Who says cookies aren’t good for you? With a healthy almond base instead of white flour, these cookies pass muster with our Registered Dietician. Photography by Michael Steele.
Natasha’s Health Nut Cookies
Reduced Carb, Flourless, Gluten-Free Cookies With No Sugar Added—And They Taste Great!
CAPSULE REPORT: Blast the trumpets: Natasha’s Health Nut Cookies is a “dietary cookie” that tastes great. Based on almond meal—not flour—the Cranberry Orange, Raisin Amaretto and Vanilla Chocolate Chip cookies score high in flavor—people without a food restriction would enjoy eating them. Yet, they were created for those with celiac disease or diabetes, people on Weight Watchers and low-carb diets, and those simply seeking a healthier snack. The cookies are sweetened with maltitol—which, experience will tell you, means you won’t sit down and eat the whole delicious box at once.
With more and more of us having special food needs—sugar-free and gluten-free being at the top of the list of a growing number of Americans—companies are racing to fill the need with products. But so many of the “acceptable” products taste so disappointing, one would rather have another sugar-free soda and an apple slice. Just one tasty cookie, please!
Now, cravings can be satisfied happily, thanks to Natasha’s Health Nut Cookies—made from almond meal instead of traditional flour and sweetened with maltitol. There’s “no sugar added”; while no sucrose (table sugar) is stirred in, the raisins, dried cranberries and chocolate chips in the recipes contribute some sugar. Still, the recipes are low sugar—two or three grams—and total carbs of six grams apiece. Those managing diabetes (low-sugar, low carb), celiac disease (gluten-free), on a low-carb diet, following Weight Watchers, or simply seeking healthier, energy-oriented snacks, can go nuts.
These cookies taste great. The biggest caveat is the warning to resist temptation to eat more than one at a time: Maltitol, the calorie-free sweetener, “may cause a laxative effect.” The cookies are made largely of unblanched almond meal, plus pecans, unsweetened coconut chips, eggs, canola oil, baking soda and flavor-specific additions. They’re a healthier cookie. Almonds are an effective hunger fighter (our diet doctor always prescribes them as a snack)—full of fiber, antioxidants and protein—and are a good source of vitamin E. So even if you aren’t on a restricted diet, these cookies, packed with nuts and flavor, are a better mid-afternoon energy booster, or a treat for those of us who work late at the office.
But hear it from a professional. According to Dan Nadeau, M.D., diabetologist and author of The Color Code: A Revolutionary Eating Plan for Optimum Health, “In a fast-paced world, where finding convenient and healthful foods is often a challenge, these cookies represent a true milestone in taste, convenience and nutritional value.”
Speaking of healthful, we were surprised that cookies with high natural sugar ingredients like raisins, and added-sugar components like chocolate chips, were a recommended part of a diabetic diet. We asked Stephanie Clarke, a registered dietician with C&J Nutrition in New York City, how they fit in. “There is often a misconception that people with diabetes cannot have any sugar or should keep it as minimal as possible,” she explained. “This is not entirely true. It is correct that you want to minimize the amount of simple sugars, like that from refined table sugar and high fructose corn syrup, because they contribute little nutritional value and affect blood sugar more quickly and dramatically. That said, in the end, all carbohydrates get converted to glucose, which is what ultimately affects blood sugar. So in reading a label, people with diabetes should focus on the total carbohydrate content and not the sugar. The 8g of carbohydrate in a Healthy Nut cookie is about half of a diabetic carbohydrate exchange. People following a 1600 calorie per day diet (which is on the low side) are usually recommended to consume about 7 to 9 carbohydrate exchanges per day (105g to 135g of carb/day). If fact, most people with diabetes are recommended to have a snack that contains about 15 grams of carbohydrate (1 exchange). A snack that only contains 8 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of sugar is small in comparison.”
Health Nuts Cookies were created by Natasha Becker, a California baker, to meet a need after she began to hear from customers that new dietary restrictions meant they could no longer enjoy her Russian Sherry Tea Cakes. The cookies are generously-sized, up to 1/2" thick and 2-1/4" in diameter—a hefty cookie for 120 to 140 calories, depending on flavor. They’re completely gluten-free, low in sugar, low in carbs, and Weight Watchers-friendly.
Natasha currently bakes Health Nut Cookies in three flavors:
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