Cooking For Alternative Diets During The Holidays

baking for alternative diets during the holidays

I know when I stopped eating dairy a few years ago, my mom was so worried about what she wouldn’t be able to make anything for me – especially at the holidays. What we’ve learned is, it’s really not so tricky to make substitutions for the favorite items that we’ve always enjoyed. There are so many good alternatives to dairy and fats, that you really shouldn’t have much trouble at all. Will everything taste exactly the same as it used to? Probably not – but it might be even better. 

So, this is a little list of substitutes and replacements that might help you this week when you’re making holiday meals and treats. Have specific questions? Ask us on Instagram or Facebook and we might be able to help you!

  • Dairy replacement: Califia Farms Almond-Coconut Milk or the non-dairy milk of your choosing (I just really don’t like rice milk, as it’s pretty weak)
    • For items like: mashed potatoes, sugar cookies, any cakes, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs, truly anything you would put milk in. Some savory items, like mashed potatoes, are just better with vegetable or chicken stock than non-dairy milk.
    • Want something to be creamier, like with using heavy cream? You could use a soy or almond milk creamer, but those usually have gums or thickeners in them, and that’s not really my thing. I would use canned full-fat coconut milk.
  • But what about whipped cream for dessert?? 
    • This is my favorite non-dairy hack! Heavy cream is basically my nightmare in terms of how terrible it makes me feel – so I never really loved it anyway. Okay, here you go: Put two or three cans of full-fat Thai Kitchen brand coconut milk (yes, the brand matters) in your fridge ASAP, like… right now. It needs at least 12 hours to chill. And, no, you can’t freeze it. Leave it in there to chill. I usually do 24-36 hours. Open the can and scoop out the fat. Depending on how hard it is (sometimes is mixable, sometimes it’s really hard and shard-y), use a whisk or a hand-held mixer to make it one homogenous texture. Add in some honey or maple syrup and vanilla extract… and you literally have the best whipped cream EVER. Trust me. 
  • Appetizer alternatives
    • My family usually has a lot of cheeses out, or dips. Replace these with hummus and veggies, cured meats, guacamole, and salsa. Trader Joe’s has a great section of dips and most of them are dairy-free. The hardest part of re-thinking all of this, is just stepping outside the box of what we have always had! Once you start thinking a little differently, it’s second nature.
  • Gluten-free dessert options
    • This is, honestly, where it gets a little more challenging. Do you usually make pies? In my opinion, don’t putz with a GF pie crust similar to what you’ve always used. Make a nut crust! Everyone will love it. Grind up some nuts (any kind) really fine, add a bit of sugar, a pinch of salt, and enough liquid fat (coconut oil or butter work best) to make it clump together. If it seems greasy, add more nuts! If it seems to crumbly, add more fat!
    • Look for recipes that use nuts instead of gluten-free flours. You’ll end up spending more money on all of the components to make the flour mix than you will on some almond flour (Trader Joe’s sells this for $5.99/lb, which is the best price I’ve found). Look for (aka hi Google!) paleo recipes, then just add in dairy and refined sugar to cut down costs and make it easier to make. Does that make sense? Paleo is grain-free and dairy-free, and usually free of refined sugar, too. That can be really costly and not really helpful for you. Use regular sugar and fat, and you’ll be fine in most cases. Send us any specific questions and we will try to help!
  • Fat alternatives
    • Like I’ve already written about above, I recommend coconut oil or vegetable oil. I don’t love fake butter – but if that’s cool with you, use it!

We hope this is helpful for you as you prepare to cook for and host your family and friends this week and next! As much as we would love to cook and bake for all of you individually… maybe next year!

Happy holidays from all of us at Goldenrod Pastries! 


Photo Credit: Nicole Franzen 

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