Written by Jill Motew, Zemas founder and mother of five
What do I do when one of my Zemas Madhouse Foods gluten-free baking mixes is not formulated to make a regular sugar cookie and I WANT that sugar cookie for my kids Hanukkah dessert? I have two choices-start from scratch or resort to making them from a gluten-free, all-purpose mix. The first is time consuming even for an avid baker like myself. The second is my least favorite option because I am forced to use blends that are white, starchy and void of nutrition. What to do?
One of my go-to healthy baking tips on using a packaged gluten-free, all-purpose flour is to spruce it up with additional nutrient dense ingredients such as chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax meal. All of the gluten-free all purpose baking flours on the market are white in color and filled with flours void of any nutrition. High up on their list of flour sources are cornstarch, white rice flour, sweet rice flour and potato flour. Brown rice flour has more nutrients but it’s never the main flour being used because it costs more money for manufacturers to use and in the end all rice flours lend a crumbly, fall apart baked good with a gritty mouth. I’m looking for an all purpose flour that has some bean flours or ancient whole grains as part of their line-up but it’s not an easy find.
Once the cookies are cooled now comes the fun part-decorating! Store bought frosting is filled with multiple refined sugars, partially hydrogenated fats, shelf stabilizers and chemical laden food color dyes. For my kids living with ADHD, food color dyes made from GMO’s are a big NO. Instead, stop by your local health food store(or order online) natural food color dyes that are made from a fruit and veggie base. Below, I am sharing my favorite gluten-free sugar cookie recipe, dye-free, refined sugar free frosting recipe and a list of my kids top decorating candies that pass my clean food test. Yes, these are cookies, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make them healthier and cleaner by using additional better-for-you ingredients.
Healthier Hanukkah Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
Makes: 36 cookies
1 c. butter(regular or dairy free), room temperature
1 c. sugar of choice(I used palm sugar)
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 1/2 c. gluten free all purpose flour
½ c. flaxseed meal
2 T. hemp seeds
¼ t. sea salt(I used Himalayan)
½ t. pure vanilla extract
Cream butter and sugar in a stand up mixer.
Add in applesauce and vanilla.
Add in flour, flaxmeal, hemp seeds and salt.
Divide dough into two discs and wrap in plastic wrap.
Chill in fridge for at least 2 hours, overnight is ok as well.
When ready to bake, take discs out of fridge and let sit for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Spread wax paper on counter and sprinkle gluten free flour on top.
Unwrap one disc at a time and place on floured surface.
Roll dough to about ¼” thickness.
Use your cookie shapes to press out dough and place shapes on the cookie sheets.
Bake 10-12 minutes and let cool completely before decorating.
Makes 2 C. frosting
1 c. butter(regular or dairy-free), room temperature
4 c. powdered sugar(I used organic)
2 t. pure vanilla extract
2-4 T. milk of choice(I use almond)
Mix all ingredients in stand up mixer and divide into 4 equal parts.
Keep one part white and use your food coloring to create three additional colors.
Set up a decorating bar for the kids. I like to place my frosting in small bowls or piping bags with different frosting tips on them. I set out organic, dye-free candy in bowls as well.
Here’s my favorite go-to decorating candy:
Surf Sweets jelly beans and gummy bears/worms.
Mini non-gmo vegan marshmallows by Dandies.
Sprinkles from India Tree.
Color Garden veggie and fruit based color dyes to create my frosting colors.
Enjoy and Happy Holidays.