Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Shortbread Easter Cookies

Spring has arrived…

spring crocuses blooming

…and Easter is fast approaching!

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Shortbread Easter Cookies

Another holiday is upon us…for those of us with food allergies…it can be rather stressful!

Family and friends getting together to celebrate usually means food will be involved.

Hence…the stress!

In the beginning, my eldest son, Michael, could not consume wheat, dairy, egg or soy products. This made baking a nightmare!

Remember, this would have been 16 years ago…not much was known about celiac disease and gluten intolerance or food allergies in general.

Groceries stores did not stock alternate beverages to milk, Enjoy Life did not exist, nor did many of the great companies out there for those with food allergies and/or intolerances.

Basically, you were on your own when it came to conjuring up alternate ‘treats’ for your food allergic child. I have to admit…at that time, baking without gluten was not easy. Imagine a teething baby, chewing on a Molasses Rice Cookie…what was I thinking!

I was quite happy when Michael was able to tolerate wheat in his diet once again. Dairy, egg and peanut/tree nuts must still be avoided.

Why am I baking a gluten-free Easter Cookie?

I have a friend, whose 2-year-old son, reminds me of the troubles I faced when Michael was a baby. He has severe eczema and multiple food sensitivities/intolerances/allergies.

His mother and father are overwhelmed with all the information out there, confused as to how to feed their son and yearn to have him enjoy the ‘trappings of celebrating’ like every young child around him!

This Easter post, as well as the my Easter posts to follow, are dedicated to her son and to all those parents with children who are struggling to ‘put the pieces together’ as they navigate their way through a world of eczema and food allergies.

I personally wanted her son to experience that feeling of ‘excitement’ by enjoying a tasty allergen friendly treat at Easter. Too many times, my boys have felt ‘left out’ when it comes to ‘special treats’ at the holidays.

Every child deserves to feel ‘special’!

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Shortbread Easter Cookies

This recipe was adapted from the recipe on the back of Club House’s All Natural Gluten Free Rice Flour.

I thought a basic Shortbread Cookie in a fun Easter shape would appeal to a 2- year- old. I felt the ingredients were simple enough to find at your local grocery store. I was also curious to see how they would turn out using just rice flour.

1 cup Gluten Free Rice Flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Sticks (for a soy free version use Earth Balance Soy Free Spread)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla

In a small bowl, whisk together the rice flour and xanthan gum.
In a large bowl, cream together the Earth Balance and sugar.
Stir in the vanilla.
Gradually, stir in the rice flour mixture until all combined.
Using your hands, form the dough into a ball.
Roll out the ball of dough on a lightly rice floured surface until 1/4 inch thick.
Cut out using desired cookie cutters and place cookies on a silicone or parchment lined cookie sheet.

Rolled out dough with cookie cutters

Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Bake at 350 F for 14-16 minutes. Mine took 13 minutes.
Cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes before removing to cooling rack to finish cooling.

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy, Corn and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Shortbread Easter Cookies cooling on rack

Enjoy!

Tip 1: Icing sugar contains cornstarch, as my friend’s son needs to avoid corn, I sprinkled a little bit of sugar and/or cinnamon sugar on some of the cookies before baking as a simple decoration.

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Shortbread Easter Cookie with Cinnamon Sugar

Tip 2: Cookies can also be dipped in melted Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Yummy!

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Shortbread Easter Cookies dipped in melted Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Tip 3: I tried baking one batch with Coconut Oil. Very tasty…but extremely delicate! The egg-shaped cookies seemed to resist ‘cracking’ the best…go figure! Perhaps next time I will try rolling them a little thicker. Any tips?

P.S. My boys were not so sure of the texture of the rice flour and found the cookies a bit bland. Then again, they have had exposure to all-purpose flour treats and are a little biased! We all like the cookies that had the cinnamon sugar topping and the chocolate!

I hope he likes them!

Question: Will you be baking allergen friendly ‘treats’ this Easter? Do share!

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Multiple Food Allergies: How To Survive Living A Life Of Limitations

Living with multiple food allergies can be very limiting depending on how you look at it.

My eldest son, Michael, has multiple food allergies to dairy, egg, beef, sesame, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nuts, mustard and raspberry. My second son, Matthew, has a peanut/tree nut allergy.

What do you feed them? What do they eat? What do you buy? How do you do it? Are some of the most asked questions requested of me upon revealing my boys’ food allergies.

Shopping for both Michael and Matthew means always reading ingredient lists on packaged products. It means, many products are not available for us to consume.

Loaves of bread, all products from the bakery, sliced meat at the deli, many sauces, salad dressings and condiment spreads, boxed cookies, crackers and certain dried pasta brands are all off-limits. These items and more, either contain one of Michael’s food allergens or have been manufactured in a facility that may or may not contain one of his food allergens.

For Matthew, the bakery is off-limits as are some packages of cookies, breads and crackers. Peanut/Tree Nuts can be anywhere…always reading the ingredient list and looking out for any allergen warnings is a must.

Both my boys never consume anything that was not ‘mom approved’. It is my ‘mantra’.

I started teaching them at a very young age to just say “no”. It means, any food product that comes in to their classroom, is offered at a friend’s house or after a hockey/soccer game, must pass my inspection before it passes their lips.

I love telling the story about when Matthew was in Nursery School. He did not have his peanut/tree nut allergy at this time. However, the staff all knew of his older brother’s allergies from when he went to Nursery School. It was Hallowe’en and candy was being given out to the children. This was outside the usual snack…routine is important to little guys.  Matthew peered up to the teacher on duty and looking at her with his big, beautiful, brown eyes exclaimed, “I can’t have candy…I am allergic.”

Matthew grew up believing he had food allergies like his brother. It was easier to limit both than to watch one suffer feeling left out in his own home. Matthew was so easy-going, he was unaware of missing out on anything.

Being limited in the grocery store to buying the individual ingredients to make/bake allergen free food for my boys has made us more mindful eaters. I get to choose how to make/bake my meals and baked goods…in doing so, I can control what goes in them.

Being able to choose how to make something…now that is not limiting at all! In fact, it’s turning the tables on the limitations.

I have made it my mission to create yummy treats that my boys could enjoy together and with their friends. I would specifically invite friends over to sample my creations and send allergen friendly treats in to the school for Michael to share. Kids love coming to our house because they know inevitably, I will produce something yummy!

The kids in the boys’ classrooms would often ask, “What is your mom sending in for the party?” I wanted the students to realize that as limiting as they thought Michael and Matthew’s food choices were…they still had delicious options to choose from.  Did this help keep the teasing down…perhaps.

I used to look after our neighbours daughter in the afternoons when her mom was at work. Her mom confided in me, that her daughter loved coming to my house because it always smelled so good!

If you think about being limited in the sense of processed foods, eating out or ordering in on a whim, then yes, we are very limited. However, I look at our life in a different light!

One must first, step out of the box. Yes, I know it is hard…no one likes change…least of all when one has been dropped the bomb of multiple food allergies!  With food allergies…there is no cheating!

In order for the limitations to be lifted, it is necessary to step inside a new box. This new box becomes your ‘normal’. New limitations are set…by you.

I have tried to raise my boys with the notion that there is no ‘normal’ family. Each family has their own ‘rules’ depending on their type of family. Those rules limit what a family can do…financial troubles, marital issues, other health conditions…all are limiting in and of themselves.

Once you accept your ‘normal’…the possibilities are endless!

In my experience, surviving food allergies without limitations means:

1)  Researching products: Fifteen years ago, when I first started out with food allergies, allergen friendly products were scarce. Times have changed for the better. There are so many great companies out there providing allergen friendly products. Some of my favourites are: Enjoy Life, Guardian Angel, Daiya, Natura Frozen Desserts, Soy and Rice Milk, Ryza Rice Milk, Yummy Earth, Surf Sweets and Earth Balance.

2)  Planning ahead: I always assume that a food product will be offered wherever we go. With that in mind, I always carry Yummy Earth Organic Candy Drops in my purse. If I know there will be an unknown special treat that I may not be able to match, I have Pure Maple Sugar Candies…my boys know these are pricey candies never eaten on a whim…it makes them extra special. Always having a treat ‘up your sleeve’ turns you into ‘Super Mom”. An aura of magic surrounds your very being…my kids have learned to turn to me in anticipation of the ‘special treat’ that I will produce.

3)  Being creative in the kitchen: Using what I know and what I have to create something new, exciting and always yummy brings me great joy! Knowing that I am creating something special for my boys…knocking down the walls of limitations…priceless!

4)  Communication:  I believe, educating those around our children about food allergies, is key to the success of breaking down the barriers that limit us…creating a sense of compassion…a sense of working together…teamwork.

Opening the lines of communication with teachers, parents of students in your child’s classroom, sports team, church or club puts you in a position of being someone willing to be part of a team. It takes all the mystery and stereotypical images away and replaces them with common sense and the notion of looking out for our fellow-man.

The day after my oldest son’s Grade 8 Confirmation, the school ordered a cake to celebrate. I learned only of this, when I went to pick up my son a little earlier at the end of the school day. He had a doctor’s appointment. As luck would have it, the doctor’s appointment was the perfect excuse to miss out on a cake he most definitely would not have been able to enjoy due to his multiple food allergies.

Instead of getting upset over the overlooked incident, I offered to bake the Grade 8’s Graduation Cake. I made one 12 by 18 single layered Dairy,Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cake with Dairy Free Vanilla Icing sheet cake and one 12 by 18 single layered Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Cake with Dairy Free Chocolate Icing sheet cake.

As this group of Grade 8’s has ventured through their grade school years enjoying my various baked goods…the cakes were a success!

Michael's Grade 8 Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate and Vanilla Graduation Cakes

I raised my boys being told that they needed to “learn to live in the real world!” Really? Am I to believe that the world is made up of compassionless people? What is it about food allergies that gets people so defensive? How are my boys’ food allergies a threat to their livelihood? I thought the ‘real world’ is ever evolving…is that not how we progress?

Thank goodness there are those whose compassion knows no bounds!

Slowly but surely, the ‘real world’ is starting to embrace our issues…there are companies geared towards producing allergy friendly foods, laws protecting our children in schools (Sabrina’s Law), new food labelling laws requiring the top food allergens be listed on products, restaurants with ingredient listings on their websites, allergy friendly restaurants’ are popping up, there is a better awareness of cross contamination issues, allergy alert warnings on products…oh my…isn’t it exciting!

I have seen so many changes over the years…imagine what the future holds!

Spreading the word of food allergies and their implications are being heard. It is a slow process…we must be patient and allow people a period of adjustment. As we well know…adapting to food allergies is a process. Being a part of the solution…not the problem will open doors.

You are as limited as your imagination will take you!

Living with multiple food allergies, eczema and asthma is my full-time job…this is my ‘normal’…what is yours?

P.S. Matthew’s Grade 8 teacher has asked me to bake the Grade 8 Graduation Cakes and I have offered to bake something for the Grade 8 Confirmation.  I am truly honoured!

I am looking forward to creating something extra special for them all! I will definitely be posting my creations! Stay tuned for the big reveal in the Spring.

Update: I just finished reading a great guest post over at The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen from this little lark. She discusses the 5 Ways To Overcome Emotional Blocks During Dietary Changes. She states, “Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher was on to something when he stated ‘The only thing constant is change.'” I think her ideas are very relatable to ‘overcoming the emotional blocks’ when you are dealing with food allergies.

Question: Do you feel limited by food allergies? How has living with food allergies limited you? How do you deal with the limitations?

Dairy Free Valentine’s Day Rice Krispie Hearts

Gimbal's Cherry Lovers candy in a pretty paper cupcake cup on a valentine's day napkinDairy Free Rice Krispie Treats and dairy and peanut/tree nut free chocolate are two of my boys’ favourites. Therefore, it made sense to me to incorporate the two into something special for Valentine’s Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day Boys!

dairy free rice krisipie hearts in a valentine box

A fun treat to create as an activity together in the kitchen or to make as a surprise!

I can tell you…when I first made these…my boys were definitely surprised!

“Wow! Is that chocolate on top?” Quickly followed up by Michael with…”What did you do with the extra bits left over?”

“Rolled them into balls and dipped them in melted chocolate…what else!”, I replied.

You should have seen Michael’s eyes widen in excitement!

Dairy Free Rice Krispie Hearts

Make a batch of Dairy Free Rice Krispie Treats.
Let them set for about 5-10 minutes.
Using a heart cookie cutter, cut out your hearts in the Rice Krispie Treats.

Dairy free rice krispie treats being cut into hearts with cookie cutter

Place hearts on a large cooling rack.
Meanwhile, heat a small amount of water in a saucepan and let simmer.
Place a heat proof bowl on top of simmering water and add Enjoy Life chocolate chips. (use a double boiler if you have one)
Stir chocolate chips until they are melted.
Using a pastry brush or small spatula, drizzle melted chocolate across the Dairy Free Rice Krispie Hearts.

dairy free rice krispie hearts drizzled in melted enjoy life chocolate chips

Dairy Free Rice Krispie Chocolate Balls

Roll leftover Dairy Free Rice Krispie Heart bits into small balls.

dairy free rice krispie heart leftover bits rolled into ballsUsing a pastry brush, brush melted chocolate over the balls and rest on plate to cool.

brushing dairy free rice krispie ball in melted enjoy life chocolate chipsPlace a Gimbal’s Cherry Lovers candy on top to finish it off.

dairy free rice krispie ball covered in melted enjoy life chocolate chips and topped with a Gimbal's Cherry Lovers candy

Package up your treats in a pretty bag!

dairy free rice krispie hearts drizzled in melted enjoy life chocolate chips in a gift bag

In a valentine shaped tin surrounded by Gimbal’s Cherry Lovers candy.

dairy free rice krispie balls covered in melted enjoy life chocolate chips topped and surrounded with Gimbal's Cherry Lovers candy in a heart shaped box

Above all…have fun and enjoy!

enjoying a dairy free rice krispie ball covered in melted enjoy life chocolate chips

Happy Valentine’s Day!

discovered gluten free rice krispies by kellog's at the grocery store today

Update: Discovered Gluten Free Rice Krispies by Kellog’s at the grocery store today!

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Lava Cakes

Oh my goodness… I am in chocolate heaven!

dairy,egg,soy and peanut/tree nut free chocolate lava cake on a plate

Rich, warm, gooey chocolatey bliss!

Can you tell…I am a chocoholic!

If you love chocolate…rich chocolate…purely decadent chocolate…then this is the indulgence for you!

I first made these unbelievably delicious Chocolate Lava Cakes 5 years ago as a special Valentine’s Day dessert for my husband and I.

Chocolate is the essence of romance!

romantic dessert of dairy,egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free chocolate lava cakes for two

Ever since, I have thought about adapting the recipe to be dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free so my son Michael could also savour pure chocolate perfection…but how?

Enter flax-seed meal!

Flax seed meal is full of nutritional goodness: soluble and insoluble fibre, lignans, omega-3 fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Health benefits include: lowering the risk of heart disease, prevention of some types of cancer and as a treatment for some immune disorders.

Flax seed meal has many uses: in cooking, baking, as a fresh food additive, and even as an egg and fat replacer!

I love sprinkling my Gold Top Organics Flax Seed Meal on my morning oatmeal or as an addition to my homemade applesauce.

For the benefit of this recipe, I am using the flax-seed meal as the egg replacer one egg is equal to: 1 tbsp of flax-seed meal mixed with 3 tbsp of water left to sit for 3-5 minutes then stir. The mixture will have thickened to a ‘gummy like’ consistency…perfect!

Despite the addition of flax-seed meal to this scrumptious dessert…I would still consider it a once in a while indulgence. lol

The timing is perfect for the unveiling of this recipe…Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food Magazine January 2007, Molten Mocha Cakes.

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Lava Cakes

dairy,egg,soy and peanut/tree nut free chocolate lava cake on a plate

2 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Sticks or Earth Balance Soy Free Natural Buttery Spread
1/3 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
1 tbsp Gold Top Organics Flax Seed Meal
3 tbsp water
1 tsp instant coffee
pinch of kosher salt
3 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
Earth Balance Vegan Sticks and dairy free Guardian Angel Cocoa for greasing and dusting two ramekins.

Grease two ramekins with Earth Balance and dust with dairy free cocoa.

ramekin greased with earth balance and dusted with guardian angel cocoaPlace Earth Balance and chocolate chips in a microwave-safe dish and heat on high for 20 seconds. Stir until melted. (may need to do a little more depending on your microwave)
Let chocolate mixture cool slightly.
In a small dish, combine the flax-seed meal and the water. Stir and let sit for 3-5 minutes. Stir again. Mixture should have thickened and have a ‘gummy’ consistency.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flax-seed meal mixture, sugar and instant coffee.

flax seed meal mixure, instant coffee and icing sugar

Whisk in the chocolate and then the flour until just combined.

batter all mixed together and ready for the ramekinsPour batter into two prepared ramekins.

batter in ramekins ready for the ovenBake at 400 F until a toothpick inserted 1/2 inch from the edge of the ramekins comes out clean and is wet in the centre.
Timing will be varied depending on your oven. Start testing at the 12 minute marker. Mine took approximately 15-16 minutes.

baked dairy,egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free chocolate lava cakesLet cool for 10 minutes.
Invert onto plates and dust with icing sugar and decorate with a fresh strawberry…yummy!

enjoying a bite of dairy,egg,soy and peanut/tree nut free chocolate lava cake

Enjoy immediately…best still warm and gooey!

Tip 1: Keep an eye on them in the oven, as you want them slightly undercooked in the middle for the gooey lava effect!

Tip 2: I love that you can make the cakes ahead of time and then pop them in the oven while you are having your dinner…ready just in time for dessert!

Tip 3: Can also be enjoyed right out of the ramekins!

P.S. My cakes stuck a little in the middle…not to worry. Just scrape it off and dab it on the cake and cover with icing sugar and a strawberry or berries of choice…perfect!

Question: Do you have a favourite allergen free chocolate dessert you like to bake for your sweetheart(s) on Valentine’s Day?

Our Superbowl 2012 Allergen Free Party

The Superbowl is a perfect excuse to have a party!

superbowl party 2012

With my husband off to an all ‘boys’ Superbowl bash…I thought it would be fun to have our own Superbowl bash with my boys and their friends. With a twist…as hostess I would cater it as an allergen free feast!

A few munchies to start:

Dairy Free Onion Dip with Ruffles Potato Chips, Homemade Pita Chips recipe by Giada de Laurentiis,  Veggies and Spicy Edamame Dip  by Trisha Yearwood from the Toronto Star and Hot Air Popcorn. (I spray the popcorn with Canola Oil and sprinkle with freshly cracked Sea Salt)

The Spicy Edamame Dip is the first dip I made for Michael…he loved it!

Superbowl party munchies

Followed by the main course:

Allergen Friendly Chicken Wings, Slow-Cooker Sweet and Sour Sticky Ribs, Homemade French Fries and French Stick.

Superbowl party 2012 dinner

Dessert was something special!

With Valentines Day just around the corner, I thought I would treat the boys with something decadent…something chocolatey!

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Heart Brownies and Brownie Pops!

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Decadent Brownie Pops and Hearts

Half the hearts are Iced in Chocolate and the other half are iced with a Dairy Free Chocolate Icing and drizzled with chocolate.

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Decadent Brownie Hearts

I just used heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut out the brownies. First, I cut some Brownies without the Chocolate Icing.

cutting out heart shaped brownies I brushed them with melted Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips and dusted with a little Icing Sugar.

Heart shaped dairy, egg, soy, and peanut/tree nut free brownies spread with melted enjoy life chocolate chips and dusted with icing sugar

I then iced the rest of the Brownies, cut out my heart shapes, drizzled with the melted chocolate and dusted with icing sugar.

heart shaped dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free brownies iced and drizzled with melted enjoy life chocolate chips and dusted with icing sugar

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Decadent Brownie Pops

For the Brownie Pops, I simply mixed together all the scraps of Brownies left over from cutting out the hearts. Rolled them into little balls and put them in the refrigerator to firm. I then stuck a cookie stick into the Brownie Ball and brushed them with melted Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips.

brushing dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free brownie pops with melted enjoy life chocolate chips

The finishing touch…topping each with a Gimbal’s Cherry Lovers heart-shaped candy.

dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free brownie pops

Did you know that Gimbal’s candies are free of 8 major food allergens: Peanut/tree Nut, Dairy, Egg, Gluten, Soy, Fish and Shellfish. I happened to stumble upon a jar at HomeSense…perfect for Valentine’s Day!

The Half Time show did not appeal to the boys. They took the opportunity to emerge from the ‘man cave’ and devour the Brownies…I was surprised the boys had any room left for dessert.

As Michael’s friend Chris simply put it, “There is always room for dessert!”

I packaged up a Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Decadent Brownie Pop to take home for Matthew’s friend’s sister…she loves my Brownies!

dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free decadent brownie pop wrapped up to take home

Tip: Plenty of leftovers for dinner tonight…perfect! I love it when I can get two meals out of one!

P.S. Carla @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily presented her Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Bread. Love that she uses the Bread Machine to make her dough! I will definitely have to try her recipe and method for her loaves of fresh bread.

P.P.S. My update on Week 1 of my Decluttering my Personal Space will be up on Wednesday. Superbowl Party preparations took a little more time than I had anticipated.

There just is not enough time in the day! lol

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies

The Toronto Star’s Cookie Calendar, Day 17 cookie, caught my eye…I knew my boys would go gaga over them…so I adapted them to meet their allergen needs.

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch.

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free double chocolate peppermint crunch cookies on a cake stand

They taste as good as they look. Crispy on the outside, minty and fudgey in the middle with an extra dose of chocolate and peppermint crunch on top…pure decadence!

Truly, they should be renamed, Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Triple Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies!

I adapted the original recipe (click here) to be dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free. Replace the butter with Earth Balance and use Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Replace the egg with 1/2 tsp of baking soda and 2 tbsp of water. For a soy free version, replace the butter with Earth Balance’s Soy Free Vegan Spread.

I baked these fudgy delights in the morning and had the boys help with the decorating after school.

decorating dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free double chocolate peppermint crunch cookies

Matthew crushed the candy canes in a sealed plastic ziplock back with a rolling pin.

crushing candy canes in a plastic bag with rolling pin

Michael drizzled the warmed up chocolate over the cookies while Matthew followed with the sprinkling of the crushed candy canes.

my boys drizzling chocolate and sprinkling crushed candy canes on dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free double chocolate peppermint crunch cookies

Picture perfect!

dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free double chocolate peppermint crunch cookies on a cake stand

Enjoy!

enjoying a double chocolate peppermint crunch cookie

The Peppermint Organic Candy Canes are made by TruSweets. I like them because they  are made in Canada with all natural ingredients, no artificial flavors or colors and are corn syrup free.

package of candy canes by TruSweet

It does state on the packaging: Produced on dedicated nut-free and gluten-free equipment in a segregated area of a facility that also processes dairy, eggs, peanuts, soy, tree nuts and wheat.

Depending on your level of comfort, these Candy Canes are a great option for those looking for an allergen free alternative, free of artificial ingredients.

In the Christmas Spirit… I just couldn’t help but want to share these delectable Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Double (Triple) Chocolate Peppermint Crunch cookies with the boys’ friends and neighbours.

Let’s not forget Matthew’s teacher…goes perfect with a Tim’s card!

packages of dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free double chocolate peppermint crunch cookies

P.S. Don’t worry boys, I saved youl some Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies.

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread Houses and Men

The Christmas Tree is up…the decorations have been strategically placed throughout the house…and the Christmas tunes are cranked.

dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread men on christmas tree I took over the kitchen this weekend for some holiday baking…Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread to be exact!

I am so excited to be baking and building our first Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread Houses with the boys.

dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread houses

I have been eyeing this Gingerbread House mold from Lee Valley for some years now.

Gingerbread mold from Lee Valley

I am unsure where my Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread recipe originates. I went through a few recipes before Michael claimed this one the winner. The baking instructions for the Gingerbread House came with the Gingerbread House mold.

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Gingerbread Dough

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup Earth Balance
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup fancy molasses

In a large bowl, cream Earth Balance and sugar until light and fluffy.

creamed Earth Balance and sugar for dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut gingerbreadMix in the water, vinegar, and molasses.

molasses, water and vinegar added to creamed mixture for dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbreadIn another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger.

dry ingredients for dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbreadSlowly add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture until completely combined.

dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread doughDivide dough in half and roll into 2 balls.
Wrap each ball in wax paper and refrigerate for at least an hour.

2 balls of dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread dough wrapped in wax paperSpray mold with canola spray.
I rolled out the dough to the thickness of the mold and then cut pieces to press into the mold.

rolled out dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread dough for gingerbread mold from Lee Valley

Press Gingerbread dough into mold.

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut gingerbread dough pressed into gingerbread house mold from Lee Valley

Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes.
Let gingerbread cool in mold for 10 minutes.

baked dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread in gingerbread house mold from Lee Valley

Carefully remove the pieces to a cooling rack.

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread house cooling on rackRepeat. Two batches are necessary for a complete house.

Tip 1: One ball of dough made one side of the mold. I made 2 batches of my Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread Dough for two houses. I used the leftover dough to make mini and large Gingerbread Men. I poked holes at the top with a straw (before baking) to thread ribbon or string through for decorating the tree.

dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread men to decorate treeThe third house was made using the Gingerbread Dough recipe that came with the mold. It was actually dairy and egg free already! It was very crumbly so I just pressed the dough in the mold. Not as impressed with their recipe…not as tasty and couldn’t roll out the leftover dough to make Gingerbread Men.

Tip 2: I used Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Molasses in both the recipes. Michael noticed right away that the dough was different. “The dough is darker…what did you do differently?” he questioned me. Then he tried them…”I know you did something to these cookies?”  “I’ll eat them, but I like the other ones you make better.”

I didn’t think changing the molasses would make such a difference…apparantly, I was wrong. I know how much he loves and looks forward to me making these cookies each year…I should have known better than to mess with them.

For Michael’s favourite Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread Cookies one must use Crosby’s Fancy Molasses.

Building the Dairy,Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread House

Constructing the Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread Houses is a story in and of itself…let’s just say…one needs a lot of patience!  

The Royal Icing recipe recommended in the instruction booklet to ‘glue’ the house together, required egg whites. For our egg free version, I mixed together 2 cups icing sugar with 7 tsp of water.

A ziplock sandwich bag with a corner snipped off was filled with the icing sugar mixture. The boys and I squeezed out the icing to ‘glue’ our houses together.

constructing dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread houses

Eventually, the bag broke and icing was everywhere! Matthew and I  then tried using a plastic icing bag with a metal tip. This ended up to be futile…we resorted to using our fingers to spread the icing while trying to hold the houses together.

We left them to dry before attempting to add anything else for fear of them collapsing…once again! A little more finicky than I had anticipated.

constructed dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread houses

The boys found the whole enterprise quite amusing!

Note to self: Next time, make the gingerbread pieces thinner, especially the roof!

Of course everyone knows that decorating the Gingerbread Houses is the best part!

Decorations included: Gimbal’s Gourmet Jelly Beans, Surf Sweets Jelly Beans, Gummy Bears and Worms, mini marshmallows, Mentos mints, Enjoy Life chocolate chips and chocolate chunks.

allergen free candies to decorate dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread houses

I called the boys in from playing road hockey to decorate their houses.  A neighbourhood friend joined in on the fun.

decorating dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread houses with allergen free candies

All in all, we were all very pleased with the end results.

decorated dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread housesMatthew’s Masterpiece:.. ‘architectural perfection!’

matthew's decorated dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread house

My Masterpiece… ‘a jelly bean and gummy delight!”

my decorated dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread house

Michael’s Masterpiece…‘a disguised security device…middle, top chocolate chip has a hidden camera!” lol

Michael's decorated dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free gingerbread house

“I can’t wait to eat it…we can eat them, right?”, exclaims Matthew upon finishing applying his last candy.

Enjoy!

Have you a favourite allergen friendly Gingerbread recipe for Gingerbread Men? Does your family construct and decorate an allergen friendly Gingerbread House each year? What are your holiday baking traditions?

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

Heading back to Toronto today from beautiful Vancouver. I have thoroughly enjoyed my ‘girls’ getaway’ with my two BFF’s. Looking forward to getting home and hugging my boys and hubbie!

I am sure the boys have eaten through the stash of cookies I left for them. They will be clamoring for more! The following cookies are definitely at the top of the list!

It seems like a lifetime ago that I spent many a day in my kitchen perfecting a recipe for  Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Oatmeal Cookies.

dairy,egg,peanut/tree nut free oatmea lchocolate chunk cookiesBefore Earth Balance and Becel Vegan Margarine (dairy-free margarine) I was using Crisco Vegetable Shortening. I used it as a substitute for the butter called for in my cookie recipes. I wasn’t keen on using it and preferred an alternate…...canola oil.

Many tries later, using Canadian Living’s Country Cooking Cookbook’s recipe for Old-Time Oatmeal Raisin Cookies as a basis, my recipe for shortening free cookies was created! (Note all my cross-outs and notations in the margin)

canadian living country cookbook oatmeal raisin cookie recipeMy boys have never been fans of raisins in baked goods. Personally, I love them. Until Enjoy Life chocolate chips were available, I baked their Oatmeal Cookies without any additions.

You can imagine how excited I was when I spied Enjoy Life’s new product:

Enjoy Life's Chocolate ChunksMEGA CHUNKS!

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

jar of dairy,egg,peanut/tree nut free oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies

3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup firmly packed Demerara sugar (brown sugar)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla
3 tbsp water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup large flake whole oats
1/2 cup Enjoy Life’s Mega Chunks

In a large bowl mix oil, sugar, water,and vanilla. (make sure to incorporate the oil well)
In another bowl mix together the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.
Slowly mix in the dry ingredients with the wet.
Add in the oats and chocolate chunks.

batter of dairy,egg,peanut/tree nut free oatmeal chocolate chunk cookiesForm the batter into balls and flatten slightly on parchment or silicone covered cookie sheet.

batter of dairy,egg,peanut/tree nut free oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies on cookie sheetBake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes.
Cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

dairy,egg,peanut/tree nut free oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies coolingGrab one quick….

dairy,egg,soy,peanut/tree nut free chocolate chunk cookies

…and Enjoy!

Tip: Michael and Matthew both suggested more chocolate chunks were needed. On my second time round, I added a few more…apparently still not enough! Not sure I can cram anymore in guys!

Exciting announcement…The Food Allergy Chronicles is now on Facebook and Pinterest!

I would love to see you there!

P.S. As always, any products I mention in these posts are my own personal recommendations. No one’s paying me to recommend them. They’re just what has worked for our family. Your own needs and preferences may be different!

Vancouver Bound: Dairy Free Rum Balls en route

Time for the big reveal…not much of a reveal if you read the title…all the same…imagine a drum roll…Dairy Free Rum Balls!

dairy free rum balls

Dairy Free Rum Balls is a childhood holiday favourite of mine…not sure how that worked out…real rum and all…you might want to keep them away from the kids!

Over the years, my friend Michelle has taken a liking to my Rum Balls. I believe I even mailed her some the first Christmas she moved out to Vancouver!

Dairy Free Rum Balls have become the perfect hostess gift.

I can remember making them with mom…super easy…no baking required…for the original recipe. For my Dairy Free version, I substituted the Vanilla Wafers (due to my son’s milk allergy and the fact I wanted to create a dairy free version) with my Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe minus the chocolate chips.

dairy free egg free sugar cookiesBefore food allergies entered my life, I would roll the rum balls in chocolate sprinkles. For this version, I opted for a dusting of chocolate: I used my Magic Bullet to turn Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips  to a soft powder. Perfect!

dairy free egg free cookie crumbsMy mom seems to recall the recipe came from a friend…she put in a No Bake Cookie Recipe book my brother’s Grade School class put together to raise money for the school.

Dairy Free Rum Balls are a rich and heady treat…perfect for the holidays!

Dairy Free Holiday Rum Balls

dairy free rum balls

One batch of Dairy,Egg,Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (minus the chocolate chips)
2 cups sifted icing sugar
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (dairy free)
1/2 cup white rum
1/2 cup light corn syrup

In a food processor, process the cookies in batches until fine and crumbly.

Stir in the icing sugar and cocoa.

ingredients for dairy free rumballsAdd in the rum and corn syrup, mixing until combined.

mixed ingredients for dairy free rumballs The batter was quite gooey so I refrigerated it until it firmed up.
Meanwhile, pulverize about 1/2 cup of Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips. I used my Magic Bullet.
When the batter is firmer, roll into tablespoon sized balls and roll in powdered chocolate. (I went back and did them all the rum balls a second time.)

rolling dairy free rum balls in cocoa powderStore in the fridge to maintain firmness.

dairy free rum ballsEnjoy!

Tip : Dairy Free Rum Balls can be made ahead and frozen.

P.S. I like them better than the original!

P.P.S. As always, any products I mention in these posts are my own personal recommendations. No one’s paying me to recommend them. They’re just what has worked for our family. Your own needs and preferences may be different!