I bought this monster-sized bag of chia seeds at the Costcos a couple months ago and realized I hadn’t been using them up. Trying to think of a good way to incorporate chia into some baking I decided that I could easily add them to a chocolate chip cookie recipe without too much hassle. I was right.
This got me thinking about ways to change my current go-to cookie recipe to make it slightly (and I mean, very slightly) healthier. Using my tried and true May Long recipe, I modified it slightly to make it gluten free, higher in protein, and a little lower on the glycemic index. You can do the same with your favourite chocolate chip recipe and I’m going to tell you how.
I replaced the brown sugar in my regular recipe with coconut sugar. I’ve blogged about coconut sugar before, also a Costcos purchase. If you don’t know anything about coconut sugar, I can tell you a couple of things – first off, Dr. Oz thinks it’s a great alternative to regular sugar because it doesn’t cause the insulin spikes (and resultant hunger) that regular sugar does. Everyone knows Dr.Oz is the expert on everything. If you don’t believe him, you can check out additional information here, here, and here to educate yourself about why coconut sugar is better for you (if not calorically, then in a multitude of other ways). Of course, there are always two sides to every story – and so there’s just as much information on why coconut sugar is not the best replacement for sugar out there – I leave it to you to read that stuff for yourself.
I replaced much of my dry ingredients with coarsely chopped nuts. This includes the flour but not the baking powder – that I left in. I use gluten free baking powder – so keep in mind your baking powder may not in fact be gluten free. I used a half cup of gluten-free baking mix, which I also talked about a bit in my post about coconut sugar (referenced above). The nuts give, in addition to the eggs in the recipe, a little added protein.
I replaced my crummy milk chocolate chips with good quality dark chocolate chips. There are so many benefits to dark chocolate, I won’t get into it here, but just keep in mind the higher quality chip, the better.
I added a third of a cup of chia seeds in lieu of my sweetened coconut that I usually use, and I replaced the rest of the coconut with unsweetened, also ensuring it was gluten free (check your labels people).
With these switches, I was concerned that the gooey mess in my mixer bowl would not bake up at the same temperature or for the same time. This is where you need to be fearless. Scoop out your dough and stick the first batch in the oven, watching it very carefully. I lowered my temperature, thinking that would help deal with the liquidity of the recipe (they were quite gloopy – if I can use that word). I left them in the oven for slightly longer than I normally would.
The first couple batches weren’t quite right, but it was an experiment – so I kept trying, and by the third and fourth batches, I had it right. I increased the temperature (the lower temperature wasn’t helping) and left them in slightly longer than I normally would. The cookie was chewy and light – and the best part – I could enjoy them with everyone else! Wonderful!
The chia seeds, if you’ve never baked with them before, form a bit of a gel in liquid, so try to remember that your dry ingredients will stay dry as the chia seeds will pull away the liquid from the rest of the ingredients. I think this is why the switch out for the nuts worked so well, nuts won’t absorb any of your liquid.
Overall I’m pleased with my little experiment and I encourage you to try doing some swaps with your own regular cookie recipes. Let me know how you make out!