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Holiday Health Alert – Cut Out Sugar – Cut in Cookies

Holiday Health Alert – Cut Out Sugar – Cut in Cookies

Cut out Christmas Sugar Cookies because your child has sugar and wheat allergies? No way! This article aims to convince you that it is easy to make the infamous Sugar Cookie healthy without using processed sugar and flour. You may know these two white wonders as the evil twins most likely responsible for the symptoms I call the holiday haze. They are sugar binging and crashing, irritability, and tummy aches just to name a few. If you are at all curious how to make healthy cookies that feature an all natural and organic sugar-free icing, read on and get ready to roll out the dough.

Cut in sweets without the ill side affects. This in it self is a miracle. First, I would like to tell you about the origins of this heaven sent cookie and why I want to share this treat with you and your family.

Christmas means make a mess in the kitchen with the kids: white confection masks everyone from head to toe, even the dog and kitty. Nothing lights up a child’s face like making Christmas cookies, not even the Christmas tree.

I love the sugar cookie because it is creatively kid friendly. The dough is durable, can be rolled out over and over, and the character cut outs make a story for all to imagine. As a kid, all I could do was happily anticipate eating the angel, Santa, and Rudolph the reindeer. About five times each. This holiday joy was inevitably distracted by dread. I’d soon feel the sugar rush through my little obese body. I was always 45 pounds overweight. My joints would ache and messed up was my digestion all night long and into the next day. The memory of feeling the warmth of my mother’s kitchen, the freedom to express with cookie cutters, and the ultimate disappoint of ill-health just didn’t mix. This was not a recipe for success. Sugar Cookies used to mean joy and pain. At least they did for me, and so I did something about it. I wanted just joy.

I took a sugar cookie recipe from my Aunt Diane, Sicilian by decent, an expert in dough from pizza to cannolis, and when she belts out the Ave Maria, it brings me to tears. Any woman who sings while she bakes you know is going to roll out a tasty dough. So taking my aunt’s family recipe, I used my transcribing method of converting the white processed sugar and flour to alternative sugar-free/gluten-free ingredients and created a Cut Out Sugar Cookie to share with everyone.

I use alternative ingredients to white wheat flour such as an all-purpose gluten-free flour by Bob Redmill’s that combines garbanzo bean, fava bean, tapioca and potato starch for the right cookie texture. I use white rice flour for a white cookie color and for flouring the dough and cookie cutters. Xanthan gum is a necessary ingredient for gluten-free baking and is added to hold the gluten-free flour together. Just a small amount is needed of this plant based gum.

For the sugar I substitute agave, stevia, and a combination of oligofructose and erythritol in a product called Swerve that can be found at pcflabs.com, some Whole Foods, and health food stores. Organic erythritol is a fermented polyol or sugar alcohol with no digestive ill side affects. Swerve also adds oligofructose which is inulin from chickory. Both ingredients have no glycemic or very low glycemic index and very easy digestion. Neither promotes tooth decay.

Swerve is the most affordable healthy baking sugar replacement that looks and acts the most like sugar in baking. Swerve replaces the volume and firmness as well as adding an extremely low calorie sweetness in a recipe. Just using erythritol products without the added oligofructose like ZSweet and Zero brands of erythritol are not as good for baking because the taste isn’t as sweet, but straight erythritol works great as table sugars to sprinkle on cereals and yogurts. They can both be found at Whole Foods and health food stores on on the internet.

Also in the recipe, my aunt Diane uses sour cream which gives the dough an extra added moistness and elasticity that makes for great taste and a dough that can be rolled out many times over. The easy roll out factor is very important when it comes to making this cookie recipe with kids.

To substitute for the dairy, a soy yogurt can be used but it may change the color of the dough to a darker color. The original look of the dough should be a backdrop of white and the color of the icing could be a pink or green for a holiday theme. Another way to switch out the sour cream is to use Total Greek 2% yogurt. This is a healthy version while still using dairy.

Knowing the substitutes, it time for the tricks of making the recipe.

“Carefully roll out the gluten-free/sugar-free dough with a white rice floured rolling pin between two sheets of wax paper. Make sure both sides of the dough are lightly floured with the white rice flour as well. White rice flour is my flour of choice for rolling out gluten-free dough because it is grainy and won’t stick. Also, flour your cookie cutters in the white rice flour. Dip a thin metal spatula in the white rice flour to lift up the cut out cookies and gently slide onto your baking sheet,” are words you would hear me say in a cooking class or on my Sweet Truth Cooking TV show on Veria. A hands-on interactive class is the best way for eager learners of the gluten-free/sugar-free alternative baking technique to experience a tactile difference in this healthy dough as compared to the old-fashioned white, wheat flour dough. To get a grip on gluten-free, one must see and feel how the new dough behaves: how it takes longer to mix up, looks more crumbly, sticks to your hands, needs more effort to roll out, easily breaks apart, and ultimately bakes and browns faster than a traditional sugar/wheat dough.

Sounds difficult? Trust me. It’s worth the little extra effort and elbow grease to make this dough work like magic and create a healthy cookie that everyone will love. The best part is that you’ll feel good about feeding it to the masses. Practice makes perfect when handling the dough. Use your senses to know when to stop rolling the dough. Also, a kitchen timer is the key safety device for perfectly baked gluten-free cookies.

The above mentioned techniques are just a few of the fun new tricks of the trade to acquire when it comes to the art and science of creating your version of beloved Sugar Cookie, alternative style. Like interval training, these methods go a long way: sugar-free/gluten-free baking allows you to have your cookies and eat them too! There is no extra calories, bloat, weight gain, or binging because there is no sugar or white processed flour. Sugar cookies are not just for holidays as popular culture would have it. Look at Starbucks, Gelson’s, or your local bakery. They all sell fanciful, colorful, kid-like wannabe and want to bite sugar-cookies all year round and for every change of season. It’s not just the winter holidays that sugar cookies intrude our veins and spike our glucose levels. Yet who wants to really give up cookies? And icing. Um, no!

For the icing, again Swerve found at pcflabs.com is the sugar of choice and makes the best tasting. You can also use natural fruits and vegetables for food coloring for your icing by adding beet juice for pink or red and by juicing kale or spinach for green. Use unsweetened coconut and Goji berries for extra charm and creativity!

This Cut-Out Sugar Cookie recipe tastes and looks like the real thing. Now when I make these cookies, the kid in everyone comes to the table and can get up from their chairs feeling clear, vibrant, creative, and healthy. They are at peace with themselves and their stomachs. Have fun!

cut out sugar cookie

a frosted cut-out cookie made with agave – no sugar, no wheat, and no gluten

DOUGH 1 cup vegetable shortening 1/2 cup Swerve sugar alternative 2 eggs 1 tablespoon vanilla 1 cup sour cream 1/2 cup light agave 2 droppers Liquid Stevia Vanilla Creme 3 cups gluten-free flour 1 cup white rice flour 1 cup potato flour 4 packets or 2 teaspoons Stevia Plus Powder 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon xanthan gum

ICING 1 cup Swerve sugar alternative, powdered 2 teaspoons unsweetened almond milk 1 dropper Liquid Stevia Vanilla Crème 2 teaspoons light agave 2 teaspoons beet juice (optional)

For cookies: With paddle attachment in stand up mixer, cream shortening and Swerve. Add in eggs and beat until fluffy. Add in vanilla, sour cream, agave, and Liquid Stevia and blend.

In separate bowl, sift together gluten-free flour, white rice flour, potato flour, Stevia Powder, baking powder, baking soda, and xanthan gum.

With paddle attachment in stand up mixer, add pre-sifted dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix. Scrape down sides of bowl. If needed, add a bit of flour to hands first and then form dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 2 hours or over night for best results to firm up dough.

Between two floured sheets of wax paper, roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Peel the top layer of wax paper off dough. Cut out cookies with floured cookie cutters and place on non-greased cookie sheet. This dough is very durable and can be rolled out many times.

Bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes. Depending on how thick or thin you roll the dough will depend on long you bake the cookies. Watch cookies carefully. The cookies should not brown or even be golden, but will appear white when they are done. Cookies are done when spring back to the touch. Cool on wire rack.

For frosting: To make powdered Swerve, place Swerve in a high powdered blender and blend on high for about five seconds then measure 1 cup. In stand up mixer with paddle attachment, mix well Swerve, milk or water, Liquid Stevia, agave, and fruit or vegetable powder for coloring. Beat icing for 2-3 minutes until glossy. Frost cookies with icing when cooled.

Yield: Five dozen cookies.