Sunday, November 1, 2009

Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Halloween

Halloween is one of my favourite times of the year. Last night was perfect. Friends came over for pizza before we headed out trick-or-treating. The wind settled a little and the rain stopped about twenty minutes before our monkey, dinosaur, Darth Vader, and kangaroo burst out the door. Dry leaves crunched beneath our feet and clouds tumbled across the moon as we ran from house to house.

Special occasions usually mean lots of treats--treats containing sugar and gluten. We avoid both things in our house because we find Kieran does better without them. Sooo...we have to be creative. And creative we were yesterday. My boy and I were up early mixing and measuring, making all kinds of yummy things to celebrate Halloween.

I'm not going to lie. Switching to a gluten-free, sugar-free diet sucked at first. I love to bake but found flour combinations and xanthan gum unsatisfying. While I still miss truly stretchy dough, I'm starting to gain more confidence in baking without my traditional ingredients. I also find chick pea flour to be more satisfying than wheat flour. If I have a muffin made with chick pea flour for breakfast, I'm sustained longer.

A good friend of mine recently switched over to a gluten-free diet. She bought me a new cookbook called Baby Cakes: Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York's Most Talked-About Bakery by Erin McKenna. Love it! Yesterday, I roasted a small pie pumpkin and had just enough puree to make pumpkin-spice muffins and pumpkin gingerbread. There's even a recipe for icing--I haven't tried it yet but it's on my list. I'm so happy to be baking for my son, finally. These recipes work. And trust me, because gluten-free ingredients are so expensive, when a recipe doesn't work, I growl.

Here's a collection of ingredients I used to make my muffins and gingerbread. As you can see, they aren't really in-line with a 100-Mile Diet approach. However, we can now get buckwheat flour close by and honey can be used in many recipes in place of sugar with a bit of tweaking. Here's some new ingredients I've been using that certainly aren't local but I couldn't live without:
Agave Nectar: natural sweetener produced in Mexico and used in tequila. It's sweeter and more fluid than honey. It takes longer to absorb into the bloodstream so it doesn't spike your blood sugar the same way as refined sugar.
Coconut Oil: what a great find! It must be cold-pressed to maintain its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. I keep reading about the boundless health benefits of this oil--it's even been compared to breast milk. After I work with it, my hands (which spend most of the cold months chapped and bleeding) are actually soft and healthy. Imagine what it does to our insides.
Now, you're probably wondering what we give out for treats. This year, I found tiny play dough tubs for the little kids. We also gave out chips and chocolate bars. If we're going to eat sugar, it better be accompanied by chocolate. Mike actually gave out a bag of organic raisins. I'm waiting for our house to get egged.

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