My love for baking comes by naturally as I have such fond memories of my grandma Josie and mom baking delicious cookies, cakes, muffins, and other treats. I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a good baker, but what I have become good at is taking family favorites and modifying them to make them as healthy and nutritious as possible. And there is nothing more than I love when my boys ask me as soon as they get in the car from school pick-up, “mamma, what did you bake today?” The nostalgia comes from when I was a kid and I would get off the school bus in our farm yard, my mom would be standing on the front door step, and I could already smell the day’s deliciousness in the form of home-cooked dinner, and some kind of cookie or treat ready for us kids to devour.
As a busy, working mom, I still do my best to give my kids a little bit of “home” each day, and what I remember so fondly from my mom. Although I’m not a chef or a baker, I am a registered dietitian, and nutrition and health is always on the front of my mind. I’ve also become quite good at coming up with a few of my own recipes that I always like to share with all of you.
Well, this weekend’s recipe creation started with 12 cookies on Sunday and as of Monday morning, there was 1 left. Ha. That’s ok, because they are superbly delicious, completely nutritious and gives my kids (and husband) some important nutrients they might not have gotten otherwise.
Chocolate is a favorite for us! But not the confectionary, sugary, fatty “junk” you buy in the grocery store. I’m talking, full-on, dark chocolate, or cocoa powder. I don’t think people realize just how good dark chocolate really is for you.
Touted as a superfood because of its rich antioxidant in the form of flavanoids (flavanols and procyanidins). And honestly I don’t think mother nature could have made a more delicious vehicle to deliver these antioxidants. The research is growing in the benefits for cardiovascular health showing that chocolate can:
1) prevent excessive clumping of blood platelets that cause blood clots- almost like a low dose of aspirin
2)provide arginine, an amino acid that produces nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps blood vessels dilate, which regulates blood flow, inflammation and blood pressure.
3) flavanoids protect against the damage of cholesterol to the lining of the arteries
4)contains small amounts of plant sterols – may inhibit absorption of dietary cholesterol
5) 3 ounces of dark chocolate contains 40 x the antioxidant activity compared to red wine! I’ll eat to that!
When eating chocolate look for at least 70% cocoa (and void of hydrogenated oils and extra sugar). Or, buy an organic, dutch-pressed cocoa powder and use it in your baked goods. It gives such a rich, delicious flavor, and contributes loads of antioxidants, not to mention incredible smell, and taste. I love mixing the dark cocoa powder into smoothies, hot milk/non-dairy alternative, soaked chia/oats, or baked into double chocolate cookies as per this recipe. When using cocoa powder, you can forgo any baking powder as the dutch powder is treated with alkali to neutralize cocoa’s acidity and make it more soluble.
Cashew Butter, Dark Cocoa Cookies
1 cup of cashew butter ( I love nut butters in just about any baked product. They add extra protein and good fats).
1/4 cup of organic Dutch Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup of maple syrup (I love either maple syrup or coconut sugar as my sweetener in most of my baking)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup of gluten-free oats
1/2 cup of gluten-free, dairy-free, dark chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life brand)
In a large glass bowl, add cashew butter and maple syrup. Mix by hand with wooden spoon until smooth. Beat egg in separate bowl. Add egg to cashew butter. Mix in cocoa powder, baking soda, sea salt, and oats until combined. Mix in chocolate chips at end.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a small ice cream scooper to place dough on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 14 minutes (or adjust depending on how hot your oven is).
Enjoy your antioxidant, protein punch with these!!