Christmas Past and Present: Adapting to an Allergen Free Christmas

Childhood memories at this time of year are priceless!

For me, it’s the smell of pine trees (we had a real tree until my mom figured out my dad and I were allergic to it),a turkey roasting and cookies baking in the oven while in the background, Johnny Matthis sings, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” on the record player.

2011 Christmas tree As a parent, one hopes to fill their children’s memory jar chock full of them.

I often worry what kind of childhood memories my boys will have as they get older. Holidays are often centered on the food, which, when you have mulitiple food allergies…can pose some challenges.

Advent Calendars with little chocolate treats for each day, chocolate Santas in stockings Christmas morning, Christmas baking by friends and relatives, school parties with baked treats…all obstacles for my children with food allergies.

As a mother, it pained me to have them feel excluded from many of the traditional Christmas treats…therefore,  we came up with our own traditions:

An Advent Calendar with velcro Christmas decorations to adorn the tree.

first advent calender with velcro decorations for the tree

Maple Sugar Santas for their stockings.(from MacMillan’s Orchards)

maple sugar santa for the boys' stocking

Thank goodness for Guardian Angel…three years ago my boys enjoyed their first Chocolate Advent Calendar.

guardian angel advent calenders for the boys

I have perfected the Roasted Turkey dinner with Dairy Free Stuffing, Gravy and fresh Dairy Free and Peanut/Tree Nut Free French Stick on the side.

It gives me great pleasure to recreate my childhood favourite holiday cookies for my boys memory bank: Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread, Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies, Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Thumbprint Cookies, Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Orange Shortbread, and especially…Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Yule Log.

I hope you have been enjoying them too!

Creating new traditions in a society that holds on to their traditions with a firm grip has not been easy. I like to think our new traditions will help pave the way for generations to come!

P.S. Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Yule Log will be posted Christmas Day.

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Thumbprint Cookies

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Thumbprint Cookies are another adapted childhood favourite of mine!

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free thumbprint cookies on a plate

The second half of dough made from Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Snowball cookies can be used to make and bake Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Thumbprint Cookies.

Two types of cookies from one batch of dough…perfect!

My favourite jam for the centre was either apricot or raspberry…these have been filled with my boys favourite jam…homemade strawberry.

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Thumbprint Cookies

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free thumbprint cookies on a plate

Prepare dough from Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Snowballs.

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free thumbprint cookie dough

Roll a tablespoon full of dough into a balls. Set aside in a bowl.
Melt 2 tbsp of Earth Balance or measure canola oil into a small bowl.
Pour corn flake crumbs into another bowl.
Roll balls in melted Earth Balance or canola oil, dredge in corn flake crumbs and place on a silicone pad or parchment lined cookie sheet.

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free thumbprint cookie dough rolled into balls, canola oil, and corn flake crumbs in a bowl

Using your thumb, gently press an indent in the middle of the cookie ball.

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free thumbprint cookie dough balls on a cookie sheet with a pressed indentBake at 350 F for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and re-indent the cookies.

reindenting dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free thumbprint cookies after 15 minutesBake a further 3 minutes.
Let cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free thumbprint cookies cooling on rackWhen cool, fill with your favourite jam.

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free thumbprint cookie filled with strawberry jam

Enjoy!

Tip 1: I put together a little thank you package for my neighbour/hairdresser for squeezing in my boys for a haircut this week. Thanks Char!

a package of dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free thumbprint cookies with a candy cane and a small jar of strawberry jam

Tip 2: Cookies can be made ahead and frozen.

Tip 3: Cookie dough can be rolled out for cookie cut outs.

Tip 4: Cookies can also be filled with glazed cherries or some melted chocolate.

P.S. Do you have a childhood favourite cookie you have adapted for your specific food allergens?

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies

I have reinvented my favourite holiday cookie and created a new holiday favourite…

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Snowballs.

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate chip snowball cookies in a dishMuch to Matthew’s delight!

I grew up loving anything ‘shortbreadish.’ Not too sweet and extremely versatile. Sugar Cookie cut outs were a favourite as were my mother’s Pecan Balls.

Last holiday season, I was describing my mother’s Pecan Balls to my son, Matthew. It’s a pecan studded shortbread cookie ball, rolled in icing sugar. “Mmmmm”, says Matthew. “I would love it with chocolate chips!”

The next thing I knew, we were whipping up an adapted version…eureka…we have a winner!

The Sugar Cookie is a simple shortbread (most likely why I love it) which, with a little imagination, can be elevated into something so much more! (Stay tuned for Friday’s post for another twist on this easy to make and bake dough)

This recipe hails from Canadian Living’s 1977 special edition magazine they put out that year. The recipe was called ‘Quick and Easy Holiday Cookies’. I can still remember all the variations of cookies that could be made with this dough. I just loved gazing at all the cookies. My mother still owns her copy!                

How appropriate that my reinvented childhood recipe be paired in a picture with my childhood christmas tree ornaments.  Don’t you love the colours!

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Snowballs

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate chip snowball cookies in a dish

1 cup Earth Balance vegan butttery sticks
1 1/4 cups icing sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
2 tbsp water
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (for half the batter)

In a large bowl, cream the Earth Balance and sugar until light and fluffy.
Stir in the vanilla and water.

creamed earth balance and sugar with vanilla and water

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture until combined.

creamed mixture combined with flour mixture for dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate chip snowball cookies

Divide dough in half. (only if you want to make two types of cookies with this dough)
Add chocolate chips to half the dough.

enjoy life chocolate chips added to half the dough for dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate chip snowball cookies

Roll a tablespoon of dough into a ball and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone pad.

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate chip snowball dough rolled into balls on silicone covered cookie sheetBake at 375 for 15 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes.

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate chip snowball cookies coolingRoll cookies in icing sugar while still warm and let finish cooling on rack.
Roll once again in icing sugar once fully cooled.

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate chip snowball cookies rolled in icing sugar for the second time

Makes approximately 24 cookies and one snowman!

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate chip snowball cookies on a plateEnjoy!

P.S. I had to add Michael’s comment on the cookies…”Mmmm…these are good…really good…I don’t remember them tasting this good!” Too funny!

P.P.S. Have you reinvented an allergy free version of a childhood favourite for your children?