Friday, August 12, 2011

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (Product Review)

Earlier this week, I made my annual trip to the endocrinologist.   I’ve seen her for a general checkup ever since my primary care doctor noticed a nodule on my thyroid several years ago and sent me to a specialist for follow-up tests.  Two ultrasounds and a needle biopsy later, we determined that the nodule was non-cancerous (praise the Lord) and that my thyroid was responding to the medication I’d started taking.  And now, each year, I go back to make sure that’s still the case.

Usually, my visit is pretty short and sweet:  she looks at the results of my blood work, checks my thyroid to make sure it’s not getting any new ideas, tells me I’m in excellent health, and sends me on my way for another year.   This time, however, we spent some time talking about the fact that my white blood cell count has been low for the last few years–not unusual on its own, but in combination with an autoimmune hypothyroid, the fact that it’s not moving indicates that I might have a problem tolerating gluten.  She suggested I think about going gluten-free, or at least gluten-light, and see if that makes a difference in how I feel.  (Though I have to say, I feel fine.  But I thought I felt fine before I started taking thyroid meds, too, and I quickly discovered that I’d been mistaken.)

After thinking about this possibility for the last few days, I’ve come to the following conclusions:

  • My house is full of gluten, and I’m certainly not going to throw out all that food.
  • I like trying new things, though, and mixing up the gluten-free and gluten-full is entirely possible.
  • Given that there’s some research suggesting ADHD is exacerbated by gluten intolerance, it might be worthwhile to see if The Boy feels better when we’re eating gluten-light, too.
  • It’s really, really hard to find gluten-free products at my regular grocery store.  (However, the larger store nearby–the one where I found the frozen rhubarb–apparently has a large gluten-free section.  I’ll be checking that out this week.)

Any change in our diet is always a challenge for The Boy, so I decided to start with something I know he loves:  chocolate chip cookies.  And, since I’m not experienced with gluten-free baking, I decided to start simple, with a mix.  I’ve long been a fan of Bob’s Red Mill products; I trusted that their mix would give me the best results I could hope for and provide a sense of whether gluten-free baking was even an option for the Foodie family.  The mix required only the addition of a stick of butter, one egg, and a little water.

Here’s the finished product:

They look like your everyday chocolate chip cookies, right?  Still, The Boy was hesitant to try them. But he couldn’t resist the smell (which was downright intoxicating), and he finally gave in.  He nibbled.  He assessed.  He took another bite.  Then he shrugged and said, “They taste normal.  I wouldn’t even know they were weird if you didn’t tell me.”  (As a testament to this fact, I will add that he’s been grabbing another cookie from the plate every time he walks through the kitchen.  High praise indeed.)  The Hubs, as I’ve mentioned many times, is not a hard man to please, but he did say that he liked the cookies because “they seem substantial–they’re nice and thick and crispy.”

The Girl, who was at work while I was baking, came home and saw the cookies on the counter and asked “What are these?”  When I told her they were chocolate chip cookies, she asked “What’s in them?”  You know, I said.  Chocolate chips.  Sugar.  Flour.  (I did not say “sorghum flour,” but still.  It wasn’t a lie.)  At this point, she was starting to get annoyed.  “What’s weird about them?” she asked, finally.

The Foodie children know me too well.

I explained that they were a gluten-free product test.  The Girl has always been up for a food adventure, so she gave them a nibble.  “They’re good,” she said.  “They taste like cookies.”  Later, though, she told me that she liked these better than “regular cookies” because “They’re more filling.  They taste healthy, but in a good way.”

I’ve been looking at gluten-free recipes for the last few days, trying to figure out how I might make some adjustments to the way I cook, and I’ll probably give one of those recipes a shot before too long.  In the meantime, though, it’s good to know we’ve found a tasty way to manage dessert.

*** Special thanks to The Boy, who was my lighting and biting assistant during this photo shoot.



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