ASD Recovery Recipe: Holiday Cookies, or “Get Off the Freakin’ Goldfish Already”

Readers, are you sick to death of reading my goldfish creations? Are you bored of stories about GAPS almond-flour goldfish, or goldfish made with macadamias that are soaked, and dried, and pulverized?

I can imagine. I’m a tad sick of goldfish myself.

Here’s the thing: Martin will never get sick of goldfish. Like, never, ever. Our local supermarket has a Goldfish® holiday pop-up display right inside the front door. The kids at Martin’s school get Goldfish® as food rewards. The kids at our church share Goldfish® at coffee hour. One elementary-school parishioner has been spotted (by—you guessed it! —Martin) toting a giant carton of Goldfish® around the church gym, scooping out handfuls to cram into his mouth. It’s like my six-year-old is perpetually swimming in a sea of Goldfish® that only he can’t catch.

And so he fixates on goldfish crackers.

And so I spend whole afternoons in the kitchen, fulfilling his goldfish dreams.

Today brought an unintentional goldfish adventure. In a lovely little Facebook group called “Fun Food on a Special Diet,” someone posted a recipe for “holiday roll-out cookies” that turned out to be GAPS-compatible. With memories of mixing and refrigerating sugar-cookie dough from my Grandma Gennie’s recipe, then rolling it out, cutting, baking, decorating, I decided to attempt sugar(-like) Christmas cookies for Martin.

Here is the recipe I used:

½ cup ghee

1 egg

¼ cup raw honey

¾ cup coconut flour (more as necessary)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Combine the ghee and honey and beat until smooth. Beat in egg. Combine the coconut flour, baking soda, and lemon zest, then beat ¼ cup at a time into the batter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes. Or use my lazy method: Pop the dough into a Ziploc®, smooth out air, and seal the bag before refrigerating.

After 30 minutes or more, place the dough on a parchment paper dusted with more coconut flour, add another layer of parchment paper on top, and roll out to about 3/16” thickness. (The original recipe called for ¼”; I went thinner, though not as thin as 1/8”.) Use cookie cutters to create festive holiday shapes. If you want, brush the top with egg white to create a shine. Transfer to a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

I suppose you’re wondering how this turned into a goldfish adventure? I got too ambitious with my cookie cutters, that’s how. Instead of traditional shapes like the Christmas tree and snowman I had as a kid, I picked up a set that involve cutting a circle and then stamping a design into the circle with a separate disk. The GAPS dough did cut conveniently into circles that I could transfer to the cookie sheet. On the other hand, the circles were too sticky to release the molded disk, even when I dusted it with coconut flour. That left me with boring circle cookies. How Christmassy are boring circles? I suppose I could have decorated them as ornaments, but as far as decorating goes, I didn’t have many ideas beyond softening up some coconut manna and trying to color it naturally to create icing.

When in doubt, goldfish the recipe. (That’s correct. I made “goldfish” into a verb. Deal with it.) I whipped out my tiny, copper goldfish cookie cutter and went to town. Then I dredged each goldfish in egg white, which I had sitting on the counter because I’d just used the yolks for homemade mayonnaise so that I can devil some eggs for Christmas Day because my son’s autism has magically transformed me into Martha Stewart. Once the goldfish were shiny from their egg-white baths, I sprinkled them liberally with cinnamon and baked.

The result? Cinnamon holiday goldfish cookies. At least that’s the story I’m going with.

The bonus? These goldfish don’t contain nuts, so I’m allowed to send them to school with Martin for a snack.

Autism Recovery Martha parties onward.

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ASD Recovery Recipe: Goldfish Crackers, Even More Complicated

When you read my exciting recipe for goldfish crackers, did you think I was crazy? Did you think, “This blogger spent two hours to make a couple trays of goldfish crackers. I’m going to do that, too. That fits right into my life.”

Guess what? I made more goldfish crackers, and I made them even more complicated still.

Nuts are GAPS-legal, provided they start raw (you can brown them yourself). The best way to eat nuts GAPS-style is to soak/sprout the nuts and then low-temperature dehydrate them, for digestibility.

Last time I made goldfish crackers, I used store-bought almond flour. This time, I thought: I’ve got raw macadamias. I’ve got a sprouting jar. I’ve got a dehydrator. Let’s party.

I used the same recipe (doubled). Instead of using commercial almond flour, I soaked several cups of raw macadamias in Fiji water overnight.

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The next day, I drained and rinsed the nuts and transferred them to my dehydrator.

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They took forever to dry at 115 degrees. I had to leave them in the dehydrator more than 24 hours.

That brings us to day three. I removed the soaked and dried macadamias and started grinding them in my Vitamix . . .

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. . . which didn’t work out so well. The stuff at the bottom turned into pasty nut butter before I could pack down enough of the sides to become flour. After a quarter-hour of arguing with the Vitamix, I decided to finish the job with my trusted coffee/nut/seed grinder. I could grind only, like, ten nuts at a time, but the easier access to the blades and bowl made the job manageable.

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When the process was finished, I had about three cups of macadamia flour. It was still kind of creamy, and not powdery at all; if I hadn’t been using it immediately, I would have refrigerated the product and not kept it more than a week. In order to make a double recipe of goldfish, I needed four cups of flour, so I supplemented with Bob’s Red Mill natural almond meal, which is a good product but neither organic nor sprouted. (Hint, hint, Bob Moore.)

At last I was able to mix my goldfish dough. Then, sprinkling more almond meal to prevent sticking, I turned my counter into a goldfish factory again.

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This round, however, I did not bother making eyes and mouths on the goldfish. Etching those details with a wooden toothpick consumed so much time, and I’m pretty sure Martin, as he chewed goldfish by the handful, never noticed whether his crackers had faces.

Total prep time: two days, plus three hours grinding, mixing, rolling, and cutting.

Total time goldfish crackers lasted before Martin ate them all: one week.

Next time, if I need to supplement the flour that I make, I will try using Blue Mountain Organics sprouted almond butter instead (there are various sprouted nut butters available commercially; usually I select the one I find first), and maybe decreasing the olive oil to compensate for the oilier product. As healthy as the current batch is, I can always do better.

(Now might be when you revisit the final paragraphs of “My Beef With the GAPS Diet Author,” wherein I asserted that my mental health is strong . . . .)

ASD Recovery Recipe: Goldfish Crackers

Martin attends first grade now, in a self-contained special-education school for speech- and language-delayed pupils. The school, which is private, meets Martin’s needs in pretty much every way I can imagine. The curriculum is designed by speech pathologists; the student-teacher ratio is small enough that Martin, despite his attention trouble, has never needed a 1:1 aide to keep up; social skills are integrated into lessons, lunch, and recess; and the class comprises academic high-achievers.

If you put a gun to my head and told me to make a complaint about the school, I would say this: Martin’s teachers use “food reinforcers.” The first week of the term, we parents received a permission form, asking whether our child could eat popcorn, Goldfish® crackers, Skittles®, or M&M’s® as rewards for behavior and hard work. In Martin’s case, of course, the answer was no, no, no, and no. Instead I sent some go raw brand “chocolate super cookies” for the teachers to give Martin.

The go raw cookies have worked well, in terms of rewarding Martin in school. Nevertheless, Martin has become fixated on the treats his classmates receive, specifically, popcorn and Goldfish® crackers. Every day Martin asks me, repeatedly, “Mommy, does popcorn make my belly hurt? Can you make popcorn not make my belly hurt? Mommy, can I have Goldfish crackers? Can you make Goldfish crackers not make my belly hurt?”

Popcorn I can’t do anything about. Organic or otherwise, it’s not GAPS-legal.

Goldfish crackers? There, I’ve been thinking, I might have a shot. First, I went on-line and ordered a teeny-tiny goldfish-shaped copper cracker cutter. Not kidding. Then, I began searching for a recipe that was, or that I could make, GAPS-legal. This turned out to be much more challenging than procuring a teeny-tiny goldfish-shaped copper cracker cutter. Every GAPS recipe I found included cheese, which Martin cannot have. I struck out also when I Googled Paleo goldfish cracker recipes; by and large, they container butter, or arrowroot powder, or some other ingredient anathema to Martin. I found one recipe ridiculously labeled “gfcf/vegan” when the first ingredient was whole-wheat flour.

At long last, on the delighted momma blog, I found a recipe for “Flourless Cheez-It Crackers” that I could adapt. The ingredients, as listed in the recipe, are almond meal, nutritional yeast, egg, sea salt, coconut oil, and lemon juice. (I had to do a quick search of whether nutritional yeast is GAPS-legal, as I haven’t used it since putting Martin on full GAPS.) I substituted olive oil for the coconut oil, for taste reasons, and increased the nutritional yeast slightly and doubled the sea salt. Here was the recipe, as I prepared it (with 100% props to delighted momma):

  • 2 cups almond meal, which became slightly less when I sifted it for texture
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tsps nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of one fresh lemon

Combine sifted almond meal, nutritional yeast, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, oil, and lemon juice. Combine the two bowls and stir well by hand. Roll out the dough on a stainless-steel cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (I also dusted the parchment paper with more sifted almond meal, to make it easier to move the crackers once cut.) Cut the dough into shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until the crackers are dark and crispy.

The delighted momma blogger proclaims, “This was a breeze!” I have to guess that her experience was breezy because she did not take the teeny-tiny goldfish-shaped copper cracker cutter route; she rolled out the dough and cut it into squares. My experience involved rolling and re-rolling dough as I pressed the goldfish shape repeatedly, transferred each cracker on the parchment paper, and then used a toothpick to fashion a fisheye and smile.

Total time investment? More than two hours for two sheets of goldfish.

Worth it? When Martin arrived home from school and saw my second sheetful about the enter the oven, he asked, “What are you doing?” I could see from his face that he knew, full well, what I was doing. I showed him the goldfish that were already baked and offered him one, which he took and ate, as both of us melted with delight. Totally worth it.

Postscript: I can’t send the homemade goldfish to Martin’s school, because the school is nut-free. So if you put another gun to my head and told me to make another complaint about the school, I guess I might say, “I’d sure like to send nuts.”

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