by Amy Loos
A year ago, five other women from my church’s Women’s Ministry team and I were sitting around my kitchen table doing what we women tend to do best: talk, laugh and eat. The subject of needing volunteers in children’s ministry came up in conversation. Our church was growing, and more help was needed in kids church. All the ladies at the table were happy to volunteer to lend a hand.
I felt awkward and uncomfortable. You see, I’d rather hang out with the kids who are 80+ years old. They make me laugh, have some of the best antics and simply amaze me with their life stories. Whereas, kids under the age of 20 who aren’t my own tend to make me uneasy, kind of like that feeling I got when I was in junior high with a bad perm, saddle shoes and braces.
No thank you. I lived it once and I wasn’t about to sign up for round two.
However, feeling out of place didn’t give me the right to turn my back on those in need. So, I found a place I could fit in. The kitchen.
The more our group talked, the more I realized that food is a game changer for kids just as it is for us adults. Think about it. Have you ever walked into a conference room where no one knew anyone? It’s like being in an elevator with a bunch of strangers. No one says a word.
But if you put out coffee, cookies and punch, it becomes a party. Suddenly people start opening up, talking about their families, favorite sports teams, dogs, gardens…you name it.
Kids are the same. In fact, I’ve seen an entire hockey team of boys act like they’ve never played together before, but when pizza hits the locker room, a whole lotta happiness hits and boys are giggling, blowing farts and chomping down pizza as if they’d hadn’t had a single morsel all day.
So, I raised my hand and said I’d make cookies for the kids in Sunday school. But before I could get too excited about being one of the team, one of the ministry leaders chimed in that all treats had to be gluten free.
What? What was that all about? What happened to good old Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies? I was seriously out of the loop. I had no clue about being gluten-free. No one I know had food restrictions, so this was going to be new to me.
Not one to back down from a challenge, I found a positively great website called Beaming Baker (www.beamingbaker.com) and the author offers all kinds of recipes for those with food restrictions including nut-free, dairy-free and of course gluten-free. The kids loved the treats I baked and so did the teachers who were always vying for the leftovers!
At the end of year, one of the Sunday school teachers shared with me just what a huge difference a couple of batches of treats made in the classroom. Cookies made everyone equal. No one was ever left out. Food has a way of removing barriers, like being new to the church, moving into a new age group and even something as simple as growing 4 inches in a month.
Being able to relate to one another over a treat can soften anxieties, build friendships, and create moments of laughter that might turn into lifetime friendships.
And since we’re discussing building friendships, please allow me to share one of my favorite gluten-free recipes. Beware, if your husband or adult children are around, you might want to double the recipe! Enjoy!
Baked Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes
- 2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour (I buy mine in the bulk section at the grocery store)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ginger
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your flour blend already contains it)
- 4 oz. applesauce (add a little more if the batter is too dry)
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- ½ cup whole milk
FOR THE SUGAR COATING:
- 1 stick of butter melted
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 24 count (or 12 count) mini-muffin tin with gluten-free cooking spray. Set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, spices, and xanthan gum in a large bowl. Add the oil, brown sugar, egg, pumpkin puree, and milk and whisk until smooth.
- Using a small scoop or tablespoon, fill holes in pan about ¾ full. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of one comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. You will probably need to bake 2-3 batches, depending on how big your pan is.
- Place sugar and cinnamon in a small paper bag. Dip the doughnut holes on all sides in the melted butter, then place in the bag, one dozen at a time. Seal bag and shake to coat with the sugar mixture. Serve immediately. These are best when eaten the same day.
About Amy: My mother has always said, “Amy, you don’t know a stranger” and it’s true. I have found most people will share their lives if only you take the time to ask. Getting to know someone new is a great way to share a part of your own life and to remind us both just how much God designed us for community and fellowship with one another. Join me at www.windowoffaith.com as I share what how I encounter God’s grace as I navigate life as a wife, mom and the responsibilities of being an adult child caught in the middle of 2 sets of aging parents.
Amy, this is great. I learned this lesson the hard way this summer, planning snacks for our children’s ministry without giving a thought to dietary restrictions. Let’s just say it was pretty uncomfortable for some of the kids – – and therefore, for me!
By the end of the week, we tweaked things and it worked at last, but I learned an important lesson about making allowances for differences.
Michelle, I completely agree. I naively thought when I raised my hand that making cookies was “no big deal’ until the Sunday school teachers told me that there were children who were inadvertently being excluded because they couldn’t eat the cookies I made. This broke my heart. So with a few tweaks in the recipe, voila! Everyone was happy and felt included. It’s amazing how food can make such a difference in our lives.
So glad Michelle to know that you and I learned the same lesson and it was easily fixed, yet the impact of feeling a part of a group, loved and acknowledged does wonders to our hearts!
Keep on baking and sharing the love of Christ, one snack at a time!
Blessings and best wishes,
Thanks for sharing your story and the recipe, Amy.
I poo-pooed the gluten free crowd at first, thinking it was a trendy thing, and then suffered my own inflammatory disorder that required a radical change in diet. I’m thankful to have recovered after a few months of treatment and have been able to add many ingredients back to my diet, but the lasting effect was that now I get it. I know to ask about special needs, and I know how to find recipes for them.
It’s so rewarding to bless those with dietary restrictions with something yummy!
I completely agree, Rondi. When I started baking gluten free goodies for the kids, of course I made my husband, lover of all baked goodies, be my test dummy. What we both soon realized is that our tummies enjoyed gluten free products better. Not that either of us had food allergies but it was a nice surprise to find a new way to bake and realize the health benefits too.
In case you’re interested one of my favorite websites for all things “free” when it comes to baking is truly the one mentioned in the article http://www.beamingbaker.com – awesome recipes and a great read also!
Best wishes for a continued healthy recovery.
I’m so pleased to know you are on the road to recovery. The power of food to heal or destroy our health is mind-blowing, not too mention what it feels like when, because of diet restrictions we end up being excluded. It’s a horrible feeling.
Thankfully, now with a few minor changes, all can come to the table and enjoy a sweet treat and build even sweeter friendships.
Blessings and best wishes,
I LOVE to bake. My daughter-in-law loved to eat what I baked. Then, she discovered she had celiac disease (runs in her family). Now, I am also learning to bake GF. And I’m so grateful for ministries that provide GF options. Thank you for experimenting with GF baking to bless others!
Peggi, after I talked with the children’s Sunday school teachers about what a simple cookie could do to bring children together. Sitting at a table, learning about Jesus and feeling as everyone was included and no one was left out, made such a HUGE difference with the children. I mean let’s face it, if everyone can have a cookie except a child who has food allergies and the’re only option is to have a piece of fruit or veggie, it really does change the dynamic.
Now, with a few simple changes everyone gets to have a cookie!
I hope you’re enjoying your foray into gluten free cooking, I know the benefits have been passed onto my own family. In fact, the first time I made these pumpkin donut holes, my college-aged body-building sons ate 3 dozen in less than 10 minutes! I’m so glad this recipe can be double or quadrupled!!
Blessings and best wishes!