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Gluten-free can be a real treat

August 14th, 2014 · No Comments

How to skip the gluten and the cost of store-bought

By Susan Oppenheim

“Gluten sensitivity (also gluten intolerance) is a spectrum of disorders including celiac disease in which gluten has an adverse effect on the body. Symptoms include bloating, abdominal discomfort or pain, diarrhea, constipation, muscular disturbances, headaches, migraines, severe acne, fatigue, and bone or joint pain.

Gluten, named from the Latin gluten meaning glue, is a substance that gives elasticity to dough helping it to rise and to keep its shape. It is found in many staple foods in the Western diet. It occurs in wheat and other grains, including barley and rye, and in foods or drinks derived from them, but not in corn, rice, or oats. Gluten is a protein composite consisting of a gliadin fraction (alcohol soluble) and a glutenin fraction (only soluble in dilute acids or alkali).”—Wikipaedia.

We now see gluten-free product lines regularly in the supermarkets. We also notice that because they are for special diets they tend to be more expensive, and it is becoming increasingly challenging to come up with treats that are edible for the entire family.

Last week I was visiting my daughter in Kitchener. She does part-time after-school care for a little 3-year-old girl the same age as her daughter Olivia.

Isla carries her own lunch every day as her parents have rigid diet restrictions for her.

She does not always understand being “different” with full-time working parents that do not fetch her from school, and only eating her special foods, but she is a good sport with great resiliency. And she loves to eat! So when I visited I brought a treat for both Isla and Olivia.

The Original Gluten-Free cookie – the coconut macaroon. The basic recipe is very easy to modify and personalize.


Coconut macaroons


  • Coconut, use unsweetened, from fine to coarse grind
  • Vanilla – I substitute other flavourings – almond, lemon, orange
  • Hide dried fruit bits, nuts, or chocolate chunks inside cookies
  • With zests (lemon or orange grated peel), also add a bit of food colouring


I melt my dark chocolate chips in a double boiler (or pan inside a saucepan) but no water can get into it, then dip the cookies generously and turn right side up to cool.

If you must use sweetened coconut, reduce the sugar in this recipe from 1/4 cup to 1 tablespoon:


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 large egg whites (yolks can be added to omelettes or pancakes)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine sugar, coconut, egg whites, vanilla, and salt in a nice big bowl. Don’t worry if a bit of yolk gets in.

Using your hands, mix everything up very well.

Have a bowl of water near by, dampen your hands in it, and form mounds of about 1 1/2 tablespoons on the baking sheet, about an inch apart.

Bake for 16 to 17 minutes. You can open the oven half way through and rotate the baking sheet to bake uniformly.

Cool on a wire rack or leave on the baking sheet.

If I am rushing I put it in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool completely.

When cooled and hardened on top, take each cookie, turn it upside down, and dip into the melted chocolate, and then leave to cool again on the baking sheet. I only single stack them when packing them up.

This makes about 18 nice sized cookies. And they are nut-free, so they can also go to school in lunches.

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