No matter how much we prize health and nutrition, taste buds are a thing--an inescapable reality of life. While there certainly might be times in our lives where it could be appropriate to be incredibly strict about the foods that we consume, it is my observation that most people enjoy their best health--mind, body, and spirit--when they find a middle ground in which they prioritize real, healthy, nutrient-dense foods, but also give themselves permission to indulge in the occasional health-optimized treat.
I am a big fan of what I like to call "Quality Upgrades." Do I recommend that we go out and buy processed baked goods made with bleached white flour, refined white sugar, hydrogenated oils, and food colouring? Absolutely not. Personally, I strive to avoid these ingredients whenever possible--with no exceptions. That said, just because we might chose to avoid certain substances that are known not to do our bodies good doesn't mean that we shouldn't be able to indulge in foods that make our taste buds do a little happy dance and allow us to enjoy a hit of nostalgia.
So often, the simple act of cleaning up the ingredients in a recipe can make a huge difference. For instance, the seemingly negligible act of swapping white sugar for an unrefined sweetener, such as maple syrup or evaporated cane juice, can go a long way towards increasing our nutrient intake. So, too, can subbing out all-purpose flour for something more nutrient dense, such as whole grain oat flour or almond flour. While each and every one of these quality upgrades makes a difference, just imagine how much healthier our "treat" could be if we made as many of the quality upgrades as possible.
Earlier today, I was struck by a desire for cookie dough. I won't lie. After putting on my culinary thinking cap and deciding on a recipe, I wasn't sure how this was going to turn out, but boy was I impressed by the end result! The taste. The texture. The look. All spot on.
"And how do we make cookie dough healthy and delicious?" you might ask. Read on!
2 cups chickpeas, cooked
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup raisins (organic preferred)
Place chickpeas, sunflower seed butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and cinnamon in a food processor. Process until smooth.
Transfer cookie dough into a bowl and stir in raisins.
Divide into bowls, or roll into balls.
Makes 6+ servings.
Chickpeas--New research on chickpeas suggests that the fibre they contain (more so than the fibre found in other foods) has a particular affinity for superior blood fat regulation, including lower levels of LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Sunflower Seed Butter--Sunflower seeds are a fantastic source of Vitamin E. Every 1/4 cup of dried seeds (approx. 2 Tbsp of seed butter) provides over 80% of the Recommended Daily Intake of this antioxidant nutrient.
Maple Syrup--According to research presented at the National Chemical Society in 2017, a maple syrup extract was found to increase the effectiveness of antibiotics.
Raisins--Compounds found in raisins have been found to fight bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease. (American Society for Microbiology, 2005)
I hope you enjoy this cookie dough as much as I did. Bon appetit!