The holiday season brings out the baker in everyone. I’m not a baker. I cook. So when I’m ready to whip up baked goods, it takes more thought than throwing together a soup.

For those of us with food restrictions, the holiday season is tricky, especially when navigating the treat tray. Finding gluten-free baking is a particular challenge for people with actual intolerance (Celiac disease) or those who simply feel better without this protein (found in wheat, barley and rye). Over the past year, since my last gluten-free brownie post, gluten-free fpod has become more commonplace. I’ve heard of many who were inspired to give up wheat by the book Wheat Belly , and have enjoyed improved energy, calmer digestive systems, and relief from chronic pain.
Gluten-free baking can be intimidating though. I’ve had friends try my Divine Cookies (recipe below) and are impressed with the fact that they are not only gluten-free but don’t contain sugar. I’m impressed too, as I’m not a confident baker.

It’s easy to substitute typical all-purpose wheat flour with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Baking Mix, for instance. I use it for pancakes, muffins, waffles regularly. It’s made up of garbanzo flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, sorghum flour, and fava flour. Those with sensitive palates often comment on any gluten free foods with bean flour not being as tasty, but I have yet to hear complaints from my family.

The shortbread-like recipe below calls for xanthan gum which you may have you scratching your head. Xanthum gum is a flour that thickens and emulsifies. Quite simply, it helps keep your baking mixes mixed. It keeps oil droplets from sticking together and separating, and solid particles from settling to the bottom of your batter bowl. In traditional baking with gluten containing grains, the gluten acts as the glue, so you need to add it in here.

If you want to make your own gluten-free mix, this combination works well. Use as a substitute in cookies, muffins and pancakes:

1 cup brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
2 tsp xanthan gum

There are a plethora of gluten-free flours on the market that can also be incorporated; almond, teff, coconut, quinoa, millet, sourghum and more. Start with this and continue to search for variations. Watch my blog as I make my way through the holiday season with coconut flour on hand. I’ll share my successes with you!

Sprout Right’s Divine Cookies

Nobody will guess there’s no sugar in these cookies—they’re truly divine!

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature        
2½ tsp vanilla                        
1 egg                        
¼ cup plus 2½ tbsp agave syrup            
1½ cups brown rice flour                
¼ cup potato starch                
¼ cup tapioca starch                
¾ tsp baking powder                
½ tsp salt                    
¼ tsp xanthan gum                
Shredded coconut,orchopped nuts (optional)
Unsweetened jam or apple butter

1. In a mixer beat butter, vanilla, and egg. Pour in the agave syrup and beat; mixture will look curdled. Add in the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. If possible, let batter stand for 10 minutes at room temperature.
2. Drop dough by spoonfuls on to parchment-lined baking tray, or form into balls and roll in nuts or shredded coconut (if using). Use your finger to make an indentation in the centre and fill with jam or apple butter.
3. Bake in a 325ºF (160ºC) oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Let stand two minutes; transfer to a rack to cool. Makes 18 to 24 cookies.

What do you bake that’s gluten free?

Read More by Lianne Phillipson-Webb:
Sinless Chocolate Brownies For a Gluten-Free Holiday
Try a Raw Food Dessert: Easy Vegan Fruit Pie

The Nutritional Benefits of Snacking, Cooking and Baking with Dried Fruit

Road Trip Snacks: Plan Ahead With These Healthy Options

Eat Your Way to a Calmer Belly