Monday, July 11, 2011

Vegan Ranger Cookies

(Recipe Below)

My dog inspired me to get tested for Celiac’s Disease a few weeks ago.  Teddy and I both have sensitive stomachs, and I’ve been stressing myself out trying to find him food that won’t upset his tummy. I realized that I should probably worry about my own digestive difficulties as much as I worry about his, so I scheduled the appointment for a blood test and mentally prepared myself to spend $9 on a bag of gluten-free bagels at Whole Foods.  

Oddly enough, I was kinda hoping I’d have a gluten allergy, for at least two reasons:
A. So I have a medical excuse to eat at my favorite place, Chipotle, which is very Celiac friendly.
B. So I could stop carrying Pepto in my bag all the time.  I’d prefer a diagnosis to a mystery.  

The test came back negative.  I don’t have an outright allergy, but I realize that I may still have a gluten sensitivity.  (I’ve been considering going gluten-free for a trial period, which I would of course share with you here.)

So, Gluten sensitivity = ?

Dairy sensitivity = absolutely. (FYI: Folks with Celiac’s Disease are often lactose intolerant - hence, the test.)

Yep, I’m super dairy sensitive, and I have been for at least 5 years.  My nose gets so stuffy after I eat cheese that I have to breathe through my mouth.  Weird, I know.  So the past few years, I’ve been experimenting with vegan baking.  

Anyone who’s baked with vegan butter and/or egg replacer may have chipped a tooth biting into a rock-hard vegan cookie.  Getting a butter-free, egg-free cookie to be moist is difficult, but I’ve successfully adapted a few cookie recipes and am including one below, which has oatmeal and coconut to hold in the moisture.  

Even if you’re not dairy-sensitive like me, remember that vegan options are usually better for your health and the environment. And I can personally attest to the triumphant feeling of accomplishment that comes after baking a no-butter, no-egg cookie that tastes good.  Your friends will be impressed!

Ranger Cookies
*Adapted from a recipe in Better Homes & Gardens

1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened (I use Earth Balance Soy Free)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg-equivalent of Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats (I use Quaker Oats)
1 cup flaked coconut (I use the sweetened kind)
1 cup chocolate chips (You can also use raisins, dried cherries, or other dried fruit.)

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl mix the vegan margarine rapidly for 30 seconds.  Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.  Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg replacer and vanilla until combined.  Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour, the oats, coconut, and chocolate chips.
2. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are golden and centers are set.  Let stand for 1 minute on cookie sheet.  Transfer to a wire wrack and let cool.

For additional vegan baking recipes, check out Chef Chloe’s website.

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