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My fifteen year old son is autistic and about two years ago was put on a gluten free diet. Although the diet hasn’t cured him he has shown a lot of improvement in speech and his ability to focus. Suffice it to say that the benefits have been evident enough to keep me on the difficult and rocky road of gluten free baking and cooking.
Anyone who has attempted a gluten free diet can tell you that it is not easy. Not only do you have to read the ingredients of everything you buy (WARNING! if it doesn’t actually say “gluten free” on the label it may not be – check the manufacturers website) you have to educate everyone who comes in contact with your child (“Oh, I didn’t know pretzels had wheat in them.”) and fast food is definitely out (according to their website McDonald’s fries contain wheat – see link).
Recommended Reading: Get started with baking by reading our Ultimate Guide to the Best Baking Equipment for Beginners!
There are gluten free foods available but most of them are either too expensive for my grocery budget or not exactly tempting to my child’s limited palate (translation: my son would be perfectly happy living on pizza from your pizza oven, root beer and sour cream and onion potato chips for the rest on his life).
Recommended reading: 10 Best Gluten Free Appliances for your Kitchen
Over the past two years I’ve come up with some inventive and interesting twists on normal everyday foods that kids will eat, are good for them, easy to make and, most importantly, will not break your budget.
I am starting with a dessert because, well, I love dessert. Before we were gluten free I ALWAYS had a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge and would pop a batch in the oven just before the kids got home from school. Sigh, those were the days. Well this cookie is a fine replacement and, with rolled oats, soy flour (which is higher in protein and dietary fiber than all purpose flour! – see link) and fruit, it is better for them!
Gluten Free Oatmeal Fruit and Cream Cookies
- 1 1/2 cup Rolled Oats (can be replaced with quick oats)
- 3/4 cup Soy Flour*
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup butter (or margarin)
- 3/4 cup dried fruit, finely diced**
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, roughly diced***
- 1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°.
Mix oats, soy flour, baking soda, salt and brown sugar in large bowl.
Add egg, butter, fruit, chips and nuts.
Beat with hand mixer or by hand until well blended.
Form dough into 1 1/2 inch balls in palm of hand, press to flatten.
Place on parchment paper on cookie sheets and bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until edges of cookies just start to darken.
Yield: 20 cookies
*Of the flour substitutes available (rice flour, potato starch, etc.) I have found that soy flour is the most versatile. See Arrowhead Mills link for other gluten free flours. You can also mill your own flour in a grain mill, or general food mill.
**Dried peaches are what this recipe originally called for. When I first made these cookies, however, I was unable to find dried peaches in my local store. I’ve substituted dried apricots and pears and no one’s complained. If you can find them, however, dried peaches are your best bet. You can always buy fresh fruit and dehydrate them at home with the best food dehydrator!
***I give the chips a rough dice before adding them to the mix. They disperse better and you can use less. You could easily make these cookies without the white chocolate, the fruit and brown sugar make them plenty sweet, but the white chocolate chips add a nice creamy texture that goes well with the fruit. If you choose you can increase the white chocolate chips from 1/2 to 3/4 for a creamier, more decadent, cookie.
I don’t think that I have ever cooked anything that wasn’t inspired by someone else. My inspiration for this recipe: Sunny Anderson, Cooking For Real, Food Network. See link.
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