This year, my extended family spent Christmas at my grandparents’ house. Christmas is always a hard time of year for my diet, because I want to eat all those wonderful gourmet foods that my mom has been preparing for years and years. But put me in a place where other family members are preparing the food and I’m a good four hour drive from the nearest ingredients that I might be able to use to make some good copycats and… I’m going to have problems.
One of my favorite Christmas cookies that Grandma makes has always been her anise cookies. As I was sitting there moping about not being able to eat that initial tray of gluteny cookies and chemical-and-sugar-laden chocolates, Mom suggested that I try I make something I could eat. At this point, it would be good to mention that this was the day after an 18-hour drive, and I was more than exhausted and not in a good mood. In other words, I was just trying to make everything harder on myself. But I took out my limited stash of ingredients that had arrived from Vitacost, and sat down to figure out what I could make.
A couple pounds of flour. Check. Chia seeds. Check. Gelatin. Check. Xylitol, coconut sugar, maple syrup. Check. We had some palm shortening, and of course basic things like baking powder and salt. Grandma had some extracts.
Oookay. Mom and I talked through making cookies. Apparently it’s a 4:2:1 ratio of flour, sugar, and fat typically. So I dove in and followed that.
As I looked through the various flavorings I had, I decided to do the anise cookies. Super simple and taste really good. Okay, I want them to look as pretty as real anise cookies. So I decided to use xylitol as my sweetener, since it wouldn’t add any ugly brown color to the cream-colored cookies.
They turned out delicious! They’re a little more dense than the typical anise cookies, but the flavor and texture was overall very nice. I was glad to add a little of our traditional Christmas to my limited menu for those days.
Note: Make sure that your 1-to-1 gluten free flour has xanthan gum in it. If not, you'll need to add 1/4 t. of xanthan gum.
INGREDIENTS Oven @ 350* F
1 c. 1-to-1 gluten free flour
1/4 c. xylitol
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 c. palm shortening
1/4+ c. water
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. anise extract
In a small bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, cream palm shortening and xylitol. Add anise extract. Mix dry ingredients into the wet, 1/3 c. at a time. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough feels similar to silly putty when you roll it.
Cover baking sheet in parchment paper and roll dough into pecan-sized balls. Place 1 1/2 in. apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until mostly firm to the touch. Let cool, or eat warm!
Around two years ago, I had the great idea of starting a food blog called Through Fire and Water. The inspiration for the name was twofold. Firstly, It was based on the passage in Isaiah 43:1-2, “But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” Secondly, I was obsessed at that time with baking artisan bread (fire), and have been a tea junkie (water) since the National Bible Bee in 2009, when I drank my first cup of Earl Grey (albeit from a tea bag).
Well, times have changed slightly since then. There’s a bit more of the fiery trials and less of the bread, and if anything, the amount of tea I consume has probably gone up a bit. I’ve acquired dozens of food allergies, including gluten, dairy, eggs, and beans, and those and many other symptoms seem to indicate that I have an autoimmune disease. At the same time, my trust in God has been strengthened, because through everything, even the days I feel like I am going to die or the days where I just don’t want to eat because I’m tired of trying to cook about a dozen foods in an interesting way, He always helps me bear it.
Since that first fateful day of allergy testing, though, I've begun to experiment with making things that I can eat - and not only the mundane stir-fries and soups, but also the things that I've loved for years and years, chocolate being the main component of many! Yes, I'm a bit of a chocolate fanatic (dark chocolate forever!), and I've already been able to make some pretty decent truffles, cakes, and candies. Not being able to eat cane sugar makes life difficult, though. Entrées, on the other hand, are hard to motivate myself to make. My dear friend Joo suggested starting this blog in order to help motivate me to get more creative, which means that this will hopefully be beneficial to all involved!
So this blog probably won’t contain much in the way of yummy, delicious, gluten-y bread or cheesy treats, but it will have recipes and ideas to help those of you who have restricted diets. It will have posts on the things that I’m learning that pertain to health, which will hopefully help anyone who comes along and reads this blog.
My hope is that my adventures in nutrition and health will be both a help and an inspiration to anyone who is suffering or knows someone who is suffering from health problems, physically, mentally, or spiritually.
I grew up eating my Mom's amazing gourmet cooking. And then something happened. Almost two years ago, I became very sick. After lots of testing, the types of food I could eat became very, very limited. My mission now is to try to make good, affordable, easy, allergy-friendly food! All of my recipes, therefore, will be gluten free, dairy free, bean free, egg free, and cane sugar free. Most of my recipes will be paleo, Whole30, and/or keto friendly.
I am not (yet!) a certified nutritionist of any sort. Anything I say about health or nutrition is simply from my own research, and I would advise you to research before taking any of my advice.