My husband calls these gluten free cookies a little bit of heaven. They are the first gluten free baked item that he actually liked and are still his favorite. I found the recipe on one of my favorite gluten free blogs, Elana’s Pantry. I love her simple and delicious approach to food. For years, I made these cookies like she does, with grapeseed oil, but recently, in an effort to lower the omega 6 fatty acids in my diet to get my omega 6:omega 3 ratio closer to 1:1 or even 5:1, I have substituted organic raw coconut oil instead (grapeseed oil has a 676:1 ratio!). These chocolate chip cookies are even more than a little bit of heaven now!
Omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, meaning our bodies cannot make these fatty acids so we have to consume them. They are each very important to good health although very different. Omega 6 fatty acids play a role in processes that promote inflammation, whereas omega 3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect. Ideally, we need to eat a diet that has a 1:1 ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. Realistically in America, due in large part to the type of cooking oils we use, we eat a diet having a ratio closer to 20:1 or even 50:1. It’s no wonder so many of us are suffering from inflammatory conditions. Choosing your cooking oils wisely can have a huge benefit to your health, as nearly all diseases start with hidden inflammation in our bodies.
Coconut oil is made up of about 92 percent saturated fat, so it is solid at room temperature, making it an ideal substitute for butter and lard in baked items. It is less sensitive to heat than a lot of other oils too, so it is an excellent choice for baking, roasting, or any cooking at a high temperature.
For years, coconut oil was crossed off our list of healthy oils due to it’s saturated fat content and the risk for heart disease. But not all saturated fats are the same. A study done by Dr. Westin Price of South Pacific Islanders found that although the natives ate a diet high in coconut, they were healthy and trim with no evidence of heart disease. Several other studies have been done in tropical areas with the same results: excellent cardiovascular health and fitness despite getting 30 – 60% of their calories from coconut oil.
Surprisingly, coconut oil is not only “not bad” for you, but it is actually good for you, as it has been shown to…
- Improve your heart health
- Boost your thyroid
- Increase your metabolism
- Promote weight loss
- Have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties
- Benefit your skin when used as a skin care product
Take care to choose only organic and raw or virgin coconut oil (not refined), as the process to isolate coconut oil uses chemicals unless labeled organic and raw or virgin.
- 2½ cups almond flour from www.honeyvillegrains.com
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup organic raw coconut oil
- ½ cup agave nectar or honey
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a small bowl, stir together almond flour, sea salt, and baking soda.
- In a large bowl, stir together coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir to combine.
- Mix in dark chocolate chips.
- Place spoonfuls of dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.
- Recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies.
To oat or not to oat? Are oats a safe gluten free whole grain? Well, that depends. Pure oats are gluten free, but the risk for cross contamination is high. The only 100% gluten free oats are those marked gluten free, so the average Quaker variety in your grocery store most likely contains gluten. This is because oats are grown in fields side by side wheat and processed in the same plants as wheat. Some batches of oats may have very little cross contamination, but some may have a decent amount of gluten. When purchasing oats, look for gluten free on the label, or find them in the gluten free section of your grocery store.
Oats are considered a cereal whole grain. They are certainly not new on the scene, as they have been a staple food for our Scottish ancestors for centuries. Certified gluten free oats are quite nutritious, as 1 cup packs in 16 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber, 7 grams of poly and mono unsaturated fats and iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese. The American Heart Association is oats’ biggest cheerleader because of its high amount soluble fiber and its ability to lower cholesterol naturally. The fiber in oats also serves as a nice prebiotic, as it increases healthy gut bacteria and the short chain fatty acids they produce.
The only potential downfall of oats is that like other grains, oats contain phytic acid, which will bind to and prohibit other valuable nutrients like zinc from absorbing into our bodies. Soaking and then rinsing oats for several hours or overnight lowers the amount of phytic acid. I soak all my grains and highly recommend it, as I find I digest whole grains much better after a good soaking. The other potential problem with oats is the protein called avenin. Although it is different from the gluten protein, it is in the same general category, so a handful of gluten sensitive people cannot tolerate oats either. My advice would be to try oats before crossing it off your list of healthy whole grains. If you experience any of the same symptoms as you did with gluten, you will know it isn’t the grain for you.
Oats can be bought as steel cut oats, rolled oats, or instant. They are all from the same grain but are just prepared differently. Steel cut oats are the whole oat chopped into pieces. Rolled oats are steamed and rolled out flat and are probably the most popular form of oats. Instant oats have been steamed, rolled out, and also precooked.
Granola is just one way to enjoy your oats. I love this version because it is seasonal and so fragrant – filling my whole house with that festive scent while baking. Enjoy your granola served over plain Greek yogurt, soaked in almond or coconut milk, or just by itself as a snack.
- 3 cups gluten free rolled oats
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅓ cup honey
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- ½ cup cooked pureed pumpkin
- ¼ cup applesauce
- 2 tablespoons raw coconut oil
- ½ cup fruit juice sweetened dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a large bowl, stir together oats, pecans, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.
- Add honey, maple syrup, molasses, pumpkin, applesauce, and coconut oil.
- Spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven, stir, and bake for 20 more minutes.
- Remove from oven, stir, and test for desired crunchiness. Return to oven for up to 10 - 15 more minutes if you like a crunchier granola.
- Remove from oven, and stir in cranberries.
Growing up, my family loved grits (a food made from coarsely ground corn boiled in water) served with eggs for breakfast. Fresh grilled corn on the cob in the summer was also a treat. But it wasn’t until I cut gluten out of my diet that I began to really explore the uses of corn as an alternative to gluten containing grains. I was surprised to learn that corn has many health benefits and can even help with weight loss.
Corn is considered a whole grain that does not contain any gluten and is certainly not new on the scene of whole grains. Corn meal has been a staple food in North and South America for centuries, as it was the most important cultivated plant in ancient America. Corn meal is made from grinding dried corn kernels into fine, medium or coarse particles. It can be yellow, blue or white, depending on the type of corn used, and it is a favorite because it of its sweet flavor. Common uses for corn are many – tortillas, tamales, corn chips, popcorn, corn muffins, polenta, grits…
My first impression of corn is that is is an empty food – a filler food – packed with calories but coming up short in the nutrient category. But corn meal actually contains a long list of nutrients: niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folate and vitamins B-6, E and K. It contains 18 amino acids and valuable minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. Especially important to those trying to lose weight is milled yellow corn, like corn meal, grits and corn flour products, because it is rich in antioxidants called carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin. Carotenoids belong to a group of antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which according to a study done in Japan, have a strong affect against the function of fat cells and help in the prevention of metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance.
Corn meal is also high in dietary fiber which is important for colon health, lowers cholesterol, regulates blood sugar, and helps with weight loss. Fiber helps with weight loss because we feel satisfied and full for longer periods of time after eating it, which prevents us from overeating and unnecessary munching. Also, foods high in fiber are less energy dense, so we are filled up on fewer calories. One cup of whole grain corn meal contains about 10 grams of dietary fiber. Recent research has also shown that fiber from corn encourages the growth of friendly bacteria in our large intestine which boosts our immune system and helps lower our risk of colon cancer.
So add corn meal to your list of gluten free grains as a healthy whole grain alternative, and enjoy its robust, sweet flavor while also taking advantage of its nutrients, fiber, and benefit for weight loss. This sweet potato green chili cornbread disappeared quickly in my house when I served it with my pumpkin and pear soup last week.
- 1 cup Gluten Free Classic Brown Rice Flour Blend from Authentic Foods
- 1 cup corn meal
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- 3½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup agave nectar or honey
- ¼ cup raw coconut oil
- 1 cup cooked sweet potato
- ½ cup almond or coconut milk
- 4 ounce can chopped green chilis
- 1 egg
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Grease an 8 inch square baking pan.
- In a small bowl, mix together gluten free brown rice flour, corn meal, xanthan gum, baking powder, and sea salt.
- In a large bowl, mix together agave nectar, coconut oil, sweet potato, milk, green chilis, egg, and vanilla.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well.
- Pour batter into baking dish.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
Does anyone else start craving creamy comfort foods this time of year? Why is it that when the temperature starts to drop and the days get shorter, I am in the mood for warm, hearty, creamy, and comforting foods? Historically, the next 2 months are when my body chooses to pack on a few extra pounds. I always chalked it up to the fact that my body actually needs these extra pounds to handle the cold weather. And, in reality, that is exactly what our bodies are trying to do. According to John Douillard, author of The 3-Season Diet, we have a natural desire to insulate, storing fats and proteins to rebuild in the winter.
But that’s not all. As the weather turns colder and the days become shorter, we experience actual chemical changes in our brain. Ever heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD? Well, those chemical changes in our brain that are responsible for seasonal depression are also to blame for the changes in our food cravings, causing us to want to eat more and to eat those warm and creamy comfort foods. Comfort foods are generally sweet, fatty and calorie-dense, which may help temporarily improve mood and alleviate anxiety or stress says Dr. Melina Jampolis in a recent CNN health article. Our bodies are always striving for balance and this includes our mental state, so we look for ways to boost our mood on those dark and chilly days, giving rise to those cravings this time of year.
To avoid too much winter weight gain, choose healthy versions of your favorite comfort foods. Try this pumpkin and pear soup to satisfy your need for a warm, sweet, and creamy meal. Both pumpkin and pear lend a sweet flavor and healthy carbohydrates among other nutrients, and an avocado gives a creamy texture and healthy fat. I hope you enjoy!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 pears, cut into slices
- ½ onion, cut into slices
- 2 inches of fresh ginger, diced
- 2 cups organic chicken broth
- 2 cups cooked or canned pumpkin
- 1 avocado
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Saute pears, onion, and ginger in olive oil until tender.
- Place chicken broth, pumpkin, avocado, cinnamon, and sea salt in a Vitamix or other blender.
- Add the sauteed pear, onion, and ginger.
- Blend until smooth.
- Transfer to a medium saucepan, and warm over medium heat for 5-10 minutes.
Oh the incredible, edible egg! Although eggs have been given a bad rap due to their cholesterol content in past years, other health experts encourage us to include them daily, calling them a perfectly nutritious food. A whole lot of goodness is packed into that small oval-shaped kitchen staple.
As far as macronutrients, eggs have a good amount of animal protein with 6 grams for 1 large. Eggs also have a good amount of fat concentrated in the yolk, which we have been advised to stay away from in the past. While it’s true that poor quality saturated fats like foods fried in vegetable oils and margarine are quite unhealthy, our bodies need the right blance of healthy fats for brain and nerve health among lots of other things, so eating a good source like eggs is beneficial. Many important micronutrients included in eggs like vitamin A, potassium and many B vitamins like folic acid, choline and biotin also need that healthy fat to properly absorb and be used in our bodies. Obviously eggs have saturated fats and cholesterol, but they also have omega 6 essential fatty acids, and the ones from the lucky pastured chickens contain the essential fat superstar – omega 3 fatty acids.
Every egg is not created equal when it comes to nutritional content. I’m not talking about the color of the eggs; white or brown makes no difference. Be careful to choose eggs from chickens that were raised in as natural an environment as possible. This means the little guys were allowed to roam in a grassy field, eat what they can forage and would naturally choose, and not subjected to the stress or infections of a factory farm. Chickens with a home on the range not only produce more nutrient dense eggs, but their eggs also have that prized omega 3 essential fatty acid and less saturated fat and cholesterol. So choose organic eggs from pasture-raised, cage-free chickens whenever possible.
These omelet muffins are a quick and easy way to prepare an egg dish for your family. Double the recipe to have extra on hand throughout the week. And change up and personalize the meat, veggies, and spices to suit your family’s likings.
- coconut oil or 8 - 10 muffin liners
- 8 eggs
- ½ pound chicken, nitrate-free chicken or turkey sausage, or nitrate-free turkey bacon cooked and cut into small pieces
- 2 cups diced vegetables, for example: red bell pepper, asparagus, broccoli, tomato, spinach, onion, squashes
- 1 tablespoon Bragg Organic Sprinkle or your favorite spices
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350℉.
- Grease 8 -10 muffin cups with coconut oil or line with paper liners.
- Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and add meat, vegetables, spices, salt, and ground pepper.
- Pour mixture into the muffin cups.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until eggs are "set".