Recipe Review: Real Deal Cookies (Against All Grain)

Coooooooooooookiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees.

Something tells me that the Cookie Monster wasn’t thinkin’ “paleo” when he said that. But these days? I sure am.

While never positively diagnosed with celiac disease, a gluten intolerance has frequently made itself very well known to me. I used to be able to cheat on the weekends and have a bite of gluten… a bite? Sorry, a plate! I would have some Chick Fil-a nuggets, a bbq sandwich (on a REAL bun!), a cupcake, etc. Only the weekends though! The biggest side effect I’d feel was sluggishness and sometimes body aches. Was it wise to do that? No, but old habits can die hard until they have to be put to death.

Some weeks ago, my husband and I went to get some BBQ with some friends. I know that a lot of BBQ sausages contain gluten, but I thought I’d be okay. I wasn’t. Not to mention, the previous night, I’d added some jalapeno crisps to my salad and had IBS-like symptoms the next morning. After this situation, I knew that I couldn’t even cheat with gluten anymore! One of the catalysts to pursing paleo, I decided that I needed to learn more methods of making gluten free treats. I usually replace the all purpose flour in a recipe with gluten free flour, but those gluten free flour blends often contain potato and rice flours. I also wanted to use alternative sweeteners. I like coconut sugar and would sub that cup for cup as well, but I really wanted a new method of doing things. More about that later.

I discovered this cookie recipe in Danielle Walker’s “Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great”. The first time I made them, I added some leftover pecan pieces. The cookies were different than the textures I was used to. They were really light, so much so that my husband jokingly called them ‘air cookies’. I only wished they were a little more moist & chewy. The second time I made them, I added a little more palm shortening and omitted the pecans. I also used a mix of dark chocolate & mini chips from Enjoy Life. Baking time was decreased by 30 seconds as well. This was a better batch! I love how the coconut sugar mimics the smell and taste of brown sugar.

I think this recipe is a great base to play with. Maybe some cocoa powder for some chocolate cookies? Peppermint extract for mint chocolate cookies? Macadamia nuts and white chocolate? Unsweetened coconut? Definitely something I am planning to get creative with!

All in all, I do recommend this recipe and look forward to manipulating it. She does have a 2.0 version of this recipe in her “Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes to Make Anytime” book that includes tahini (not sure how I feel about that!) and only uses egg whites. Her notes state that she wanted to create a nut free, coconut free alternative that everyone can enjoy. As I do have friends with more severe allergies and intolerances than myself, I will try my hand at these in the future.

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Food Prep – Beans: Soaking, Cooking, & Freezing

I tend to use a lot of beans in my recipes, whether it’s chili, soups, or a side dish! I’ve used cans, but there is something about seeing that viscous liquid coating the beans that always makes my stomach turn. No matter how much I rinse my beans, I can’t get that vision out of my mind! Some years ago, when I was single, I’d soak and cook and freeze my beans in 2 cup portions for use whenever a recipe called for beans. I got out of that habit due to convenience, but now I’m back at it!

On my last grocery trip, I purchased four 1-pound bags of dried beans – pinto, black, great northern white, and kidney. I rinsed then soaked the pinto, white, and kidney beans for about 20 hours, changing the water and rinsing the beans once throughout to ensure that those nasty gas causing agents were being eliminated. Once they were done soaking, I cooked all 3 varieties on the stove-top, adding a little kosher salt, onion powder, and a bay leaf to each pot. Once they were done cooking, I measured 2 cups into each pint sized freezer bag, which gave me approximately 3 cans per pound of beans. Each 1-pound bag of beans cost me about $1 while a can of beans can is just under that most times (& sometimes more, depending on the variety!)

Beans, beans!

Beans, beans!

I labeled each one and stuck them in the freezer for use. No thawing is required if adding them to a soup or chili. They will thaw while cooking.

Next up is chickpeas and black beans! For my chickpeas, I’ve always cooked those using Alton Brown’s method and they always come out perfectly! I use those chickpeas to make my own hummus as well as for use in Budget Bytes’ quick curried chickpeas! Soaking and cooking your own beans can be a little time consuming, but it can save you so much money over a year’s time (if you use beans like I do!) and it is so much better for you. Canned items contain so much in the way of sodium and preservatives which can mean bad things for your overall health.

Note: If cooking kidney beans, make sure that you cook them completely through! They contain phytohaemagglutinin which is a toxin that causes severe gastric distress resulting in nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea!

Here are some helpful links if you’re interested in cooking and storing your own beans:

Kitchen Treaty | How to Cook Dried Beans & Freeze Them for Later
Whole Foods | All About Beans
Lifehacker | Cheat Sheet: Soaking & Cooking Dried Beans

Have you ever tried cooking and freezing your own beans? What have you used them for? What’s your favorite bean to cook with?

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free & Delicious!)

DSC06165One of my favorite go-to recipes for my husband, for friends, and for events is Tollhouse’s chocolate chip cookie recipe. I cannot tell you how many batches upon batches of cookies I have made in the past several years with that recipe! It always gets rave reviews and I always have to confess that it is no recipe concoction of my own! After I decided to bid gluten adieu, I tried the recipe using King Arthur’s GF multi purpose flour (& no xanthan gum, mind you) and ended up making some flat cookie patties! Ha! They tasted great, but sorely lacked dimension.

A close friend of mine, Enrica, sends me a lot of great gluten-free dessert pins, for which I am so thankful! One of the recipe pins she recommended a while ago was a recipe for chewy gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. What!? I was hesitant for a moment, breaking away from my tried & true Tollhouse recipe (I am still determined to make it work!), but I’d decided to try it. I purchased some gluten free oats, put them in my Ninja blender, and decided to try these out.

Note: Bob’s Red Mill does make a gluten free oat flour, but once I found out that oat flour is just oats ground into a powder, I decided to do it myself. It ended up being much less expensive & more economical for me to purchase a 2 pound bag of oats versus a 1 pound bag of oat flour. Tip: Bob’s Red Mill offers a $1 off coupon. Click here to access it!

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The recipe was certainly easy, didn’t call for other flours, and required no xanthan gum. And the taste of the cookies – outstanding! The texture was assuredly different from the Tollhouse cookies due to the oats, but I didn’t care – they were delicious! They passed the husband test too! I brought some to our church for our staff and they enjoyed them as well. I have made them a few of times since the first, sending some to my family and they were a hit with them too. These cookies are not ‘good for gluten-free’; they’re just good!

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The only thing I would do different is refrigerate the dough, but that’s it! Even without chilling the dough, they came out wonderfully!