The top five food allergens in Canada are:
• Tree nuts
That list can make the idea of holiday baking pretty daunting, can't it? Since there are tons of really great gluten-free resources for recipes these days, I've left that out of my list. And since it's not too hard to avoid sesame (and I'm not actually sure of any sesame-y Christmas treats anyhow), I've ignored that one, too.
Did You Know That Allergies Can Happen To Anyone, Anytime?
Keeping in mind that everyone handles allergies differently based on a number of factors like their own tolerance, so it's always recommended you speak with the allergic person to find out what they're comfortable with. In our house, we're a-ok with using run-of-the-mill chocolate chips, while others may seek ones that are officially labeled as peanut-free. It's different for everyone, but I've got some recipes to get you started, at least.
In almost all baked goods, you can substitute applesauce or a mashed banana for eggs. For each whole egg you're replacing, use one ripe, mashed banana. Alternatively, use 1/4 cup of applesauce for each egg. You'll never taste the difference, but your cookies will be incredibly delicious!
I've found that soy milk is a better replacement than some of the other non-dairy "milks" because of the consistency. Rice milk is too watery, and almond has too strong a flavour (plus the allergy factor for my kiddo). If you're looking for a replacement for heavy cream, put a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight and use the solidified creamy top layer to replace the cream in your recipe. Coconut milk is also my go-to for replacing condensed milk in recipes. For recipes that call for buttermilk, you can instead combine one cup of soy milk with one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar for the same taste. Many margarines can easily replace butter in recipes, too. You can also use 1/4 of a cup plus two tablespoons as a replacement for every cup of butter in a recipe.
Thankfully, nuts are fairly easy to avoid these days because of the awareness about these allergies. If you're determined to bake nutty treats, you can substitute a peanut butter replacement like WOW Butter directly for any peanut butter in a recipe.
It isn't as difficult as it sounds to make baking safe and enjoyable for everyone. Here are a few recipes I've used that are huge hits with my allergic son.
Candy Cane Chocolate Chip Cookies
1C olive oil Becel or other margarine
2C packed brown sugar
1/2C applesauce or 2 ripe mashed bananas
2.5tsp pure vanilla extract
2.5C all-purpose flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
2C chocolate chips (be sure you're using nut-free if that's a concern for you)
approximately 20 mini candy canes
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Put unwrapped candy canes into a freezer bag, and smash into small pieces with a hammer.
In a large bowl, combine margarine, sugar and vanilla.
In another bowl, combine all dry ingredients well. Then combine the dry and wet. Stir in chocolate chips and candy cane pieces.
Roll dough into 2" balls, and place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet 1.5" apart.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown. This ensures a soft, chewy cookie when cooled.
Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack. Enjoy perfect cookies.
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/4 cup applesauce or 1 ripe mashed banana
another 1/2 cus applesauce (this is separate because the original recipe calls for egg and applesauce, but here I've replaced the eggs with applesauce)
1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup or agave)
1 cup of peeled, diced apples (approximately 1 medium-sized apple)
optional: 1/2 cup raisins
1 cup chocolate chips
In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest. Mix well and set aside.
In another bowl, combine sugar and margarine, then add the applesauce (both parts) and honey.
Add the dry to the wet and mix. Don't over-mix, your dough should be chunky.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until cold.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Once cold, roll dough into 2" balls and place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until edges start to brown.
Happy baking! If you ever have questions about how to accommodate allergies in baking or cooking, please let me know and I'll do my best to help you!