I had a Facebook message the other day from my friend Jane, whom I met during our time living in Southern France. She needed a cookie recipe that is both gluten free and vegan to serve at an upcoming function. Her message stated: “Don’t forget that I live in France so easy ingredients to get hold of please!” While I hadn’t gone completely vegan while living in France, I did eat gluten free as I had been diagnosed with Celiac disease a year or so before moving across the pond. At first, it proved very challenging to avoid gluten while in France. I mean, on every corner stood a beautiful bakery or patisserie, with mouth-watering wares just begging to be gobbled up! Macaroons, croissants, baguettes, beautifully crafted round loaves – arranged provocatively in window displays – beckoning me to forget my glutinous “allergy.”
While I never found a boulangerie that baked a gluten free baguette, I did manage to find stores that carried many wonderful gluten free flours and I became quite adept at baking my own gluten free products. In fact, my brownies and focaccia became requested items for me to bring to shared dinners. However, during the first few months of living in France, I thought I might never again eat another piece of bread, cookie or pastry! When I went into boulangeries or stores to inquire, in my terribly broken French, if they might have some gluten free items, I was usually met with a frown, a shake of a head and a tsk tsk. I wasn’t sure if the frown and shaking head indicated their pity for my condition or disapproval of my terrible French. Whatever it meant, they would send me on my way without any gluten free products in my bag.
Nonetheless, after finding my bearings, I discovered several health food stores that carried the necessary items to make fantastic gluten free goodies. One French health-food storeowner began referring to me as the l’américain de beurre de cacahuète qui mange sans gluten (the peanut butter American who eats no gluten), as I always purchased all their peanut butter (they didn’t always have it in stock) and bought lots of gluten free flour! He would say it with a smirk and a slight shake of his head, as if not understanding why I would eat gluten free and how I could use so much peanut butter! But, his magasin bio always had the items I needed and I was grateful to have found his store – teasing and all!
Over the next few months, I’m going to be blogging more about our time in France. Life there presented wonderful opportunities, but it was also fraught with many challenges (beyond finding something to eat). However, I learned so much about my fortitude and myself. It was definitely an adventure of a lifetime. It moved me beyond my comfort zone in so many ways. It left me with a new perspective on life, friends from around the world and a greater ability to not sweat the small stuff. I am so grateful to have had that opportunity! Challenge Yourself. Keep Shining. Peace Out!
When Jane said “easy ingredients to get hold of,” I really knew what she meant. So I have come up with this gluten free, vegan cookie recipe with ingredients that Jane should easily find in France. I miss you guys in France!
Chocolate Chip Cookies for Friends Living in France
8 tbsp dairy free butter spread (I used a sunflower one from Carrefour)
¾ cup Rapidura sugar – it’s kind of like brown sugar. You can use a different sugar if you can’t find Rapidura. I would use ½ cup brown and ¼ cup white if you can’t find the Rapidura (found at health food store in Les Milles)
1 flax egg: (1 TBSP ground flax mixed with 3 TBSP water)
2 TBSP additional ground flax
2 TBSP vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1-cup gluten-free oat flour (just grind up gluten free oats, also found at health food store)
1-cup Almond Flour (you can find this at Carrefour or health food store)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 180 C. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix together the flax egg and set aside.
2. With an electric mixer or in a stand mixer, beat the sunflower spread until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat for 1-2 minutes until creamy. Beat in the flax egg and vanilla extract.
3. Beat in the remaining ingredients and fold in the chocolate chips.
4. Drop in small spoonfuls onto baking sheet. The dough will be very sticky but don’t worry! Bake for about 10-13 minutes until slightly golden along edges. Allow to cool for 5-10 mins. on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack for another 10 minutes.