Monday, November 15, 2010

ON FOOD ~ Ali's Healthier Cookies...

I try to be a good doobie. I go to the gym most nights after work. Watch what I eat. Work to live healthy in a way that is realistic for my life. So the last place I'd expect to find a yummy cookie recipe would be from my gym's manager. But that's exactly where today's treat comes from.

Ali manages the small gym in my office park and she is always trying to mix in homemade tasty treats for her members during promotions to show that you can still spoil yourself without throwing all those health conscious lessons out the window. Thus the "healthier cookie."

I seriously will never leave a gym that encourages the consumption of free cookies after a workout. So Ali has that going for her. She handed out some chocolate chip cookies a few weeks ago and myself and the guy using the machine next to me could hardly contain our joy. Not only did these morsels taste good, she swore they were healthier than your typical cookie. She also claimed they were made without flour or sugar. Huh?

I do not cook - you know this fact about me if you are a regular reader or personal friend. But every now and then I do like to bake. Probably because I could do without everyday food if my body didn't require it, but I could never forgo the sweet tooth that my body could really do without. After thinking about Ali's healthier cookies for a few days, I broke down and begged her for the recipe. She passed it along and I share it with you today.

I baked a test batch and Andy followed his nose in from the never-ending shed project to proclaim that the house smelled wonderful. He dove right in to the cookies cooling on the counter and all I heard was "nummy num num!" Good sign. I had not told him in advance that these were "alternative" cookies, made with a healthier organic bent in mind. He wanted to know what that flavor was. Was it molasses? Brown sugar? What, what what?!?! Sucanat, my dear Bumble. Sucanat.

WTF is Sucanat? You should have seen me wandering through our grocery store's aisles trying to guess where it might be and what it looked like. This was especially entertaining since I have a hard time finding traditional items such as juice in the grocery store. I just don't venture there very often.

Almond Butter was another tricky find. I am embarrassed to say that I actually first went to the refrigerated section where you find butter and margarine. Nope. No butter with almond there. I decided perhaps I should just go ahead and buy some peanut butter instead and ditch the healthier ingredients when lo and behold I realized that almonds are nuts, just like peanuts. AKA nut butters (not the Nutter Butters I am more familiar with). Voila!

Meanwhile, my mystery Sucanat ingredient caused me massive annoyance. I went to the organic section as had been recommended by Ali's recipe and all I could find was organic sugar. She said Sucanat was "basically" organic sugar. But these sugar packages didn't reference the word Sucanat anywhere. So I gave up and decided to just go to the organic grocery store down the street.

I found the last package of Sucanat at the organic store and snatched it right up. This stuff is either extremely popular or rarely used. Happy as a clam, I ran home and whipped up that test batch. And then I very smartly explained to Andy that if he wanted to know what Sucanat was he needed to read the package because I had no clue.

Sucanat derives from the words Sugar Cane Natural. It is essentially pure, dried sugar cane juice. It is not refined, contains minimal sucrose and is granular rather than fine. It also packs a strong molasses punch - just as Andy's palate identified. Folks use it in baking or as a brown sugar substitute. The package that I bought touted its effectiveness in BBQ rubs as well as a topping for oatmeal. Versatile ingredient, that Sucanat!

Now I have a big bag of it so I need some other recipes. Otherwise, regardless of how much healthier Ali's cookies are, we are going to get fat eating them. Here is her recipe - try them out for one of your upcoming family gatherings or festive parties. And you can tell people they are the healthier cookie.

ALI'S HEALTHIER COOKIES (yields about 15 cookies):

1 Cup Unsalted Almond Butter (note - this stuff is wicked expensive)
3/4 Cup Sucanat
1 Large Egg (if doubling recipe, make the 2nd just egg whites to reduce calories)
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
3 Ounces 70%+ Dark Chocolate broken into small pieces (I don't like dark chocolate so I substituted 1/4 cup Hershey's chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

In a medium bowl, stir together all but the chocolate until blended. Then mix in the chocolate.

Drop the dough by rounded teaspoons on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove to wire rack and let cool for another 15 minutes.


Calories = 110
Total Fat = 8g
Saturated Fat = 1.5g
Carbohydrates = 10g
Fiber = 1g
Sugars = 3g
Protein = 2g
Sodium = 55mg
Cholesterol = 10mg


Matty said...

Interesting twist. But I surmise that a cookie is a cookie. As you said, if they're that good, I'm just going to keep eating them. And unlike milk, it won't do my body good.

But I do commend you for venturing into the kitchen and baking up a batch.

Kathleen said...

You may have just changed my life with this post and this recipe. Yes, it is that great to know that I can eat a cookie and have it be healthy. I'm going to bake up a batch of these when I get back from my holiday!

kayerj said...

healthy cookie? I would think that was an oxy-moron :) It might be worth a try though.

Unknown said...

They DO sound delicious! I'm going to Trader Joe's today and will get some almond butter (the least expensive place to buy it). I think they may even have the Sucanat or an equivalent. If not, Whole Foods is just across the street. These must have made a huge impression on you to get you into food shopping and baking mode all in the same day! :))

Margot said...

Wow - I'm impressed with your healthy cookies. Of course, I'm with Kaye - cooky and healthy is an oxymoron. But, I will keep an open mind. I do love almond butter. It's great plain, on toast. I'm going to have to try it in peanut butter cookies. Maybe I could call them healthy too.

Anonymous said...

Your story of looking for unfamiliar ingredients had me laughing since I've had quite a few similar experiences. Glad to know there are others out there wandering the aisles, clueless.