My four daughters all inherited the love for sugary treats that my husband and I share. So to try to keep things in balance, I gravitate to treat recipes that are lower in sugar and add a bit of protein and fiber to level out all those sugar rushes.
These peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies are a great example. They have only a few grams of sugar per cookie, as well as a little boost of protein thanks to an ingredient that is becoming surprisingly trendy in desserts: chickpeas. Yes, you read right. Chickpeas are a hot item in sweets, due at least in part to their ability to be used instead of flour in baked goods, making both chickpeas and chickpea flour staples in the gluten-free baker’s pantry.
Using chickpeas as a main ingredient in baked goods does boost the nutrition profile. A cup of them will add 15 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber to your recipe, while adding just a tiny bit of sugar (8 grams) and fat (4 grams) per cup. But chickpeas can be tricky to bake with. They are dense and heavy, and they can impart a bean-y flavor.
The dense texture works best in foods that already have a dense or fudgy feel, like cookies or brownies. Also use chickpea flour for muffins or pancakes. And to combat the slight bean taste, use it in recipes that include nuts or other ingredients with strong flavors. Things like almond extract, peanut butter, dark chocolate, vanilla, orange zest and cinnamon will help turn the “bean” flavor into “nutty.”
Which makes these peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies an excellent candidate for chickpea baking fun. I add a little bit of all-purpose flour just to make the cookies more cakey, but feel free to use almond meal or another gluten-free flour if you want to stay gluten-free, or omit the flour for super fudgy results.
Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies
15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
2 tablespoons coconut milk (or other milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, almond meal or gluten-free flour substitute
1/4 cup mini-chocolate chips
Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.
In a food processor, combine the chickpeas and milk. Process until smooth, scraping the bowl as needed, about 1 minute. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the chocolate chips and pulse together until well mixed.
Once the dough is done (it will be sticky), scrape it out into a bowl, then mix in the chocolate chips with your hands. Use a tablespoon to scoop out 1-inch balls. Roll the balls between your palms, then arrange them on the prepared baking sheet and gently press to flatten slightly. Bake until the edges turn golden, about 14 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to a rack to cool completely.
Nutrition information per serving: 50 calories; 20 calories from fat (40 percent of total calories); 2.5 grams fat (0 grams saturated; 0 grams trans fats); 0 milligrams cholesterol; 75 mg sodium; 5 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 1 g protein.
Yield: 36 cookies
Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy.” http://www.melissadarabian.net
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