Have you ever seen pictures of people on vacation posing with someone else’s paper face cutout taped to a popsicle stick? Grinning teenagers in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, smiling school kids with the Empire State Building behind them, laughing young adults next to the “Welcome to Vegas” sign… The family member or friend who couldn’t travel ends up “visiting” all of the same memorable landmarks, and the vacationers usually get a chuckle out of compiling the snapshots into a photo album or personalized calendar afterward.
After my first year of college, we embraced the idea on one of our family trips to Kauai. Instead of toting along grandparents or our playful pup on a stick, we packed…
Yes, a hat. One of those beige bucket hats, the kind that older generations usually sport on sunny days at the beach or a baseball game. (With its rough khaki material, people my age would mainly wear it on Halloween!) A few weeks before our vacation, my dad’s work passed out those hats to the attendees at a big celebration after finishing a monumental project, so in honor of the business, we fondly referred to it as “NIF Hat.”
Every time we left our vacation condo, Mom tucked NIF Hat into her purse. He tagged along on our Lapperts Ice Cream runs (caught on camera stealthily trying to sneak my scoop off of the waffle cone!), attempted to snorkel (although NIF Hat had difficulties figuring out how to slip into his fins), nearly stole a spoonful of Hula Pie (we gobbled up that ice cream dessert a little too quickly!), and soaked up some rays on the lounge chairs by the pool (sunglasses and book in hand).
Then on my birthday, we decided to visit a new beach. We piled into the rental car, meandered down a bumpy secluded road—Mom swore we passed by Jennifer Aniston’s house three different times—and eased to a stop as the lane ended at a very deserted, very flat expanse of sand. After climbing out and peeking around the area, we realized the water was too shallow to swim and too rocky to wade, so we gamely plopped down our beach towels and pulled out novels to read and tan instead. Thank goodness we’re a family of bookworms!
NIF Hat quickly grew bored and wandered off to explore by himself. Without legs, it was slow going, but he barely made it 10 feet before he encountered his first wildlife adventure: a large sandy-colored crab. NIF Hat apparently offended Mr. Crab, who believed that he was the king of the beach and started rapidly sidestepping towards NIF Hat, threateningly waving his pinchers in the air. Mr. Crab nearly grabbed hold of NIF Hat to pull him off towards his hole! Mom snapped a picture just before my brother swooped in to the rescue.
Just like NIF Hat on the beach, pineapple and coconut might look out of place in oatmeal cookies… But these Pineapple Coconut Oatmeal Cookies are actually one of my favorite flavor pairings yet! The hearty oats provide a comforting backdrop for these extra chewy cookies, effortlessly melding with the tropical fruits that leave me craving warm turquoise waters and sunshiny summer days. One bite and you’ll agree—these are the best oatmeal cookies, and they’re secretly skinny and clean-eating friendly!
You’ll need whole wheat flour and instant oats for this easy no-mixer-required recipe. Both of these ingredients absorb more liquid than regular all-purpose flour, so be extra careful when measuring them! Use a light hand with the spoon-and-level method (click on the link for my helpful guide on Baking Basics!). Too much of either will dry out your cookies, instead of the soft, tender texture that we want.
The sweet and tangy pineapple is the true star of this cookie show! The coconut flavor plays more of a background role, stemming from melted coconut oil and a bit of unsweetened shredded coconut. For a more prominent flavor, swap out the vanilla extract for ½ teaspoon of coconut extract. You could almost call these “Piña Colada Cookies” then—just sans the rum!
Chilling is mandatory. The dough will be very tacky after you first mix it together, so place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This allows the flour and oats to absorb a little more of the liquid. The longer you chill the cookie dough, the less the cookies will spread and the thicker they’ll be.
See here for a visual comparing the two. I chilled the cookies in these photographs for only 30 minutes. If you chill for longer than 1 hour, you’ll need to flatten the cookie dough slightly after dropping it onto the baking sheet. Otherwise, you’ll end up with spherical mound-shaped cookies!
Want to know my special secret for super soft, extra chewy cookies? Slightly underbake the cookies; then leave them on the warm baking sheet for 15 minutes. This allows the centers to continue cooking without turning the outsides crisp and crunchy. My batch of these tropical oatmeal cookies stayed soft for an entire week (although it was pure torture saving them that long on the counter)!
These low-fat Pineapple Coconut Oatmeal Cookies left me permanently dreaming of paradise! Sand between my toes, napping in the sun, and a small seashell collection on my beach towel… With their bright pineapple tidbits, sweet coconut shreds, and lots of lightly spiced oats, these cookies will surely satisfy your cravings—and hopefully bring a bit of summer to your kitchen too!
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