Gluten Free and Vegan Holiday Sugar Cookie Recipe

holiday gluten free and vegan sugar cookies
gluten free and vegan holiday sugar cookie recipe

Sugar cookies are among the best items on the holiday menu list. But a majority of baked goods and traditional holiday cookies use gluten and dairy ingredients.

We want to share this sugar cookie recipe that is both gluten free and vegan friendly! So that, everyone can get a taste of holiday cookies this season.

Start with these gluten free and vegan friendly ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light margarine
  • 3 tablespoon of applesauce or grounded chia seeds/flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon water or almond milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your all-purpose flour has it)
  • 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour

Keep your favorite cookie cutters close by.

Begin by mixing the sugar and butter at medium speed in a big bowl. Then add the applesauce or grounded chia seeds or flax seeds. This is a vegan substitution for the eggs in the traditional sugar cookies and most of holiday baked goods. Add water or almond milk, vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Keep blending until all the ingredients are mixed well.

Now lower the speed, and add the gluten free all purpose flour and xanthan gum. Once its all mixed very well, cover the big bowl, and refrigerate for at least one hour. If you do not refrigerate your dough, it will be very sticky to roll out the cookie dough.  

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. While waiting for the oven to warm up to your desired temperature, line up your baking sheet with either a parchment paper or reusable silicone baking sheet.

Lightly spread gluten-free flour on a  flat surface and roll out the dough from the big bowl. Roll it out into the size of cookies you like to have. Usually the dough is rolled out into quarter inch thick.

Once you are satisfied with the dough consistency and size, use your cookie cutter to cut out fun shapes and place the cookies on the baking sheet one by one.

Once you cut out as many shapes as you can with your cookie cutter/ cutters, reform the dough and spread it out again to cut more cookies.

Now bake for ten minutes and let it sit in the oven for few minutes. Then take the cookies out of the oven and let them cool before shifting them from the baking sheet to a separate area to start decorating.

I like to melted cacao to make chocolate coating, and festive colored icing to decorate my cookies

These cookies can be stored in a container for five days.

10 Easy Ways to Cut Back on Sugar

Strawberry

While the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 7.5 teaspoons of added sugar per day, Americans usually exceed this amount by almost three fold.

An increasing number of household purchases like condiments, baking supplies, yogurt, and juices contain added sugar. We naturally tend to crave sugary treats, and this results in a series of bad little purchases that can have a huge impact on our health in the long run. A long-term high sugar diet leads to weight gain, hormone imbalance, and irreversible chronic diseases.

There are easy ways to cut back on sugar by making conscious little decisions everyday. Here are our top 10 easy ways to cut back on sugar:

  1. Cut Back on Condiments : Ketchup alone contains 22 grams of sugar per 100 gram you consume. If you are having a sandwich, use as little of the condiments as possible. Using a lot of sauces also overpowers the ingredients in your sandwich. Eat with the intention of tasting the ingredients, not overpowering them!

2. Drink Water: Drinking water hydrates you and helps energize your muscles. If you are thirsty, drink water because it has no sugar and your body needs it! Your body is about 60% water, and it is recommended that you get eight ounce glass water per day.

3. Avoid Soda : A single can of soda contains as many as 11 teaspoons of added sugar, that is already double the recommended amount for an individual for a whole day. Additionally drinking sodas/pop regularly builds plaque on your teeth and results in cavities. 

4. Use Extracts for Baking: Instead of adding sweetened flavors, try adding natural extract without the sweetening. This way you can control how much sugar you put into your baked goods!

5. Buy less Processed Items: Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and food items that aren’t canned, processed, and infused with preservatives. Processed food items are readily available in every store front, making it more difficult find fresh and natural food items. But choosing to buy less processed item also means cutting back on added complex sugar, and preservatives.  

6. Read Labels: A lot of the time the amount of sugar is listed under the nutritional label. However, make sure to look for what amount the sugar is constituted for. For instance, is it 20 gm for every 100 gm or 20 gm for 350 gm of the given food item. Sometimes you may read 5 gm of sugar and choose that item over another, without realizing for the accounted amount of food item.

7. Eat Fresh Fuits: Shop fresh fruits in your local farmer’s market and eat organic, natural fruits instead of canned ones. Remember to also watch how much you eat as well because it still contains sugar. 

8. Avoid Mixed Alcoholic Drinks: Mixed alcoholic drinks often contain a  combination of sugar filled liqueur, spirits, and artificial juices that are very high in sugar. Consider cutting out elaborate cocktails with mixture of sugary spirits to cut back on sugar when you are out with your friends.

9. Choose unsweetened: Whether it’s dried fruits, almond milk or spices, choose unsweetened items. We tend to over season while cooking items so it is best to choose items that are unsweetened. 

10. Eat Out less: Eating out is not only costly to your pocket, but also your health. Since menus don’t list out exactly how much sugar they use in their food items, it is always a gamble. Eat at home as much as possible to avoid the guessing game.

Wired on Sugar

Eating sugar stimulates the feel good chemicals in your body. When you eat sugar you get a surge of dopamine and serotonin that make you feel good. No wonder  why so many of us turn to sugary treats when we are feeling down.

It’s important that we understand why we crave sugary treats and what it does to our body in order to become mindful eaters.

Mismatch between our lifestyle and environment

Millions of years ago, early humans lived in an environment where food was scarce and sweet things were hard to come by. The taste for sweet things developed early on as a mutation because it helped store body fat. And storing fat in an unstable living environment was vital to survival.

A mismatch between today’s environment and our sugar craving poses a fundamental problem for us. While high caloric, sugary, fatty, salty items were scarce millions of years ago, it is available in abundance today. Sugary treats can be found on every street corner but our cravings have continued to persist.

Short and long term effects

Eating excess amount of sugar results in that initial high experience- commonly coined the term “Sugar high” from excess glucose in your bloodstream.

Naturally our body produces insulin to absorb glucose from our bloodstream. And when it does, your body experiences drop in blood sugar, or sugar crash. You feel tired and drained.

Refined sugar is packed with calories, without any other nutrients.

“We need to realize that our bodies are not adapted to the amount of sugar that we are pouring into them and it’s making us sick” said Daniel Lieberman, a biologist at Harvard University.

The liver stores any excess glucose in the form of glycogen for later use. However, it can only store a fixed amount, and the rest gradually accumulates as fat in the organ.

Excess sugar diet is also responsible for obesity epidemic in both U.S. and Canada. Over time, the poor eating habits can lead to weight gain. And consistently being overworked to produce more insulin, your body can develop insulin resistance.

When cells are no longer able to absorb the glucose, the blood sugar goes well above the normal level – prediabetes. Unchecked, high sugar diet and sedentary lifestyle can lead to type 2 diabetes.

A large source of sugar in our diet comes from processed and artificial food. So, avoiding these items can help you reduce sugary from your diet. Starting small today can help you live healthier lifestyle. You can check out the next article on 10 easy ways to cut back on sugar. 

 

 

Medjool Dates
Why they are an absolute
must for your pantry.

Dates

Hello fellow dessertees!  Do you like dates?  No, I’m not talking about that social (sometimes awkward) thing people do, no, I’m talking about the fruit.  To be specific, I am talking about the medjool date…my most favorite of the date family.  The medjool date is larger and softer than other dates and can be used in a variety of ways.  I like to refer to the medjool date as ‘the mother of all healthy dessert ingredients’ as it is so widely used as an ingredient in many raw or cooked healthy dessert recipes from vegan, and gluten free, to paleo or ketogenic lifestyles. 

Aside from its rich sweet taste and diversity, it comes loaded with vitamins and minerals.

Some of the health benefits of eating dates include:

Digestive health – the soluble and insoluble fiber promote healthy gastrointestinal activity which can reduce risks of colitis, colon cancer, and hemorrhoids.
Rich in magnesium – magnesium is responsible for over 300 chemical reactions in the body…need I say more?  Magnesium has a natural “relaxing” effect which relieves constipation and regulates the nervous system.  To learn more about magnesium I recommend picking up a copy of The Magnesium Miracle – Dr. Carolyn Dean

Source of potassium – maintains blood pressure, reduces anxiety and stroke, regulates metabolism, enhances muscle strength.

Other benefits include:

  • Antioxidant properties
  • Brain health
  • Reduces impotence
  • Energy boost
  • Heart health
  • Pregnancy delivery
  • Provides satiety
  • Combats arteriosclerosis
  • Phytonutrient profile
  • Nerve function

Where is the dessert already??  I know, I’m getting there.  I am just highlighting the benefits of this sweet little shriveled up miracle!

Because of its diversity, you can use dates in just about any dessert as it can be used as a sweetener, or as the base of a pie or cake.

Donny is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner
and founder of Snap & Giggle.

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Mejool Dates Image

Dates as a Sweetener
This is a very simple concept: 

Take a bunch of pitted medjool dates and soak in filtered water overnight or for at least 8 hours. 

Pour dates with 1/3 of the soak water into a blender or food processor and puree for a couple of minutes until smooth.  Add more soak water if needed, but consistency should be thick. 

Refrigerate for up to a week or you can freeze in ice cube trays for later use.

Date syrup can be substituted 1/1 in place of sugar in recipes.  It is not overly sweet so depending on your sweetness preference, you may need to add another sugar sub such as unrefined cane sugar or coconut palm sugar.

For the fitness gurus, take a tbsp. of date syrup before your workout for a quick energy boost.

Mejool Dates 2

Dates as a Crust
Dates can be used when forming a base for raw or baked pie crusts, squares, or cakes.  Formulating a base for your dessert can be the most exciting part of the recipe as you get to let your creativity run rampant! 

First step: choose your fruit aka binder.  For this blog, we are going with pitted medjool dates, but any dried fruit will do.

Second step: choose your nut or seed aka base.  Many options here including walnut, almond, pecan, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed, pistachio, macadamia, brazil and hazelnut.  Choose 1, 2, or a combination of all if you don’t want to discriminate.

Third step (optional): choose your add-ons.  Again, options are almost limitless including cacao powder, cacao nibs, carob powder, shredded coconut, citrus zest, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and extracts such as vanilla.  You can really go off the deep end and add a drop of food grade essential oil, such as lavender, to add therapeutic properties.

Tips: Just remember, you need a balance of binder and base.  If your binder is too moist you may have to add a touch of base.  Conversely, if your mix just isn’t sticking together, add a touch of binder and a drop of water to assist with cohesion.

Don’t forget to add a pinch of Himalayan sea salt to help extract your flavours.

Simple pie crust recipe:

Yield: 9-10” crust

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup base (single or combination…its up to you!)
  • 1/2 cup binder (can also be a combination)
  • 1 – 2 tsp add on (keep extracts to 1 tsp, and essential oils to 1 drop as they can overpower)

Directions

  • Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until a crumble forms and sticks together.
  • Remove the mixture from the processor and press and mold into your base of choice (pie pan, springform pan).  Use your fingertips at first, keeping them dampened with water to prevent sticking.  Once molded, I like to use a shot glass as a “steamroller” to ensure the crust has been patted evenly. Again, keep the glass dampened to avoid sticking.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow crust to firm up.
  • Add filling/toppings and enjoy!  It is recommended to add your fillings/toppings just prior to consuming to avoid the crust from becoming too soggy.

Tip – here’s a little “anti-sog” trick you can try with your raw desserts: melt some chocolate or cacao butter and add a very thin coat to your crust just before refrigerating.  The chocolate/cacao butter will solidify and create a somewhat waterproof barrier.  Of course, your filling/toppings would have to be cold, or the coating will melt.

Well that’s all!  Hope you enjoyed our date and feel free to post your success or your ‘not so good’ on our facebook page.

Life is short, eat dessert first.