Coconut Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies Recipe + Being Able to Eat Butter Again

Today I am sharing with you my favorite gluten free cookie recipe ever. It is the one cookie recipe that I have consistently made time and time again over the past two years since I was diagnosed with celiac disease. It is our go-to cookie recipe.

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Best of all, it’s pretty simple. It doesn’t have a terribly crazy combination of flours, as so many gluten free recipes do. This recipe is also adaptable. I have often run out of one or the other of the flours for the mix, so I replace it with combinations of flours I happen to have on hand. For example, I have often used tapioca starch instead of potato starch, potato flour instead of rice flour, coconut flour instead of sorgum flour (in this case, I use a little less coconut flour, since coconut flour sucks up a lot more moisture than most flours, and is also pretty dense). In the easiest variation of all, I just use a gluten free flour mix and replace all the flours with that. They all taste great, but so far this is my favorite combination ever.

If you’ve been reading this blog consistently, or if you know me, you might know that I have celiac disease. On top of that I am also lactose and soy intolerant. At the time of my diagnoses, I was told that my dairy intolerance was really due to the damage that eating gluten for so long had done to my digestive system. You see, I probably had celiac disease for about 5 years before I actually got diagnosed, and in all that time my diet consisted mostly of bread and cereal (I love love love bread). Because of this my body was a mess, I was unable to tolerate lactose or soy. However my doctor told me that eventually, with the healing of my digestive system through this gluten free diet, I might be able to have dairy again someday. And so I started that day with a gluten free diet, and waited.

So fast forward to nearly two years later: a few months ago my husband, Dane, was dying for some cookies made with real, actual butter. In general, Dane basically lives with as strict a diet as I do, since I don’t bother cooking separate meals for him and I. But Dane, understandably, misses dairy and gluten! Now I’ve started to consistently add real, cow milk, and cottage cheese, and so on to our grocery list. I’m still really hesitant to ever buy wheat bread, or gluten containing foods, since I am SO sensitive to gluten that even a crumb that happened to fall into my food would affect me for a couple weeks. But anyway, back to the cookies. Dane used this same basic recipe that I am sharing with you today, and went to the store to buy butter and cane sugar. He loved what adding butter did to the cookies, though the regular sugar was a bit too much (the only time we ever eat cane sugar is if happens to already be in the food we buy- when baking/cooking, I always used coconut sugar). I was hesitant to try them, even though they were gluten free, because I hadn’t had butter in a couple years. But I knew that eventually I was supposed to be able to have butter, so after a couple days passed I was dying for a cookie so I gave in and tried one. And guess what? I had absolutely. no. reaction. I was eating butter and was just fine!

It is really exciting to experience some visible, tangible progress in this crazy diet and roller coaster health of mine. When I was initially diagnosed with celiac disease, I was totally devastated. How was I ever supposed to eat anything good again? Over time I realized there are a lot of replacement options for gluten free living, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Through a lot of work and research (probiotics, juice cleanses, multi-vitamins, exercise, and most recently, quitting coffee drinking) I have come a long way in becoming and feeling healthier and stronger. But this is one of the most notable milestones yet!

Since that first discovery that I could eat those delicious, buttery cookies, I have continued to experiment with just how much butter I can tolerate. In general, I still need the aid of taking enzymes/probiotics in order to avoid having any discomfort during digestion even with my gluten/dairy/soy free diet. And this applies to butter as well. But as long as I follow my normal routine with eating, it’s not a problem. I have buttered GF bread, I have made french onion soup containing butter, eggplant with butter, cookies with butter… it’s amazing! I still am careful not to go overboard- I try to only have butter a few times a week. I have to be cautious and not rush the (sometimes painfully) slow, but sure progress towards total healing.

So below is my first recipe ever on this blog to contain butter! It has a dairy free option listed right there with it, and it tastes just as delicious when dairy free. I also added milk to my recipe though I’ve only ever made it with an alternative milk (usually coconut milk) since I’m not quite at the milk drinking stage (and not sure if I ever will be). So I can’t say for sure how that will taste (though I can’t possibly see how it would taste bad..I mean, it’s milk).

Enjoy and let me know what you think! What sort of progress have you seen your process toward healing in your life?

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Coconut Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk or alternative milk (coconut, almond, etc)
  • 1 tsp GF vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sorgum flour
  • 1/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1 1/2 cup GF oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 tsp soda

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° F

Cream the coconut sugar and butter or coconut oil in a mixer until smooth.

Add the milk and vanilla and mix till blended.

In a separate bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients (flours, oat, powders) except for the coconut flakes and chocolate chips.

Combine the dry flour/oat mix with the butter/sugar and mix until it is just combined (but before it turns into a ball of dough).

Add the chocolate chips and coconut flakes and combine.

Roll into cookie shapes onto a greased baking sheet. Makes 12-24 cookies depending on the size you roll them out.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until just slightly golden brown.

Cool and enjoy with some milk!

Redesigning my Etsy Shoppe

In October I opened an etsy shop called Lavender Beauty Co. The inspiration for the shop and its name came into being for a number of reasons.

First of all, when we got married, Dane and I had a pound or so of dried lavender flowers left over. They were used for the flower girls to throw as they walked down the isle and for guests to throw at us during the send off. But I’d slightly overestimated how much we’d need…

Our little flower girls with baskets full of lavender.

Our little flower girls with baskets full of lavender.

I started exploring different ways to put it to use. I began making scrubs with lavender, aromatherapy pillows filled with lavender, and even used it for baking making lavender lemon bars, vanilla lavender muffins…however most of what I made were beauty products. This led me to explore other beauty products I could make. Around this time I realized that a lot of the time there is gluten in beauty products. It is often disguised as the fragrance, or as proteins. As many of you who have read my blog know, I have pretty severe celiac disease. So I was reacting to gluten in my make up and shampoos, causing me to break out, have itchy, red skin, and so on. In the process of finding gluten free beauty products, I also started experimenting with making homemade lotions and lip balms and was actually really happy with the results.

I wanted to start sharing my products with others so I decided to open an etsy shop. I couldn’t come up with a name. I am terrible at naming things. It can take me months to come up with a satisfactory name for anything. However, I was overly eager to get this etsy shop started, so I settled. “Lavender Beauty Co”  became the name, because the whole thing was inspired by lavenders, and it was beauty products, so it was just obvious and made sense. For the time being it worked.

Whipped Body Oil

Lavender Scented Whipped Body Oil -made with coconut oil, almond oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, and lavender essential oil.

However as time passed, I had trouble coming up with a design that fit well with the theme that the shop name implied. I wasn’t connected with the title of the shop or with any of the potential labels, logos, and so on that I was coming up. Uniformity was lacking in my shop. I wasn’t connected to the shop, I was even starting to lose interest in my own shop. I could imagine how boring it must have been for the people looking at it.

As an aside, I am very interested in conceptual, minimalist art. The art that I make tends to reflect these interests. The problem with my shop was that the design did not align with my artistic interests. Even this blog you are reading right now reflects the concepts of design (and art) that resonate with me: simplicity, minimalism,  no fluff. But my shop was messy, and its appearance a compilation of a bunch of failed attempts that kind of looked ok together, but did not reflect me. It wasn’t my shop, I wasn’t attached to it.

One of my latest conceptual paintings.

One of my latest conceptual paintings -made with oil paint and turpentine on canvas.

As I realized this I tried to come up with ways to truly personalize my etsy shop. My thought process was: if the shop design is an accurate expression of who I am, then I would have less trouble with maintaining a clear, uniform, and consistent appearance. This would also mean I would actually like my shop and like how it looks. All of this in turn would be more attractive, rather than confusing to potential customers, and provide them with a streamline and concise experience.

So I decided it was time for a remodel. I was going to redesign my shop! I am really excited about this process. Step one was coming up with a name that actually meant something.

As I mentioned, I am really really slow at naming anything. So I started with talking to my husband and sister, to bounce ideas off of them. This process started in December. They responded by asking what was the philosophy behind my shop, or what was I even trying to express in a name? This got me thinking. I wanted to express the idea of minimalism. I make my products with very few ingredients because I want to showcase how amazingly beneficial particular ingredients can be. For example, my lip balm recipe contains nothing more than some high quality coconut oil, local beeswax, and essential oils for scent. The people who have used this lip balm have all told me it is the best lip balm they have ever used, and I agree! These testimonies go to show how the use of a few, quality ingredients can have remarkable results. So I wanted this philosophy of quality, simplicity, and minimalism to be part of the inspiration behind the name.

Meanwhile, my husband (who is a major math nerd) was dragging me to our little white board every night to show me cool equations he’d learned about that day in school. Generally everything he showed me was way over my head (math is just not my forte) but occasionally I was truly intrigued. One day as we were discussing potential names for my etsy shop he referred back to something he’d recently shown me- natural log e. Natural log e equals one. It is represented by “ln e”. I immediately knew that was it. It was simple, it represented the number 1, what could be more perfect?

So came the name. Once I had the name, the design was the next step. I toyed with the idea of making the shop super mathematical in design, but I soon realized that I was likely to make up things that made absolutely no sense, and anyone who knew anything about math would spot that immediately. Also, this would once again lead to the problem I’d run into before- this would just not be me. I would be constantly depending on Dane to help me with this sort of design (and let’s be honest-that’s not really how he wants to be spending his time). So I backed away from that idea.

It all came down to choosing a font. Ever since watching this documentary, I have loved the Helvetica font and have wanted to use it for something significant. I decided rather than to have a logo or something, I would just simplify my design to the name and the font. It ended up working quite nicely I think.

Lip balms from my shop with the new design!

Lip balms from my shop with the new design!

The shop is all pretty much set up with the new design. Check it out here. I’d love to receive any feedback!

 

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Gluten in my…toothpaste?!

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Yesterday I bought some new toothpaste that told me on its packaging that it was gluten free. My first thought was, does toothpaste normally have gluten?? And once again I was blown away by the mass amount of gluten that is found in the most random products. So this blog post is all about my shift that began a few months ago, to not only having a gluten free diet, but also using completely gluten free products.

After going gluten free last May, I immediately felt better within the first few days. Yet, better, I soon realized, was still not quite “good”…whatever that meant. After a few years of feeling sick all the time (migraines, bloating, fatigue, apathy, joint pain, hair thinning, etc, on a daily basis) I had forgotten what it felt like to feel “good.” So it was only when I started to feel better, that I really began searching for every possible way to eat the way I needed to, with the goal of eventually feeling good.

Over the next several months (and this process still continues to this day) I did tons of research, following blogs, reading articles, figuring out what nutrients I was deficient in, taking supplements, making and remaking recipes, trying new ingredients, comparing and contrasting, etc. Surprise after surprise came as I realized just how many things had gluten in them, explaining to me yet again, why I was still feeling sick. For example, I once ate some Hawaian bbq beef, only to realize after taking several bites, that the sauce had teriyaki in it, which has soy sauce in it, which has wheat in it… even though I tried to throw it up, I was sick for the next two weeks. Similarly, my mom always is super excited for me to make Pad Thai and Thai Coconut Curry Soup when I go visit, and one of these times I randomly checked the ingredients to one of the sauces I’d always used, only to see it contained wheat as well! As my researched continued I realized the importance of not eating food that has been contaminated by wheat. So, Dane and I designated the left slot on the toaster for his bread, and the right side for mine. This also began my habit of meticulously wiping down the counter after someone has cut bread, had a cookie, or any gluten containing ingredient that had the possibility if leaving crumbs behind. Also, Dane can’t kiss me after he’s eaten anything containing wheat until he brushes his teeth and has had a lot of water. With each of these gradual changes, I’d say that overall, I’ve steadily been feeling better over the months (especially after the juice cleanse I did in March, which I wrote about here.)

I think a very important factor most recently in my improving health however, has been using gluten free hair and body products. I came across an article (which I now can’t remember the source of unfortunately..) that discussed the presence of gluten in hair and body products. Lots of shampoos, bodywash, lotions, and so on contain gluten ingredients, especially the ones that advertise added proteins, or being volumizing. A lot of shampoos, lotions, and conditioners are not even clearly marked as containing gluten because it is in the fragrances, or the vaguely marked, “other natural ingredients” (or in the case of food, “other natural flavors”). The same day as having read this article ironically, I’d just picked up some organic shampoo from Target. I thought, organic, natural, awesome, but upon reading the ingredients I saw it contained wheat protein as one of the key ingredients…so that was returned. I also read in various places that a lot of powdered make ups have gluten in oat or wheat form. Some supplements and pills even use gluten as a filler or binder. Although its still up in the air the extent to which a gluten intolerant person will be affected by using lotions or shampoo containing wheat, up to 60% of the gluten applied to your skin can be absorbed by the skin and get into the bloodstream. That big of a risk was too much for me, especially since I have celiac disease, I’m not just intolerant. I began a search for healthy, natural, gluten free products. Since the switch, my skin has had better coloring and cleared up a lot, my scalp and hair have not been itchy at all, and overall I have more energy, less headaches, and less stomach aches. I can’t prove that all of this is related, but I do know that everything we put on or in our bodies affect us. So below, I am going to share with you some of what I found.

I contacted Leanne Vogal, author of one of my favorite blogs, Healthful Pursuit. She pointed me to the site for this brand, Green Beaver. They have a line of gluten free products, such as gluten free shampoo and conditioner. I have not tried it, but she recommended it, so I do plan on trying it eventually.

The first shampoo I ended up trying was the Natural Shampoo from Original Sprout. I happened to see it at a small natural foods store, and it was clearly marked on the front as free of parabens, nanoparticles, lavender, tea tree, petroleum oils, musk, propylena, glycol, sulfates, gluten, soy, or dairy. It was a bit pricey (as most gluten free products are, unfortunately) but since I was the only one using it, it lasted me well over a month. I only had to use a small bit (and I have thick hair) and my hair was really clean (but not overly dry). It also had a very enjoyable, clean, subtle scent to it.

The next shampoo that I purchased was from Dessert Essence, who’s products are marked on the back as 100% vegan and wheat/gluten free (as well as biodegradable and cruelty free). I bought the coconut shampoo for normal to dry hair, because I love the smell of coconut. So far, this is a great product as well, and a bit less pricey than the former. I bought mine at Whole Foods, but I’ve seen it at Sprout’s and some grocery stores as well.

The conditioner that I bought, and was really pleased with was Beautiful Curls, leave-in conditioner. This conditioner if marked on the back as wheat, soy and gluten free, vegan, biodegradable, mineral oil free, and synthetic fragrance free. I was quite skeptical of a leave in conditioner, fearing a greasy or “gelled” look. The conditioner was actually great though, my hair didn’t look like I’d gelled it, or like I hadn’t washed it in weeks. This also detangled my ridiculous hair that dreads so easily, far better than most of the conditioners I’d tried before. Not to mention…it smells amazing. After this bottle runs out though, I plan on trying to Dessert Essence conditioner to compare.

From the very beginning of my search I also began looking for gluten free make up. After a lot of searching, I decided to go with Bare Minerals. I’m still not sure if this is the best or the most natural of products out there, but I went with it because I’d used it years before and really enjoyed it, and they have a list on their website of all their gluten free products. I started with this starter kit and so far I’ve been really pleased and my skin has cleared up. I still plan on doing research on the best make up however. Someday I’m also going to try some of these natural make up recipes from the blog “Wellness Mama” found here.

Last but not least, as mentioned at the beginning of this post, I just (accidently) switched to gluten free toothpaste. It is Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil Toothpaste. I have no idea if I’d previously used gluten containing toothpaste, but it does make sense, if it was used as a filler. I’d purchased this one because I’d been intending for a while to find a healthy toothpaste option. The Desert Essence toothpaste is also SLS and fluoride free, so that was the initial attraction. I’d also chosen this toothpaste because it contains tea tree and essential oils that work well for people with sensitive teeth, such as my husband, containing healing properties. So this switch was an advantage for both of us.

That’s all for now. I will update this post as I try new things and review them. This slow shift to healthier living in all aspects of my life has been an exciting process. It began in resentment at my food allergies, and has slowly shifted to a more holistic view of nutrition. What we take in affects our mood, health, appearance and attitude. We are made up of body, soul, mind, spirit and so on. It has been amazing to see the actual change in my own personal life in very tangible ways, through living a clean and natural lifestyle. It is well worth all the meticulous planning, research, and planning, in fact, I’m at a point now where I am passionate about nutrition, and enjoy the topic immensely, and I no longer think of it as the terrible and unfair burden that I saw it as at the beginning of it all.