Choc-chip Cookies with a Hint of Healthy

What do Choc-chip Cookies have to do with healthy living and high performance?

A lot more than you might think. Firstly, I can’t actually imagine living without the recipe I am about to share with you and secondly, balance is such an important part of living a healthy life isn’t it?

I know that perhaps like me, you will be anxious to get back to the Choc-Chip Cookies but before we do…..Last week, I shared some lupin love with my Chicken, Ricotta and Spinach Lupinsagne, a pretty darn delicious dish. Lupins are almost 40% protein and 40% fibre, with just a little carbohydrate and fat, which makes them a nutrition powerhouse.

To me, it seems a natural progression to go from savoury to sweet and throw them into Choc-Chip Cookies. This recipe has been scribbled on a piece of worn paper for many years in my recipe folder and if I don’t make them most weeks, there is the threat of a riot in my house. I don’t know whose recipe this was originally but if was you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Aside from the chocolate, the vital ingredient in these Choc-Chip Cookies are the oats. The oats give the cookies a soft chewy texture that matches perfectly with the gooey yumminess of dark chocolate. By the way, don’t be tempted to use milk chocolate as it makes the cookies too sweet and without flavour contrast. For this recipe I substituted The Lupin Co. lupin flakes for the exact amount of oats and the result was exactly the same – delicious. Oats are also a nutrition powerhouse but the lupins have significantly more protein and fibre. This is so important in a Choc-Chip Cookie!
Of course, Choc-Chip Cookies are not designed to be an everyday food (especially in the size that I seem to make them) but as a treat they are divine. The extra protein and fibre in the lupins do fill you up more than the average biscuit and they can also be a handy recovery snack post training (although not required after a walk around the block just in case you were wondering).

Choc-Chip Cookies

Ingredients
125g poly/monounsaturated margarine or butter
175g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa), roughly chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 and 1/4 cups lupin flakes

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 ºC. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Using electric beaters, beat butter/margarine, sugars and vanilla until pale and thick. Beat in egg until just combined. With a wooden spoon, fold in the lupin flakes and then the sifted flour, baking powder, bicarb soda and then fold the whole lot in. When almost done, gently fold in the chocolate until just combined.

Scoop heaped tablespoons of the mixture about 5cm apart onto the prepared trays, flatten down a little and then bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden. Don’t worry of the cookies feel or look soft, as they will get crisp when cooled (it is hard to wait but worth it I promise).

Going Nuts

Yesterday afternoon, I walked into the home of one of my dear friends to be greeted by the wafting aroma of something delicious baking in the oven. Not only was she baking a cake for afternoon tea but being super organised, she had modified the recipe to: reduce the fat content but include more unsaturated fats, increase the fibre content by adding more fruit and lower the sugar content. And last but certainly not least, this friend of mine had taken the photo required to post it all on social media! This girl is a keeper.

Needless to say the cake delivered all that the aroma promised plus the inclusion of ground and slivered almonds fitted rather nicely into the Nuts for Life #nuts30days30ways campaign. In Australia, we are very much under performing in the nuts department by consuming on average just 6g per day, which is well below the recommended 30g daily handful.

Eating nuts every day can reduce your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes but can also help manage cholesterol and body weight. That might sound contradictory as nuts do contain fat (albeit the healthy kind) but these little morsels can actually help you manage your body weight. Nuts also contain much needed protein which helps regulate appetite and prolongs the feeling of being full – meaning that you don’t feel the need to pounce on anything that isn’t nailed down every 5 minutes.

Nuts of all kinds are such a great addition to a meal or a handy, portable snack that you can keep in your bag or desk.

Grinding nuts into meal to use in cakes, biscuits, protein balls or smoothies does not result in any nutrient loss and is just another easy way to get nuts into your day. Of course, eating cake every day is not as nutritious as eating a handful of nuts – but it is important to include some luxury items into your diet too!

This Apricot and Almond Cake is a great source of nuts, beta carotene, fibre and Vitamin C courtesy of the apricots and nectarines and is low in saturated fat. Of course, it is an excellent source of deliciousness too.

Apricot and Almond Cake

Ingredients

160ml olive oil
200g SR flour
150g ground almonds
180g raw sugar
150 ml milk
3 large free range eggs beaten
3 tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
6 ripe apricots (or tinned apricot halves)
I used 2 sliced nectarines as well!
1 tblspn runny honey
50g slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan forced.
Grease and line a square cake pan with baking paper.

Place all dry ingredients into a food processor or thermomix and whiz together. Add the wet ingredients – oil, milk, eggs, vanilla – as well as the lemon zest and whiz again until all combined.

Pour the mixture into the tin.

Place apricot halves and nectarine slices in a random order on top for a rustic effect. Drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with slivered almonds. Bake for 1 hour, then set aside to cool in the tin for 20 mins.

Serve just as it is or with Greek yoghurt.

Nutrition in the News

In the early part of the year, it shouldn’t be surprising that nutrition and well-being is at the top of the list in the media. Many of us may have been lured into making those rash New Years Resolutions, which lasted for a couple of days at the most and yet, we are still looking for ways in which we can boost our health and well-being. Thats a good thing. I have been doing some writing and contributing for various publications over February and some of the nutrition in the news below might just contain the tip that can help prepare you to do amazing things. This year is the International Year of Pulses and we are not talking about whether your heart is beating, but those little nutritious treasures such as baked beans, lentils, chickpeas and their friends. You can see what I had to say about them as a Bowel Cancer Australia Ambassador here. You might also like to check out the resources of Pulse Australia and grab some recipes here too. The school year took off with a bang a couple of weeks ago in Western Australia and ‘Today Tonight’ ran a story on an innovative concept called BakeSw@p – initiated by a group of women and mum’s at a West Australian primary school.  Each parent registered with BakeSw@p brings a plate of their own healthy snacks for school, meets at the designated meet-up spot and swaps their own kids snacks with other parents. Each family then takes home a variety of healthy school snacks for the week.  The story than ran on Channel 7 a couple of weeks ago, generated huge interest – I always love hearing about people being engaged in improving the health of their children by home cooking and limiting the use of prepackaged foods.  You can check out the segment here and what BakeSw@p are all about here. Lastly, lets not forget the annual issue of getting back to work after taking a festive break – this one can most certainly be a tough gig. Getting traction and enthusiasm can be all too elusive at the beginning of the year but never fear, there are ways and means to enhance our focus and concentration while at work. My article over on WatchFit runs through some strategies to do just that – you can take a look here. Not all news is bad right?    

How to make the best cheese scones

Home made cheese scones on table cloth I love a good scone, especially when they are paired with a chunky berry jam and a little whipped cream. Sometimes though, tasty cheese scones waft across my memory bank, courtesy of my Nan who often whipped up a batch.  Nan is not here to ask, so I set about creating my own and I hope that you are as pleased with the result as I am (and the rest of the taste testers). This recipe for cheese scones could not be easier. Substituting the evaporated skim milk for cream and grating the cheese reduces the fat content whilst injecting a healthy dose of calcium into these babies. Thanks to Nan for the inspiration.

Cheese Scones Ingredients 4 cups self-raising flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder 1 cup grated cheese (I used 1/2 reduced fat cheddar and 1/2 parmesan) plus a little extra for topping 1 cup soda water 1 cup light evaporated milk Method Mix all ingredients gently together in a bowl with a bread knife to form a dough.  Knead dough a little on a floured surface and roll out to approximately 5cm in height. Using a scone cutter, cut out as many as possible (mine made around 12-15 scones), place on lined baking tray and top with a little extra grated cheese. Bake in a moderate oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm and you will be eternally popular with all that eat them. Also perfect for the lunchbox.

 

How to make Pumpkin Damper

Pumpkin Earlier this week over at Kale and Co., I wrote about the ‘it’ vegetable that we should all be eating – super versatile, orange in colour and so easily paired with both sweet and savoury ingredients. The humble pumpkin is one of my favourites and this scrumptious vegetable has certainly been making itself known over the past few weeks in the lead up to Halloween. You can read more about my friend the pumpkin over at Kale and Co., who do delicious things with the orange one such as – pumpkin almond ‘burgers’ with red rice and herbs or roasted pumpkin with cinnamon and paprika – both of which are a taste sensation. One of my go to recipes featuring pumpkin has been with me for years – moved across the country on a little piece of paper and yet is still firmly glued into my recipe collection. It’s too good and too easy not to share – full of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and fibre, pumpkin damper is a great friend to soup or a side to salad. The kids can help too and love kneading that dough!  

Pumpkin Damper 1-tablespoon poly or monounsaturated margarine 2 teaspoons sugar 1 egg, beaten 3/4 cup reduced fat cheese, grated 2 tablespoons chopped chives 1 ½ cups cooked, mashed pumpkin 1½ cups of self-raising flour

Mix margarine and sugar together and add beaten egg. Add cheese, chives and pumpkin. Add flour until dough is formed and knead into a round shape. Cook in a moderate oven (160 degrees fan forced or 180 degrees regular) for approximately 40 minutes or until cooked.