Do you know anyone with a food intolerance? With more and more people having conditions where they have to watch what they eat, Kathryn, wanted to experience what it was like to give up gluten. She met mixed reactions from friends, but on a positive note, it’s led her to create some delicious coeliac recipes including these colourful cookies.
It has never once crossed my mind that having zero food intolerances or allergies is something I should be grateful for. I am reluctant and embarrassed to admit that. I know one person with Coeliac disease, one of my best friends. It struck me recently that I know next to nothing about her condition. What I do know is the trauma she went through before she was diagnosed, a common reality it appears, and often the result of lack of awareness, knowledge and respect for food intolerances and allergies.
I wanted to get to know this condition better - to understand what it is like to be diagnosed with a condition which forces you to reshape your life around the food that you eat. In my mind the only way to understand it, is to live it, and so have eliminated gluten from my diet entirely for five weeks, sharing and blogging my experiences and recipes in that time.
My decision to give up gluten has been met with mixed reactions. Reactions which could very simply be divided into two camps. There are the people and friends who are genuinely interested, and supportive - we like them! I have been getting to know some really amazing people who are doing amazing gluten free things. The ‘others’ (as I am going to call them!), the reaction that continues to surprise me the most, is that of sheer bewilderment and confusion.
This I can understand to a degree, I am as much of a gluten junkie as the next bread, pizza and pasta addict, and life without all of the above can seem glum (for the record, I am coming to learn that it is not). What I don’t understand is the confusion over why on earth I would want to learn how to cook gluten free recipes for my blog, or eat a gluten free diet. To quote my most recent confrontation, ‘Cooking for a Coeliac is a pain in the ….!’ You get my drift.
This infuriates me. Gluten free food has a stigma of being hugely inferior. In certain cases, yes, there are considerable differences in taste and flavour- bread for example. But there is so much more to a diet than bread and all of its other gluten heavy partners in crime. I am genuinely shocked by the animosity and disdain I have encountered for gluten free food. I can’t help but feel it is unfounded and small minded.
Gluten free food is far from some kind of life sentence, nor, I dare say, is it worthy of the abuse it seems to generate. Gluten free is by no means a universal translation for tasteless. Having to think laterally about the food that I eat has opened up a whole new exciting world of people, products, ingredients and recipes. I disagree totally with the perception that gluten free is inferior.
Throughout this gluten free five weeks I wanted to create recipes for Coeliacs which celebrate the fact that they are gluten free, leaving nothing to be desired in terms of flavour and fun. I began to think about Mother’s day, and how it would be nice to create a recipe which could double up as a gift for all Mum’s.
Since setting out on this project, I have come to realise how often I feel singled out, always having to enquire and request specifics in terms of gluten. Not always pleasant. I suspect it would be a real treat to eat in, or out, without having to ask a million questions. If your Mum or wife is gluten intolerant, I imagine treating her with a gluten free foodie gift will make her feel very special indeed!
Pistachio, Cranberry and Chocolate Gluten Free Cookies
Makes 16 cookies
200g unsalted butter
200g light brown sugar
1 heaped tsp of vanilla bean paste
1 tsp baking powder
450g of brown rice flour
100g dried cranberries, 50g left whole, 50g chopped roughly
100g dark chocolate, chopped roughly
30g of poppy seeds
50g of pistachio nuts, chopped roughly
Line and baking tray with greaseproof paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Using a free standing mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla bean paste. Now add your flour and baking powder, in two batches.
With the second batch, add 70g of the chocolate, 20g of the poppy seeds, 50g whole dried cranberries and 30g of chopped pistachios and mix together well. Set the remaining toppings aside.
For each cookie estimate about 1 heaped tablespoon of mix. Use the back of your spoon to flatten down to about 1cm thickness, aiming for a general round shape.
Now sprinkle on a little of each topping and give the cookies one final gentle press with your fingers to make sure the toppings stick. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on them around the 15 minute mark as they change colour and darken very quickly.
Allow the cookies to rest on the tray for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack, or your mouth!
Inspired? There are more delicious gluten free recipes on Great British Chefs