Holiday Baking When Following the Low FODMAP Diet
The holidays are the perfect time to indulge- homemade cookies for host and hostess gifts, pies for the holiday table, and cakes and candies for whatever celebration you have at hand. Be it for home, the office, school or for a potluck, a homemade baked treat is something special, and is one of our personal favorite parts of the holiday season! (If you are the mood for pie, check out our recipe for Pumpkin Pie with FODY Cinnamon Seed Crust).
We believe that following the Low FODMAP diet shouldn’t stop us from enjoying holiday baking (and the eating that comes along with it)!
8 Tips for Successful Holiday Baking
Here are our top tips for creating (and enjoying) the best Low FODMAP holiday treats.
- Portion & Serving Sizes – Lucky for us, there are plenty of traditional baking ingredients that are safe for the Low FODMAP diet such as granulated white sugar, brown sugar, butter, eggs, spices, vanilla extract, many fruits, cocoa and chocolate. But, they all come with specific recommended servings sizes in order to remain Low enough in FODMAPs to avoid those symptoms of IBS. Make sure to always pay attention to these amounts, so that you can remain symptom free while enjoying holiday festivities. We recommend downloading the Monash University Low FODMAP App for the most up-to-date information on safe ingredient serving sizes.
- Gluten-Free? Yes! – While the Low FODMAP diet is not a gluten-free diet per se, all-purpose flour is derived from wheat and wheat contains fructans, which are a FODMAP. This is why so many Low FODMAP baking recipes recommend gluten-free flour. There are many gluten-free flour blends on the market, but the results you get with one blend will not necessarily equal those of another. Our suggestion is to use the exact flour or flour blend that is called for in the recipe. One key factor to watch out for is if the recipe recommends a brand that contains xanthan gum. If it does, at the very least make sure to use a similar blend.
- Nuts Are OK, In Moderation – Nuts can be a yummy addition in some cookie, cake and stuffing recipes during the holidays and it is important not to overload. Just because a nut is listed as a red light/High FODMAP on your Monash University App, don’t dismiss it altogether. For instance, almonds are a red light, but if you click through you will find that 10 nuts (12 g) are actually a green light! Incorporating almonds into cookie dough or a small amount of almond flour added to a cake batter should be fine, if you watch your serving sizes.
- Check Your Leaveners – If you bake infrequently and your baking powder and baking soda have been hanging around for a while, it is best to buy new. You want maximum leavening action! Also, look for baking powder that is gluten-free, if you are following a gluten-free diet.
- Let’s Talk Spices! – Cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg – to name a few spices – appear in many holiday recipes, such as pumpkin pie and spice cookies. For maximum impact, make sure your spices are as fresh as can be – (they should be less than 6 months old). Also, store your spices in airtight containers in a cool, dark space, like a cupboard or drawer – away from the heat of the stove or windowsill.
- Baking Recipe Calling for Buttermilk? – Buttermilk is a commonly called for ingredient in everything from pancakes to quick breads, muffins to coffeecakes. There is a secret shortcut to making your own “soured” milk that can be used as a replacement. For every 1 cup (240 ml) of buttermilk, measure out a scant 1 cup (240 ml) of whole or low-fat lactose-free milk and stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes to thicken. You’ll thank us later!
- Oven Thermometer – When was the last time you checked your oven’s temperature? Just because you set the oven for 350°F/180°C doesn’t mean that it actually heats to that temperature. An independent oven thermometer placed in the center of your oven can confirm what temperature your oven is heating to. (And these gadgets are inexpensive). It is not unusual for ovens to be off by 25° to 50° and this can wreak havoc with baked goods. Your oven manufacturer should be able to provide information for re-calibration, if necessary.
- Mailing Treats – Many of us have family that are far away and mailing a care-package is a nice way of connecting – especially if it is for someone following the Low FODMAP diet who thinks their holidays are about to be treat-less! To make sure your homemade sweets get to their destination as fresh as possible, we recommend the following: Choose sturdy items, such as sugar cookies or brownies. Pack in airtight plastic containers or decorative tins, filling in any headroom with crumpled up plastic wrap or foil to prevent them from jostling around and breaking. And last but not least, schedule your mailing day so that your homemade goodies travel as directly as possible. You don’t want your fresh-baked treats languishing in a mail depot on a Sunday!
Happy Holiday Baking!