Thursday, September 17, 2009

We all eat Gluten-Free Mint Chocolate Cookies

A friend of mine is gluten-sensitive, and although she has been able to eat certain forms of gluten with minimal side effects, on a trial-and-error basis, she explains that she feels her best when she goes off gluten altogether. Though to do so requires a larger amount of diligence on her part, and despite the fact that some wheat-based foods don't sit too badly with her system, she explains that it's a worthwhile endeavor. And I agree! If there's a way to make your body run more smoothly, and make you feel a bit healthier, why not go for it? My lactose-intolerant friends tend to use the same thought process, but occasionally indulge in a bowl of superb ice cream, though they know their stomach will be upset later.

When we discuss our various food intricacies, I've found myself grateful that I need not be on the lookout for entire food categories from which to abstain, for fear of running myself through the wringer. Of course, as my diet has changed over the past year, if I now choose to eat a rich, buttery slice of cake with thick butter cream icing, I know that my system will not be able to handle it as well and my body will not be happy after consuming it. And that's just because I've so drastically reduced the amount of butter and shortening I eat that when I do have some, it turns into an epic event for my digestive system. In that way, I don't feel all that different from my lactose-intolerant or gluten-sensitive.

We create our diets and fall (for better or for worse) into habits that our bodies adapt to, and when something unfamiliar comes along, problems can occur. That reminds me of the “Simpsons” episode when Lisa prepares a green, leafy, vegetarian feast for her normally bacon-and-sausage based family, and everyone but Lisa is sick for days afterwards.

I wanted to make something special for my gluten-sensitive friend, and I found a gluten-free recipe for mint chocolate cookies, which contain a favorite of mine: Teff flour. These substantial cookies are chewy and a bit on the heavier side, and the mint-chocolate combination are delightfully reminiscent of the Girl Scouts' Thin Mints.

Gluten-Free Mint Chocolate Cookies

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup honey
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. mint extract
1 cup Teff flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
Pinch salt
Turbinado (raw) sugar

1. Cream together butter and honey. Add vanilla and mint extract. 2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Blend in butter mixture. Place in plastic bag, and shape into a log about 1-1/2" in diameter. Refrigerate for 1 hour or more. Preheat oven to 350°F. 3. Slice refrigerated dough into 18 cookies. Place on buttered baking sheet and top with a sprinkling of Turbinado sugar. Bake for 14-17 minutes, watching carefully to prevent burning.

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