The Toronto Star’s Day 12 Cookie Calendar Countdown: Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free ‘Sugar Plum Oat Fairy Cookies’

I was sooo excited to see The Toronto Star’s Day 12 Cookie Calendar Countdown Cookie…Jae Steele’s Gluten-Free Thumbprint Cookies…a cookie that was already dairy and egg free!

Love the name…’Sugar Plum Fairy Cookies’…plum jam is one of my favourites!

I knew this was a cookie I definitely wanted to try. Click here for the original recipe from The Toronto Star.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten how hard it would be to find brown rice flour let alone find one that was free of my son’s allergens…dairy, egg, sesame and peanut/tree nuts. I had no such luck…so I opted for oat flour.

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free ‘Sugar Plum Oat Fairy Cookies’

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free 'Sugar Plum Fairy Cookie'

Combining three of my favourite flavours…cinnamon, oats and plum jam…I loved them!

In the end, I did need to adapt Jae’s recipe…I needed to increase the oat flour to 2 1/2 cups…it was still a bit wet and sticky but much more easily manageable. I also switched the nutmeg to ground ginger as a personal preference. I baked the cookies for 10 minutes, then indented them with my thumb and added the 1/2 tsp of plum jam and baked them for a further 6-8 minutes. I baked half the recipe at 350 F in the same manner as the above with similar results.

Who does not love the combination of cinnamon, oats and chocolate!

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free 'Sugar Plum Fairy Cookie' with Chocolate

Try sprinkling in Enjoy Life’s Chocolate Chips for a kid friendly option!

Tip 1: For those that can tolerate wheat free oats…I found Chateau Cream Hill Estates product, Lara’s Whole Grain Oat Flour. Right on the front of the package it reads, “FREE OF: Wheat, Barley, Rye Triticale, Spelt and Kamut.” On the side panel, is an advisory stating that “Current scientific literature suggests that the majority of people with celiac disease can tolerate eating limited amounts of pure and uncontaminated oat flour…” ending with “Please check with your doctor and/or dietician before introducing oats into your diet.” Click here for a link to their website to read more about their products.

Tip 2: One can always make their own oat flour by processing whole oats in a food processor until a fine ground.

Tip 2: Incidentally, finding the Greaves Plum Jam was not hard for me to find…MacMillans Orchards in Ajax sells many varieties of Greaves products. My personal favourite plum jam, as well as my mother’s, is Mirabelle Plum by St. Dalfour. Their no sugar added jams are only sweetened with concentrated grape juice and are gluten-free.

I made some specifically for my mother to enjoy over the holiday season using St. Dalfour’s Mirabelle Plum Jam.

I will have to tuck them away to keep me from eating them!

P.S. Have you been following along with Jennifer Bain’s Cookie Calendar Countdown in The Toronto Star? Have you tried any of the cookies? What types of cookies entice you to bring out the bakeware? Would you consider adapting a recipe to suit your food allergens or do you prefer to buy prepackaged allergen friendly baked goods? Would love to hear from you!

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Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Crinkles For Carla

Carla @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily hosted a very fun Secret Sister Swap this month.

My Secret Sister, Virna @ craftmates, loves chocolate…one of the gifts I put together for her was a package of freshly baked Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. Click here for the adapted recipe.

 Carla left this comment on my blog… “Oh these look sooo good!! Yum! Going to have to see what I can do!!”

As I had already planned to stop by Carla’s place to drop off some toys on my way to a ‘girls’ weekend’ at my mom’s…I thought a Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookie version would be the perfect treat to surprise Carla.

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookies cooling

For Carla’s gluten free version…I followed the adapted recipe (link above) replacing the all-purpose unbleached flour with Namaste Perfect Flour Blend…I had just enough left.

Matthew and I enjoyed sampling a few to make sure they were worthy…delicously decadent!

A package of Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Chocolate Crinkle Cookies and a package of Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

In the morning I also baked some Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookies for Carla’s girls to enjoy.

Carla surprised me with one of her lovely creations…a coupon holder with a magnetic closure.

A coupon holder made from Carla @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily

Just the right size to slip into my purse…thank you Carla!

Did you figure out the ‘pink gift’ for Carla’s eldest daughter?

Carla's eldest daughter with her pink hair

PInk hair dye! How fun is that! 🙂

Looks like it is going to be a fantastic weekend…looking forward to getting outside and enjoying the day with my mom on our ‘girls’ weekend’!

Celebrating With Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate and Vanilla Sheet Cakes

Two years ago, my eldest son, Michael was in Grade 8. I was stopping by his school to pick him up for a doctor’s appointment when I bumped into his teacher. It was then that I was made aware of the fact that Michael would be missing out on the cake to celebrate the Grade 8’s Confirmation the night before.

I think at the same time Michael’s teacher spoke the words, it dawned on him…Michael is allergic to dairy, eggs, sesame and peanut/tree nuts…bakery cakes are off-limits.

I asked to see the cake…a Chocolate Sheet Cake. I thought to myself, “I could make that”. The wheels started churning.

As graduation was on the horizon, I enquired as to whether there would be a Graduation Cake. Sure enough, a cake would be ordered, along with a luncheon for the Grade 8’s on Graduation Day.

My head was spinning…I quickly offered to bake the Graduation Cake and started thinking about a plan for the luncheon…Caesar Salad, Lasagna, and Garlic Bread. All three dishes Michael would not be able to eat due to his food allergies.

I created Garlic Bread by toasting my homemade sub buns with olive oil, fresh garlic and salt. The lasagna was made by layering Turkey Spaghetti Meat Sauce and lasagna noodles and baking. As Michael was not fond of salads at this time, I took a pass on recreating a Caesar Salad. I also baked two sheets cakes…Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Chocolate and Vanilla.

I was crazy busy…but it was all worth it! Everything went off without a hitch!

Fast forward 2 years…my second son, Matthew, is currently in Grade 8. Matthew has a peanut/tree nut allergy so bakery cakes are off-limits for him too. Especially since it was a bakery cake that led him to have his first allergic reaction!

This time I made sure to offer to bake the Confirmation Cake early on in the year!

This Wednesday night was Matthew’s Grade 8 Confirmation Night. Thursday was my baking/icing day and today I am delivering the cakes to the school.

Matthew's allergen friendly Confirmation Cakes for school

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Sheet Cake

Dairy Egg Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Sheet Cake

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Sheet Cake

Dairy Egg Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Sheet Cake

The students will enjoy a piece of cake after receiving their Confirmation certificates in a school ceremony.

Update: A couple of lovely students volunteered to take a piece of cake to the principal

A piece of allergy friendly cake for the principal

and the secretary. A big thank you to my lovely hand models! Check out the funky nail polish and bright blue hand gloves! Love it!

A piece of allergy friendly cake for the school secretary

All but two pieces were eaten…although I am sure they will not last long!

As a parent of children with multiple food allergies, as much as I try to stay on top of all the upcoming food related events at the school, I have had my share of ‘mess ups’.

I am thankful for my understanding boys who have never let it show whether or not they are affected by all the food related activities they have attended without something ‘safe’ for them to eat. I like to think all my insistence that activities are never about the food but about the activity itself deflected some of the isolation they may have felt. I can only hope…a mother’s guilt runs deep.

I have learned ongoing communication throughout the school year is key! Keeping the communication open between the school and home has helped me to stay on top of all those food related events…not all, but most.  Volunteering in the classroom, on field trips and writing reminders in my boys’ agendas on any upcoming food related events have all strengthened my relationship with all my boys’ teachers.

Matthew will be graduating this year and off to highschool where Michael is finishing his second year. Communication is still a key factor. Keeping the lines of communication open continues to play a pivotal role in building relationships with the teachers and staff at such a large school.

For the most part, Michael is a trailblazer…we seem to throw people off when they hear of his list of food allergies…dairy, egg, beef, sesame, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nuts, mustard and raspberries. Keeping this in mind, communication once again becomes all the more relevant to creating a safe learning environment for Michael and all those students who follow in his footsteps!

Our journey is a constant learning experience!

Staying positive, getting involved, keeping informed, being non-judgemental, and maintaining an open mind have fared me well on my journey with multiple food allergies, eczema and asthma in the school system.

How do you cope with food allergies in the school system?

P.S. Click here for the recipe for my Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cake recipe and click here for the recipe for my Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Cake recipe. To bake a 13 by 19 inch sheet cake, double the cake recipes and bake at 325 F for 40 – 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

P.P.S. My last creative endeavour for this Grade 8 class will be their Graduation Surprise! Stay tuned!

Tip: For a gluten-free version I would try using Namaste Perfect Flour Blend to replace the unbleached all-purpose flour.

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Cupcakes with Dairy and Soy free Vanilla Icing

My successful attempt at baking gluten-freeGluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Icing led me to try my luck a second time.

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Cupcakes with Dairy and Soy Free Vanilla Icing!

Gluten Dairy Egg Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla CupcakesAnother success!

I followed my recipe for Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Cupcakes. Just substitute Namaste Perfect Flour Blend for the all-purpose unbleached flour and increase the pure vanilla to 1 tsp. Top them off with Dairy/Soy Free Vanilla Icing.

A Gluten Dairy Egg Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Cupcake with Dairy/Soy Free Vanilla Icing

Yummy!

Michael is still not a fan of gluten-free baking…”I like the taste, I just can’t wrap my head around the texture.”

Matthew is still on board…”Not bad. If these were served at a party…I would eat them.”

My husband…”They are better than I thought they would be.”…after he engulfed one!

I would love to try them spread with some homemade strawberry jam, topped with fresh fruit and honey, or with a rhubarb compote.

I sent Matthew out to deliver our latest baked items to two neighbourhood families…our ‘guinea pigs!’ The same two families that taste tested the Gluten Dairy Egg Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Icing.

I think offering samples of gluten-free baking to my neighbours and their children is a great opportunity for them to experience gluten-free baking.

When I am invited to family/friends homes, I often volunteer to bake a French Stick and the dessert.  All are pleasantly surprised when they discover all my baking is dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free! I would like to imagine the same could be said about gluten-free baked goods.

In a world where more and more people are eating gluten-free, one never knows when your next dinner guest may be gluten intolerant.

Our family may not be a gluten-free family…but I like to think that should the time come when a family/friend who is gluten-free sits at my table…I will be able to offer them a delicious gluten-free meal that is suitable for all!

P.S. In the early years, it would irk me when someone would say to me, “You know, he’s going to have to get used to the ‘real world’!” Excuse me? I like to think times are changing and the ‘real world’ is starting to catch up to the fact that there is no ‘magic wand’ for me to wave away my children’s food allergies! All I ask for is a little compassion…

Tip: Dairy Free ‘Cream Cheese’ Lemon/Orange Icing, Dairy/Soy Free Chocolate Icing or Chocolate Ganache Icing would also be a tasty topping!

Question: How do you deal with your food allergies when entertaining in your own home, at friends and/or family? Do you bring something special for everyone or just the individual with the food allergies? How accepting are friends/family with your allergy friendly dishes or do they offer to make you something special?

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cupcakes With Chocolate Ganache Icing

I am ‘pleased as punch’ with the results of my latest adventure in gluten-free baking!

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cupcakes With Chocolate Ganache Icing!

Gluten, dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Icing

Truly a hit!

I have always been a little intimidated with gluten-free baking. My early years baking gluten-free were not that successful.

I was a mother of a young baby with multiple food allergies living in a world that had yet to embrace our food allergy limitations. Let’s just say, it was not easy!

To be honest, I was relieved when my son could consume wheat. I never gave gluten-free living another thought.

Times have changed…and I have too.

More and more people are living a gluten-free life…whether through wheat allergies, celiac disease or for their own dietary reasons.

Whereas I used to feel like I was the ‘only person in the world’ dealing with food allergies…I can’t seem to get through a conversation without being made aware of someone else who is living with food allergies, intolerances and/or sensitivities.

I am venturing into gluten-free baking for three reasons:

1) I am meeting more and more people living gluten-free. I want to reduce the gluten-free intimidation factor so as to open new doors for those living a gluten-free life.

2) I am curious to try adapting some of my recipes to be gluten-free and highlight the ones that my family and friends find tasty.

3) I am always up for a challenge!

On that note, here is the first recipe for an adapted version:

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chococlate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Icing!

Gluten Dairy Egg Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Icing

Recipe: Follow the directions for my Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cake and substitute all-purpose flour for Namaste Perfect Flour Blend. Click here for the recipe.

Allergen Friendly Chocolate Ganache Icing

1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
1/4 cup Ryza Rice Beverage

Place a heat-proof bowl over the simmmering water. Heat rice and then add chocolate chips, stirring until melted. Remove from heat.

Let chocolate mixture cool, I placed mine in the fridge, until cooled and thickened.

Enough icing to cover 12 cupcakes.

Enjoying a Gluten Dairy Egg Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Ganache Icing

Enjoy!

P.S. I made these cupcakes especially for Carla @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily. Click here to read about our ‘Meet and Greet’.

How successful have you been at adapting your recipes to be gluten-free? Please share your experiences.

My ‘Meet and Greet’ With Carla @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily

Surprise!

Surprise Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Enroute to my mom’s I had my very first ‘Meet and Greet’ with a fellow blogger…Carla @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily.

Carla and I

I had commissioned Carla to sew two ‘Whimsical Wallets’ for my friends, Michelle and Anne. It made perfect sense to stop along the way to my mom’s to pick them up…and meet a fellow blogger!

Carla's Whimsical Wallets for my friends

Carla’s sewing ability amazes me! These are so beautiful! I was able to custom design with colour and pattern. Perfect to carry a camera, money and lipstick essentials.

Carla inspires me! Not only is she an expert at her finances, which I am not, she sews faboulous creations, is a photographer and home schools her 4 children! Carla also has many food intolerances, sensitivities and allergies.

Carla’s high list of foods that she must avert was a challenge I just could not refuse!

The hunt was on for a gluten-free all-purpose flour free of corn, dairy, soy, peanuts/tree nuts, and because Michael would be one of my ‘guinea pigs’ it also had to be egg free.

Let me tell you this was not an easy feat. At first I tried to come up with an all-purpose gluten-free flour made from scratch…but I could not find rice/brown rice flour or any gluten -free flour that was not produced in a facility without peanuts/tree nuts. (If you know of a company, please let me know)

How do you deal with cross-dontamination issues when purchasing gluten-free flour blends?

So instead I took Carla’s lead…she loves the company Namaste. The products at this company are made in a dedicated facility free of Gluten, Wheat, Soy, Corn, Potato, Peanuts/Tree Nuts, Dairy and Casein. Products include boxes of cake/muffin/flour mixes.

I decided to try Namste’s Perfect Flour Blendthe results were outstanding!

Namaste Perfect Flour Blend

I was able to create a Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cupcake  With Chocolate Ganache Icing to rave reviews from my ‘guinea pigs’!

I was excited to present Carla with her ‘special’ cupcake in a ‘special’ cupcake container for family gatherings.

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cupcake in a special cupcake container

I believe everyone…even mom’s….deserve to feel ‘special’!

Carla is like so many moms…so busy ‘thinking of others’ that she forgets to think about herself.

It was a treat to be able to ‘highlight’ all that she does for her family and friends.

I could have chatted with Carla for hours…we had so much in common…love of fabric, I got a peek at her fabric stash, we both love our breadmakers and are striving to live a healthy lifestyle whilst meeting the challenges that food intolerances, sensitivites and allergies pose in our lives.

I suprised her daughters with some special treats that my boys love.

Carla's girls with their treats

Dairy, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Rice Krispie Squares, Dairy, Egg, and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Cookies with and without Marshmallows, Yummy Earth lollipops (apparantly a favourite of theirs already) and as it was her youngest daughter’s birthday the following day, I presented her with the Easter Bag I created for a 5 year-old girl for my Easter post.

The skipping rope was a big hit…as was the Dora book…she happens to love Dora and was wearing a Dora shirt on my visit!

Carla had a surprise herself for me…

My new tote bag by Carla

a gorgeous tote bag!

Made with the beautiful fabric I had gushed over that she used on the ‘Whimsical Wallet’ she made for Anne.

I left Carla with some vintage material I have been holding on to…I cannot say too much because the recipients of the final product read my blog…so it is all ‘hush hush’ for now! I will reveal at a later date.

I thank Carla for welcoming me in her home and look forward to our future friendship. It is truly wonderful to meet someone who ‘gets it’!

I am now at my mom’s enjoying our ‘girl time’. I look forward to my next visit as I may just have to stop by Carla’s again with another ‘sweet treat’ for her and her family!

The challenge is on!

P.S. Have you ever met with a fellow blogger that inspires you?

P.P.S. I will be posting the recipe for my Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Icing on Monday

It all started with a visit to the allergist…

It is fitting that I am starting my blog shortly after my eldest son’s fifteenth birthday! It has been quite a journey! Like being on a roller coaster ride….many highs and lows and sighs of relief! But the ride is not over! Thank goodness! Living with food allergies is a ride that never ends. My journey is taking another turn… I want to share my stories and recipes!

ALL ABOUT THE PANCAKES
On April 24, 1997, my husband took Michael to his first allergist. He was given a list of foods that Michael was not to eat: milk, soya, wheat, potatoes, eggs, tomatoes and seafood. He was switched from a soya formula to Alimentum. It was at this time, that I felt
I “wasn’t in Kansas anymore!”

From this day forward, our lives changed. All that I knew about food was tossed out the window! My world changed over night! What do I feed my son?

On another visit to this allergist, when I inquired as to what to feed my son as food groups had been eliminated, the response was, “deal with it.” Are you kidding me?! That was the last time we saw that particular allergist. We are now on our third and quite happy!

Regardless of their allergies, I want my kids to enjoy foods that all kids enjoy. So I needed a wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free pancake.

Oatmeal pancakes came about after many frustrating recipe failures using rice flour. I ground my own oat flour from whole oats. It’s easier than you think! I just whir 2 cups of whole oats around in the food processor until they’re a grainy powder, like you see in this picture.

oats processed in a food processor into oat flour

A TIP ABOUT BUYING DRY GOODS: The bulk bins can be tempting, filled as they are with oats of every kind… and much cheaper than their packaged alternatives. But I never buy bulk. Ever! If the only way to purchase a food product was to buy it in bulk, I would pass. I can’t control what goes into those bins, or what they come in contact with i.e. one of my sons’ allergens. A risk we are not willing to take. Buyer beware!

DAIRY AND EGG FREE OATMEAL PANCAKES
This recipe is adapted from Better Homes and Gardens NEW COOK BOOK. (Little did I know how handy this cook book would be when I gave it to my husband when he first moved out of his parents’ home!)

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups oat flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp baking soda
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup rice/soya milk

In a mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In a liquid measuring cup, mix all the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just blended.  Mixture can still be lumpy.

oat flour batter

Let the batter sit a bit to thicken. The longer it sits the thicker it will become. If it gets too thick just add a bit more rice/soy milk to thin it out.

Spoon approximately a ¼ cup of batter onto a hot griddle or non-stick fry pan. Cook until underside is brown and bubbles appear on the top side. Turn to brown.

oat flour pancakes with blueberries on top cooking

(My boys love blueberries so I sprinkle those on top before flipping the pancakes.)

Enjoy hot with pure maple syrup or cold with jam. Pancakes can be frozen between wax paper for another time.

DAIRY AND EGG FREE WHEAT FLOUR PANCAKES
I am not 100% sure at what point we introduced wheat back into Michael’s diet. Those early years are a bit muddled in my head. Not only were we dealing with multiple food allergies, but Michael also suffered from atopic dermatitis. I was very sleep deprived as Michael would be up every night itching and uncomfortable. I felt like a ‘mad scientist’ figuring out what was causing his skin to be so inflamed. I know I felt relieved when I didn’t have to grind the oats and started using flour. It was one less step. I regret it only now as he prefers the white flour pancake to the healthier oat one! Still dairy and egg free, this recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens NEW COOK BOOK.

1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp baking soda
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup rice/soya milk

In a mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In a liquid measuring cup, measure all the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Mixture can still be lumpy.

Spoon approximately ¼ cup of the batter onto a hot griddle or non-stick fry pan. Cook until underside is brown and bubbles appear on top side. Turn to brown.

Enjoy hot with pure maple syrup or cold with jam. Pancakes can be frozen between wax paper for another time. They’re great reheated the next day.

When travelling to friends and family, I always mix up a few packages of the dry ingredients in small ziploc bags or small plastic containers to take along with me. I bring along my rice/soya milk, and a small plastic container of canola oil. It is then easy to whip up a batch of homemade pancakes for everyone to share. Believe me, no one will know the difference! In fact some of my friends’ kids prefer my egg and dairy free pancakes to “regular” ones.

Always CHECK INGREDIENTS before you purchase products.

PS. Any products mentioned in this post are my own personal recommendation. No one’s paying me to include the links! I’m just sharing what works for our family. Your needs and preferences may be different.