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Saturday, May 30, 2009

How to make healthier desserts

Now, I'm not teasing. I really did make this pan of cookies healthier! Carbs are not entirely bad for you. In fact your brain needs sugar to function properly. All the easy access we have to refined carbs is the problem! Our bodies can more easily metabolize refined carbohydrates and store them as fat. That's why we crave them so much, we're programmed to try to survive the next famine, which is surely just looming around the next corner! The trouble is, most Americans haven't ever seen a true famine, just lots of feasting. What I've done is I've taken my favorite chocolate chip cookie bar recipe and I've changed out the carbs to be as unrefined as possible. I also used the freshest ingredients possible to keep the flavors bright and bursting in your mouth.

Instead of white flour, I used freshly ground, hard white wheat. Hard white wheat is available at the cannery. If you don't have a grinder, I would suggesting purchasing local whole wheat flour to ensure it's as fresh as possible. Here in Montana, we actually have local whole wheat flour at the grocery store! An even better flour for cookies and quick-rising baking (non-yeast baking) is soft white wheat, which is what whole wheat pastry flour is made of. Soft white wheat has less protein so it's less likely to become tough and hard in baked goods. This is also why it's not recommended for making yeast bread.

Instead of white sugar, I used sucanat, which is dehydrated cane juice (pictured below). If you read the ingredients list of healthier breakfast cereals, like Kashi and Special K, to name a couple, you'll see it listed there. It's also recommended for diabetics because of it's glycemic index.

Sucanat is available in Billings at health food stores. It has a flavor like dark brown sugar - perfect for cookies!

For the fat in the cookies, I did use real fat. You need to stick to fats that are high in Omega 3. Olive oil and canola oil are both good fats, as are walnut oil and other nut oils. What I used is a stick of healthier butter for baking. It's half butter and half canola oil. It also comes in half butter and half olive oil. (If anyone knows of a better solution for cookies, please leave a comment!!! I'd love to hear it.)

Always use real vanilla, especially when you're trying to cook healthier. The food really needs that burst of goodness you can't get from imitation flavorings. I also added a little extra flavor by adding orange extract and cinnamon.

So, here's the recipe:

2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t cinnamon
2 cubes canola/butter spread, softened
1-1/2 cups sucanat
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. orange extract
2 eggs
1 pkg (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup whole almonds

Preheat oven to 375°. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In large bowl, combine butter/canola oil, succanat, vanilla, and orange extract. Beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Add flour mixture and stir just to combine (over beating will result in tougher cookies, especially with whole wheat flour). Gently stir in chocolate chips and almonds.

Spread in greased 15 x 10 inch baking pan. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Cool, cut into 2-inch squares.

1 comment:

  1. Great Recipe. I make "healthy" whole wheat cookies all the time. Here's an idea for the fat.. I always substitute 1/2 the fat with applesauce, and they always turn out great. My anti-health foods brother-in-law couldn't even tell they were whole wheat cookies. Also, honey or Br sugar can be used as the sweetener! :)