Holidays are filled with cooking and baking (and more cooking and baking) as you keep treasured traditions and create new ones that work for your family with food allergies. I've cast my net wide for some 'best of' allergy-friendly holiday treat recipes for you to try.
In this post, you'll find treat recipes from some trusted allergy-friendly sources, plus allergy-adaptable treat recipes from recipe innovators who may be new to you.
Baking is a great way to spend time together as a family, teaching the kids basic kitchen skills that will empower them for independence in the future. What's fun about baking is that it's easy to divvy up the steps in ways that small hands can manage, and you won't lack for taste testers when all is said and done.
For Bakers Finding Their Footing with a New-ish Food Allergy Diagnosis
Allergy-friendly Recipes from Trusted Go-to Sources
In choosing these recipe providers, I considered the ease of navigating their websites, the clarity of the recipes, and availability of detailed notes for the recipes, particularly ingredient alternatives for substitutions.
A go-to source for our family is Allergic Living's extensive allergy-friendly recipe offering. When you browse, you'll find tons of inspiration, not only for the holidays, but for your allergic life all year long. Here's a recipe that caught my eye — Chocolate Fairy Cakes With Peppermint Icing — They'll be a perfect addition to Santa's cookie plate on Christmas Eve.
A recipe innovator I follow is Megan Lavin (aka Allergy Awesomeness.) A 'Mama Bear' with two sons with multiple food allergies, Megan's no-nonsense approach to simplifying allergic life resonates deeply with me. Among her holiday treat recipes, don't miss her 'Allergy-Friendly Rice Krispie Christmas Trees' — they're easy to make and great for gifting.
THE PRETTY BEE
Another allergy-savvy recipe creator I follow is Kelly Roenicke (aka The Pretty Bee) who offers an extensive recipe collection, from desserts to mains and sides. I like that she includes lots of tips for success and notes with ingredients recommendations. Don't miss her recipes for 'Vegan and Nut Free Buttercrunch Toffee' or her 'Vegan Gingerbread Mini Bundt Cakes' that will be delicious on Christmas or New Year's morning for breakfast.
A professional chef we follow is Martha Morgan, (aka Allergy Dragon.) Chef Martha believes that "Everyone deserves to eat delicious food," and she's highly skilled at creating recipes for diverse restricted diets. (Her own family manages 30+ food allergies and celiac disease.) She offers cooking lessons — both group and private — that can help you grow your allergy-friendly cooking and baking skills. I'm highlighting her offerings here as something to think about, if not now during this over-the-top busy season, then in the New Year.
For Experienced Food Allergy Bakers with Basic Substitution Know-how
Allergy-adaptable Treat Recipes from Far & Wide
Here are recipes for some of the traditional holiday treats I've made with love over the years. They can be made gluten-free, top 9 free and vegan so will be worry-free to share with diet-restricted loved ones.
Who doesn't love a creamy chocolate truffle? Surprisingly, these elegant little dairy free chocolates are easier to make than you'd think. You'll have fun dressing them up with lemon zest, sprinkles, sea salt flakes, cocoa powder, or crushed peppermints. I like this simple truffle recipe from www.realfoodwholelife.com.
CRANBERRY ORANGE BREAD
I've loved Cranberry Orange Bread (hold the nuts please) since I was a child for it's combination of tart and sweet enfolded in an almost-cake, not-quite-cake loaf of goodness. Cranberry Bread disappears in a heartbeat at our home which is kind of a miss because it's even better day 2 after the flavors have melded together. Try this cranberry orange bread recipe from www.frommybowl.com.
A holiday fixture of my childhood was my mom's creamy homemade fudge. Chock full of melted butter, sugar, evaporated milk, chocolate chips, vanilla, and marshmallows, it was labor of love to make, stirring until the mixture reached the perfect temperature. With allergies in our house, I've been on the hunt for a much simpler, allergy-friendly version that works for our family. This 3-ingredient fudge recipe from www.cooknourishbliss.com is what I found.
My sister has always been the 'queen of gingersnaps' in our family, but I think this recipe might challenge her reign. Each Christmas she lovingly sends us a huge box of her gingersnaps that disappear in about two seconds. With this gingersnap recipe from www.lovingitvegan.com, I think I have a shot at being a contender for the crown, or at least can replenish the box as soon as it's emptied.
This is MY cookie specialty. I love making these for the holidays and am sharing my kiss cookie recipe that was published on www.allergycookie.com. For me, there's something very Zen about rolling the little shortbread balls, coating them with sugar, and then making a divot just so for the topping you'll add when they're hot from the oven. I've used chocolate kisses, chocolate chunks, and even a dollop of my favorite jam (I love apricot) to top these delicious, bite-sized cookies.
I remember when I first tasted a Lace Cookie (aka, Florentine.) I had stopped at a tiny bakery on Île Saint-Louis in Paris, right next to Notre Dame, and was enchanted by these delicate cookies. I remember fishing my last French francs from my pocket to buy one. One was all I could afford. I just had to taste it. When you make this lace cookie recipe from www.justastasty.com, I'm betting you won't be able to stop at just one.
Sometimes the store bought versions of Peppermint Bark miss the mark for me. I don't know why. Sometimes the chocolatey goodness lacks depth. Sometimes the texture is chalky. Try this very simple peppermint bark recipe from www.thefitcookie.com with it's allergy-friendly chocolate chip recommendations.
In my book, sugar cookies are a holiday must. And I confess, since I like to keep things simple, I've been known to roll, cut out, bake and consume warm, entirely skipping the frosting. (My kids 100% disagree and consider the frosting the entire point of making sugar cookies — the more frosting the merrier!) Try this sugar cookie recipe from www.delightfuladventures.com and roll, cut, bake and frost to your heart's content.
Recipe Substitution Know-How for Allergic Life
As you find your footing cooking and baking for a new food allergy diagnosis, you'll become more confident substituting ingredients to make tasty, allergy-friendly treats for friends and family. Here are resources that can make your climb up the substitutions learning curve easier:
1. Allergen Substitution Basics:
2. Gluten-Free Flour Choices:
One area that gets a bit tricky is substituting gluten-free flours for flours with gluten to achieve good results when you bake. Unfortunately, for best results, it's not always an easy 1 for 1 swap between all purpose flour and the off-the-shelf GF flour blend you grabbed at the store.
Allergic Living's article on gluten-free flour blends can help, too, offering flour blends for breads, cakes and quickbreads/cookies/muffins. A simple rule of thumb? GF flour for Yeast Breads ≠ GF Cake Flour ≠ GF Quick Breads/Muffins/Cookie Flour.
An article from Kristin Domike PhD (creator of the Successfully Gluten Free blog,) beyond sharing her favorite gluten-free blend, walks you through different types of GF flours and some of their pros and cons, as well as different binding agents like Tapioca Starch, Xanthan Gum, and Cornstarch that act as the missing gluten. Consider this your primer on gluten-free baking 'raw materials.'
3. Oats—Essential to Know:
Under U.S. food labeling law, the U. S. FDA considers Oats gluten-free and only requires that packaged products with oats as an ingredient contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten overall. The problem with Oats is that mills that process oats typically handle gluten-containing grains, posing significant risk of cross contact. If you must avoid gluten you need to look for Oat products made with pure, uncontaminated oats with a gluten-free label. If Oats do not have a gluten-free label, they are not safe for people who must avoid gluten. Learn more.
4. Coconut Confusion:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classified 'Coconut' as a tree nut so it is disclosed on ingredients labels in the U.S. as a tree nut. Biologically, however, coconut is not a tree nut but is the seed of a (drupaceous) fruit, and prevalence of verified coconut allergy is low. You should discuss whether or not it is safe for you to consumer coconut with your allergist. Learn more (scroll down on page.)
5. A Word on Reading Ingredients Labels:
The key to baking safely is ready every food label for every ingredient you plan to use in your baking. In cases where you question the purity of ingredients, call manufacturers to learn if their products are produced on lines or in facilities with your allergens. Manufacturers do not always disclose this, but it doesn't mean it's not occurring. Triple check labels, reading them once in the store, once before you put the products away in your pantry, and a final time before you use them. Barcode scanners can serve as another set of eyes to sanity check your label read-through.
Wishing you and your family joy (& treat) filled holidays!
Allergy Force is not an affiliate of any companies or creators highlighted in this article.
About the Author: Gayle Rigione is CEO and Co-founder of Allergy Force, the food allergy app. She’s also an allergy mom. She’s lived the heart stopping moments when her son ate the wrong thing, second guessed reactions and spent the night in the ER. These experiences inspire her to create tools for people with food allergies that make life safer, easier. Whatever you do, do it with a full heart. Audentes Fortuna Iuvat
Images: Jonathan Meyer on Pexels and Wix Media