I am slowly changing my diet over to grain free foods, and I’m doing really well with dinners. I do ok with breakfast too, as long as I have cheese to put on my eggs, and lunches as long as I have leftovers from the night before. (Otherwise, I tend to grilled cheese. This is a process.) The best advice I got when I was learning about going grain free is to take it one meal at a time. Get dinners down first, then move on to lunch, breakfast, snacks, etc. So that’s how I’m doing things, and it’s working out MUCH better than my original attempt to just cut everything out cold turkey.
My biggest problem so far was when Christmastime came around. Christmas cookies are a BIG part of celebrating around here. I have a list of cookies and candies I make ONLY at Christmastime, and I wait all year to make them. It doesn’t feel like Christmas til I make them. However, this year, I decided to cut out half the sugar called for in every recipe. The overarching flavor of the cookies was suddenly not sweet- though they were still sweet- but wheat. I don’t really like the flavor of wheat. I was going to share these cookies with our neighbors, but they tasted so – WRONG to me, that I couldn’t bear to do it. So, I didn’t, and we ended up eating most of them. And I suffered for it, headaches, digestive distress, and moodiness, and guilt and self flagellation for knowing better. I mean, honestly. Of course, all these recipes have been passed down from my grandmother to my mother, to me. And I’ve decided that it’s time to retire these recipes that have actually started to take away from my enjoyment of the holidays. And others, not to retire, but to make over. In the case of the first on the list to go, there is cherry winks. I love them, but they can’t be fixed. It’s not simply a matter of switching flours, unfortunately. They have dates- ok… and corn flakes. I’m sure you’ve read the study of the rats that fared better on the cardboard box the flakes came in than the cereal itself? (Edit: while briefly searching for the study, I couldn’t find it, and it appears to be an urban legend- must search out the truth!- Either way, corn flakes and all other processes cereals are junk.) And the final nail in the coffin of this recipe- maraschino cherries. My fingers were stained with red 40 when I was done with these cookies. I’m sure if I tried, I could add dates and dried real cherries to the cookie, and use something like almond slices to make them crunchy like corn flakes, but honestly, they wouldn’t be the same cookie. So, this was the last year for cherry winks. Good bye cookie, I love you, and will always treasure the card with my grandmother’s handwriting on it, but you have been retired.
Speaking to my husband, the only cookie I make that he cares about are the sugar cut out cookies. And I’ve found a good substitute for those. As well as the frosting to go on top, and sprinkles without artificial dyes. This is my daughter’s favorite part of cookie making as well- cutting out, decorating and eating the cut out cookies. The particular cookie types don’t hold the same meaning to anyone but me, and I’m ready to make new traditions and memories. So, we will do these.
The other one we will retire this year are the potato candy. This is a potato, peeled, boiled, and mashed, mixed with powdered sugar until it becomes thick and pasty- and you have NO idea how MUCH sugar that takes! Then rolled out and spread with peanut butter, topped with coconut. It’s delicious, but pretty much pure sugar. To replace these there are any number of candies made with nourishing coconut oil. We also make fudge every year, and I can easily healthify this with any number of coconut oil fudge recipes out there.
One I make that I particularly love is called “Secret Kiss Cookies”. These are a walnut shortbread wrapped around a Hershey’s Kiss. I’m pretty sure I can alter a grainfree shortbread recipe and use better chocolate to continue this tradition.
One tradition we DON’T have is gingerbread, but it’s very Christmassy, and I think it will make a charming addition to our cookie repertoire. This year, I found one made with almond flour that we tried to make a gingerbread house with, but it wasn’t firm enough to work as a house. Gingerbread babies from now on! I’m sure my kids won’t mind.
So here’s the OLD cookie list(if it’s hyperlinked, it’s hyperlinked to a new, grain free recipe:
Cherry Winks There’s just no hope for this one, too bad…
Secret Kiss Cookies (I’m thinking of using this shortbread recipe to alter it to work)
Truffles (Honestly, I just use cream, and the best quality chocolate I can find, and dont’ worry about the sugar content- I consider this a “sensible indulgence”)
Rum Balls- these have no alternative yet, but I’m not ready to give them up. I won’t make them this year, but when I do, they’ll need to have the correct chocolate/ cinnamon flavor.
Peppermint Bark- I think I might just try to get candy canes without red 40, and ignore the sugar for all the small amount there would be per piece. Either that, or make these peppermint patties.
Sesame Cheese Crackers- I need to experiment with grain free cracker recipes, but this sesame cracker looks promising (just thinking of adding sharp cheddar to it…)
Peanut Butter Blossoms- instead of this, I think I’ll make these, but instead of cups, as buckeyes!
Here’s the gingerbread men recipe I used. I like the molasses flavor!
And for simpler ideas, this nature’s candy box is nice.
Whew! I”m all finished, and I feel so much better about the Christmas treat situation in this house!