Christmas Cookies

I can’t believe it’s time for Christmas again….  I have to admit that this year I’ve fretted less about my health at this time around.  I’ve attended office Christmas parties, house parties, lunches out and am planning the annual family Christmas dinner…. and it’s been awfully nice to not have a ‘delicate tummy’ to fret about.  What am I fretting about? – I need some Christmas Cookies!!

I am a sucker for a treat.  And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some sort of special treat on the table that was ok for me to eat – despite having an intolerance for dairy and eggs, and following a low (LOW) FODMAP diet – that means gluten free, preferably.  And, I want it to be nice enough to serve to others.

One of the wonderful things about this time of year is the scent of rich spices.  My mothers gingerbread cookie recipe was a staple in my house for many years (I still make them, even though I can’t eat them), so I wanted something that had that gingery/nutmeggy flavour.

I’ve come up with a chocolatly spicy cookie, and attempted the ‘yule log’ theme.  Mash it all together and I’ve got:

Chlogs

Spicy Chlogs

(ok, the name needs a bit of work.  I am terrible at naming things – any suggestions?)

For the Cookie

  • 1 Box gluten free vanilla cake mix (I use Betty Crocker)
  • 1/2 c margarine (I use  Earth Balance dairy free)
  • 1 extra large egg (I use egg replacer)
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (I use the regular, not the unsweetened kind)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For the coating

  • dark baking chocolate (I use Camino semi sweet) for melting
  • icing sugar (to dredge)

Instructions

Mix the cookie ingredients as usual.  Roll by hand on waxed paper into thin ropes, cut roughly as long as your pinky finger.  Bake on parchment at 350 for about 12 minutes.

cookie dough size

Once cooled, dip one end into the melted chocolate, and then dip in bowl of icing sugar.  Let dry on a rack (over some waxed paper to catch the drips).  Can be frozen.

chocolate dipped

So, unless someone can come up with a better name, my Spicy Chlogs are a new part of my holiday baking.  They are crunchy, chocolatey and spicy… rather good dipped!  I hope everyone is able to find a Christmas Cookie that they enjoy this year….

Along with good health, family and friends!

FODMAP free Granola Bars

Living on a special diet, no matter if it’s for diabetes, IBS, or other reasons brings it’s own special challenges.  Once I was able to figure out WHAT I could eat safely (this took me about 2 years), I was then left with the challenge of making sure that I could have safe foods easily accessible.  One thing I really missed was being able to toss a granola bar into my purse.  I needed to discover a FODMAP free granola bar!

Most easily available granola bars are filled with ‘healthy’ ingredients that don’t sit so well with my tummy.  Apples, honey, dairy, wheat and even sometimes ingredients that I can’t pronounce, let alone try and spell!

I did discover the granola bars from Nature’s Path, and found two types that are safe – but one of them is pumpkin flavoured, and I’m not a real fan of pumpkins in anything except pie (and that will now be a memory from my pre-IBS days).

So I checked out recipes on the internet and from my cookbooks.  I mucked about in my kitchen.  My biggest disappointment was ending up with a crumbly mess that didn’t stick together – I made the mistake of putting one of these (wrapped in saran) in my purse and it didn’t survive the morning before disintegrating.

After some experimentation, I did end up with my go-to recipe, that I’d like to share with you.

Home made, from pronounceable ingredients that are FODMAP friendly!
Home made, from pronounceable ingredients that are FODMAP friendly!

There are three secrets to making a granola bar that sticks together and doesn’t fall apart:

  1. I use Organic Brown Rice Syrup by Lundberg (no doubt there are other suppliers of this product).  I can find this at both my local health food store as well as Safeway, and it is a FODMAP free substitute for corn syrup.
  2. Be cautious of how many ‘dry’ ingredients (particularly the oats) that you add to the recipe.  Adding a little ‘extra’ can result in a dry bar with not enough ‘stick’.  The total amount of dry ingredients should not exceed 6.5 cups.
  3. Boil the ‘wet’ ingredients for about 2 minutes, before adding dry ingredients.  If you’ve ever made candy, you know this is an important step.

The nice thing about this recipe is that it’s really flexible.  I change it up all the time.

Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Earth Balance or other margarine substitute
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Brown rice syrup
  • 3 cups rice crispies
  • 1.5 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup diary free chocolate chips
Simple and fast granola bars that won't crumble!
Simple and fast granola bars that won’t crumble!

In a large, heavy pot set on medium heat, combine the margarine, brown sugar and rice syrup.  Stirring constantly, bring to a light boil and simmer for about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in dry ingredients.  Press into a 9×13 lightly oiled pan.  Let set, remove from pan and cut into bars.  Individually wrap bars in saran, store in freezer until needed.

As I mentioned, one of the key things to not having a dry crumbly bar is to control the urge to add too many dry ingredients (particularly the oats).  I usually measure out the dry ingredients beforehand to make sure I’m not over the magic 6.5 cup amount.

Don't add too many dry ingredients!
Don’t add too many dry ingredients!

The fun part of this recipe is that if you remember this rule, you can mix up the ingredients for variety.  I’ve removed the chocolate, increased the coconut and added chia seeds:

Chia granola bites
Chia granola bites

I’ve added the candied orange peel that I’ve had left over from my Christmas baking:

Granola bars with candied orange peel.
Granola bars with candied orange peel.

 

Other tips:

  • If you don’t want your chocolate chips to melt into the bars, you can add them just before you turn the batter out into the pan.
  • If you add peanuts, be aware they may be oily and not stick to the bar.  I find if I use Spanish peanuts and chop them up they stay put.

I take large Ziploc bags of these whenever I travel.  One of these and an orange or banana will do me for lunch if there’s no other safe options available.  They keep well, are convenient to have on hand and are definitely a sanity saver!