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Baking for Kids with Food Allergies

When your kids have been diagnosed with food allergies, it’s sometimes tough to navigate recipes that call for flour, eggs, dairy, or whatever it is you’re trying to avoid. Baking can become tricky; often recipes for cakes, cookies, muffins and loaves rely on flour and eggs for their structure, and butter for tenderness and flavor. Here are a few tricks that will help you adapt your favorite recipes to accommodate any dietary restrictions, and some new cookie, muffin, cake and pie recipes that everyone will enjoy.


The ingredients you use depend largely on what it is you’re baking, and the texture you want to achieve. For example, adding liquid to a cookie recipe will give it a cakey texture, which is better suited to cakes and muffins than something you want to be dense and chewy or crumbly and shortbreadlike. Here are a few ingredient swaps to try:

Cakes, muffins and quick breads: All of the above work wonderfully with canola or another neutral-tasting vegetable oil, so if a recipe calls for butter – or particularly for melted butter – you can make the switch cup for cup. Eggs act as binder and leavening agent in these sorts of recipes, and are more tricky to replace – if a recipe calls for 1-2 eggs, try an egg replacement (available at most grocery stores, and not the same as egg substitute, which comes in cartons in the dairy case). You can also try mixing 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed with 3 Tbsp. warm water; let stand 1 minute before using and use in place of the egg in a recipe – this is a common substitute. (For more info, visit kidswithfoodallergies.org.) For the wheat flour, substitute a gluten-free blend; most often you can’t rely on a single gluten-free flour to give cakes, muffins and loaves proper structure. For milk, substitute soy, almond or coconut milk cup for cup.

Cookies: Because they rely on butter as much for flavor as texture, try swapping a dairy-free butter substitute. Dense squares like brownies are easiest to adapt; with very little flour in them, they don’t rely on gluten for their structure. Try gluten-free oat flour, quinoa flour or a gluten-free flour blend in your recipe if you’re aiming for wheat or gluten-free.

Pastry: This one is tricky. Shauna of Gluten-free Girl has come up with a brilliant pastry crust, as has Lauren of Celiac Teen. If you’re just going dairy-free, make yours using lard or shortening.

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  • Peanut Butter & Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies 1 of 12
    Peanut Butter & Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies
    These cookies contain no butter, sugar, or eggs. But wait they're delicious. No, really. Their moisture and sweetness comes from ripe bananas, and their structure comes from oats making them gluten free if you use gluten-free oats. They have the irresistible combination of peanut butter, chocolate and bananas, stirred up into a soft, chewy, cookie that keeps well and makes a wonderful quick breakfast nibble or post-workout snack.
    Family Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Gluten-free Quinoa Brownies 2 of 12
    Gluten-free Quinoa Brownies
    These dense, fudgy brownies are made with quinoa flour - they'll satisfy your craving for rich chocolate, without the wheat or gluten.
    Family Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Gluten-free Oatmeal & Quinoa Blueberry Muffins 3 of 12
    Gluten-free Oatmeal & Quinoa Blueberry Muffins
    There's nothing like waking up to the smell of something delicious baking. These sweet, nubbly oatmeal muffins made with quinoa flour can be adapted however you like - try adding orange zest and cranberries in place of the blueberries, or for a special treat, add chocolate chips.
    Family Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Wheat & Gluten-free Chewy Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies 4 of 12
    Wheat & Gluten-free Chewy Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
    These rich, chewy cookies are amazingly free of dairy and flour of any kind - their structure is provided by egg whites. Swap toasted walnuts or pecans for the hazelnuts if you like, or try tossing in a handful of chopped dark chocolate for yet another chocolate dimension.
    Family Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Gluten-free Quinoa Chocolate Cake 5 of 12
    Gluten-free Quinoa Chocolate Cake
    This rich, moist chocolate cake is one of the best I've had - and it's made with cooked quinoa, pureed in the blender with the rest of the ingredients. Even if you can eat gluten, it's a great way to inject nutrients into a classic chocolate cake!
    Family Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Egg-free, Nut-free, and Dairy-free Chocolate Chip Cookies 6 of 12
    Egg-free, Nut-free, and Dairy-free Chocolate Chip Cookies
    These shortbreadlike cookies will satisfy your cookie cravings - especially served warm, straight from the oven.
    Family Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Egg-free, Dairy-free Peanut Butter Cream Pie 7 of 12
    Egg-free, Dairy-free Peanut Butter Cream Pie
    Those who can't eat eggs and dairy typically steer clear of cream pies - here's a classic peanut butter cream pie that contains neither! Try drizzling it with dairy-free dark chocolate for a chocolate peanut butter cup version.
    Family Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Egg, Dairy and Gluten-free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies 8 of 12
    Egg, Dairy and Gluten-free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
    These fall-inspired chocolate chip cookies don't contain egg, dairy or gluten - but they do contain pumpkin! It's a delicious combination perfect for back-to-school lunchboxes or Halloween festivities.
    Family Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Egg-free, Dairy Free Muffins 9 of 12
    Egg-free, Dairy Free Muffins
    Everyone needs a good muffin recipe in their repertoire - use these as a blank canvas for all kinds of additions, from berries to chopped or dry fruit.
    Family Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Egg-free, Dairy-free Brown Sugar Blondies 10 of 12
    Egg-free, Dairy-free Brown Sugar Blondies
    Rich, chewy blondies, studded with gooey chocolate chips, without eggs or dairy? It's a dream come true! Serve with a cold glass of your favorite lactose-free milk substitute.
    Cheeky Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Egg-free, Dairy-free (and easily gluten-free!) Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Cake 11 of 12
    Egg-free, Dairy-free (and easily gluten-free!) Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Cake
    This creamy ice cream cake is a winner - without eggs or dairy! To make it wheat or gluten-free too, swap gluten-free cookies to make the crumbs for the crust. Easy as ice cream cake!
    Cheeky Kitchen has the recipe!
  • Wheat-free, Dairy-free Peanut Butter Nutella Thumbprint Cookies 12 of 12
    Wheat-free, Dairy-free Peanut Butter Nutella Thumbprint Cookies
    Peanut butter and Nutella in one tasty cookie that's free of wheat and dairy! Divine!
    Silvana's Kitchen has the recipe!

For more delicious ideas, check out Julie’s other Family Kitchen posts or visit her blog, Dinner with Julie! Join Julie on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for updates!

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