The Midlife FoodieI love real, whole food, the stories about it, the people who produce it, the places it comes from and the way it brings people together. I am a food writer and educator (I also do copywriting on the side), I mother three millennials, I practice yoga and meditation, and, yes, cook a lot.
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Having taken the gluten-free vows, I’ve been left with a love for artisan cookies without the ability to eat them.
This time of the year, when cookies, pies, and fruitcakes abound, it’s not easy. Yes, there are gluten-free substitutes at the supermarket, but they are full of processed ingredients. Paleo treats still leave a lot to be desired when it comes to flavor and refinement.
But help is on the way. Husband and wife team, Alpana and Gautam Rana of Smart Snack Bites make paleo, vegan, and gluten-free cookies right here in Dayton. They use only real ingredients (almond flour, honey, dates, brown rice flour, you get the point), and the cookies melt in your mouth.
If that’s not enough, the cookies have that elusive quality only good bakers bestow upon their products. Master bakers like Alpana fuse passion with the rigor of a lab technician. Being extreme perfectionists, Alpana and Gautam use only the best ingredients they can find. The results are tantalizing and at the same time comforting.
Before starting Smart Snack Bites, Alpana worked in insurance and Gautam in finance. During the recession, they found themselves without jobs. So they began playing with the idea of selling Alpana's healthy food. "I thought it was a good idea to bring it to consumers who needed it," she says.
And in they jumped. They started at farmers markets, and now—as they have gained diehard fans who are willing to pay for superior quality—they are beginning to sell to stores.
When asked about their favorite cookie, Alpana and Gautam say pistachio in unison. It is so good, they say, that "we eat it right out of the oven." This cookie is green, which makes it perfect for Christmas. They also make paleo fruitcake and various cookies (such as lemon-almond shortbreads and ginger molasses). You can create a fine cookie platter to satisfy and delight everyone. And your paleo and gluten free guests won't feel left out.
To order cookies call 732-762-5071 or place or place an order online (and because everything is made fresh from scratch, give them a few days) .
You can also buy them off the shelf at Everything Natural, Too, in Monroe. http://www.everythingnaturaltoo.com/
And finally, here is a gluten free cookie recipe to try at home. "The secret to successful baking," Alpana says, "is to try over and over until you reach perfection. I spent a year and a half testing and retesting my recipes until I perfected them." It’s led to perfection that we can all enjoy.
Gluten-Free Cranberry Coconut Shortbread (With a Vegan Option)
Yield about 4 dozen cookies
6 ounces brown rice flour
3 ounces white rice flour
3 ounces tapioca flour
3 ounces potato flour
One tsp. baking powder
Two sticks butter (use vegan butter for the dairy-free version)
2 ounces finely shredded coconut
7 ounces confectioners sugar
6 grams dried cranberries, finely chopped
Start by mixing the first five ingredients (flours and baking powder) in a bowl. Keep aside.
In a separate bowl beat the butter and sugar together until well mixed. They should be slightly fluffy (about two minutes in the stand mixer).
Add the flours to the butter-sugar mix. Let the batter come together into a dough ball.
Now mix in the cranberries (you may have to use your hands).
Divide the dough into two portions and roll each into a round log or a rectangle (depending on the shape you like). Wrap each log in foil and refrigerate for about 15 mins: this will help you cut the logs very quickly.
Cut the logs into half-inch rounds and lay flat about 1 1/2 inches apart.on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 325°F in a preheated oven for about ten minutes, or just until the edges seem pink.
Cool on a baking rack for thirty minutes, as that helps the cookies crisp to perfection. Enjoy.
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