Holidays can be challenging for kids (and adults!) with food allergies. Many holiday foods are not safe for those with food allergies – especially allergies to milk, egg, and wheat. However, many traditional foods can be made with allergy-friendly ingredients – presenting an opportunity to create something new (and sometimes better!) food for the holidays. For those with multiple food allergies, this milk-free, egg-free, and wheat-free allergy friendly sugar cookie recipe makes for a safe holiday treat that’s fun to decorate and eat!
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¾ cup sugar*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup vegetable shortening
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1½ cups white rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
* Use 1 cup sugar if you desire a sweeter cookie
In a mixer, cream together applesauce, sugar, vanilla, shortening, and salt. Add the remaining ingredients and mix at low speed, increasing speed until batter is smooth.
Divide the dough into fourths. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F
Place one section of the dough between two pieces of nonstick parchment paper. Use rice flour as needed to prevent sticking. With a rolling pin, roll dough into a flat disc that is ? to ½ inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and use a flat spatula to transfer cookies to a greased baking sheet. Collect scrap dough and repeat the process.
Bake for 13 to 16 minutes or until the cookies are darker around the edges and firm in the centers. Remove cookies from baking sheet to cool.
Dust with powdered sugar or ice with allergen-free icing (Mix ? cup vegetable shortening, 2 cups powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, and 2 teaspoons vanilla).
Recipe Adapted from Allergy Proof Recipes for Kids
The wheat protein, gluten, gives baked goods structure and stability. Wheat gluten helps keep cookies from crumbling apart. Using rice and tapioca flours (instead of wheat) helps give a somewhat similar stability. In cookies, finely ground rice flour provides “fluff” and tapioca flour adds “chew”.
Tapioca flour is made from the root (starch) of the cassava plant, a shrub native to South America. Cassava root is the major carbohydrate source for many in Africa, Latin America, and Asia and is used throughout the world to make tapioca, flour/starch, chips, adhesives, livestock feed, and interestingly, beer. Cassava is much sweeter (and higher in calories) than white potatoes:
Raw cassava is so much more calorically dense than potatoes because it has much less water (~60% water) than other tubers/potatoes (~80% water). However, tapioca flour (100 calories/cup) and potato flour (120 calories/cup) vary only slightly in calories.
Although tapioca and other ‘starch’ flours combined with rice flours are good substitutes for wheat to enhance baked good texture and appeal, in general, other wheat-free flours (millet, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, almond, and bean flours) are healthier. These grain, nut, bean, and seed flours provide more protein, fiber, and B-vitamins. Just ask the reindeer!