Growing up in Malaysia has given me the gift to find deliciousness and joy in the weird and wonderful ways of making dishes out of random roots and tubers—don't ask—but these are the handy tips and tricks passed down through generations when limited resources were available during colonization by first the Dutch and then the British followed closely by the World Wars. You definitely learn to enjoy the fine things in life when you get good at making desserts from lotus roots, and medicine from the dry parts of organisms that no one would have thought had any beneficial properties.

Ever since the diagnosis of a severe gut disease, I now realise how I have taken the sheer ability to consume simple foods for granted. Come exam time, I don't actually find comfort and solace in the generic Oreo. Desperate for something familiar during finals, I turned to the internet for salvation. That’s when I came across this recipe with an idea I loved, but ingredients I either didn't possess or that resulted in me being sick to the core. Being the resourceful person that I am, I started to experiment. I present to you the GF, EF, CF, DF, and NF sweet potato cookie. Basically it's free of everything... eat up. 

*GF = gluten free, EF = egg free, CF = coconut free, DF = dairy free, NF = nut free

chocolate, cookie, sweet, molasses, candy, pastry
Han Ooi

GF, EF, CF, DF, and NF Sweet Potato Cookies

  • Prep Time:1 hr
  • Cook Time:30 mins
  • Total Time:1 hr 30 mins
  • Servings:20
  • Medium


  • 1 C sweet potato puree
  • 1 1/2 C plantain flour
  • 1/2 C arrowroot powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey or sugar
  • 1 cup oil I suggest coconut oil- olive oil does not work!
  • 2 teaspoon gelatin
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • A pinch salt
wheat, cake, bread, flour, sweet, dough, pastry
Han Ooi
  • Step 1

    Boil one or two large sweet potatoes, depending on the size and how much it takes to make a cup. This usually takes around 30-45 minutes. Let them cool before peeling the skin and mashing well with a fork.

  • Step 2

    Preheat the oven to 160° Celsius.

  • Step 3

    Measure out the plantain flour, arrowroot powder, baking powder, gelatin, baking soda and salt. Mix them together in a separate bowl.

  • Step 4

    Mix half of the dry ingredients with the puree. It will get crumbly after a while.

  • Step 5

    Pour in half of the amount of oil and mix.

  • Step 6

    Mix the rest of the oil in until it is a doughy consistency (not too thick and not too watery, like it would stick to someones face should you decide to throw it at them).

  • Step 7

    Using your hands, form the dough into balls about 3-4 cm in diameter. In my experience, it's easier if you oil your palms a bit beforehand.

    Han Ooi
  • Step 8

    Line the cookie tray with baking parchment. Lay them on the tray and flatten them a tad.

  • Step 9

    Bake for 20-30 minutes until they are hard. Let them cool before serving.

When I found this recipe, it seriously answered a prayers—until I became so hooked I was pretty much eating them every day. Then it dawned on me that I could add a little something to the basic recipe for a bit of variation. Here are the additions I made.

For Savory Cookies

Fry some bacon, dice it, and mix together with a couple of medjool dates to add to the cookie dough.

For Gingersnap Cookies

Add 2-3 teaspoons of ginger powder with a sprinkle of cinnamon to the mix.

For Raisin Cookies

Like the name says, just add raisins.

chocolate, cookie, sweet
Han Ooi

For Jam Thumbprint Cookies

After shaping them into balls, flatten the middle part with a teaspoon to create an impression. Fill this with jam (I did mine with applesauce instead).

Being on a restrictive diet and having a chronic illness can leave even the strongest of us feeling crippled and less than human. It’s not easy, I know. The recipe, while it’s not a replacement for Oreos, remains my new best friend for now.