The glorious breakfast cookie

ELAINE GORDON
Last updated 09:35 05/06/2014
cookie
DEB LINDSEY

BEATS WEETBIX: This bite-sized goodie is so healthy it's considered a balanced breakfast.

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Much has been written about the importance of breakfast. But although we know about the physical and mental benefits of starting the day with a balanced meal, some of us don't have the time or just can't stomach the idea of food at 6am.

What if you could start your day with a cookie? I'm not suggesting raiding the pantry for Oreos and Thin Mints. I'm talking about homemade cookies with healthful and wholesome ingredients such as almond meal, ground flaxseed, raw almond butter and old-fashioned oats. Alongside a piece of fruit, they can easily fill in as a quick breakfast or post-workout snack. They also make a great travel treat or light dessert.

These cookies are gluten-free, oil-free and butter-free, so almost anyone can enjoy them. The recipe avoids artificial sweeteners; in fact, it uses very little sweetener. The entire batch of 20 cookies is sweetened with two tablespoons of agave, a quarter-cup of mini dark chocolate chips and naturally sweet almond-based ingredients. Because agave syrup is sweeter than sugar, you can use less of it for the same effect. And the touch of chocolate is subtle enough to tempt even the most breakfast-averse.

The dream team: Almonds, flax and oats

- Almond meal and flour

Almond meal is finely ground whole almonds (with skin on), and almond flour is ground blanched almonds (skinless). Both are gluten-free. When used in baked goods such as cookies, this flour adds moisture and a sweet, nutty taste. It is a healthful option for gluten-free baking that is low in carbohydrates and high in protein (six grams in one serving). Almond meal is a good source of fibre, Vitamin E and magnesium. It also provides iron and calcium (60 milligrams in one serving). To extend its shelf life, store it in the refrigerator.

- Ground flaxseed and flaxseed meal

Ground flaxseed is made from milling whole flaxseeds, which makes the omega-3 fatty acids available. Omega-3 fats are an essential part of a healthful diet, and one serving of flaxseed contains 2,400 milligrams. According to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, omega-3s may help lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation and lower the risk of certain cancers.

Flaxseeds have a nutty taste and are rich in dietary fibre, which aids in digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer. In fact, one serving (2 tablespoons) of ground flaxseed provides 4 grams of fibre, as much fiber as 1.5 cups of cooked oatmeal.

Plus, flaxseeds are rich in the antioxidant lignans that, according to the US National Cancer Institute, have shown anticancer effects.

- Ground oats

Oat flour is made by grinding old-fashioned oats into a flour. This incredibly nutritious flour lends a denser texture to baked goods.

According to the Whole Grains Council, oats are higher in protein and healthful fats and lower in carbohydrates than most other whole grains. They help you feel fuller longer, which helps control your weight, and can help lower blood pressure and LDL "bad" cholesterol. Their soluble fibre also helps control blood sugar.

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If you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, look for certified gluten-free oats.

Soft-Baked Chocolate Chip Almond Breakfast Cookies

NEED TO KNOW

Main ingredient Almonds
Type of dish Baking
Course Breakfast/brunch
Cooking time <30 min
Serves/makes 20-23 small cookies
Special options Healthy

Ground flaxseeds and light agave nectar are available at organic grocery stores and in the organic aisle of large grocery stores. Raw almond butter, mini vegan dark chocolate chips, almond meal and gluten-free old-fashioned oats are also available at specialty healthfood shops. 

1/2 cup gluten-free old-fashioned oats
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup ground flaxseed meal
1/4 cup mini non-dairy, semisweet or dark chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder, double acting
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup raw, unsalted almond butter
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (vanilla or plain)
2 tablespoons light agave nectar or your favourite liquid sweetener
1 teaspoon almond extract (may substitute alcohol-free almond flavour)

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a mini food processor, grind the oats into fine flour.

3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients (oats, almond meal, flaxseed meal, chocolate chips, baking soda, baking powder and salt).

4. Add the remaining wet ingredients and stir until well incorporated. The dough should be sticky.

5. Using a tablespoon and your fingers, scoop one heaping tablespoon of batter at a time onto baking sheet, leaving 2 inches or more of space between cookies. This should be about 23 cookies. Using your fingers, shape the cookies into round flat saucers. If fingers start to stick to the batter, rinse them with water and dry.

6. Bake in oven for 7 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer with a spatula to a wire cooling rack and cool for an additional 5 minutes.

7. Once cooled, serve immediately or store in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Nutrition Per cookie (based on 23 per recipe): 90 calories, 3 g protein, 7 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 50 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fibre, 3 g sugar

- From Elaine Gordon, a master certified health education specialist and creator of the recipe site Eating By Elaine.

- The Washington Post

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