Sweet and chewy, the chocolate-chip cookie is a true American original. Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, accidentally invented them in the 1930s. She added chocolate chunks to butter-cookie dough, thinking they would melt, but they didn't -- resulting in the treat. In the spirit of red-white-and-blue ingenuity, we made a few changes to the recipe (less butter here, more cacao there), preserving the fresh-from-the-oven taste while taking less of a toll on your good nutritional intentions.
Trim the Fat
Instead of butter, choose canola oil for its heart-healthy profile: low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat, plus a decent source of omega-3s. Say goodbye to one egg as well, and you'll reduce the saturated fat and cholesterol by about 75 percent.
Add a healthy crunch to your cookies with almonds. They provide arginine, a good-for-the-heart amino acid, and their monounsaturated fat helps lower cholesterol.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
Trade up from semisweet to bittersweet chocolate. Darker chocolates, like bittersweet, offer more antioxidant compounds, called flavonoids, that can protect you from heart disease and stroke by keeping your arteries clear. Choose a bar high in cacao (70 percent).
Upgrade the Flour
Get the benefits of fiber -- protection from heart disease, diabetes, and obesity -- by using whole-grain flour in place of half of the all-purpose. A combination of oat flour (for soluble fiber) and whole-wheat flour (for insoluble fiber) gives you the best of both worlds.
Scale Back the Sugar
Brown-rice syrup stands in nicely for the brown sugar and for some of the white sugar. Why switch? Your body absorbs brown-rice syrup more slowly than it does white or brown sugar, causing less of a spike in blood sugar.