One of the greatest food allergy recipe challenges is getting proper nutrition while on a restricted diet. So I’m always looking for ways to sneak nutrient-dense ingredients into my allergen-free recipes.
Hemp seeds (also called “Hemp Hearts”) are a fantastically nutritious source of protein and Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids, which are often hard to get enough of when you can’t eat nuts or fish. These little seeds are not only nutritional powerhouses, they’re also seriously tasty, and great in baked goods in place of tree nuts and peanuts. Contrary to popular belief, they’re mild and “nutty”. They’re great in cookies, tossed in a salad, or sprinkled over your oatmeal. In fact, I’m beginning to think that their possibilities are endless.
When a reader, Homa, challenged me to come up with a recipe for “Allergen-Free Mexican Wedding Cookies” several weeks ago, I remembered I’d developed a recipe for them several years ago using sunflower seeds. But I wasn’t satisfied with the texture of those cookies, and the flavor wasn’t “buttery” enough.
So this week’s Food Allergy Recipe Challenge was for me to perfect that cookie, and make it good enough for any wedding, allergen-free or not. Thus, I turned to Hemp Seeds. The result? A perfect little sweet, full of “Hemp Heart”, to share with lots of love!
What nutrients do you find it hard to get enough of on an allergen-free and/or gluten-free diet? Leave me a comment, and I’ll try to devise a recipe to help you get more of it.
Hemp Seed Wedding Cookies
Makes about 40 one-and-a-half-inch cookies
These little gems are normally made with walnuts, pistachios, pecans or almonds. This tree nut-free version is made with hemp seeds, and is equally delicious and highly nutritious.
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 cup dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups Authentic Foods GF Classical Blend, or my Basic Gluten-Free Flour Mix
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup shelled hemp seeds* (Manitoba Harvest hemp seeds are allergen-free)
- Confectioner’s sugar, for rolling
1. In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, shortening and vanilla extract. Blend well.
2. In a separate bowl, measure out flour mix by spooning flour into a dry measuring cup, then leveling it off with a straightedge, or the back of a knife. (Do not scoop the flour directly with the measuring cup or you’ll wind up with too much flour for the recipe). Combine flour mix, xanthan gum and salt.
3. Stir flour mixture and hemp seeds into sugar mixture, stirring until dough holds together. Cover the bowl and chill about 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
5. Remove the dough from refrigerator. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, pressing together like you would with Play Dough. Place balls 1 inch apart on cookie sheets.
6. Bake cookies on center rack in oven for 18-20 minutes until set but not brown.
7. Cool for 10 minutes on cookie sheets. Gently remove cookies with a thin spatula (be careful, cookies are delicate) and roll them in confectioner’s sugar. Cool completely and re-roll in confectioner’s sugar.
TIP: If cookies aren’t eaten within a day, store them in the freezer. Layer them in single layers between parchment paper. Enjoy them at room temperature.
"Hemp Seed Wedding Cookies" © 2010 by Cybele Pascal
(Please note that all my recipes are completely free of all top allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, and gluten), so as many people as possible can enjoy them. Additionally, all the ingredients are available at Whole Foods, and online at Amazon.com. If you have trouble finding something, let me know and I’ll help you find it.)
SAFETY NOTE: Because each person's food sensitivity and reaction is unique, ranging from mild intolerance to life-threatening and severe food allergies, it is up to the consumer to monitor ingredients and manufacturing conditions. If manufacturing conditions, potential cross contact between foods, and ingredient derivatives pose a risk for you, please re-read all food labels and call the manufacturer to confirm potential allergen concerns beforeconsumption. Ingredients and manufacturing practices can change overnight and without warning.
Cybele Pascal is the award-winning author of "The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook" and the "Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook." She lives in Los Angeles with her food-allergic family: husband Adam, sons Lennon and Monte, and their dogs, Izzie and Carly (who also has food allergies). Please visit her website at CybelePascal.com.