Update: Rice-Free Flaxseed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Does the news about arsenic in rice have you reconsidering your rice consumption? I know it threw me for a loop.  As someone who eats gluten-free, I eat a lot of rice - rice pasta, rice as a side dish, and rice in my favorite baked goods. That's a lot of rice, and potentially a lot of arsenic.

I had already been considering the need for broadening my gluten-free grain horizons before the news about arsenic in rice came out, but this was the push I needed to really step back and reconsider what I'm eating.

Luckily, my English muffin recipe is already rice free - it has sorghum flour, teff flour, and potato starch. But my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe has a whole cupful of brown rice flour.

Like so many others, I have been using brown rice as a substitute for white rice because I thought it was healthier. But it turns out that brown rice actually tends to have more arsenic than white rice. 

So, I resolved to modify my chocolate chip cookie recipe. I'm not giving up rice forever, but I am trying to reserve my rice consumption for pasta and actual whole-grain rice. I've edited the original recipe to show the modifications, but to save you the trouble, I'm also publishing the rice-free version here.

I've simply replaced the rice with amaranth. Why amaranth? The easy answer is that I had some lying around but hadn't tried it yet. But there's a better reason.  It turns out amaranth is a nutritional powerhouse  - it is higher in protein than any other gluten-free grain (and even higher in protein than wheat), it's high in lysine, an important amino acid, it's high in calcium, magnesium, and fiber, and may even help lower cholesterol. 

These cookies are still absolutely delicious. They do spread out a bit more, and they need about a minute less in the oven. They're a little bit crispier, but in a chewy-delicious way.

Amaranth-Flaxseed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 3 1/2 - 4 dozen
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/2 c shortening
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 c amaranth flour (120 g)
  • 3/4 c potato starch (130 g)
  • 3/4 c sorghum flour (100 g)
  • 1/4 c flaxseed meal (25 g)
  • 1 T psyllium husks
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 10 oz chocolate chunks (I use these)

Beat butter, shortening, and sugars until thoroughly combined. Add eggs and vanilla, then mix until smooth. Add the remaining dry ingredients (except the chocolate chips), then mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for at least two hours, but preferably overnight. You can divide the dough into thirds, shape into logs, and cover with plastic wrap to have slice and bake cookies once they are chilled...or you could just cover the dough and stick it in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets.

Shape dough into 1 1/2  inch balls,then flatten slightly between your hands. Place at least three inches apart on baking sheets, and bake 10-11 minutes. Let cool at least a minute on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

I store these in the freezer or refrigerator; they do tend to get dry if left at room temperature more than three or four days.

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