Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies

Notice that I wasn’t so bold to flat out call my recommended cookie recipe “healthy”.  Though sweetened with maple syrup, which is much healthier than refined sugar, these cookies would probably merit the healthy stamp using pureed fruit substitutes (banana or apple), which I haven’t opted to do yet because I love this recipe so much exactly the way it is.  One step at a time for me. Dumping refined sugar feels like a great start.

According to a Food Facts article on Suite101, maple syrup is about 60 percent as sweet as sugar. Maple syrup has a medium-low glycemic index (GI) of 54, which is certainly a step in the right direction — but it’s still high enough to cause a blood sugar jump, so diabetics are advised to use sparingly.

Another refined-sugar alternative to consider with a considerably lower GI than maple syrup is agave syrup, which has a GI of 15.  Though I love maple syrup, its price tag provides another motivator for me to switch to agave as our sweetener of choice since Agave is generally half the cost.

feeding the whole familyEither should work in this AMAZING recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Feeding the Whole Family, by Cynthia Lair.  I can’t recommend this cookbook highly enough.  It is great.  Her chocolate cookie recipe, which I think is the best on the planet, falls within a complete chapter of wholesome desserts — all using various alternative sweeteners. She defines them all and explains how to use each of the granulated and liquid natural sweeteners listed.  Feeding the Whole Family offers much more than desserts; Lair has fantastic, healthy recipes for every meal with a focus on whole grains, vegetables, legumes, sea vegetables, fruit, and all things truly healthy.

I love the way she offers suggestions for how to use part of a recipe for babies so you maximize your food prep time, her advice for best foods for breastfeeding mamas, and her suggestions for well-balanced meal menus and healthy lunch-boxes.

These cookies are super easy to make — I can generally throw together the dough and finish baking 2 batches of a dozen each (I double this recipe) in 1 hour.

Cynthia Lair’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup cold-pressed vegetable oil or melted, unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup malt-sweetened chocolate chips (Note the alternative to standard choco’s here.  Haven’t found them myself.  Whole Foods?)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine oats, flour, and salt together in a bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl mix together sweetener, oil, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry mixture and mix well. Stir in nuts and chips. With moist hands form dough into cookies and place on a lightly oiled sheet.  Bake 15 minutes, or until lightly golden on edges.

Makes 1 dozen cookies.

Feel like learning more about sugar alternatives and their glycemic index? I found a nice resource on the organic lifestyle magazine blog.  Also, check out these recommendations from my friend Lis Riley (Thanks Lis!):

Which alternative (natural) sweetener to use where

Recipes using alternative (natural) sweeteners

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