Much has been written about the importance of breakfast. But although as we read 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 6 a.m.
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.
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 fiber, 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 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 fiber, which aids in digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer. In fact, one serving (2 tablespoons) of ground flaxseed provides 4 grams of fiber, as much fiber as 1.5 cups of cooked oatmeal.
Plus, flaxseeds are rich in the antioxidant lignans that, according to the National Cancer Institute, have shown anticancer effects.
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 fiber also helps control blood sugar.
If you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, look for certified gluten-free oats.
Gordon, a master of public health professional and a master certified health education specialist, is creator of the healthful recipe site www.eatingbyelaine.com. Find her on Twitter at @EatingbyElaine.