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Monday, June 3, 2024

Chickpea Cookies and ChatGPT

Hey, hope everyone is doing well! It's time for a happy post, and it's healthy too (that's a bonus!). So I have been working on eating healthier for quite some time now, I am a rabid label reader, it's a habit I took up back when my son was very young (remember that Josh???). I kept it up over the years, one thing I notice currently is that most processed foods, no matter what they are, tend to have garbage in them. I'm not even referring to so-called "junk foods"; I mean even the healthy choices, if you read the labels, will often contain at least one ingredient that I am opposed to putting in my body.

Now, I'm not a health nut by any means, this is definitely a work in progress and will be something I continually work on for the rest of my life. I am currently working on cutting out sugar, specifically things like cookies, a definite weakness I have. I am quite able to walk past the cookie aisle in the store with no problem, all I have to do is pick up the package and read the label, it's not hard to put the package back on the shelf. BUT, I am not opposed to making my own cookies, and occasionally I buy these Mexican wafer cookies for PB, they contain "less" junk than many commercial cookies, so I have been willing to buy them for PB, the problem is I like to drink coffee after dinner a couple of times a week, I treat it as a dessert and love dipping cookies in it. If I steal, uh borrow, oh who am I kidding, I'll eat half a package of those cookies without batting an eye.

Along comes Facebook short videos, and all the other social sites with short videos, they have figured out I love watching cooks who use healthy ingredients to make what would otherwise be unhealthy foods, they bring in alternative flours (coconut, oat, almond...), if IF IF IF I am going to use an "alternative" sweetener, it's going to be natural and non-toxic, so things like raw honey, dates, maple syrup... it turns out that you can make cookies with these ingredients and they look so tasty. 

I've been hankering for Toll House style chocolate chip cookie, but with better ingredients. So I opened a can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans, but honestly I prefer the word chickpeas LOL), I drained and reserved the liquid (called aquafaba), I rinsed and drained the chickpeas and placed them in a Magic-bullet blender and ground the chickpeas. I didn't make a paste, but nearly, it was a finely finely finely minced chopped mass of chickpeas, I put that into a large bowl. Next I poured in some ground coconut flour. Sorry I don't have a recipe, I just added each ingredient, mixing until it looked right and moved to the next ingredient, that's just how I roll...

Wait, before I did that to the chickpeas, I needed to soften up some pitted dates, I added about 5 pitted dates to a bowl and poured some boiling water to cover, I allowed that to sit while I worked on the chickpeas. I used the Magic-bullet with a tiny bit of the hot water to pulverize the dates, then I added that to the ground chickpeas, mixed and added the coconut flour. I also added a bloop of maple syrup. I tasted at each addition to make sure everything was sweet enough but not too sweet. I sprinkled in some Celtic salt, actually quite a bit, it really needed that to keep from being too bland. Oh puff, I just remembered what I forgot, I should have added a small bloop of vanilla extract, that would have make it better... oh well, next time.

I knew I'd need something to make it moister, I added a few spoons of coconut oil and some of the aquafaba. I was hoping the aquafaba would add some structure, like adding an egg. I wasn't opposed to adding an egg but I was thinking I might make this safely edible without cooking, like eating raw cookie dough without the salmonella surprise lottery. Well, honestly I didn't care for the texture in its raw form, so I moved on from that idea, for now...

At this point, I had a base mixture that looked a lot like the Toll House cookie dough, minus the chocolate chips, those would come later. I wanted to test out 1 or 2 cookies, cooking them and seeing what needed to be added to make it better. So I separated enough "dough" to make 2 cookies; I added some floof powder (baking powder) and a few chocolate chips, preheated my oven, and rolled 2 cookie balls; I flattened them, thinking they wouldn't flatten during cooking (I was right). I cooked them for 12 minutes, they didn't seem done, I kept adding 2-3 minutes a couple of times, then removed them from the oven. I ate them while still warm. They were OK, not the best cookies I've ever made or eaten. The biggest problem was they were crumbly, not exactly dry, but didn't hold together, they were almost "sandy" in texture. 

Next, I broke an egg into a separate bowl, whisked it, and used just a little of that in another batch of 2 cookies; I noticed that batch came out much better. The texture was getting better. I noticed that I needed to bake these for around 20 minutes. They didn't really "brown" or crisp up, they stayed soft and still had a bit of a "sandy" texture. But they were definitely getting better. So I committed to the egg, adding it to the rest of the entire batch, along with floof powder and the chocolate chips. 

I made one small tray of cookies, and then on the final batch of cookie dough, I added a few spoons of cocoa powder to give it an even bigger chocolate hit. The final outcome was that they are pretty decent cookies, better than just OK, good enough that I want to continue with this experiment. I know that having chickpeas as the main ingredient makes them much, much healthier than the traditional Toll House cookies. 

I needed to figure out what makes traditional Toll House cookies hold together. Normally I would go to Google to ask such questions, but lately I have been playing with ChatGPT, I'm even paying the $20 a month to get the extra sauce from them (It's been soooooo worth it to me!). I decided to ask ChatGPT a series of questions and find out what it has to say about this. Here is the chat I had with it:

ME: What makes toll house cookies hold together?

ChatGPT: Toll House cookies, like most cookies, hold together due to the combination of ingredients and the chemical reactions that occur during baking. Here are the key factors:

1. **Flour**: Provides structure through gluten formation when mixed with liquid.

2. **Eggs**: Act as a binding agent and add moisture, which helps in holding the ingredients together.

3. **Sugar**: Caramelizes during baking, adding to the cookie's structure.

4. **Butter**: Contributes to the cookie's texture and helps bind the ingredients.

5. **Leavening agents**: Baking soda or baking powder creates air pockets that help the cookies rise and maintain their shape.

The right balance and combination of these ingredients ensure that Toll House cookies have the desired consistency and stay intact. 

ME: I made Toll House style cookies using a can of chickpeas, drained then ground fine. I added some unsweetened coconut flour. For sweetness I added dates that had been soaked in boiling water for a bit, then drained and ground, I also added maple syrup for sweetness. I added a beaten egg, some salt and baking powder, a little coconut oil, and enough of the aquafaba liquid from the can of chickpeas to make a moist batter that held together. I added some chocolate chips. I baked them,, they needed extra baking time compared to regular Toll House cookies, they came out tasty but the cookies seemed crumbly. What can I add or do different to make them have a better texture?

ChatGPT: To improve the texture and reduce crumbliness in your chickpea-based Toll House style cookies, you can try the following adjustments:

1. **Increase Binding Agents**: Consider adding an extra egg or more aquafaba. Eggs and aquafaba both help to bind the ingredients together.

2. **Add a Moisture-Retaining Ingredient**: Try adding a tablespoon or two of a moisture-retaining ingredient like applesauce, mashed banana, or even Greek yogurt. These can help add moisture and improve texture.

3. **Use a Different Flour**: Coconut flour tends to be more absorbent and can make baked goods crumbly. You might want to try a different gluten-free flour like almond flour, oat flour, or a gluten-free baking blend.

4. **Add a Small Amount of Starch**: Incorporating a tablespoon of cornstarch or tapioca starch can help give the cookies a better structure and hold them together.

5. **Chill the Dough**: Letting the dough chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before baking can help the cookies hold together better during baking.

6. **Adjust Baking Time and Temperature**: Since your cookies needed extra baking time, consider baking at a slightly lower temperature for a longer period. This can help them bake more evenly and reduce crumbliness.

Try one or more of these adjustments to see how they affect the texture of your cookies.

ME: Next time I'll replace half of the coconut flour with oat flour, will that help?

ChatGPT: Yes, replacing half of the coconut flour with oat flour should help improve the texture of your cookies. Oat flour is less absorbent than coconut flour and has a higher protein content, which can provide better structure and moisture retention, making your cookies less crumbly. This substitution should result in a more cohesive and less dry cookie.

ME: How healthy is the recipe I used (without the oat flour) compared to traditional Toll House cookies?

ChatGPT: Your chickpea-based Toll House style cookies are generally healthier than traditional Toll House cookies in several ways:

1. **Lower in Refined Sugars**: By using dates and maple syrup as sweeteners, you're avoiding refined sugars, which have a higher glycemic index and can lead to blood sugar spikes.

2. **Higher in Fiber**: Chickpeas and dates provide a good amount of dietary fiber, which can aid in digestion and help you feel full longer.

3. **More Protein**: Chickpeas are a good source of plant-based protein, which can be beneficial for muscle repair and growth.

4. **Healthier Fats**: Using coconut oil instead of butter introduces medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which can be a more easily digestible form of fat. However, the health benefits of coconut oil vs. butter can vary depending on the overall dietary context.

5. **Nutrient Density**: Chickpeas, dates, and aquafaba offer additional vitamins and minerals not typically found in traditional cookies, such as iron, potassium, and magnesium.

6. **Lower in Saturated Fat**: Your recipe likely has less saturated fat compared to the traditional recipe which uses butter.

7. **Gluten-Free**: Your recipe, using coconut and chickpea flours, is naturally gluten-free, which is beneficial for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

However, it’s important to note that while your recipe is healthier in many ways, it still contains sugars (even though they are natural) and fats, so they should still be consumed in moderation. Overall, your chickpea-based cookies provide a more nutrient-dense and lower glycemic alternative to traditional Toll House cookies.


 This is how they turned out, I also added cocoa powder to the last batch.

ChatGPT: They look delicious! The addition of cocoa powder to the last batch adds a nice variety. Considering the ingredients and methods you used, the cookies have a great appearance. For the next experiment with oat flour, you might find the texture to be improved and less crumbly.

Given their current look, you might want to:

1. **Add More Binding**: As mentioned before, a bit more egg or aquafaba might help.

2. **Consider Moisture Content**: Adding a bit more coconut oil or a moisture-retaining ingredient like applesauce or Greek yogurt could also help.

Your approach to making these cookies healthier is commendable. Keep experimenting, and you're likely to find the perfect balance! 

So, that was my conversation with ChatGPT, I was even able to add a photo, it's amazing that it can recognize what is in photos. For the record, the chocolate chocolate chip ones were the best of this batch, it made it less "sandy" or crumbly. I do intend to replace approximately half of the coconut flour with ground oats (oat flour); I think that will improve the texture greatly. I'll also add 2 eggs to the mix. Believe it or not, chickpeas as a base in cookies turn out pretty good, I don't even like chickpeas by themselves, I love hummus and other things MADE with chickpeas, but honestly I just don't care to eat chickpeas in their whole state, I think it's the texture I dislike. 

The cookies turned out tasting like cookies, not like chickpeas. The coconut flour did add a tiny bit of coconut flavor, it's not overwhelming though. The biggest issue was the texture, presumably from using coconut flour, so exchanging half of that for oat flour should help the texture be better, and adding a second egg to the entire batch will also help the texture. And I must remember to include some vanilla extract, I have some really good vanilla paste from Sam's Club. 

The coconut flour is on clearance at my local small-town grocery store; they do have a small section of healthy alternative flours, but they tend to be very expensive. I came in one day to find the coconut flour was on clearance but no price label, I grabbed half of what they had ( I didn't want to be greedy) and found the price to be extremely good. The following week, when I went back, all the rest of the bags of coconut flour were still there, so I snagged all the rest of them. I gave many of the bags away to my friends, the rest of the bags I needed to figure out what to do with them. This is a good thing IMHO. 

Have you tried coconut flour? If so, what did you do with it? Were you happy with the outcome? What about using chickpeas in cookies or something like this? 

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