Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gluten-Free, Nut-Free Toddler Snack Cookies

I received an email last weekend from someone who has our book and also has a toddler about the same age as our twin boys (who are 15 months now). She was asking about snacks to take on outings and play dates. I replied to her and mentioned the obvious for us: green smoothies, nori, rice cakes, fresh fruit.

The other morning I was baking my Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from my Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook to snap the needed photo for a guest blog post I was writing. You can view The W.H.O.L.E. Gang blog to see that post and my recipe. Diane has a wonderful gluten-free blog that I encourage you to check out. W.H.O.L.E. = whole healthy organic living everyday! Quite catchy and creative!

The boys were helping me by sniffing ingredients, tasting little pieces of medjool dates, emptying the baking drawer, practicing with the wire whisk, etc.

After I put the cookies in the oven to bake, I realized they couldn't eat them because the cookies contain chocolate. This is not a food that I would like to introduce quite yet, we'll give that one a few years! Feeling particularly inspired, I whipped up a batch of cookies perfectly designed for a toddler, though mommies and daddies might like them too! They came out perfect the first time!

Gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, nut-free, sugar-free!

But certainly not taste-free! My boys loved the cookies! They had a perfect texture, not too hard nor too soft, perfect for little hands and mouths.

If you would like substitute ground nuts for the sunflower seeds I am sure that would work just fine. I would suggest almonds, cashews, or hazelnuts. Of course you could add mini-chocolate chips in place of the raisins if desired.

Happy Baking!

Sunflower Cookies

1 cup raw sunflower seeds, finely ground (equals about 1 1/4 cups ground)
1 cup brown rice flour or sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder (I used our corn-free baking powder)
1/2 teaspoon guar gum or xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup grapeseed oil or melted coconut oil
1/3 cup grade B maple syrup
2 tablespoons applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grind the seeds in a food processor, coffee grinder, or the dry container of the Vita-Mix (which is what I use). Place them into a large bowl with the flours, cinnamon, baking powder, guar gum, and salt. Whisk together well.

In a separate bowl or liquid glass measure whisk together the wet ingredients (oil, syrup, applesauce, and vanilla).

Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Add the chopped raisins. Whisk together. Then continue to mix with a wooden spoon until the dough thickens, another 60 seconds or so.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place onto a greased cookie sheet. Gently flatten each ball with the bottom of an oiled glass.

Bake for about 15 minutes. The cookies won't brown on top but will on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack.


About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Oh boy! I was going to make some of your chocolate chip cookies today for me and now I think I'll make some for Dahlia too! She is definitely starting to notice things like cookies and other sweet treats that other children have. Thanks so much for all your insight and advice about food and cooking. We are having a delightful time with food these days.

  2. Can I use agave syrup in place of the maple syrup or will this recipe only work using the maple syrup?

  3. Wow, those sound and look great! Love the little bit of your son (or sons) in the photo. (Not sure if they both got in on the act. LOL) "Everything free" is terrific. I'd definitely try our honey with this recipe.

    Thanks for getting creative!

  4. Forget the toddlers. These could also be called "Gluten-Free, Nut-Free Late 20 something cookies". Perfect!

  5. Jennifer L. - Well, thanks to you for the inspiration, hope you all enjoyed the treats.

    Rose - Yes I believe agave nectar would work, they may brown a bit more because of agave's high fructose content.

    Shirley - Mmm, some of your honey would be good in these. The photos are of just one boy, my other one was moving too fast to get a photo that worked.

    meghantelpnerblog - Yeah, I think with a little modifications these would be a hit with just about any crowd (using nuts instead of the seeds and adding some chocolate).

    Thanks for your comments, -Ali :)

  6. Yum!! I think they sound great!
    Would replacing the 1 cup rice flour with teff work? That's all I have on hand right now but I wonder if it would totally change the flavor?
    Also, do you have a trustworthy online source for purchasing these kinds of ingredients or do you get them from your co-op?
    I need to purchase tapioca flour as well.
    Yum Yum. These sound good.

    Thanks :)

  7. My 3 year old will love this! I saw your blog on the W.H.O.L.E Gang and am excited to order your cookbook!
    Thank you for sharing!

  8. I don't bake much but these look great. What a clever idea to add all of those sunflower seeds to keep a cookie nutritious. These would be a great snack to take along with us on a long day skiing. Thanks.

  9. Oh sooo sweet! I love to see the little glimpses of your family.


  10. CoconutGal - I am not sure how teff flour would work, it may be a bit gritty. I would be interested to hear your results if you did end up making them that way. Bob's Red Mill is a good company to buy from. You should be able to find those flours at most health food stores.

    Fettya - Glad you stopped by and thanks for your comment!

    David D. - Thanks, hope you had a fun skiing trip!

    Abbe - Thanks for your comment!

  11. Really, like Meghan said, forget the toddlers :-). These are super yummy cookies. Ours turned out perfectly and were well received at a birthday party we attended. We also made the chocolate chip cookies a week or two ago for a spring celebration and those too were well liked.

  12. Ali,
    I tagged you for "7 Things You May Not Know About Me."
    No pressure, but fun if you want to!

  13. These look fantastic and use all foods that we can eat, hurray!!
    Thank you for sharing this.....
    I am going to make them tonight!

  14. I just made these and they are really good! I can't wait for my 2 1/2 year old to try them! Thanks for the recipe, Ali! And your entire cookbook is awesome!

  15. If you are allergic to everything under the sun like me AND want to avoid refined sugars, make these cookies! They are awesome!!
    I think we make them about 2 x/week now, we change it up a bit by adding mini choc. chips sometimes or currants, maybe some lemon zest. Thanks for sharing this recipe, I just can't wait for your next book!!!!

  16. I'm looking at all of your cookie recipes but I can't continue reading because my stomach has woken up and is growling like crazy looking at all of these wonderful recipes and pictures. I can't wait to try some of these!

    Look for the link to your blog on mine!

  17. Hi Ali,
    These look wonderful! My 2 yr old son is allergic to all nuts and all seeds, so we can't do sunflower seeds. Any suggestions on a substitute so that I can make these for him? He's desperate for a cookie he can have (he's allergic to the big 8, and gluten, and apples, corn, and a few other fruits and veggies). I can sub some sweet potato puree for the applesauce, but I'm stumped on the sunflower seeds. Any help would be wonderful! Thanks!

  18. Thanks for your comments everyone, I see that there are quite a few I have not responded to.

    Erin - I don't know what you could sub in here for the seeds, sorry. You could try the vegan, date-sweetened cookie recipe I posted last week:

    Hope this one works out for you. -Ali :)

  19. We made these today exactly as you direct in your recipe except for the addition of the Enjoy Life little chocolate chips and they are such a hit with my kids. My youngest son can't do nuts, wheat, dairy, or eggs. Thanks so much for all you do and the yummy treats you share! Bj

  20. Hi Ali. My husband received your cookbook from your father (work connection) and we have been loving your recipes ever since. Last night I wanted to whip up a toddler friendly, healthy, allergen-free cookie to take to a get-together today and found this recipe. Again, you nailed it. The cookies were an amazing hit with all of the toddlers (and many of us Moms as well). Thanks for another great recipe!

  21. What can I replace the tapioca and xanthum with? We are allergic to those. Can use chia seeds and or arrowroot flour?

  22. Bj - Thanks for the comment, glad you enjoyed them!

    Cassandra - Small world! :) So glad to hear you enjoyed these little treats!

    Anon - I am sure arrowroot would work to replace the tapioca. I usually use guar gum instead of xanthan in this recipe, can you do that? I am not sure about chia seeds, though if you try them out I'd love to hear how they turn out. Good luck! :)

  23. I made these last night to give to the toddlers in my playgroup for v-day...they are wonderful! Now I just have to hold myself back from eating them before I package them up! Many thanks for this recipe!

  24. These look absolutely wonderful! I can't wait to try them. We have been trying and LOVING your blog recipes for a couple of weeks now and we can't wait to receive your book. Thank you for sharing, you are a fabulous chef.

    I would love more ideas for healthy toddler snacks, my daughter is 7 months now and the snack challenge is right around the corner.

  25. I just made a batch of these cookies substituting pumpkin seeds for the sunflower seeds and agave for the maple syrup and they are delicious! Thanks for the great recipe!

  26. Your site is my savior. I work fulltime out of the home and I have 2 kids. One who is soy allergic and one who is dairy and wheat intolerant. Your recipes always work out the way you say. They allow me to bake/cook one thing for both kids that tastes great. It also saves me money as I don't have to buy prepackaged snacks and time since I don't have to experiment. Thanks again for having the exact recipe I was looking for.

  27. I just made these cookies for my little ones today and they were great! I even substituted pumpkin seeds for the sunflower seeds since these were the only seeds I had soaked, dehydrated, and ready to go. I didn't even put raisins or chocolate chips in and I couldn't stop "tasting" them! Thanks so much for a healthy treat for my little ones.

  28. I made the toddler cookies for my dairy and wheat intolerant 16 month old son and he loved them!!! Thank you!

  29. I made these for an adult person who is allergic to eggs, nuts and coconut (and may have dairy and wheat sensitivities). Because of her allergies, I used sunflower seed oil instead of coconut oil and used honey instead of maple syrup because that's what I had on hand. She really enjoyed them!!

    Now I am making them again (and again, for adults...but none with allergies that I know of), this time making half with chocolate chips and half with raisins.

    I love your site!! Thanks so much for your wonderful recipes. :)

  30. These cookies were awesome!!!! Great recipe! I'm not a huge fan of the taste of sunflower seeds, so I wasn't sure how it would be in a cookie.... but I loved it! The seedy taste was perfect. I made these just for myself, and, since they aren't so sweet, I could eat them for breakfast, too, as a nice change in routine. I always appreciate how your recipes always taste so good and still stay so healthy.

  31. I have been on the hunt for the perfect everything free cookie and....These are scrumtious!! I added some enjoy life mini chocolate chips and dried tart cherries. My whole family is gobbling them up!!

  32. I've been reading your site for a while now, and just started making a few of your recipes (pumpkin pancakes, these cookies), and I LOVE them so far! I especially love the yeasted teff bread… delicious! Thanks so much for such a great site!

  33. What a great recipe! We recently made these for a looooong car trip, and they kept the whole family happy. I made some changes and the results were great. I used honey rather than maple syrup, melted palm shortening rather than coconut oil, and left out the X gum. I added about an extra tablespoon or so of applesauce, just because. These are my new favorite. Though beware, the dough is awfully good raw :)

  34. I made these cookies yesterday for this week's school lunches ad they are delicious! I subbed chopped organic Turkish apricots b/c I have raisin issues and left out the gums. I'll definitely be making them again!
    I made some 1" and some 1/2" balls and got well over 2 dozen - yay! (The little ones fit better into her lunch box.)


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Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)