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We all know that America’s favorite cookie is the Oreo and the America’s favorite homemade cookie is the buttery sugary chocolate chip cookie. If I could eat one of Chick-fil-A’s cookies weekly, I would, but it’s once every few months for me due to its richness and honestly 370 calories per cookie—no way!

I try to eat food in moderation, but I have my three cookies and coffee in the afternoon as a treat. These cookies are usually dense so you can dunk your coffee to soften them. American cookies have a chewy texture to them and this usually has a higher calorie count. This is attributed to the oil or margarine that is added to the mix. These kinds like chocolate chip cookies, chocolate crackle cookies, sugar cookies, and snickerdoodle cookies are delicious, but think about the calories! If I’m thinking about this, our new neighbors are definitely thinking about what they are consuming because it is very easy to gain weight in these United States.

When I started directing our ESL program at our church I realized that the sweet ladies, who provided the snacks, loved making chocolate chip cookies. For about five weeks straight, we got chocolate chip cookies. Not one batch sometimes, but two or more. I shared them with the classes and none of the students would touch them. I got polite excuses like they are on a diet, the cookies are too sweet or they don’t eat sweets period. I tried giving the cookies to their kids and being pushy was not showing the love of Christ. So I ended up bringing the chocolate chip cookies home to my husband most weeks. They were tempting, but we had too much of a good thing that we started resenting chocolate chip cookies. I had to start throwing the cookies away when someone had spent an afternoon lovingly making these cookies and I started to feel bad. For not enjoying these little buttery sugary chocolate chip cookies when they make so many Americans happy.

So after a semester, I made a list—The “No Chocolate Chip Cookie” List. I wanted to use our WMU ladies gifts to make good snacks, but snacks that our students would appreciate. I started out asking “What kind of desserts would your grandmother grow up with?” and that’s the highest level of sugar. Pound cake, banana bread or fig Newtons are great examples. Simple and plain ingredients. No chocolate, no icing instead fruit, nuts, or honey. Plain or dried fruit would also be a great option. Simplicity is key. Remember the Chick-fil-A 370 calories per cookie? Well, Maria’s by Goya are 130 calories per 5 cookies. These pair very well with coffee and tea. These are always a hit. Dum dum lollipops are perfect as well not too big of a commitment, but just enough to get that sugar touch.

In my twenties, I came to the US to be in a wedding and then I flew back within three days (note to self and everyone never to do this again—it’s torture). I had been living in South Korea, and again I had my three cookies and coffee during my afternoon break, but I quickly realized that the richness of the food in the US was crazy. At the wedding they had a variety of cookies; one was chocolate chocolate chip mint cookies. I thought this is “mint” to be! I love mint Oreos and everything green in Asia is disappointing to be flavored green tea with red beans. So I took a bite into the chocolate chocolate chip mint cookie and immediately I got a migraine. I had to throw the rest away. At this moment, I realized you CAN have too much of something good that ruins it—sugar.

Since we changed our “menu” of snacks, our students have enjoyed the snacks more. We get to use the gifts that are given by our WMU ladies and use them well. We have hot tea and coffee at a Keurig, so only those that want a drink can make one and if we do buy snacks, individual chip bags, trail mix, or Nature Bakery fig bars hit the spot. Again, I would love a good chocolate chip cookie, but always ask these two questions: Who are we serving? And how can we be better stewards of the gifts given to our ministry? A survey may need to be conducted to your students and then present it to those who are providing the snacks. You don’t want to offend Miss Trudy’s chocolate chip cookies, but giving her a list and explanations for the changes she may be glad that her pound cake will be much more enjoyed than her cookies. Don’t let your relationships crumble instead connect and build these relationships to better lift your English ministry.

What are some snacks that work great with your international group?

Do you have any snacks that you will never serve again?

Tell us in the comments below.