Monday, December 19, 2016

I've Got A Cookie For That

My first education in food allergies came not long after my son was born in 2008.  He was a lethargic eater with digestive issues.  His pediatrician sent us to a G.I. doc who said, "reflux," prescribed "Zantac," and told me there was nothing else I could do...other than raising the head of his bassinet.  My mommy-intuition told me there was more to it, so I started my research.  I found that dairy/soy allergies are fairly common in infants (at least those presenting with digestive issues), so I cut dairy and soy out of my diet (because I was exclusively breastfeeding).  Once the proteins had a chance to work their way out of my system my son did so much better and finally started to gain some weight!  Lessons is a powerful solution, and always trust your gut!

I sort of panicked thinking about not having desserts, since most contain dairy or soy in some form (this was back before my health crashed and I gave up all sugar).  My searching brought me to Erin McKenna and her beautiful Gluten-Free and Vegan "Babycakes Bakery."  Unfortunately I wouldn't be able to make it to NYC to enjoy her treats, but as luck would have it she had a cookbook!  I ordered it right away and started baking.  I think I literally made everything in her first evidenced by the beat-up and stained pages.  Our favorites were her chocolate chip cookies and banana bread.  I was so impressed with her story, and her desire to create a safe place for kids and adults alike to come and enjoy sweet treats...but even more impressed that they actually tasted delicious!  (I was skeptical since this was my first experience in the "allergy-friendly baking world," and baking was sort of my thing.)

Erin McKenna's second cookbook which includes the sugar cookie recipe
I continued to follow Erin's every move...she opened a couple more bakery locations, and I kept my fingers crossed for the addition of a Boston shop...still waiting...  Thankfully she put out another cookbook for all of us ravenous fans!  Once again I made my way through the gorgeous pages (it really is a work of food art), enjoying each recipe.  However, it was always sort of hanging over my head that the holidays would never be the same again.  I had so many classic, beloved, family-tradition recipes.  It was hard to let go, but when Christmas rolled around it was the perfect time to try out Erin's "Sugar Cookie" recipe.  It is AMAZING!  Seriously.  And it includes modifications to help you get your cookies just the way you like them (I happen to prefer a "cakier" cookie, which means a little more flour and less sugar.)  I have now tried 3 other "allergen-free" sugar cookie recipes, and the Babycakes one comes out heads and tails above all the rest.  It is delicious (as professed by my son and husband...but also by those who don't have food avoidances), and equally important to me is the fact that the dough is very easy to make and handle.  It rolls out well and works with tricky cutouts BEAUTIFULLY!  And one of the best parts, which is a HUGE added bonus, is that it doesn't have eggs in it, so you don't have to worry about your little ones handling the dough...or even eating it!  It is pure perfection!

Erin McKenna's Sugar Cookie Recipe (for the modifications pick up her book!)
Our finished products 2016 - including our vintage cookie-cutters, passed down from my mother
I would urge you to follow Erin McKenna & Babycakes no matter what your diet situation or preferences, because it is just better for you all around, and I PROMISE you will thoroughly enjoy her goodies.  We FINALLY got to try them straight from the bakery while at Disney World...opening a location there was total genius on her part.  I am SO HAPPY for all of the little kiddos with food allergies who can fully enjoy their Disney experience...treats and all!  I ordered one of her adorable and YUMMY birthday cakes to celebrate my son's birthday, and we ALL loved it!  I even had a little piece...vanilla cake, chocolate frosting, with maple frosting in the middle...unbelievable!

My son's delicious birthday cake from Babycakes Orlando, which delivers to Disney World Resorts/Restaurants
I hope this post will help EVERYONE find a way to celebrate and feel included in the festivities this holiday season!  ENJOY!!!

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