Saturday, December 27, 2008

Passive Houses -- Simple Sophistication

I'm always looking for simple systems that work well. Passive houses seem like a great innovation: they are so efficient that they do not need furnaces and are heated by the occupants and other equipment in the house itself. A special heat exchanger allows a steady exchange of air with the outside to keep the house ventilated yet warm.

Unfortunately they are still too cutting edge in the US to make them practical but they are doing well in Germany.

Read more in the Dec 27, 2008 NY Times article: No Furnaces but Heat Aplenty in ‘Passive Houses’

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 is the Best!

After I created the relatively healthy but still tasty Canola-meal Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, I wanted to find out how it compared to other cookies -- ideally by creating a nutrition label for it like those found on packaged foods in the United States. I started doing this calculation myself by reading labels and assembling all the information in my own spreadsheet. This was very tedious. In looking around the web for nutrition information about vanilla extract, I stumbled on and discovered that I could put my own recipe into it and have it calculate the nutritional results for me. Wonderful!

Having found this source, I looked diligently for others and found and a few others. But these others were not nearly as good as
was by far the best, most thorough, and most accurate. Plus it allowed me to enter my own ingredients, assemble recipes, display the nutritional results of the recipes, and save it all for others to use.

Try it out for yourself! Enjoy!

Canola-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


7/8 cup - Canola Oil (instead of butter)
1 tbsp -Water (instead of butter)
1 1/2 cups - Brown Sugar
2 tsp - Vanilla extract
2 - Large Eggs

1 1/2 cups - Whole Wheat Flour
2 cups - Whole or Quick Oats
1 tsp - Baking Powder, Double-acting, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate
1 tsp - Spices, cinnamon, ground [Cassia]
1/2 tsp - Salt

12 ounce package - Chocolate Chips, Semi-Sweet


Preheat oven to 350°F. A stand or other electric mixer works best. Otherwise this is very good exercise for your arm. In a large bowl mix oil, water, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs and mix. Add flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt. Mix until well blended. Add chocolate chips and mix until chips are evenly distributed. Drop tablespoons of cookie dough 1.5 inches apart onto baking sheets (greased if necessary). Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cookies will be soft but should firm up some as they cool. Let stand on baking sheets for 2 minutes before transfering to racks to cool. Makes about 48 cookies.

This is the healthiest chocolate chip cookie recipe I could come up with (I created it myself based on numerous other recipes). I've also posted it at: so everyone can see its resulting nutritional makeup as compared to the nutrition in a more traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe as described at and

(12/7/2009 -- added 1 tbs of water to recipe to better account for lack of butter -- butter contains a bit of water)

Copyright 2008 Tim Oey. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.