Gluten Free Gingersnap Cookie Recipe (aka. You’re Welcome)

gingersnaps-recipe

Nothing says Christmas to me quite like the smell of cookies baking.  Very specific cookies in fact – Gingersnap cookies & Shortbread.

I remember being a little girl sneaking into the freezer and sneaking out the frozen shortbread cookies and just letting them melt in my mouth.  Looking back, my Mom knew they were being taken (she’s not dumb, despite what I thought when I was 14) but gave me grace and didn’t comment on it.  

As I grew older, I developed my own love for being in the kitchen and my passion for baking began.  Gingersnaps quickly became my favourite Christmas cookie to bake and over the years, as the recipe has evolved, they’ve become the most requested Christmas cookie I bake.

They’re Audrey’s favourite cookie this time of year and I knew, when Celiac disease arrived that I was going to need to find a way to continue making her gingersnaps.

2 years and a lot of experiments later I have finally arrived at a recipe that I think is near perfect.  In fact, the way my girls ate them and the comments (or rather noises) coming from them have christened these cookies, near to cookie heaven.

Rich & molasses-y, sweet, crisp edges and soft centers, these are lovely.  They are also standing up quite well to time.  They’re not drying out nor are they getting moldy – which if you’re living the gluten free life you’ll know is a HUGE win!  They also freeze super well.

So, in true recipe success fashion, here we are to share!  Please note that at the BOTTOM of the recipe, I will have the adjustments you can make to turn this recipe into a wheat version for your family & friends.  

Give these guys a try and then comment to let me know what you think!  And don’t forget if you decide to take a photo and post them in social media to tag me & to use the hashtag #ofsbakes

Gluten Free Gingersnap Recipe
Gingersnaps perfect for Christmas (or any time!). Crispy edges with warm, chewy centers.
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Ingredients
  1. 3/4 Cup of Butter, room temperature!
  2. 1 Cup of Granulated Sugar
  3. 2 Eggs
  4. 1/2 Cup of Molasses
  5. 2 1/2 Cups of Gluten Free Flour (see note)
  6. 2 tsp of Baking Soda
  7. 2 tsp of Ground Ginger
  8. 1 HEAPING tsp of Cinnamon (don't skimp on cinnamon)
  9. 1 tsp of Salt
  10. Additional Granulated Sugar for rolling
Instructions
  1. Pre-Heat Oven to 350°F & line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper
  2. Cream together butter & first granulated sugar
  3. Whip in both eggs and cream until light & fluffy
  4. Add molasses, mix well
  5. SIFT together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon & salt in a separate bowl (a MUST do)
  6. Gradually add the flour mixture to your wet ingredients and blend well
  7. Cookie dough will be sticky - that's OK! Gluten free flour is thirsty flour, it will thicken as it stands
  8. Place the entire bowl in the fridge for 1/2 an hour or the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up dough
  9. Place additional sugar on a large dinner plate (start with 2 tbsp add more if needed)
  10. Wet hands SLIGHTLY, scoop 1 tbsp of dough into hands, roll into a ball & roll that in sugar
  11. Place sugared dough onto cookie sheet leaving space for them to expand
  12. Gently press a SMALL finger imprint into the top of each dough ball & sprinkle on additional pinch of sugar
  13. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cookies have crackled & edges appear firm.
  14. These cookies sometimes appear a little "damp" even when they're done. The crackles are your sign they're ready to come out (or nearly ready)
  15. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes then remove to cooling rack
Notes
  1. We love the President's Choice gluten free all purpose flour or Better Batter GF Flour for these cookies. OR we whip up the Mock Better Batter flour from Gluten Free on a Shoestring (http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gluten-free-flour-blends-what-you-need-to-know/)
  2. If your flour blend does not contain xanthan gum, make sure to add in 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum to this recipe. You NEED the binder
  3. WHEAT VERSION: Reduce to 1 Large egg or 1 medium egg + 1 egg white & increase flour to 2 1/2 Cups plus 2 TBSP of flour
  4. Save left over sugar from rolling cookies to add to oatmeal. It makes a yummy gingery, holiday topping to a bowl of hot cereal.
Our Family Stone http://www.ourfamilystone.org/

Audrey & Bethany NEED your help meeting a need!

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Every year at Christmas, one of the company I work for (my parent’s company) has a “Food for Friends” drive that pivots around our company open house. Suppliers, trades, customers, friends and even, at times strangers make donations to our local food bank and each year blow our minds with their generosity. It’s overwhelming to stand, at the back of my Mom’s Honda Pilot, looking at the mass amounts of food, diapers and supplies given out of the goodness of people’s hearts.

For Bethany & Audrey, it’s one of their favourite parts of the Christmas season. They love having the privilege of helping us deliver the food to the local Salvation Army and eagerly help load food hampers with us for families in need in out community.

When we had kids, Corey and I set out to raise women who have “Jesus’ heart”, who are kind, generous and loving. Little did we know that HE gave us girls with so much more than we could ever teach them. Their love for helping – whether it’s me in the kitchen or kid who’s sad is such a beautiful thing. They were born with the desire to serve and we try, as often as we can to give them avenues in which they can do it.

Recently, a need in our community came to our attention and its direct connection to our lives & our hearts resulted in all of us feeling like we HAD to do something…and so we are! (secret: We’re inviting YOU to help too!)
Most of you know that a year and a half ago Audrey was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. The means that for the safety of her body she can’t eat anything that contains gluten! It will harm her, both in immediate physical symptoms and long term permanent damage to her little body. It was a hard diagnosis to swallow, but one we have grown to appreciate and embrace. It changed her life and it has made us so much more aware of a different kind of need.

Someone with Celiac disease needs to eat “Gluten Free” foods (certified) for their body to function properly and be safe. That means it can’t contain wheat, rye, barley or triticale (among other things), nothing that contains gluten. In general, we have found this to be not so difficult. Fresh fruits, vegetables & meats are all naturally gluten free, as are non-gluten grains (rice, millet, sorghum) etc. Where you run into the cost, and potential problem in this diet is when it comes to bread, dairy products, pasta, cured meats, crackers and canned goods. Many things, MANY of them that you would think are gluten free – like a can of mushroom soup, are not. They are filled with gluten – and there for seriously dangerous to a Celiac.

The items that are gluten free are significantly more expensive than their wheat counterparts and this diagnosis can take a real toll on your grocery bill. For those living on meager means, or needing assistance, this can feel or even be nearly impossible.

See where I’m going with this?

Last week we learned that our local food bank and food banks around Canada have very little in regards to gluten free foods. In fact, the lady I spoke to said there are times they have almost no gluten free foods to offer to a family in need who are facing Celiac disease, or wheat allergy. She said there are times they come and look through the canned foods available and can’t find almost anything safe for them. Unfortunately, the majority of what gets donated to a food bank, the things they are able to keep in stock for families in need are things that are packaged & canned. These are the very things that people like our Audrey can’t have.

When we learned this our hearts broke and the girls were filled with questions – “How did we not know this was happening?”, “WHY is it happening?” and more importantly “How can we fix it?”

The answers are simple – we didn’t know it was happening because we didn’t think to ask. The reason it’s happening is because NOBODY else knows there’s a need either, and what we can do about it why I’m writing this blog post!

Audrey & bethany's

From August 15 – 18 2016 Audrey and Bethany are holding their first ever GLUTEN FREE FOOD DRIVE! And as an added bonus they’re raffling off 2 Chilliwack Chiefs Kids Jerseys (you earn an entry when you donate)
We will be collecting Gluten Free donations for our local food bank, doing our best to not only fill their shelves with foods safe for everyone but also to create awareness in our community, and communities around Canada about a need that needs meeting! This is a problem we CAN fix – if you’re willing to help us.
Here’s how you can help:

  1. If you live in the Chilliwack/Fraser Valley area purchase some gluten free food and contact me. We will have a collection location for you to drop off your food
  2. Tell your friends about Audrey & Bethany’s Gluten Free Food Drive and invite them to participate
  3. If you live ANYWHERE else in Canada purchase a few gluten free items & donate them to your local food bank.
  4. Consider running your own Gluten Free Food drive and help your local food banks
  5. Share this blog post/Facebook event and help spread awareness to a growing need
  6. Leave a comment and share with us how YOU would like to help

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Helping someone else isn’t a chore friends, it’s a choice. Today we care daring you to make a choice to acknowledge a need and do what you can to meet it!

Thankful for Celiac Disease

Audrey 2015

February 10 2015 is a day I will never forget.  That phone call a permanent recording in my memory bank.  I cried harder that day than I have cried in my life.  My body physically hurt from the sobs, my stomach turned with nausea and my mind spun with all of the “couldn’t eat, couldn’t do, never will again”‘s.  It was the day that Audrey was diagnosed with Celiac disease.

It was a pivotal day for not only Audrey & our family but for me and my faith.

For the first time in my life I felt like God had let me down.  I knew that He had answered my prayers, and I knew that He cared, but in the days that followed, I struggled to understand.  I couldn’t understand how He could have answered my desperate prayers with Celiac disease.  Selfishly, how had He let Celiac disease happen to me, as a mother.

I wish I could go back and wrap my arms around that me.  I’d tell that broken mama what I’ve learned about Celiac disease, about Audrey and about God’s true faithfulness.

Believe it or not, the diagnosis of Celiac disease was not the worst thing to happen to our Audrey girl or our family.  Oh, I still have moments where it leaves me frustrated, where I wish it were gone (don’t get me wrong, if I could make ALL of her health struggles disappear I would..but no matter how hard I try, I can’t), where I want to rip my hair out because people are ignorant and don’t understand.   I also have many more moments of something else… 

Perspective and clarity.   They have shown me that inside a diagnosis of Celiac disease are many hidden blessings:

  • Above all else, I’ve learned how strong our Audrey is.  She has handled this diagnosis with grace, courage and determination, owning this part of her life.  She asks questions, makes good choices (she could sneak things if she wanted to, but she doesn’t) and won’t eat anything unless I’ve OK’d it first.  The strong willed nature that God gave her might be making my hair go grey but it’s also the thing that will allow her to flourish in life.
  • We no longer find Audrey curled up on the floor in pain, or hear daily complaints of tummy aches. 
  • Removing gluten from her diet has given us yet another door to teaching our children about label reading, processed food and making healthy choices (with or without gluten).  Conversations that will benefit them greatly as they become adults.
  • The massive, over the top, exhausting mood swings vanished in a matter of a week.  From mid August 2014 (when they guesstimate her Celiac “kicked in”) Audrey had the most bizarre, physically exhausting, emotionally trying mood swings we’ve ever seen.  They left us afraid that we’d never survive raising her, that she’d never survive being raised by us!  Changing her diet was like getting a new, firey, sweet, stubborn little creature and believe it or not ALL of those traits were a welcome exchange for who she’d been.
  • We are SO lucky that Audrey was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2015, when gluten free is “trendy”.  Many restaurants are learning quickly how to prepare celiac safe meals and stores carry gluten free options for almost anything.
  • Cooking & baking gluten free is NOT the bland, horrible, daunting task everyone made me think it would be.  I’ve been able to replicate most of our favourite baked treats and let’s be honest – when you’re eating clean & healthy (which we do 85% of the time) you don’t have to worry a lot about gluten.  Fruits, veggies, real meat, rice, quinoa etc are all naturally gluten free.

We are in a rough spot with Audrey again.  She’s been facing other (non-tummy) health issues again and at times has really been physically struggling.  We have test results once again coming back not good and are in a position very similar to the one we were in last year at this time.  We are waiting on more results to come back, have referrals to 3 new departments at Children’s hospital and are currently awaiting those appointment dates.  The fevers have returned and I touch her often with trepidation, that my touch will be met with heat.

It’s easy to let the fear creep back in, and while I really have my moments of panic this time is different.  This time I have the perspective of a diagnosis I thought would destroy our world and instead it’s given Audrey a piece of her life back.

God answers our prayers always.  Sometimes those answers are the ones we want, sometimes they’re the ones we dread and other times the answer is simply to just wait. I’ve spent the last 6 years thinking we were in the “wait” zone, but that’s not true.

Our prayers have been continually answered, in the number of diseases that have been ruled out, the number of times they looked for cancer and found none, in the fact that she’s going to be 7 years old – in a diagnosis of Celiac disease.  

BEST

Remembering that gives me confidence that He will continue to do as He promises in Jeremiah 29:11-13, it gives me the strength to face each day with joy and it gives me the courage to say, I am thankful for Celiac disease and all of the blessings it brings.

Gluten Free Recipes – Cheddar “Annie’s Bunnies/Goldfish” Crackers

Gluten Free homemade Cheddar Crackers (Annie's Bunnies)

It’s been a week since Audrey’s diagnosis of Celiac disease.  We’ve run the gamut of emotions, faced a few challenges and wrestled our way through the pain of her first cross contamination experience (awful, so awful).

We, and by we I mean, I have been buried under a cloud of gluten free flour, recipe experiments both failures & successes. 

I’ve spent hours reading, researching and compiling recipes.  I’ve tried things, I’ve changed things (because when do I ever follow a recipe) and I’ve done my best to stay as busy as possible so as not to face my emotions make sure Audrey has life as normal as possible, not missing her favourite foods.

It’s been…intense, fun and frustrating. 

The up coming months are going to be filled with our journey through Celiac disease.  I’ll share recipes that work and tales of failures.  If it’s a recipe I’ve modified then I’ll make sure to link to the original, if I’ve followed it to a T or only made slight alterations then I’ll link you back to the original instead and if I’ve made it up myself, you’ll know that too.  I’ll do my best to make sure that she/he who deserves the credit receives it.

Today, I’m going to share our best success and the recipe that’s been requested the most.

For years I’ve made our girls homemade “goldfish” crackers.  On the days I didn’t feel like making them, I’d buy them the Annie’s Bunny alternative (I don’t like the ingredients in the real goldfish crackers).  Homemade or store bought, they are always a favourite here.

After I received Audrey’s diagnosis those snacks almost instantly jumped to mind and my stomach dropped.  What was I going to do?  She was going to be so sad!

When I told Audrey about her diagnosis last Tuesday I made her a promise – for every item on her “STOP! Gluten Ingredients! List” I’d make sure there was one (or two) on her “SAFE! Gluten Free! List”.  We bought her a notebook and it contains both of these lists.  We’re going to empower Audrey to own Celiac disease, it will not own her and the best way for us to do that is to give her the information. 

Anyways, remembering that promise I did what I always do.  Wiped my tears, took a deep breath and hit Pinterest. 

 

Within minutes I found gluten free goldfish cracker recipes.  I read through many, saved some I liked, passed by others I didn’t, and went back to my original (gluten) recipe.  I put two and two together, looked at the ingredients I had and got started.

The recipe is so simple.  It’s very similar to what you’ve probably seen a dozen other places and while cutting them out is a little bit tedious, it’s well worth the effort.

My family loves them! 

When they came out of the oven it was bedtime and both girls keep trying to smuggle them upstairs to keep munching!

Gluten Free Cheddar Crackers (like Annie's Bunnies/Goldfish) Recipe
A homemade Gluten Free version of the favourite Cheddar Annie's bunnies or goldfish crackers. So easy & so delicious!
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Ingredients
  1. 3.5 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese (Medium works but sharp gives a stronger cheese flavour)
  2. 4.5 tbsp Salted Butter - cubed and COLD
  3. 1 1/4 Cups Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (I used my homemade blend, recipe below)
  4. 1/2 tsp Salt
  5. 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast (this really makes the crackers!)
  6. 1/4 tsp Garlic powder (reduce if desired)
  7. 1/8 tsp Paprika (DO NOT OMIT!)
  8. 2-4 TBSP Ice Cold Water (with ICE)
Instructions
  1. Pre-Heat Oven to 375°
  2. 1. In the bowl of your food processor with your metal blade combine all the ingredients EXCEPT the ice water
  3. 2. Pulse in short bursts until mixture resembles coarse sand
  4. 3. Add water 1 tbsp at a time and process your mixture at a regular speed for 1 minute, if it doesn't come together add an additional tbsp and repeat.
  5. 4. Once you've reached a dough consistency, scrape out and work a few times with your hands until a ball forms.
  6. 5. Divide dough into two parts, flatted into discs, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minute or freeze for 10 (NO longer!)
  7. 6. Roll out small sections of dough between two pieces of parchment paper until they're 1/8" thick. To make cutting shapes out easier place back into the fridge for a few minutes.
  8. 7. Remove top parchment paper, cut out desired shapes and transfer them to a baking stone or parchment lined baking sheet. (This is easier if you use a thin metal spatula)
  9. 8. Bake for 9-11 minutes until the edges are slightly brown or until they look a little flaky (see notes)
  10. 9. Remove from oven and transfer crackers to a clean, cool baking pan and let cool
  11. 10. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. (Though I'm betting they'll be long eaten before then!)
Notes
  1. **Don't be alarmed if they appear wet when they are baking, that's supposed to happen. They won't melt, they will crisp up and be delicious!
Our Family Stone Light Gluten Free Flour Blend
  1. 2 Cups White Rice Flour (or Sweet White Rice Flour)
  2. 2 Cups Brown Rice Flour
  3. 2/3 Cup Tapioca Starch
  4. 1 1/3 Cup Potato Starch (NOT Potato Flour)
  5. Sift flours together and store in an airtight container.
Adapted from Free Eats Food
Adapted from Free Eats Food
Our Family Stone http://www.ourfamilystone.org/

If you make any of our recipes we’d LOVE to see them! Send us a photo of your creation on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #ofsbakes.

Audrey Update: The First Diagnosis

photo(7)After 5 years of questions, pain, suffering and more doctors than I can count we have received our first diagnosis for Audrey.  Before I get into the details of what that is I need to make a huge request from you all:

Please no advice, no shared stories, no “I know how you feels”.  I realize that everyone’s hearts are so well meaning, and always good intentioned.  You each have your own story & journey, and while I value what you’ve learned along the way I’m not in a good place to receive it, at least not right now.  No two people face the same things in life and right now, I need to work on how we are going to face ours.   I appreciate the love & compassion, those kind words will always be something I love and welcome – just for now, please no advice.

Today, Audrey was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

Back in late October Audrey began showing serious symptoms of fatigue again, pain in her head and tummy pain.  We once again made the trip to our Pediatrician, she ran a gamut of tests, including the one that tests for Celiac disease.

This test has been run many, MANY times before and has always come back negative.  Running it this time was an after thought and one we assumed would come back the same.

It didn’t. 

The levels it came back at where much, much higher than normal and from there it’s been a whirlwind of Children’s hospital, urgent biopsies and today diagnosis.

Hearing those words shifted my world upside down.  I truly didn’t believe Celiac was what we were facing.  I’m also feeling intensely overwhelmed at the moment, this is going to take a while to process.

Here’s what Dr.I said when he called today (some he told us when we met in his office, per-diagnosis):

– Audrey’s biopsy came back positive for Celiac disease and due to the nature of her symptoms and the results, starting tonight we had to implement her strict gluten free diet

– Her Celiac is relatively new.  While she always carried the gene for it, it’s only become active in the last year (which was when her last test came back negative) and it isn’t what has caused the things that have landed her in hospital to date.

– They don’t know what causes Celiac to become “active” in a person sometimes it’s an intense illness (like what’s had her in hospital before) that shocks the immune system and kicks it in.

– Hopefully our immediate changes to her diet, lifestyle, including what touches her skin will begin to show us results within 2 weeks

– If some of the other symptoms persist we are still in for more doctors and tests to identify if there is a secondary illness causing them

– Bethany will need to be testes for Celiac as well.  Since it is a genetic disease she has a 1/30 chance of also having it.

– Children’s has a dietician who will be contact me in the next few weeks to help us learn this new world

What I know:

– For a while this is going to be hard but it will get better.

– Eating in this house is going to be tricky at best.  Most of what Audrey will be able to eat is danger food for me, corn is one of the main subs for gluten. 

– School is going to be hard for a while but we’ll adapt

– Even though I’m frustrated, God is still good.  He still loves us, and His purpose in all this will shine through, it will only take time.

– I will forever be thankful that nobody told me she was dying today, they aren’t taking her away from me, and Celiac is something we can control.

– It is a massive blessing that Audrey’s favourite foods are chickpeas, hummus and veggies.

After I hung up with Dr. I today I cried.  I cried harder  than I have cried in a very, very long time.  I needed those tears, I needed to mourn and then I needed to pull up my socks and carry on.

Audrey is handling this new beautifully as is Bethany, they are a “team” and this is another thing they want to face together.

 We’ve told them God has made us each special and that this is another way Audrey’s body is special.  We’ve given this diagnosis to her and we’re going to teach her to own it.  She’s a knowledge based kid and the more she knows the more power she has.  And if you know anything about Audrey you know that she loves her some power!

Again friends, thank you so much for the love, the prayers, the support and so many other things.  You are incredible gifts to us that we will eternally be thankful for. 

Our road with Audrey’s health hasn’t ended, we know there is more that lay ahead but for the first time in her tiny life we have the makings of a planned course.  It may still be the bumpy path of gravel but somewhere up ahead is the pavement, and one day things will begin to smooth out.