I’ve been waiting to make oatmeal cookies for a while now. I use a Washington Post recipe that I found online a few years back. I’ve adapted the directions to meet my needs for gfe and added a few ingredients from time to time. Finally, my certified gluten-free oats arrived! (I buy my Gifts of Nature certified gluten-free rolled oats through the large Gluten Intolerance Group I belong to. The large group order means a discount price with free shipping.) Let’s talk about certified gluten-free oats, and what that means exactly, for a moment.
You’ll see lots of discussions on oats and their safety for those on a gluten-free diet on the web, with, of course, some wonderful recipes. In fact, Ellen, of I Am Gluten Free, recently had a great post (including a video) on making gluten-free granola. She talked about using gluten-free oats and the discussion continued in her comments section.
Here are the facts as I see them. There are six companies whose oats are certified gluten free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). (In gathering data for this post, I found two more that I didn’t know about.) They are Gifts of Nature, Only Oats, Gluten-Free Oats, Cream Hill Estates, Montana Gluten-Free Processors, and Montana Monster Munchies (Legacy Valley Oats). The GFCO, which is a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group, has rigorous testing and standards, certifying to less than 10 ppm gluten. You can read more here in their FAQs. You might be wondering about the 10 ppm requirement. Isn’t that less than 20 ppm, the accepted level? you might ask. Well, less than 20 ppm is the level that the FDA has talked about establishing as the threshold for a “gluten-free” label, but this requirement has not actually been established. In fact, the FDA announced a few months ago that they are gathering more data through a survey before making this decision. You can read more about the basis for their additional fact gathering in a post by Amy Ratner at the Gluten-Free Living blog, if you are interested. It’s the best write-up I’ve seen about what seems to be going on regarding establishing the definition of “gluten free” at the moment.
I am extremely sensitive to gluten. The mainstream cereal and baking mix products that have recently entered the market as gluten free have made me sick. Repeatedly. I do not plan to try them again. Apparently, less than 20 ppm is not a safe level for me. (I’ve heard the same reported by many others on blogs and forums. Some who are eating these products, with no noticeable issues, have stated that folks may be reacting to preservatives versus in these products. However, I don’t see how a dermatitis herpetiformis reaction—that many have experienced—can be tied to a preservative. However, that’s a discussion worthy of another post.) Therefore, personally, the very few gluten-free specialty products that I do consume will contain less than 10 ppm of gluten; i.e, those certified by the GFCO.
If you eat gluten free, but have continued to eat mainstream oats like Quaker or McCann’s and say “they don’t bother me,” please seriously consider the following.
Tricia Thompson, MS RD (who is also known as The Gluten-Free Dietitian), did a study on the amount of gluten in oats in 2004. Not only have the results of Tricia’s study been widely reported on numerous sites and in Gluten-Free Living magazine, but she spoke to my support group last year about a safe, healthy gluten-free diet. Therefore, we had an opportunity to hear her speak on her study at length. Specifically, her study, which was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, showed high amounts of gluten in Quaker, McCann’s, and Country Choice oats. Sure, there were some samples that contained less than 20 ppm, but, and this is a big BUT, others contained varying levels from 23 ppm to 1807 ppm. If you continue to eat these mainstream oats, one might say that you are playing the oats version of Russian Roulette with your health. Remember … not all reactions and symptoms of gluten exposure and damage are readily apparent. In fact, there was a Q & A in this month’s issue of Gluten-Free Living that applies directly here. The reader inquired about the impact of cheating occasionally. Ivor Hill, MD, responded as follows:
“Continued or repeated cheating on the diet will lead to progressive damage, and we know that in some cases, this can be fairly extensive for some years before clinical signs develop.”
Whatever the threshold that you have decided not to surpass in your own gluten-free eating, less than 10 ppm or less than 20 ppm, anything over that amount would be cheating. So, again please consider Tricia Thompson’s study and Dr. Hill’s warning. You don’t want the first sign of a problem with mainstream oats to be the development of a much more serious condition (caused by continued gluten ingestion) a few years down the road.
To further confuse things, not everyone who eats gluten free can tolerate even GFCO-certified gluten-free oats. While studies have shown that certified gluten-free oats are largely safe for those with celiac disease, a small percentage of those with celiac cannot tolerate the gluten-free oats. These issues almost certainly extend to those who have non-celiac gluten issues as well, but apparently no studies on the effects of gluten-free oats on these individuals have been conducted. In our support group, there are a handful of us (myself included) that either cannot eat gluten-free oats at all or can only tolerate small amounts from time to time. For me, that means a few cookies occasionally. I cannot eat oats on a daily basis, even the 1/4- to 3/4-cup that is often considered safe for adults who have been gluten free for some time, and introduced gradually. Gluten-Free Living has a comprehensive article, All About Oats, in this month’s issue if you’d like to read more.
Okay, let’s get to the fun part—the cookies! I was on Twitter the other night and I decided to get some baking input from my friends there. Here’s an excerpt of the conversation (reprinted with permission from the participants):
@Shirleygfe–My #gfree oats are in. Making flourless oatmeal cookies. Plain? With raisins? or with chocolate chips? What’s your vote?
@jenniferGFinGA–I vote for plain; I don’t care for added stuff in my cookies; mucks up the process
@celiacteen–Everything. Whatever strikes your fancy. I just open my cupboards and hope for the best!
@pilateschik–I prefer oatmeal raisin!! Please & thank you!
@PoeticDreams–why not both, Raisins & Chocolate Chips?
@cook4seasons–How ’bout dried cranberries? btw – is there any texture/flavor difference with #GF oats? (Shirley’s Note: Certified gluten-free oats are grown in dedicated fields and processed on dedicated equipment. Both are constantly inspected and tested to ensure no gluten. Otherwise, these are oats like any other oats, so there are not taste differences between gluten-free rolled oats and mainstream rolled oats.)
@celiacteen–What about all of those together? I would eat it =D
@ErinElberson–I think I have eaten them all together…without waiting to cook!
@Shirleygfe to @celiacteen–Hey that sounds like a cookie version of ur date truffles … sort of. The everything cookie … similar 2 the everything bagel.
@celiacteen–Didn’t think of that, but I like it. I really like it =D.
Finally, Amy weighed in.
@Amys_SSGF–I think you should bring those cookies to my house.
The girl knows how to get to the point, doesn’t she?
In the end, I went with Jennifer’s advice—plain–—for several reasons. First, I discovered that I didn’t have any mini-chocolate chips on hand after all. Second, Mr. GFE is not particularly fond of cranberries. Third, my package of raisins yielded raisins that were too dried up, even though it had not been opened previously. (The package of raisins from which I give our pet chinchilla his daily treat yielded much juicier raisins. However, too many little “feeding” hands had been in that package of late for me to feel comfortable using any of them for my own consumption. I should have just soaked my “new” raisins a bit, but I didn’t think of that until later.)
These cookies are so easy to make and, of course, are gfe worthy because they are also flourless. The middles are delightfully chewy, but the outer edges and bottoms are caramelized and, therefore, crispier. Note that the cookie batter must be chilled for about 30 minutes. That’s not a big deal if you know that ahead of time. I took the opportunity to get a fire going in the wood stove and catch up with my good friend, Rodney Yee. Rodney promises a “smooth transition from sleep to activity.” He and his A.M. Yoga routine always deliver.
By the way, if you’re finding flourless and crustless baking to be your thing, please check out the many flourless recipes here on gfe, like Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies (even a variation with Nutella), Coconut Meringues, flourless chocolate cakes (the classic, 3-minute wonders, chocolate banana honey walnut, double-chocolate Clementine), and even Flourless Pizza. Looking for more ideas? My friend, Chaya, of Chaya’s Comfy Cook Blog, is posting a whole month of flourless recipes. Chaya is a cooking and baking fanatic … and I mean that in the very best way! She posted a flourless cashew butter cookies recipe not too long ago that I really want to try soon.
Flourless Chewy Oatmeal Cookies
(Click here for a print version of this recipe.)
1/3 cup unsalted butter (I believe coconut oil will work, but I haven’t tried it yet)
1 1/2 cups certified gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips; finely chopped raisins; finely chopped dried cranberries; 2/3 cup finely chopped nuts; or, combination of all these ingredients that equals no more than 2/3 cup total (optional)
Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly. Place oats in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in both sugars and the salt and blend to break up any lumps.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the melted butter, vanilla extract, and egg. Stir this egg mixture into the oat mixture and add chocolate chips or raisins (if used), mixing with your hands or a large wooden spoon to work in the ingredients. Form into a large ball of dough.
Chill the dough about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Meanwhile, prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.
Chilled dough will still be somewhat soft. Form the dough into 1-inch balls (or lumps; don’t stress) and place on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball down very slightly.
Bake for 10 to 13 minutes or until the edges are nicely browned (but not too brown; mine actually are too brown in these photos) and the tops of the cookies are medium golden in color.
Cool well on the baking sheet (about 10 minutes) before attempting to remove, using a spatula. (I placed mine on my cold screened porch for 10 minutes as they were already sufficiently cooked and I didn’t want them to bake any further on the cookie sheet.)
Recipe makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies.
Shirley’s Notes: If you add any of the optional ingredients, it’s very important that the pieces be finely chopped or already small, like mini chocolate chips (which, of course, also melt and hold things together). These cookies come out pretty flat and the dough is not substantial enough to include whole raisins, whole dried cranberries, etc. The original recipe states that the dough can also be brought to room temperature and flattened more when placed on the baking sheet to make a large, crisp and lace-like cookie. I haven’t tried this method yet, but you do get the lace-cookie look and taste from the edges of the cookies made as shown above. I love lace cookies though, so I do plan to try that version, too. Last, if you are not eating gluten free, you can use any brand of rolled oats.
Adapted from The Washington Post
What else is happening?
Kim Bouldin at Gluten Free is Life is doing an iHerb giveaway. Be quick; it ends today as well—Wednesday, January 27, at midnight! Kim is a new writer for Celiac-Disease.com. Congrats, Kim! She still writes for The Examiner, as well. She’s running these days for sure, but not just for her gluten-free pursuits. She’s training for a marathon. Do any of us who blog gluten free just mope around? I don’t think so. LOL Kim—You go, girl!
By the way, I won the iHerb giveaway that Amy held this past week at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free and am tickled pink that I’ll get to do some free shopping for products that fit the gfe approach. Thanks to Amy and iHerb! This post is linked to Amy’s weekly roundup, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. Amy is super busy these days … she’s going to culinary school! Woohoo, Amy! She’ll be teaching us more than ever folks.
Speaking of The Examiner, Heather Collins of life, gluten free is also now one of their writers. She is the Boulder Natural Health Examiner. You can check out her first article here. Congratulations on the new gig, Heather. We’ll be looking forward to your articles!
This post is linked to Linda’s weekly Wednesday roundup, What Can I Eat That’s Gluten Free? Next week, the theme will be casseroles. Be sure to note that on your calendar and join in or gather some great new gluten-free casserole recipes.
Tomorrow, Thursday, January 28, is the last day to enter The Gluten-Free Lifestyle blog carnival originated by Kim Hopkins (The Food Allergy Coach). I’m hosting this month. You can submit your entry here. You don’t have to include a new post; an old one that fits the definition of “tips, recipes, health information, and support for people adjusting to life with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or gluten sensitivity.” will work just fine. Just update your post to include a link to the carnival once it’s up (around February 1).
Tomorrow (Thursday, January 28) is also the final day to enter the Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free (GAHIGF) carnival. You know how fond I am of that fun, monthly event, started by one of my favorites, Naomi (Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried). Laura at Mouthgasmic is this month’s host. Her theme is Stews from Around the World. Many of us have been in stew and soup mode that last month (as demonstrated in the Gluten-Free Progressive Dinner Party held last week), so I’m sure we can find a post that works for GAHIGF. Again, if you use an older post, please remember to update your post to include a link to the carnival. You can submit your entry per Laura’s guidelines shown here. Snow is in our forecast, so I actually have more stews and soups planned for this week … maybe one of each!
Friday is Diane’s Friday Foodie Fix (FFF) over at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang. The “secret” ingredient is beans. If you have a stew that calls for beans, perhaps you can link it up to both GAHIGF and the FFF. For the trifecta, submit your entry to The Gluten-Free Lifestyle carnival, too. Back to the beans, I think this FFF might get as many entries as the previous one featuring chocolate, and of course, there are always cacao beans. I wonder if Diane thought of that!
Next Friday, is Flipping Fast Fridays over at Chelsey’s—The Crazy Kitchen. This event is always held the first Friday of each month. Your entry should be for a recipe that can be made in 30 minutes or less. We all need those types of recipes, right? Incidentally, Chelsey very graciously featured me on her blog this week. If you want to read more about me and the gfe approach, please check it out here.
Please support your wonderful fellow bloggers and readers by sharing great recipes and info via these carnivals/roundups; it’s easy enough to do. Now, once you’re caught up with those events, you’ll want to bake these Flourless Oatmeal Cookies. Okay, maybe you’ll want to make the cookies and enjoy them while you catch up. I had two of these great cookies and some raw almonds as my breakfast. Hey, spread some peanut butter between two and you’ll have your own gluten-free version of the Girl Scout Do-Si-Do cookie—just soooo much better.
Mr. GFE was so happy to see these cookies in the snowman tin when he got home yesterday. Please report back on any variations you make. I’m definitely going to be making that Everything version soon … and the lace cookie version … and one with coconut oil and honey, and another with …
Not just gf, but gfe!
This post is linked to Calling All Cookies.
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