Never in a bazillion years did I ever think I would be advising you to kick gluten. I used to think there were two camps of eaters: those who had celiac or a gluten intolerance and those who had no problem eating gluten. I always thought I was in the latter camp and so I ate gluten-loaded foods with reckless abandon. Which is why when I got the positive results of my celiac blood tests I nearly shat myself. That’s how clueless I was about the impact gluten had on my body.
But, here I am doing just that, advising you to kick gluten to the curb. For just one week. Why, pray tell, would I ever want to give up gluten, you ask? That’s what I used to ask, too, now I’m gonna tell you why…
I guess you could say I have what’s referred to as “Silent Celiac.” I don’t get violent episodes of vomiting if I eat gluten, I’m not bedridden for days. I do, however, have a whole host of other issues that are related to eating it, ones I never attributed to celiac and, for the most part, simply brushed off, like migraines, a sensitive stomach, fatigue, low energy, brain fog…literally things any normal 49-year-old mother of a very active 7-year-old daughter would feel. But I knew, deep down, something.just.wasn’t.right. (Okay, I still get dog tired, but c’mon, I had a kid at 42! I think I can cut myself some slack there, right?).
Since being on a strict gluten free diet I’ve been asked umpteen times and by as many people how I feel. GREAT!, I tell them. And then a funny thing happens. Nearly every one of them proceeds to tell me about the little (and not so little) ailments they suffer from and ask me, the Newbie Celiac, if they think it’s because of gluten. Honestly, I truly have no bloody idea, but what I do know is that eliminating it from your diet to see how you feel absolutely cannot hurt. In fact, I think it just may make you feel fabulously better, I tell them, but go to your doctor anyway and have them check out your aches, pains, and ailments, even if just for kicks and giggles. You’re probably totally fine. But, if you’ve been feeling even just a little crappy and it’s been going on for a long time, for the love of all things holy ask for both a celiac blood test and a wheat allergy test, it really can’t hurt (well, the needle may sting a bit but you’re a grownup, you can handle it). Just rule it out. And if your doctor balks at why you want the test, find a new doctor. It’s your health and well-being we’re talking here.
So, before Hanukkah and Christmas are upon us – which means platefuls of babka, sufganiyot, gingerbread, and your auntie’s fruit cake – take one week and go gluten free (or go balls out and do 2 or 3 weeks!). Consider it a holiday “pretox”! You’re priming your body for the glutinous gluttony ahead. You don’t have to go all cra-cra strict like me, just steer clear of the obvious things: bread, cereal, pasta, crackers, grains like farro, barley, and rye, and beer. You can still have wine and spirits, I’m not that mean.
Make note of how you feel. Is that IBS gone? Are you not as gassy or bloated? Have more pep in your step? Maybe a bit friskier in the boudoir? (Please don’t call me a harlot). Thinking more clearly? Are those headaches gone? Pooping less? Poops looking better? (Sorry, I had to ask. Just Google what healthy poop should look like). You might even drop some weight – bonus! So give yourself a week and see what happens.
I want you to feel as good as I do.
Peppermint Marshmallow Hot Chocolate Cookies
It’s easy peasy to make these scrumptious cookies gluten free! Simply use a cup-for-cup gluten free flour instead of all-purpose. I’ve made notes below. ~ Sheri
For The Cookies
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (or use a gluten free flour such as King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour)¾ cups cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup almond milk (or regular milk)
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 10 ounces mini-marshmallows (check the label to make sure there’s no gluten. Jet-Puffed are gluten free)
- 8 mini candy canes gently broken into small pieces (or use 4 large-sized candy canes)
For The Chocolate Ganache Drizzle
- 3/8 cup heavy whipping cream
- 5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels
Unwrap candy canes (if they are wrapped) and place them in a freezer-weight resealable bag. Using the flat side of a kitchen mallet or meat tenderizer, gently tap on the canes to break them into small pieces (do not over-do this or you will end up with only peppermint dust!). Separate the pieces from the dust, and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Use an electric mixer to cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add egg, milk, vanilla, and peppermint extract, then beat until well combined. Add the flour and other dry ingredients from the first bowl a little at a time, and mix on low speed until combined. Using a 2-tablespoon scoop, drop dough onto parchment-linked baking sheet. Arrange cookies evenly with plenty of room between them. Bake until they start to spread and become firm, 10 minutes. Remove from oven, place four mini-marshmallows in the center of each cookie, and bake another 2 minutes, or until the marshmallows begin to melt. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cookies are cooling, make the chocolate ganache drizzle: place semi-sweet chocolate chips in a heat-proof mixing bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until it is almost simmering, then pour it over the chocolate chips. Wait 3 minutes then whisk thoroughly and then allow the ganache to rest for about 5 minutes. Using a fork, carefully drizzle the chocolate ganache across each cookie, leaving some of the marshmallow exposed. Test the ganache on a side plate to make sure it is ready, and if it’s too thin, allow it to cool further before using. Top each cookie with the candy cane pieces and enjoy!
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