Can Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies be Good?
Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes are my weakness.
A little backstory here…
So there are these gluten-free crispy chocolate chip cookies. And I had been buying them for a long time. They were light and flaky… and of course, super delicious.
These cookies are a “healthier” option because the inflammation-causing gluten isn’t baked within them. The problem with this is even though they are gluten-free, they are still LOADED with unhealthy sugar. (Not exactly Paleo diet-friendly).
Which doesn’t exactly fly with my own health goals. I wanted to make some cookies as close to those as possible, without such poor ingredients. These chocolate chip cookies needed a Paleo diet intervention, STAT.
Cutting the SAD crap
You’re familiar with the SAD, right?
Not the emotion. And yes, I meant to write “the SAD.”
It’s no coincidence to us that the acronym just happens to correlate with the depressing meaning that the emotion of “sad” carries. If you take a close look at how many people in our country eat, you would begin to agree that it’s pretty dang sad.
- Lots of processed foods!
- Plenty of ingredients no one can pronounce.
- Meats that don’t look animal and plants that are so modified, they look nothing like their ancestors from 100 years ago.
…and that’s if you can get people to actually eat things that look like vegetables. Heaven forbid they actually taste like vegetables.
How the Paleo diet seeks to change the status quo
Anyone who presents a standard paleo diet meal to a traditional registered dietician without calling it Paleo would get a major thumbs-up.
But as soon as you give it the label, they fire back with phrases like “fad diet.”
If someone is eating all of the following, do they sound unhealthy to you
- Healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil
- High-quality meats
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruit in moderation
That doesn’t sound deprived or lacking in nutrition to me!
But the problem with our SAD lifestyle is that so many of the refined foods in everyday life depend on grains… which aren’t as nutritionally solid as the standard food pyramid suggests they might be.
The most nutrient-dense foods are brought to the forefront of a Paleo diet plate. Not used as supplements on the side, like a little scoop of green beans as a terrible excuse for a vegetable in traditional American fare.
Paleo shuns this idea and replaces the junk with a food pyramid that seeks nutrient density first and foremost.
The health outcomes are pretty dang stunning. The best part? You don’t need to get rid of those Paleo treats, either.
Embracing healthy [Paleo] fats
You’ll notice this recipe is a little different than the low-fat “healthy” cookies you’ve probably seen or made before.
When we talk about eating Paleo, that definitely does not mean going low-fat. If anything, your fat consumption will go up.
That’s because eating food in their most natural form (like we seek to do on a Paleo diet) means there are no added sugars. And sugars are usually added to foods when fat is removed from them.
- Say hi to full-fat, real butter again. (Or ghee, if you’re sensitive to dairy).
- Welcome those dark-orange, vitamin-rich egg yolks back into your life.
- And embrace some luxurious nut butter, for Pete’s sake!
Is Chocolate Paleo?
This question gets asked a lot.
While it’s most likely possible that “Grok” the caveman didn’t have the ability to eat cacao beans back in the day, dark chocolate is largely accepted as a Paleo treat.
It could be because people just love chocolate so much… but we’d beg to differ.
Cacao contains potent antioxidants, is a good source of magnesium, and boasts some great healthy fats in its natural form.
The problems with most chocolate today are extensive, including:
- Ethical issues surrounding most cacao farming
- Industrial pummeling of the cacao plant, thus extracting most of its nutrition
- Adding heaps of unneeded refined sugar to make that delicious milk chocolate most big names sell
- Destruction of land to create more farms for cacao growing
These are each huge cans of worms that we won’t go into now, but you get the point. However, the silver lining of the cacao industry cloud is that there are still sources to get some high-quality cacao.
That is what we’d recommend for this recipe – organic, fair-trade certified cacao nibs or Enjoy Life Brand’s allergen-free chips.
That way, you’re getting some nutritional value and supporting ethical businesses, too.
Paleo Cookies: The New American Favorite
While the state of our food union is undeniably SAD (ha), there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
Many of us grow up eating what our government tells us is safe… which shouldn’t be a problem. Until it is, of course. So when a person like myself decides to use healthier ingredients, the transition can seem daunting.
But fear not!
Some simple ingredient swaps make chocolate chip cookies accessible again. Even on a Paleo diet!
This recipe uses coconut sugar instead of refined white sugar.
The ingredients also call for butter, which I like to use best. But any healthy fat substitute like coconut oil or ghee should work just fine, too!
The finished cookie is going to be crispy and chewy, which is my favorite way to eat them.
This is an extremely specific texture to go for and it’s achieved by using a combination of tapioca starch and almond flour. So please don’t try to change the ratios of flour called for here! Even substituting for a different type of paleo flour is going to change how these turn out.
Sometimes the best things in life are just a little more finicky to produce. 😉
I think you’ll find this recipe, when followed correctly, yields the perfect cookies to be dipped in whatever milk you choose to drink with them.
They seem to absorb it just scrumptiously!
The Best Ever Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
The Best Ever Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
- 1 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or 1/2 cup white & 1/2 cup brown if you cant find but coconut much healthier)
- 1/2 cup butter, softened (use ghee or coconut oil if you can’t handle dairy)
- 1/2 cup almond butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1/3 cup tapioca flour (arrowroot or potato starch would work, too)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2-1 teaspoon salt (depending on whether you use salted butter and/or like to taste salt in your sweets like I do)
- 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life brand, semi-sweet ok, too)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk butter and sugar until well combined.
Add egg, almond butter and vanilla and blend well.
In another small bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients and blend.
Add dry to wet and combine, then add chocolate chips for one last blending.
Chill in refrigerator for 1-3 hours to firm dough, if desired. Not necessary, but makes easier to roll into a ball for uniform cookies.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper. These cookies spread out to be very thin, so make sure to put at least 2 inches between small cookies (2 tsp dough) and 3-4 inches for larger cookies (1 tbsp dough) or you will end up with 1 big cookie!
Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden around the edges.
Allow to cool completely on parchment paper before removing. If you don’t use the parchment, only allow to cool for 10 minutes and remove while still warm or they will break when coming off the pan, but I highly recommend parchment for this recipe. They are delicate!