Mortgage California Blog

Natural Alternatives for Baking Holiday Cookies

December 17th, 2015

Holiday CookiesNatural Alternatives for Baking Holiday Cookies

In another post we talked about hosting a successful cooking exchange. But sometimes we want to give holiday cookies to people we know have food allergies or sensitivities. Other times, we want cookies that we know aren’t too sugar-filled. And other times, we think maybe we should be eating a little healthier.

Alternatives to Sugar

We all love sugar, but there are some studies coming out stating that we’re addicted to the stuff. And it causes a spike in our blood sugar which you want to avoid if you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic. There are a number of recipes out there for low sugar and no sugar treats.

You can also look into baking with alternatives including:

  • agave – from a cactus. It’s sweet but doesn’t raise blood sugar levels very much
  • honey – one of the classics
  • stevia – from the stevia plant. It’s extremely sweet so you have to remember to use less of it.
  • monkfruit – a small sub-tropical melon that has been used for a long time for a natural and low calorie sweetener

Here’s a recipe from Oprah’s magazine for Lemon Pistachio Agave cookies.

And one from the Brown Eyed Baker for honey peanut butter cookies. (We think we’d still sprinkle the large sugar crystals on top to make it look festive)

And a vanilla spritz cookie recipe on AllRecipes that uses stevia.

Alternatives to Food Dye

If you want to read the scary stuff about why you shouldn’t use fake food dyes, read it here.

And if you just want to play around in the kitchen, and just happen to want to color some icing for some cookies, here’s how you would make it.  First you’d get your alternative:

  • Green: spinach juice
  • Orange: pumpkin or carrot juice
  • Pink: raspberries or beetroot
  • Blue: blueberries
  • Purple: red cabbage or grapes
  • Yellow: yellow carrots, turmeric powder, saffron flowers

Then you’d need to get the juice or pulp, and carefully blend that into the frosting. You will get a softer shade then with commercial food dyes.

Alternatives to Flour

Just because you’re gluten free doesn’t mean you don’t love a good cookie. We’re not sure we’d go as far as using black beans in brownies, but maybe it’s because we haven’t tried them yet.

Bob’s Red Mill produces quite a variety of gluten free flour. They suggest using 2½ teaspoons of baking powder per cup of a wheat-free/gluten-free flour. And when baking without wheat or gluten, add xanthan gum or guar gum (both binders that keep batter from separating) to improve the texture of the baked good.

You can look into:

  • rice flour
  • almond flour
  • barley flour
  • buckwheat flour
  • cornmeal
  • garbanzo bean flour
  • millet flour
  • oat flour
  • kamut flour
  • quinoa flour
  • spelt flour
  • teff flour

Here’s a recipe and video from Joy Of Baking to teach you how to make real French meringue cookies.

Alternatives to Oil

If you’re looking to reduce fat without destroying the mouth-feel, look into purees.  You can use fruit (like applesauce) or vegetable (like pumpkin puree) to keep the cookie or cake moist instead of oil.

Also, look into using fat free yogurt instead as well. We once made a chocolate cake using fat free mayo, but we’re not sure that counts.

Read more information here on the Wilton Baking site for how to use the alternatives in your baked goods.

Are you ready to pull out your mixer and get baking yet? What alternative interested you the most?

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