There aren’t many people who don’t like good old chocolate chip cookies. Slightly crispy on the outside and pleasantly gooey on the inside, those classic cookies are a go-to sweet treat loved by both kids and adults. But are chocolate chip cookies healthy? Well, not necessarily.
They are high in calories and not quite diet-friendly. And that’s probably the only (but most significant) drawback of those delicious goodies.
If you’re someone who prefers clean eating but still wants to enjoy a mouthwatering chocolate chip cookie (or two) now and again, we’re here to show you that it’s possible.
Read our article and find out the best tips on how to make your favorite chocolate chip cookies healthier and turn your guilty pleasure into a considerably less guilty one.
Top 5 Easy Tips to Make Your Cookies Healthier
For most of us, classic chocolate chip cookies are truly heaven on earth. Unfortunately, there’s a catch. They contain a high amount of sugar and fat, which makes them highly caloric, and that may be troublesome if you’re keeping a healthy eating routine.
Luckily, there are a few useful tricks that you can use to make your chocolate chip cookies healthier without sacrificing their divine flavor. Let’s get into that.
Swap All-Purpose Flour for Whole Grain Flour
Regular chocolate chip cookies are made with refined all-purpose flour, a typical flour used for baking. Even though it contains high amounts of gluten providing elasticity to the dough, all-purpose flour is stripped of valuable nutrients and simply delivers empty calories.
On the other hand, whole-grain flours are much more nutrient-dense as they keep all parts of the grain kernel - that’s why we call them “whole” flours. Not only are they rich in vitamins and minerals, but they also contain up to 4 times more fiber than all-purpose flour.
While different whole flours have different nutrient profiles, dietitians recommend rotating multiple whole flour types into the baking schedule to acquire a variety of nutrients.
Some popular whole grain flours that you can use to make your chocolate chip cookies healthier include:
- Whole wheat flour - a great source of manganese which is essential for various bodily processes like metabolism and bone formation.
- Oat flour - it contains high amounts of fiber which makes it an excellent flour option for those looking to manage their weight and lower cholesterol.
- Buckwheat flour - it’s full of resistant starch, which helps resist absorption by the small intestine and ferments in the large intestine. It then feeds the good bacteria in your gut and improves digestion.
- Whole grain-rye flour - it’s high in insoluble fiber, which can help with constipation as it improves bowel movement.
Swap Milk Chocolate for Dark Chocolate
Chocolate chips are an inseparable part of good old chocolate chip cookies and, thankfully, you don’t have to give up on them if you’re eating healthy. All you need to do, though, is replace milk chocolate chips with dark chocolate chips.
The reason for that is that dark chocolate contains more cocoa solids than milk chocolate. While milk chocolate has a minimum of 10% cocoa solids, dark chocolate contains at least 35%.
Cocoa solids are packed with antioxidants, especially flavonoids, that have been known to improve heart health.
You can find the percentage of cocoa solids present in dark chocolate on the label. Generally, the higher the percentage, the more bitter the chocolate is. The best dark chocolate that is not too bitter yet nutrient-dense is around 70%.
Swap Butter for Healthy Fats
A classic chocolate chip cookie recipe normally calls for melted butter, which isn’t the healthiest option if you follow a healthy diet. Butter contains saturated fats which tend to increase cholesterol levels that can lead to various health problems, like heart disease.
The best way to healthify your cookie recipe and keep your health in check is to use unsaturated fats present in, for example, olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, or flaxseed oil. Although the calories may be the same compared to butter, unsaturated fats are the most health-friendly fats as they are high in omega-3 fatty acids that are associated with improving heart health.
Swap White Sugar for Coconut Sugar
Sugar is another crucial ingredient found in chocolate chip cookies that, again, isn’t considered healthy. Apart from providing our bodies with energy, this carbohydrate doesn’t bring us any significant benefits. Refined white sugar has a lot of calories yet no nutritional value and that’s why you may want to use a more health-friendly alternative instead.
Coconut sugar, which is derived from the sap of coconut palm, is a healthier substitute for white sugar. It contains valuable minerals, such as potassium, sodium, and magnesium, that are essential for activating enzymes in our bodies and providing their normal functioning.
What’s more, coconut sugar also has a glycemic index of 35 which is much lower compared to the 65 that white table sugar has. This makes it a great sugar alternative for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
It’s worth noting that even though coconut sugar is considered to be a better alternative to white sugar, the caloric value of both is basically the same. For that reason, it should still be consumed in moderation.
Protein is one of the most important macromolecules consisting of amino acids that play a key role in our overall body functioning. As our digestive system breaks the protein down, it works as building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, and skin. What’s more, foods that are full of protein help stimulate the release of glucagon - a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels.
Nuts are one of the best examples of protein-rich foods that can add a portion of valuable protein to your chocolate chip cookies. Cashews, almonds, pecans, or walnuts would add more nutritional value as well as provide a satisfying crunch.
Apart from protein, nuts also contain a high amount of fats, but don’t worry - they are the unsaturated fats that are the good kind of fats. A moderate amount of nuts is important to include in your diet as they are used to transport vitamins A, D, E, and K throughout your body. Besides, nuts lower cholesterol levels which can help minimize the risk of heart disease.
The Bottom Line
Soft and gooey chocolate chip cookies have no equal when it comes to their delicious taste, which sadly comes at a price. Due to the high amounts of calories hidden in sugar and unhealthy fats, they are not considered diet-friendly.
Thankfully, there are various alternatives that you can use in your chocolate chip cookie to make your favorite sweet treats healthier. With our guide, you will be able to make only a few adjustments and enjoy a delicious cookie sometimes while still maintaining your healthy lifestyle.