Healthier Holiday Baking

Healthier Holiday Baking

Baking is one of the best parts of the festive season. Those of us with food sensitivities or allergies still want the YUM-factor that baking has to offer, so here are some alternatives to popular recipes – and some tips for substituting wheat and refined sugar!

Snicker Snackers

Adapted from healthyimmunity.com

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/3 -1/2 cup honey (the solid or creamy kind)
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, sesame) OR Tahini (ground up sesame seeds)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened carob powder (or cocoa powder)
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ or oat bran
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut

To make:

  1. Place all ingredients into the food processor (seeds or nuts first, then add the other items one at a time).
  2. You may need to add a bit more nut butter, depending on the combination of ingredients that are chosen. The mixture will form a loose clump.
  3. Pinch off small amounts and form into balls. Roll in coconut, sesame seeds or carob powder.
  4. You can substitute any seeds and nuts for the ones above. Experiment. I find that I quite often need to add a bit more nut butter or honey to make it stick.
  5. Drop from teaspoon onto cookie sheet and bake at 325˚F for about 12 minutes.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free)

Gluten-free oat flour and oats may be purchased from creamhillestates.com.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 2-1/2 cups oat flour (spelt can be used if gluten isn’t an issue)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup raw brown sugar
  • ¾ cup raw sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (use dairy free chocolate chips if celiac)
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts

To make:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grind oats in a food processor or blender until fine. Combine the ground oats with the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  3. Cream together the butter, sugars, vanilla and lemon juice in another medium bowl with an electric mixer. Add the eggs and mix until smooth.
  4. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture and blend well. Add the chocolate chips and nuts to the dough and mix by hand until ingredients are well incorporated.
  5. Spoon rounded portions onto an ungreased cookie sheet. You don’t need to press the dough flat. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until cookies are light brown and soft in the middle. Store in a sealed container when cool to keep soft.
  6. If you don’t want the cookies to spread so much, put the dough in the refrigerator to chill completely first.

Spiced Nuts

from Beth Gorbet RHN, RNCP, at bitebybite.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp agave
  • 2 cups of nuts (I like almonds)

To make:

  1. Line a baking dish with foil and lightly oil.
  2. Heat the 2 tbsp oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the above spices or whichever combination suits you. Stir until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the agave and add the nuts. Work quickly to prevent sticking and burning, tossing until the colour turns amber and the nuts are coated.
  5. Transfer to baking dish and sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Cool. Store in an airtight container.

Maple Shortbread Cookies

from Shannon Goodwin Birch at holisticnutrition.ca

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ tsp vanilla

To make:

  1. Mix ingredients together and form ball of dough.
  2. Leave in fridge for a little while, then roll out gently on wax paper and cut into shapes.
  3. Bake at 350˚F (175˚C) for 10 minutes.

Wheat and sugar substitutions

Here's a simple all-purpose wheat-free flour mix: 

  • 2 Cups rice flour (brown rice flour)
  • 2/3 Cup potato starch
  • 1/3 Cup tapioca starch
  • 1-1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (easily found at The Bulk Barn or local health food store)

Sift it together at least 3 times. Substitute it cup for cup for all-purpose flour in cookies, quick bread and almost everything. It's a little heavy for cakes, though!

Find more options for wheat and gluten-free flour at Ellen's Kitchen and Wheat-Free.org.

And here's a guide to swapping out refined sugar for other options:

how to replace sugar with natural sweeteners guide
A Merry Minimalist Christmas

A Merry Minimalist Christmas

Shifting Gears: The Power of Mommy Brain

Shifting Gears: The Power of Mommy Brain