No-sugar, gluten & dairy free holiday treats

Is it possible to indulge in tasty, satisfying, sweet treats over the holidays without the sugar, gluten and carb overload that makes you feel bloated, headachy, tired and craving more?

Yes it is! I recently shared an entire booklet filled with sweet treat recipes that are free from sugar, gluten, grains, and dairy with my Sugar Shift group so they could start adding back in some sweetness to their lives. They were absolutely delighted to find some alternatives to the traditional sugar-laden baked goods that go hand-in-hand with the holidays.

Even though I’m not a fan of refined sugars and artificial sweeteners, I believe you can’t or shouldn’t, go through life without any sweet, tasty treats. By baking at home, with real, whole natural ingredients you can keep the processed, refined, chemicalized, harmful substances out, and keep all the nourishing, good sweetness in.

While these yummy treats might not be what your grandmother served, why not add some new traditions into your holiday homemaking? All it takes is some letting go of beliefs and habits and opening your mind to a new way of doing things.

Before I share a couple of my new favourite holiday recipes, here are a few substitutions for traditional baking ingredients:

Sugar – Instead of table sugar or other nasty sweeteners, I personally like to use local maple syrup, raw honey, dried or fresh fruit, or a pinch of green stevia powder in my baking. To me these are the most unprocessed, natural sweeteners available.

Flour – I’ve been using a lot of almond meal or blanched almond flour in my baking to replace the gluten-filled flours of conventional baking. It’s a good source of protein and great for gluten-free cookies, muffins, breads and loaves. Coconut flour is another good one I’ve used.

Dairy – The creamy, whipped, silky taste and texture usually gained from cream, milk, and other dairy can usually be replaced by coconut products. Coconut milk, coconut butter, and coconut oil are great to use in your baking. And of course, I still love good old fashioned butter!

So crank up the merry and jolly tunes, don your festive apron, pour yourself a cup of dairy-free egg nog and get to it!

Healthy Holiday Snow Balls
– Makes about 18 balls

•   1/2 cup walnuts
•   1/2 cup fresh dates with pits removed
•   1/2 cup raw cacao powder
•   1/2 cup maple syrup
•   1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
•   1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
•   1/2 cup whole almonds
•   1/2 cup almond butter
•   10-12 extra whole almonds for stuffing
•   Shredded unsweetened coconut – for rolling

Place the walnuts in a food processor and process until coarsely ground.  Add the dates, and pulse until well combined with the nuts.  Add the cacao powder, syrup, vanilla extract, and salt.

Process until mixture is thick and smooth.  Add the almonds, and pulse a few times until combined but left in coarse chunks. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in almond butter with a sturdy spoon. Form the mixture into 1.5 inch in diameter size balls with your hands. (I find a bit of olive oil on the hands helps mixture from sticking) Press one whole almond into the centre of each ball.

Roll the balls in the unsweetened coconut. Place in a sealed container in the freezer until hardened. Enjoy straight from the freezer!

Grain-Free Shortbread Cookies

–    inspired by

•   1 cup blanched almond flour (almond meal will not achieved the desired results)
•   3 tbsp soft organic butter
•   1 teaspoon raw honey
•   pinch of sea salt
•   1/4 tsp. organic vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F and have an un-greased cookie sheet available. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl until it forms into a nice thick batter forms. Using a tablespoon, scoop dough onto cookie sheet into desired shape. You can use festive cookie cutters or simply press the cookies flat with a fork. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Watch closely to ensure they don’t burn. Remove from the oven when they are lightly golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan and transferring to a cooling rack before serving.

Happy Holidays. Enjoy!



  1. Charlene on November 23, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    How much maple syrup or honey would I use when substituting for sugar?

    • Michelle on November 23, 2015 at 4:59 pm

      It really depends on the recipe Charlene. I also find Xylitol is a great replacement for white sugar and can be substituted 1:1. In most recipes, whether it’s a natural sweetener or sugar, you usually never need as much as is called for and can reduce it by about half.

      Happy holiday baking.

      With sweetness

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