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).

Mood food

When someone in my house is in the grip of a bad mood moment, we nominate them as the ‘Grumpy Fish, so-called after a much-loved children’s book, Hooray for Fish by Lucy Cousins. It’s almost impossible to keep up a bad mood with that tag following you.

Jokes aside, good mood vs. bad mood is a real thing and many people are really interested in the potential link between good mood and food. Over the last week I have been interviewed on TV and radio on the subject and it seems that most people can identify at least one positive mood food and another that sends them down into the dungeons.

I’ve picked out a few mood foods that may actually perk you up (and your health as a bonus side effect).

Eggs – For many years the humble egg has been given a bad rap on the cholesterol front. The fact is, the egg yolk is home to a healthy mix of poly and monounsaturated fats with only a smidgen of saturated fat and should be an essential part of a healthy diet, even if you have high cholesterol and raised blood lipids. Eggs are also a great source of protein and energy but their secret weapon is the nutrient choline. Choline is vital for the functioning of cells and neurotransmitters thought to be related to mood and energy. Plus having your brain work properly is always a mood enhancer!

Dark chocolate – Many chocolate lovers will agree that there is something about chocolate that quite simply makes you happy! Before we get too carried away in a moment of joy and happiness at this thought, its important to know that the darker varieties are preferred as they contain higher amounts of cocoa and therefore, antioxidants in the form of flavonoids. Chocolate does contain both fat and sugar but a small amount in an otherwise healthy diet, a small amount can be enjoyed, happily.

Coffee – The morning coffee fix is one that you can see played out in cafe’s all over the world and many people feel that it provides them with an energy boost and alertness they simply can’t do without. Yes, we do need to be aware of how much caffeine we consume each day but if your morning ritual improves your mood and your outlook, that can only be a positive. In addition, coffee is rich in antioxidants and has been linked to a decreased risk of dementia.

Milk – My Nan often advised a warm milk before bed for a restful sleep and although this might seem like a bedtime story, it’s actually based on fact. Protein is made up of many different amino acids (a bit like Lego pieces) and one of these, tryptophan, helps in the production of the sleep inducing chemicals, serotonin and melatonin. Milk and other dairy products are rich in tryptophan, hence the milk before bed. I think we all know that more sleep (or even simply enough) is possibly the best mood enhancer ever!

Vitamin D – This vitamin or the lack of it has been linked to being a risk factor for many lifestyle diseases including cancer and heart disease. Vitamin D is not an easy vitamin to get through food and the vast majority for us humans, comes from sunlight. Light deprivation is one reason people feel tired (and grumpy) and just five minutes of sunlight ups the production of serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals that improve mood. Not only is stepping into the sunlight for a brief moment mood enhancing but it also boosts your Vitamin D stores. Win-win.