Gluten Free Holiday Cooking and Baking Tips

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When you live gluten free, each day can feel like a new challenge. Whether it’s a brand new lifestyle change or you’re a seasoned gluten free pro, there are always times when you feel how difficult it is to stay on track with your gluten free diet. Then, to no surprise, when the holidays hit- game over! The season of baking, cooking, office parties, family get-togethers, friend-giving’s, and desserts can feel very overwhelming! As each event comes up, you stress over trying to figure out the best dish to bring so you have something you can safely eat but that will also taste great to all the other guests.

Follow these points as you hit the kitchen this season, and see your stress disappear as your holiday dish comes together just as you want it to… even if it takes a few tries to get there!

  • When you are just starting, it’s ok to get some help
    • If you are a gluten free beginner, the thought of taking on the task of making a gluten free holiday dish can be extremely daunting! With all of the different flours, new ingredients, products you can no longer rely on, and various techniques you may feel in over your head. Don’t worry though! There are so many pre-made mixes available to give you a great starting point to any recipe. These mixes, from companies such as Betty Crocker and King Arthur, can be prepared as listed or adjusted to add your personal touch and will help you ease your way into the world of gluten free cooking and baking! 
  • Do your research!
    • Whether you are looking for a strictly gluten free recipe or a gluten free version of a holiday favorite, when you are planning the dishes you would like to share around the holidays make sure to do your research on them! Look up several versions of the same recipe and note the differences between each such as ingredients used, techniques followed, oven temperature, and cook time. Small differences can have very different outcomes on the final product.
    • On top of comparing the actual recipes themselves, make sure to always read any comments and reviews. Many times people who have already made the recipe will comment on changes they found to make the recipe more successful such as ingredient adjustments, substitutions, or a different oven temperature. By doing this research, you can take the most successful and appealing parts of several recipes to make the best recipe for you and everyone you will be sharing it with!
  • Read Between the Lines
    • The gluten free lifestyle is a popular diet, but most of the time when someone is following a gluten free diet, it is for specific health reasons. If you are living gluten free because you medically have to, it is very important to make sure you read the ingredient list for every product you use in your cooking.
    • There are many ways that gluten can sneak into your cooking without your even knowing. Products such as cocoa, baking powder, imitation vanilla extract, Bouillon cubes, and soy sauce can all hide gluten! To go through the trouble of making a whole dish gluten free only to still get sick will take the enjoyment out of any holiday celebration so make sure to check everything. Using products that you see are certified gluten free will ensure that the products themselves do not contain gluten as well as show you that the products were not at risk of being contaminated by gluten containing products during their production. For more information on gluten free certification CLICK HERE. 
  • Know your Flours
    • When wheat flour goes out the window, you get an entire list of different flours to replace it! Unfortunately, there is no perfect one-to-one replacement for wheat flour and each type of flour has different attributes, flavors, and textures which can adjust the end result of whatever it is that you are cooking or baking. You want to make sure you are familiar with the different flours before beginning your recipe so you know which flours can be substituted for which, if needed and you will have a more clear idea of how your dish will turn out when finished.
    • Don’t worry about having all the different flours memorized though because there are a lot! Just make sure you are familiar with them and have a few resource lists handy for if you need a refresher such as these ones listed below:

 

Replacements for Wheat Flour

A Guide to Working with Gluten-Free Flours

Beginners Guide to Gluten Free Flours

Gluten Free Grains 101: The Best Flour Blend

Wheat Free & Gluten Free Alternative Flours

 

  • Pay Attention
    • Since the ingredients and flours you are using in your dishes are now different, you need to remember that whatever you are making will cook differently as well. Once you put your dish into the oven, there is a very high chance that you could either burn or under cook your dish if you just set the time and temperature and walk away. To avoid this, make sure you set your timer prior to the end time so you can check on your dish and determine if it will need extra time or if it is cooking too fast and burning on the edges while not cooking in the middle. If you see this happening you can always drop the oven temperature by 20-25 degrees and cover the top of the dish with aluminum foil until done. 
  • Be Patient!
    • The most important thing to remember when switching your cooking style to accommodate a gluten free diet is to be patient! It takes a lot of time and practice to get the hang of it. There will be many mistakes and ‘do-overs’ until you begin to see which flours and products you like more than others and how each type of flour effects the end result of your recipe. It is a learning curve but one that is worth it! So don’t give up… take a breath and try again until you get it perfect and can wow all of your friends and family with amazing and beautiful dishes!