Bye-bye fruit salad, hello hot chocolate and holiday cookies! With the holiday season upon us, yes, we tend to put away our lighter fare for festive treats that ol’ St. Nick would be proud of. Tasty snacks and hot drinks are great for long afternoons building snowmen or swishing down the ski slopes. To help get everyone in on the fun, some slight adjustments to old classics won’t affect their overall flavor and can make these old standbys lighter on the calories and safer for all to enjoy. (Of course, a little moderation goes a long way…)
A great example of a useful substitute for recipes that’s getting a lot of attention these days is coconut milk. Not to be confused with the canned sweet stuff that’s often used in Thai cuisine or found in the baking aisle for pastries, real coconut milk can be found in the dairy aisle along with soy, almond, rice and cow milks. It is lactose-, soy-, gluten- and nut-free and is similar in texture to 2% cow milk, but lower in sugar and calories. Also, coconut milk’s flavor profile is much less noticeable than soy or almond milk’s, making it a great textural, neutral-flavor alternative to add to recipes that call for cow or other milks, to which many may be allergic.
For some recipes, substitutes for eggs — another common food allergen — can include banana or a corn sugar alternative called xanthan gum, which acts similarly to corn starch as a thickening agent. Other baking substitutes for egg include apple sauce, which is also used in the following cookie recipe. These substitutions and minor adjustments often go completely unnoticed in traditional recipes!
Chef Michelle Austin is the founder of On Thyme Consulting and a co-owner of Just to Please You Productions. She writes the “All in Good Taste” column exclusively for AANMA’s Allergy & Asthma Today magazine.
Reviewed by Carol Jones, RN, AE-C
|Island-Style Hot Chocolate (Dairy Free)
3 cups coconut milk1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
(check label for dairy or substitute carob chips)
1 tablespoon sugar (or substitute 1 tsp. agave nectar)
1/2 medium-size banana (or substitute pinch of xanthan gum)
1 pinch ground cinnamon
Microwave 2 cups coconut milk on high for 2 minutes (cooking time may vary based on microwave wattage); stir in chocolate, sugar and cinnamon. In blender, blend 1 cup coconut milk and banana until smooth.* Mix all ingredients together and heat in microwave on high for an additional 2-3 minutes.
*If using xanthan gum, heat all 3 cups milk in initial step, add pinch of xanthan gum to mixture and stir before heating the additional 2-3 minutes.
For range top, heat coconut milk initially in saucepan to moderate-warm before following same ingredient-mixing instructions above.
|Red-and-White Goodie Holiday Cookies
2/3 cup dairy-free shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (contains wheat/gluten)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup dairy free white chocolate chips (can substitute carob chips)
1/2 cup currants or sundried cranberries
Preheat oven 375 degrees. Mix together shortening, sugars, apple sauce and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; combine wet and dry ingredients until smooth. Add in fruit and white chocolate chips. Roll dough into balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and serve!