• Sarah Hickson

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Updated: Apr 1


A passion of mine is to try and come up with recipes that are not only nutritionally valuable but are also fun and easy to cook and enjoyable to share with loved ones. Working with children and young people affected by disabilities or mental health issues, this motivation has become even stronger as many clients that I have worked with (and their families) struggle with managing a diverse range of issues including hyperactivity and poor impulse control, sensory processing disorders, poor emotional regulation, problems with digestion and immunity and also behavioural issues, interfering with the human potential and the ability for one to live their best life. Enhancing the nutritional quality of the diet can surely help to build brain and body health to help manage a lot of these issues. However, as many of the people that I have worked with struggle with sensory issues or strong anxiety (or a combination of both) around many different foods, I like to try and come up with fun recipes to engage my client’s curiosity and creativity in a non-judgemental and non-pressurised way so that they can feel empowered and confident in exploring a broader range of new foods at a pace that is comfortable for them, so being popular amongst a wide and varied audience, why not experiment with chocolate chip cookies?

I created this recipe originally for a fun cooking activity I did with some awesome young helpers at a vacation care program for children with special needs at Ruby and Ollie’s All Abilities Child Care earlier in the year. I have also made it with a few different clients that I support in home where building cooking skills is major focus of our work together and each of these clients enjoyed them. It must be mentioned that compared to the standard chocolate chip cookie, the texture of these are quite soft due to the texture of the green banana flour (a little bit like a cake) and they also have a slightly earthy aftertaste. If you prefer your chocolate chip cookies to have the more traditional firmness yet crumbly texture, you can easily modify this recipe by swapping out the ½ cup of green banana flour and replacing it with ½ cup of oat flour. I have done this quite a few times now and they are delicious, especially dipped into a cup of tea! As the recipe is still made with whole foods they will be more nutritionally dense than most commercial varieties (this isn't a ticket to eat them all in one go however!), but if you prefer to eat those then that’s absolutely fine too!

So, a little bit about green banana flour. Merging human health, diet and sustainability together

Bananas are among the most cultivated tropical fruits in the world, however, almost a third of bananas gathered are wasted due to the popular preference for ripe bananas yet these can be difficult to transport due to their susceptibility to become damaged or to go off as they over mature. 20% of bananas produced don’t even make it into our stores due to their size or flawed appearance, this financial burden being sustained by banana growers across the globe. Innovative efforts to reduce this enormous wastage has led towards food processing methods to preserve and increase the bioavailability of the nutrients that bananas naturally contain. The commercialisation of green banana flour has been one way to help to address the relationship between sustainability, diet and human health.

The Nutritional Value

Green bananas have recently become of interest due to their high resistant starch and dietary fibre content, both to which are reduced as the banana ripens. Acting as a prebiotic (food for our gut microflora), resistant starch bypasses digestion in our small intestine and is instead fermented by microbes inside the large intestine, stimulating the growth of Bifidobacterium and other beneficial microbes that aid our digestion, immunity and overall wellbeing. This fermentation process leads towards the production of short chain fatty acids such as butyrate which functions to nourish the intestinal lining of the large bowel and research studies suggest that butyrate and other short chain fatty acids may be protective against colon cancer. Resistant starch has also been found to help improve blood glucose control and promote feelings of satiety, which in high quantities throughout the diet (also found throughout legumes and wholegrains), can be beneficial in preventing and assisting with the management of type 2 diabetes and preventing heart disease. In comparison to regular cookies, the presence of resistance starch in the green banana flour, in conjunction with other nutrients such as fibre, protein and healthy fats from the other ingredients, can help to smooth out fluctuating levels of energy often associated with the highly refined ingredients usually used, due to its slow digestion (an important note for kids, hyperactivity and emotional dysregulation). The skin and the fruit of green bananas are also a rich source of other nutrients beneficial to whole body health including provitamin A and vitamins C and B6, minerals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, protein, essential amino acids, and also antioxidant compounds like polyphenols which have been found to play a protective role against disease by protecting our cells against environmental damage.

But, but, but green bananas are gross!

I hear you! In spite of the goodness at outlined above, understandably the thought of munching on green bananas is unappetising for most of us, the softness and the sweetness of the banana is what bananas are known and loved for (although you may be able to sneak one into a smoothie!) Thankfully however, green banana flour incorporates itself well into baked goods, so much so that its being explored for its potential use in enriching ice-cream by food manufacturers! The use of green banana flour in this recipe adds a functional aspect to these cookies where one or two can be enjoyed as a snack or treat yet still nurture your health at the same time. And remember if you prefer you’re the texture of more traditional chocolate chip cookies, perhaps try the modified version with just plain oat flour. I enjoy making both.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Equipment required

Oven tray, baking paper, two mixing bowls (1 small, 1 large), small saucepan (to gently melt butter), measuring cups (1 cup and ½), measuring spoons (a tablespoon and teaspoon), a fork or egg beater, a dessert spoon and a wooden spoon

Ingredients

Dry ingredients

  • 1 level cup of oat flour (I often just make this up by processing rolled oats in my food processor)

  • ½ level cup of green banana flour (or replace with the same amount of oat flour for a more traditional cookie texture if that’s what you prefer)

  • 1 tsp of baking soda

  • ½ cup of dark chocolate chips

  • Pinch of sea salt

Wet ingredients

1 free range egg

1 tsp of vanilla essence or paste

2 tbs of butter (I like to use grass fed)

2 tbs of hulled tahini (hulled has a lighter flavour than unhulled)

4 tbs of pure Canadian maple syrup

Method

  • Set oven temperature to 170c

  • Add dry ingredients to a large bowl

  • Melt butter gently, allow to cool, and then add to a separate bowl with other wet ingredients and mix together with a fork or egg beater

  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix altogether with the wooden spoon. If the mix turns out a little bit dry, add 1-2 tsps of milk of your choice (I have used almond in the past)

  • Lay baking paper out onto an oven tray

  • Using the dessert spoon, portion out the cookie dough across the tray, the mix will make about 12. This mix will be a little bit sticky to work with but just use your fingers or a tsp to help scoop the mixture out onto the tray. Try to allow some space in between the cookies as they will expand during the cooking process.

  • Place tray into the oven and bake for 7-8 minutes but watch closely after 5min.

  • If you decided to omit the green banana flour for just oat flour instead, the cookies will take longer to cook, about 12-15 minutes. Set your timer for 12 minutes and watch closely so not to burn.

  • Once the cookies are done (golden on top), remove from the oven and allow to cool. Don't freak out. They will be very soft at first, however after approx 5-10 minutes they will become firmer and easy to handle.

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