from NYT. Was there anything that you will adopt from it on a daily or semi-regular basis?
Jean Shaw said…
I'm safe from oatmeal cookies. Alison Roman's cookies, though? Wowzers.
Duchesse said…
Leslie: I have no explanation but I think the program might still be accessible; I do not have a NYT subscription, either. I have incorporated a few of the workout exercises into my gym routine just to mix it up, and I also returned to my TM practice after I realized how much I dislike guided meditation but how good meditation is for me and those around me ;)

Jean Shaw: Might you be thinking of her chocolate chunk shortbread? Astonishingly good. Alison Roman is a treasure, for savoury recipes as well as cookies.
Jean Shaw said…
Yes, the chocolate shortbread. And then, just before Christmas, she published a coconut version that I'll have to try at some point....
LauraH said…
Must admit I stopped opening the emails after day 4. Just didn't have the energy or the interest, too busy with other stuff. I've saved them, might take a look in March....maybe?

Luckily I have a trip to BC coming up in early April so that has helped boost me over the winter hump:-)

I daren't read that cookie recipe too closely, currently to get off a chocolate kick.
LauraH said…
"currently trying to get off a chocolate kick"
Unknown said…
Ha, ha LauraH! Trying to get off a chocolate kick! I am trying to get off sugar, personally. I didn't participate in the challenge. NYT sends too much email if you give them your address. Montreal ladies, it's Nuit Blanche weekend. A cure for the winter doldrums, perhaps? -Lily
The only cookies I make are savoury ones with parmesan and other cheeses. No, they are no less caloric than the sweet kind.

I have a big job to finish so definitely not going out late - I'm very much a morning person in terms of getting work done. But remember that Montréal en lumière involves many daytime and early evening activities as well.
In the same vein, the NYT had an article about falls: very useful but a bit too much one size fits all in my opinion: In my little flat, bright lights on 24/7 would mean insomnia - which would multiply the risk of clumsiness and falls.
I think grab bars in showers should be mandatory everywhere, which would also remove the stigma.
Stephanie Watt said…
Thank you for making me aware of the NYT wellness challenge. I enjoyed it. The standing on one leg, with eyes closed,while brushing teeth is basically impossible, but I think about it and keep trying every now and then. Their suggestion to make a date with your SO or a friend prompted me to invite my husband to the zo when i probably wouldn't have thought to do that without the suggestion. Also, I haven't received any other email from NYT,just from the program I signed up for. Thanks, Stephanie
Roberta said…
Made your Oatmeal Cookie recipe this afternoon. Both my husband and I loved them. Absolutely scrumptious, beautifully crispy on the edges and soft in the center. Thank you for sharing. We had light snowfall all day so what a wonderful way to celebrate late winter.
Duchesse said…
Stephanie: Thanks for your take; I too received no additional e-mail. Like you, I appreciated the reminders about wellness, as opposed to the merely fitness.

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