Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gluten Free Lower-Your-Cholesterol Cookies

My husband turned 40 this year and went in for his 10-year checkup with the doctor. Apparently men can get by without the "yearly" exam most of us women are privileged to have. Amazingly, he's pretty healthy, except one small glitch. He has high "bad" cholesterol. So he came home and told me his doctor told him to change his diet a little bit and he should be just fine. I kind of thought that 8 years ago when he told me he ate out for lunch with buddies from work every day at places like Astro Burger, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and Arby's. Duh.

Of course first we turned to the internet to find out what foods are low in cholesterol and if there are any that can actually lower cholesterol. We discovered that soluble fiber (oatmeal, raw fruit, vegetables, and beans) are good for lowering those numbers as well as fish, nuts, and olive oil. My mom's dietician actually told her that olive oil literally pushes the fat out of your arteries. You will probably be seeing quite a few recipes with olive oil coming soon. What does this have to do with a gluten free diet? Not a whole lot, I'm just using my soapbox to complain about having to throw another food issue into my meal planning. Gone are the days of cooking with sour cream (I've started using Fage plain greek yogurt instead) and hamburger. At least until the doctor says it's okay.I decided to pull out my new favorite bible, Ina Garten's Back to Basics cookbook and look for some ideas on cooking with some of these heart-healthy ingredients. I highly recommend it, not only for the recipes, but she has all kinds of tips sprinkled throughout the book about things like setting a table, flower arranging, and what kitchen tools you should have. Ina has a great sense of style and knows how to put flavors together for maximum effect. And the photography is fantastic. I've never seen roast chicken look so good. It's not a health food cookbook by any means, but she makes easy, simple recipes look so delicious that I always turn to it for inspiration. Ina has a recipe for Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies that intrigued me. I happen to love oatmeal cookies and I thought I could make a version of these that had little if any fat and also make them gluten free. If I had had egg beaters in my fridge I may have used those, but I haven't ever baked with them before and I didn't want to fail just in case they're not great for baking. I have issues.

Gluten Free Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from Ina Garten's Back to Basics cookbook

1 1/3 cups pecans
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups Grandpa's Kitchen or King Arthur Gluten Free flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
3 cups gluten free oats (Auguson Farms)
1 1/2 cups raisins, regular or golden

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans on a sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes until toasted. Cool, chop coarsely.
In electric mixer, beat applesauce, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat until combined. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla.
Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt into a bowl. Slowly add to the sugar mixture until well combined. Add oats, pecans, and raisins and mix till combined.
Using a mini-ice-cream-scoop (2T) drop mounds of dough onto sheet pans lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Flatten slightly with a damp hand. (Don't skip this step...the cookies will stay in their scooped shape if you don't.) Bake 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer to a baking rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container.Needless to say, as with all of my recipes, I ate more of these than Jeff did. He didn't say he didn't like them, I think he just forgot they were there for him. They were really good when they were fresh out of the oven, and they were also really good for breakfast. Yes, I did eat cookies for breakfast, but I figured they have so many healthy things in them that it wouldn't hurt! I think my cholesterol will be lower than his when he gets it checked next. What do you think?

Happy eating!

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