gluten and dairy free

I feel like I've been made so much more aware of allergies recently. Especially that of gluten and dairy. I'm not sure if it's my imagination, but celiac seems to be much more common than it used to be. And have you ever noticed that most treats we eat have gluten and/or dairy in them? Sadly, at food-related get-togethers (and let's face it, most get-togethers have some kind of food), people with food allergies have to stand by while everyone else helps themselves to yet another decadent cookie or mini tart. And they think it's just a fact of life for them. It breaks my heart, since one of the most important points in my philosophy about good food is that it should bring people together.

But, because I don't have any food allergies, I rarely stock my pantry with gluten- and dairy-free items like coconut oil and sorghum flour. Last week we had a baby shower for a friend of mine from church and we decided to serve an array of cookies. But we have at least 3 women from our congregation (that I'm aware of) who can't eat gluten, one of them can't have gluten or dairy. And why should these wonderful women have to stand around and only eat the fruit while everyone else asks for recipes for their favorite cookies as they munch on their 10th cookie? (not that I can do that either, since I have a lot of baby weight left;)) But I can't afford to purchase alternate flours and fats for just one evening of cookie celebration.

I assume a lot of you have come across this dilemma at one time or another, which is why I wanted to write this post. I have 2 simple solutions for you. One is made is peanut butter, though, so obviously be aware of peanut and other tree nut allergies if you're going to make this.

update: I've made this with soy-nut butter for a family with gluten, dairy, peanut, and tree-nut allergies all in one family, and it was very successful. The texture and flavor were a tiny bit different, but not significant enough to not recommend using it. In fact, I highly recommend it. My little taste testers ate them all right in front of me:)

I hope this post can help a lot of you help other people feel more included in social gatherings, or if you have these intolerances or allergies yourself, I hope this brings you a little bit more joy in your life. You don't have to give up enjoying food! (And you should look into learning Japanese cuisine, because it is meant for you!)

3 ingredient (or an optional 4th) peanut butter cookies
makes about 24 cookies
2 cups peanut butter
2 cups granulated white sugar (do not replace with brown sugar, it'll ruin the texture)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Mix together all of the ingredients until smooth.
  3. Drop a rounded tablespoon (I use a 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop) onto the cookie sheets, at least 1 inch apart. You should get about 12 on each cookie sheet. Roll the dough in your hands to make smooth balls and lightly press flat. Press the tops in a criss cross pattern with a fork.
  4. Bake the cookies, one cookie sheet at a time at 350°F (175°C) for 7~9 minutes, until edges look slightly crisp, but the centers look a little underdone. Do not overbake the cookies or they will be brittle and dry. Let the cookies finish cooking on the hot baking sheet on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before transferring them directly to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before serving.
Old fashioned coconut macaroons (adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)
makes about 24 cookies
5 cups (20 oz) sweetened shredded coconut
6 large egg white
1/2 C sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Pulse the coconut in a food processor until fine, 6 to 8 pulses, and transfer to a large bowl. Process the egg whites, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract together in the food processor until light and foamy, about 15 seconds. Stir the egg mixture into the coconut until combined. Wrap the mixture tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 2 days.
  2. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and grease the top. After resting the coconut mixture in the refrigerator, give it a quick stir to redistribute any settled liquids. Using wet hands, roll 1 heaping tablespoon (I used a 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop) of the mixture into a ball and lay them in the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 1 inch apart. You should have about 12 on each baking sheet.
  3. Bake the macaroons one baking sheet at a time, until light golden brown, 13~15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking. Repeat with the second baking sheet.
  4. Let the macaroons cool completely on the baking sheets before serving, about 1 hour.
Now go out and get gluten-and-dairy-free-without-any-special-ingredients baking!