Monday, February 7, 2011

A Healthier M&M Cookie

I'm sending a Valentine's Care Package to my daughter who is away at college. She's very conscious about healthy eating, so she'll really appreciate these! The carbs and calories have been seriously reduced by substituting almond flour for most of the white flour and cutting out most of the sugar. Typically, a cookie base such as this has over 1 cup of brown sugar, but I get a similar flavor by adding a mere 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of molasses. You will be amazed how the tiny bit of molasses adds a depth of flavor you couldn't achieve with Splenda alone. Also, the small addition of ground flaxseed meal boosts the fiber a bit and provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, just what a heart needs on Valentine's Day -- enjoy!

M&M Cookies
(Makes 30 cookies)

1 cup almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon molasses
¾ cup Splenda, granular (not baking blend)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons zero-trans fat buttery spread (I used Smart Balance)
1 large egg
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup mini M & M chocolate candies (milk or dark)

1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. If desired, line cookie sheet with parchment and set aside.

2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, flaxseed meal and salt. Use a fork to break up any lumps in the almond flour; set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and buttery spread, brown sugar, molasses and Splenda together with a handheld or standing mixer until sugars are well combined with the butter. Add egg and vanilla and beat for 1-2 minutes until well incorporated.

4. Gradually add the dry ingredients using a wooden spoon and stir until flour is well incorporated and a soft dough forms. Fold in the M&M chocolate candies.

5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls (or level small cookie scoop) about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet. Bake until set and beginning to brown around the edges, about 8-10 minutes. Cookies will not brown much, so watch carefully and do not overbake. Remove immediately to wire rack and cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Nutritional Information per cookie: 73.1 calories, 6.3 g carbohydrates, 4.8 g total fat, 1.6 g saturated fat, 70 mg sodium, 0.6 g fiber, 1.4 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2011

How does this compare to a homemade Chocolate Chip cookie made from a traditional recipe? My recipe is much lower in calories, carbohydrates, fats and sodium. For comparison, the nutritional information for the same size cookie made from a traditional recipe is 160 calories, 21 g carbohydrates, 8 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 90 mg sodium, 0.5 g fiber, 2 g protein.

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