A Different Twist on Classic Desserts

 Who doesn't love dessert? Not too many people I know of! As children, it's the part of the meal we look most forward to. As we grow, that remains the way we feel. Desserts can vary, from bar cookies and cupcakes to pies and lavishly-decorated, homemade cakes. Not one of them is to be forgotten. Of course, though, we do have our favorites!

Can everyone enjoy the same desserts, though? Unfortunately, no. Many people (children and adults, alike) suffer from food allergies and sensitivities. If you know anyone who can't eat certain foods or who will break out in hives at the mere thought of a certain ingredient, you know what I'm talking about. Food allergies (and sensitivities) are nothing to joke about.

There are many, different food allergies, but the most common of them are as follows: eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, wheat and seafood/shellfish. Without going too deep into each allergy and related info., I will say this: each year, many people go to their local emergency rooms in need of care for accidental ingestion of allergic foods. Many children- younger and younger- are diagnosed as being allergic to certain foods. My son was one of them. He was diagnosed as having allergies to eggs, peanuts, wheat and dairy. I learned, early on, how to navigate the grocery store food aisles, the ingredients on the backs of bags and boxes and how to properly prepare his meals.

Let's take nuts, for instance. I knew he would NEVER be able to eat nuts, anything with nuts in it, peanut and other nut butters, anything cooked in peanut oil, etc. At first, it seemed overwhelming, but when I really thought about it... it really wasn't that difficult. As far as recipes that called for nuts- in particular, desserts- I began substituting things like grape nuts cereal and toasted coconut in the recipe. Those worked out fine. Then, I just left the nuts out. That worked even better... for our preferences and my wallet!

Eggs was a big one for me. I kept thinking, "You have to have eggs in desserts. How do you make a cake, cupcakes, brownies, etc. without eggs?" Then, one day, I decided to do an experiment of sorts. I started with brownies. I left out every egg that was called for. How did it turn out? Delicious!!! I honestly couldn't tell a difference. One thing I noticed, was... the brownies without the eggs seemed much more chocolately than the ones with the eggs. Then, I moved on to a basic, yellow cake. Again, I simply omitted the eggs in the recipe. Again... the cake was delicious! We happen to like devil's food cake, so I thought, "This will be the test." I made it, omitting the eggs, the same way I did the yellow cake. Again... the cake turned out WONDERFUL! Like the brownies, I thought the cake seemed a bit more chocolately (which was just fine with us;). I have baked quite a few desserts since then, not adding eggs, and not once did I have a problem!

As far as the dairy, my son has outgrown that allergy... so we don't worry about that anymore!

As for the wheat... my son refuses to eat 100% whole wheat bread; however, he does like the white whole wheat bread. I use about 1/2 white, 1/2 whole wheat flour when I bake/cook. I used all whole wheat the other day, and he didn't even notice. This allergy, too, only affects his eczema (severely dry skin); however, that's not often.

There are many, other ingredients people are allergic to that, you can either omit or substitute another ingredient for. Some people can't eat salt. I don't like it much, anyway... only to season with. I never cook with it. If you don't want to omit it, all together, substitute one of the many, salt substitutes out there. Mrs. Dash's is a good one to try. Know what herbs and spices your family enjoys. We tend to have quite a few, but here are some favorites: cilantro, cinnamon, dill, garlic powder, Old Bay Seasoning, freshly-ground black pepper, nutmeg, oregano, rosemary and wasabi. I mix and match these all the time... depending on how we like certain things.

There are usually substitution lists in the back of your cookbooks. If not, all you have to do is go online and type the words "substitutions for baking/cooking recipes" in your search engine, and I'm sure you'll find something! Baking and cooking are fun... especially when you experiment! Have fun with your food, and happy cooking!!!

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