Don’t stop Believin’ in Gluten Free/Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Now there’s a scary title if I ever saw one. I know what you’re thinking… “Is she kidding? What is she thinking? Oh great, solid-hard-as-a-rock-tasteless-cookies!” … and If I were sitting where you are, I would be thinking the same things. I know I’ve been known for my love of creative baking, however, this all came to a screeching halt because of my oldest son, Aiden—A.K.A. ABC (4 years old). Due to some issues he’s been having, and much research on my part, we have decided to try a Gluten Free diet, as well as, limit dairy intake. We are currently waiting for several doctor and specialist appointments before being able confirm what is really going on internally.

Aiden has been on a GF diet for almost two weeks now, and has made significant progress in communication and social/emotional at home. He is behind developmentally in these areas. He also has some Sensory Processing issues—These are the sprinkles, if you will, on my kick-you-in-the-crotch-but-you’ll-make-it, cupcake. I know there are many who would roll their eyes at this kind of thing or would think I must be crazy and delusional. I know because I used to be one of them. Now taking a step back and seeing so many children with chronic ear infections, food allergies, failure to thrive, developmental delays, sensory issues, communication/behavioral disorders, hyperactivity, extremely picky eaters and so on, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if more people ditched the wheat and dairy. I’m no doctor, and by no means do I feel everyone should be doing this, because I don’t. I’ve done countless hours of research through books, articles, internet, educational in-services and have talked with an array of doctors, psychologists, ESE teachers/district personnel, and Speech/OT therapists for the past 8 months or so.  I’m only a mother who’s in the middle of trying to find the link between the food we eat and why such a significant behavioral change occurs in my son by completely eliminating it. Could it be an allergy? Sure. An unknown family issue? Possible. At this point, your guess is as good as mine. But I hope I leave you wondering and questioning the same things. It’s becoming more prevalent. WHY?!

This is the beginning of a new chapter in my family. And what once started as a website about my cupcakes and baking addiction, is now a platform, if you will, to finding some answers to help my son and helping others that are experiencing the same things.

 

 

My Cookie Monster… 

Now, if you’re 4 years old, what do you think would be the best bedtime snack to have? A chocolate chip cookie. I have been making fresh chocolate chip cookies for Aiden for a little over a year. Wheat, of course. So when we decided to go gluten free, we bought him some chocolate chip cookies that were GF. They. Were. Horrible. I remember showing them to Aiden and he immediately said “No thank you, mommy. I want one of your cookies.” I thought to myself, how the heck am I going to pull this one off? I went to my cookbook collection and pulled out an allergen friendly cookbook that I bought several years ago in hopes of working on allergen friendly goodies because my best friend had some severe allergy issues. I had given up on the idea because I thought it was too hard and I didn’t want to do the research for it. (I’m very researched based, as I’m sure you’ve noticed) And here I am, right now, holding the Babycakes cookbook trying to find a chocolate chip cookie recipe that looked and tasted like a real chocolate chip cookie. I looked closely at the pictures first and thought to myself “well, looks real enough. They couldn’t have taken a picture of the “real” cookie for the book.” Just to be sure, I even checked the website. Sure enough, they looked like the real deal. I went through the list of ingredients and saw some peculiar ingredients like xanthan gum. Why would they put this ingredient in this recipe?? Well, it’s used as a binder. Remember it’s gluten free (gluten = binder) and vegan (eggs = binder). You’ve lost any capability of holding this cookie together without xanthan gum. You can find xanthan gum at Publix, your local health food store or available online through Amazon. A pricey but necessary item for this kind of baking.The next ingredient wasn’t as much peculiar as it was confusing: evaporated cane juice. I actually thought this was a liquid. It’s not. It’s an unprocessed cane sugar that vegans use because it doesn’t contain carbon (carbons are usually found during the refining process which may contain animal, vegetable or mineral origin) like our white refined table sugar does. You can find it at almost any grocery store. The last confusing ingredient, Flaxmeal. Enough said. Why Flax? It replaces the egg and adds fiber and nutrition. Good enough for me.

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Now that we’ve covered some of the not-so-common items, let’s get to baking some delicious GF/V chocolate chip cookies. I really do plan on making believers out of my family one chocolate chip cookie at a time…

 

BabyCakes GF/V Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe

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Servings: Makes 36 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 6 Tbsp. homemade applesauce or store-bought unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups evaporated cane juice
  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, applesauce, salt, vanilla and evaporated cane juice. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, flax meal, baking soda and xanthan gum. Using a rubber spatula, carefully add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until a grainy dough is formed. Gently fold in the chocolate chips just until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Using a melon baller, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the portions 1 inch apart. Gently press each with the heel of your hand to help them spread. Bake the cookies on the center rack for 15 minutes, rotating the sheets 180 degrees after 9 minutes. The finished cookies will be crisp on the edges and soft in the center.

Let the cookies stand on the sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely before covering. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

The Taste:

Unbelievable. I felt as though I were Dr. Henry Frankenstein as Frankenstein began to move, “It’s alive!”, but in my case it would be more along the lines “It tastes like a cookie! A real chocolate chip cookie!” Now, the real question is, can a super picky 4-year-old tell the difference? After they had cooled I handed him one and he crammed that cookie into his mouth without hesitation. I mean, come on, it looks just like a chocolate chip cookie and was pretty darn tasty. I so badly wanted to bend down next to him and say, “SUCKER! You’re eating flax, coconut oil and GF flour and it’s good for you” all while sticking my tongue out at him. I refrained and did it mentally and just smiled and offered him another, which he gladly and quickly accepted.PhotoGrid_1374169013531

This recipe came from the Babycakes Cookbook by Erin McKenna. Thanks for making one healthy kick-ass cookie, Erin. ::stands up to do the slow, cheesy 80’s movies’ clap::

Helpful tips from this Little Red Bird

  • I’m sure if you’re using your same everyday bowls that they’ve touched wheat. Please be sure that if you are making these for someone who is GF or wheat sensitive, that you let them know you’re equipment and house has been exposed to wheat. Some people with celiacs have such severe conditions that just even wheat touching the bowl (even after it’s been clean), can cause them some damage. Most people aren’t this severe, but they are out there and will definitely be in big trouble if you don’t use all new equipment. It’s a BIG deal.
  • Substitutions: you can exchange the evaporated cane juice for equal amounts of table sugar, coconut oil can be exchanged for canola or any other preferred oil, and you can use regular chocolate chips if gluten and dairy aren’t an issue for you. Everything else, leave it alone. It works this way.
  • Stick to Bob’s red mill flour, just as the recipe called for. Different GF all-purpose flours have different flour/starch blends that will affect the outcome of your cookie.
  • Extra dough can be shaped and frozen for up to TWO WEEKS. What the book said, not me.
  • Store at room temperature in a sealed airtight container for up to three days or can be preserved for up to a month in your freezer. Freeze in single layer with parchment between layers. When ready for a snack, pop in the microwave for 10-20 seconds.
  • Not Gluten sensitive? Try’em out. Good fat in all the right places, flaxseed, omegas, can I get a Hallelujah?! Trust me, definitely a winner. But remember, calories are still calories. So even though they are more nutritious, you shouldn’t go overboard. Eat one… okay, two.
  • Not Vegan? Neither am I! I usually take two of these bad boys and slap some chocolate ice cream in between them… maybe even some bacon, but that’s a different post.

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