By Hyacynth Worth
Last Thanksgiving was our first holiday catering to special diets, and you’d have thought come Christmastime we were abandoning something integral to the holiday — like Christmas trees — instead of simply gluten.
Everything delicious and edible food seemed to brimming with delectable glutenous particles, and those of us on the restricted diet felt a little, erm, restricted.
Luckily, we’ve learned a few things about gluten-free foods and baking, the first being that just because it’s gluten free doesn’t mean it’s healthy and the second being that just because it’s gluten free doesn’t mean it can’t be absolutely drool-worthy.
Here’s a list of our favorite gluten-free treat recipes that will surely be a crowd pleaser and maybe even fooler to those who unknowingly partake without realizing the lack of gluten. Oh, and they are also relatively healthy, made with whole-food ingredients, good fats and quality nutrients. (Each of these recipes can be made dairy-free, too, with the simple switch of coconut oil from butter and a coconut or nut-based milk from cow’s milk.)
Peanut Butter Cocoa Oatmeal Cookies
Made with heaping cups of peanut butter and a bit of cocoa, these no-bake cookies are every bit as rich and delicious as they are naturally gluten free. Of course, it is important to make sure all of your ingredients are certified gluten free, as some oats do carry the threat of cross contamination. However, Bob’s Red Mill and Trader Joe’s carry oats grown in certified wheat-and-gluten free fields, so buy your oats accordingly! Other than that, enjoy a recipe that requires no over time and looks something like reindeer paws, as my children have merrily dubbed them come the holiday season.
Maple Pumpkin Custard
This simple, tasty custard is not only easily compiled, but it also requires very few ingredients. And with very little added sugar (we used half of what the recipe called for), my boys have gotten the green to indulge in this “pie” for breakfast. Tip: when making this recipe, you’ll definitely want to pour already-hot water into the pan where your custard dishes are resting as this step will drastically reduce your cook time. Keep a close eye on the custard, and don’t pull it out until the knife comes out mostly clean.
Baked Cinnamon Apples with Honey Cashew Butter
We don’t just love this recipe because it is sweet with all the right notes of fall flavor; we also love it because it allows us to indulge in a sweet treat without adding gobs of refined sugar. We often use the leftover apples that have been bruised or are past peak because when baked, the texture of the apple softens anyway. We love combining these baked apples with warm Honey Cashew Butter because it almost tastes like apple pie ala mode without the crust. Even my picky eaters never refuse this dessert!
Because pumpkins are in season and are seasonally abundant in the Chicagoland area, I couldn’t stop at just one pumpkin recipe! This pumpkin pie from Gluten-Free Goddess certainly makes the eater take seriously the name of this pie’s creator as it tastes simply heavenly. It’s rich and creamy without the use of dairy milk, and chock full of beneficial, healthy fats from the coconut cream and vitamins from the pumpkin.
Simple Sugar Cookies
Sometimes, you just need a simple base recipe for cupcakes or cookies so the kiddos can have some decorating fun! My husband modified this recipe to be gluten and dairy free, and even he–the dessert and food snob–enjoyed them. Decorate until your heart is content.
This year, we’ll likely make these adorably cute melted winter snowmen my friend Kelli and her boys created simply because it will give my boys lots of giggles and perhaps more accurately portray our snowless Chicago landscape (again) this December!
Let Someone Else Do The Baking For You
Don’t feel much like cooking or baking but still need a gluten-free treat? May I suggest a few places?
Rose’s Wheat-Free Bakery
2901 Central St. / Evanston, 60201
Sweet Ali’s Gluten-Free Bakery
13 W. First Street / Hinsdale, 60521
(773) 234 – 5733