I found a healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe online, and I thought it would be an interesting exercise to break it apart and see how healthy it really is.
You can see my revised recipe at the bottom of the article.
Flour in a Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
The recipe creator calls for whole wheat flour, but that often falls short of whole grain. Whole wheat flour is often white flour with a bit of the germ and husk added back in to make it look brownish. You definitely want whole grain when it comes to flour and organic whole grain flour is even better in a healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe. In other words, the germ and the husk must not have been removed. The flour can be ground smooth, but these elements are critical in ensuring that the flour is not overly processed, which would cause rapid spikes in your blood sugar creating unnecessary oxidative stress and increasing your risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
However, many people are allergic to gluten, so it may be best to
avoid wheat, barley and rye (even oats can be questionable) and try
some other type of whole grain flours. If you can get sprouted (for
improved digestibility), ground smooth, whole grain flour that is
gluten-free, you would have the best of the best in terms of the flour. Make sure to experiment with various combinations for taste and texture.
Remember that gluten-free flours need some stickiness or viscosity and so you would need to add something like Xanthum gum to get the dough to stick together properly.
Lastly, you should never use commercially-processed wheat of any kind, since it is absolutely filled with chemicals.
Baking Powder in a Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
You want to make sure your baking powder is aluminum free, unlike most store bought baking powders. Heavy metals simply cause lots of free radicals to be produced in your body. Simply buy a brand of baking powder that is aluminum free. They are not hard to find. I also stock my pantry with aluminum free baking soda. The specific ingredient you want to avoid is called "sodium aluminum sulfate" and may be linked to the development of Alzheimer's Dementia later in life.
Salt in a Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Table salt is usually iodized, a practice that began during WW1
because many people suffered from iodine deficiency, which could then
lead to thyroid problems or goiter. Thankfully, there are many natural
ways to get iodine, such as through saltwater fish and vegetables. The
iodine issue really only affected those living in the mid-west region of
the USA, but later iodized salt began to be sold worldwide. Try sea
salt and grind it yourself or even better, try Himalayan salt. If you
need to eat less salt in your diet, you can experiment with herbs and
spices for most types of savory cooking or with potassium chloride in
baking. Sometimes, I leave salt out of my healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe altogether.
Nutmeg and Cinnamon in a Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Nutmeg seems an all around healthy and safe flavoring and even has medicinal properties. Like most spices, it does not become a problem unless it is consumed in large quantities.
Cinnamon, can be unhealthy, depending on where it is grown. The difficult component is called coumarin, which in large quantities, can be toxic. You want to avoid Cassia cinnamon and stick to Ceylon cinnamon, which is far lower in coumarin. Unfortunately, most cinnamon, commercially available in North America, is the Cassia variety, so it may take a little effort to locate Ceylon cinnamon. An even simpler idea is to find another flavoring.
Butter in a Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Butter is a fat derived from animal sources and so is classified as a
saturated fat (SATFA). As a rule, SATFA's are bad, bad, bad for most
systems in your body. A far better selection is raw, organic coconut oil as it is also saturated, meaning it is solid at room temperature, but the fats are different that animal-based saturated fats. In coconut oil, they are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) – which are fatty acids of a medium length.They react differently in the body that long-chain saturated fats.
Don't let margarine fool you, either, since it is usually hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated. You may as well be eating poison. Some margarine companies are now selling non-hydrogenated margarine, but be careful because the oil is still heat-pressed or heavily processed in another way and they often add one or both of the only vegetable oils that contain saturated fat. These are palm oil and coconut oil and they are added to get the oil to harden a little. The only fats that will harden to a point of being spreadable are SATFA's.
Sugar & Sweeteners in a Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
There is nothing healthy about brown sugar, It is refined white table sugar with a little molasses mixed in. Sugar is highly addictive and this one ingredient will spike your blood sugar wreaking havoc on your pancreas.
Lets' talk about some far better choices. One solution is to use pure, organic date sugar or raw, coconut palm sugar. You could even try a blend of trehalose and stevia. All of these choices have a far lower glycemic index number and so they will not spike your blood sugar.
If your goal is to be healthy or healthier, you should avoid all
chemical sweeteners like the plague. This includes Saccharin, Splenda,
Nutrasweet, and Aspartame. Erythritol and Xylitol are a little better, but they are still sugar alcohols and will cause gastro-intestinal distress if you are not used to eating them. I much prefer to use real, raw, vegan organic sweeteners in my healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Eggs in a Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Chickens fed good quality, organic feed that are allowed to roam free in the pasture (free range) are always going to be your best bet. You can get these in the store, but they are usually very old and stale. Given the high expense of store-bought, free range, organic eggs, it is a far better idea to source a local farm so that your free range, organic eggs are fresh too. There is nothing healthy about eggs from commercially grown chickens.
When it comes to eggs, many people are afraid of the cholesterol in the yolks. There is new research on cholesterol and what people need to understand is that cholesterol is not bad, not the LDL or HDL. What is bad is when cholesterol becomes oxidized by free radicals. Choosing to eat healthier, by using my revised healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe, you are already well on your way to winning the war against free radicals, plus there are lots of benefits to eating healthier eggs.
Milk in a Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Once again, milk is an animal product and so contains saturated fats (SATFA's). You can buy skim milk to get rid of this challenge to some degree, but I find that replacing the milk with non-dairy choices is a better idea. Try almond, coconut, hemp or soy milk.
Chocolate in a Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Last, but not least, is the chocolate. For the most part, chocolate is not healthy in any way, shape or form. However, recently, many scientific studies are pointing to the fact that, if processed correctly, chocolate can be very healthy indeed. The important factors are the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate, the way the cocoa is processed and what is added to the cocoa. Healthy chocolate should contain at least 70% pure, unprocessed cocoa powder from cacao plant. There should be no fillers in it and it should be sweetened with natural sweeteners like cane juice or agave nectar. When it is made in the correct way, chocolate has many health benefits because cocoa is one of the highest antioxidant-containing foods ever found in nature.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together flours, xanthum gum, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. In a large mixing bowl, cream the oil and sweetener together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then the milk. Stir in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheets. Bake 12-14 minutes or until browned around the edges.
Makes 36 cookies.
So now that you know what it would take to make a healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe, you are free to experiment in your own kitchen.