Gluten-free dessert: How to have your cake and eat it too

A gluten-free diet may seem like it’s just the latest food craze, but for a great many people, going gluten-free can provide enormous benefits. For some, this is a necessity because of allergies or intolerances, whereas for others it just makes them feel better.

But you might be thinking that the lack of dessert basics like white flour means that a gluten-free diet has to be dessert-free too.

Thankfully, this is not true. Not only are there great options to flour, but gluten-free is an option in so many convenient and tasty products now that happily your family really does not need to compromise anymore.

What is gluten?

Gluten is present in the most popular grain foods we eat, including wheat, rye, barley, malt and triticale. This affects mostly bread, pasta and anything made with regular flour liked baked goods or pastries. It also includes anything breaded or that uses flour in the batter process.

Why might gluten be bad for you?

If your body has trouble processing gluten you might suffer from celiac disease or have a gluten sensitivity. In this case, when gluten goes through your body it acts as an irritant and doesn’t process well through your digestive system.

Even if you don’t suffer from sensitivity or intolerance to gluten, you might find that you feel remarkably better if you adopt a gluten-free diet. Many people find their quality of life improves when they remove or greatly reduce gluten in their diet.

Some of the symptoms of gluten intolerance include:

  • Stomach troubles like nausea, cramping and bloating
  • Bowel problems including constipation or diarrhoea
  • Skin conditions and rashes like eczema
  • General sluggishness and fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Iron deficiency, as a high gluten diet can stop you from processing iron properly.

How can cutting out gluten make you feel better?

Some of the benefits include:

  • More energy and better sleep
  • Clearer skin
  • Less random pain such as headaches
  • Better digestion and bowel function
  • Possible weight loss (although gluten-free does not necessarily mean low calorie and you see from some of our recipes below!)

Gluten-free dessert: you don’t have to miss out on the things that you love

I used to think that dessert on a gluten-free diet meant sliced up apple or pear. Maybe a few strawberries if it was the right time of year. While fruit salad is an awesome way to finish off a meal, sometimes fruit just doesn’t cut it in the dessert stakes. Sometimes you want something a bit richer, a bit more decadent.

You might be surprised to discover that some of the world’s best desserts are gluten-free, including mudcake, brownies and macarons.

A gluten-free diet will usually have more food in their natural state, or a lot less processed than before. Some grains are fine including corn, quinoa, chia, oats, soy and white rice. There are a number of flour substitutes on the market for regular flour, you just need to try a few until you find some that you like.

Some flour alternatives include:

  • Almond meal
  • Coconut flour
  • Buckwheat flour (although it’s called wheat this isn’t even a grain, and is actually a seed)
  • Chia
  • Rice and rice flour
  • Tapioca flour

One of the best news for dessert lovers is that chocolate is gluten-free, and ice-cream is too!

Here are some quick recipe ideas for gluten-free dessert at home

Brownies

Beat ¾ cup sugar with 3 eggs, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence until gorgeous and frothy. Gently mix in ¼ cup good unsweetened cocoa powder and ¼ teaspoon salt. Melt 4 ounces dark chocolate with 4 tablespoons butter, then mix this into the brownie batter until smooth and glossy.

Bake in a lined tin for about 22-25 minutes in a 350-degree oven.

Serve warm or cold, topped with lovely good things like nuts and berries, or just on their own.

Pancakes

Substitute your regular flour with any of the fantastic gluten-free flour mixes available from Eric’s and then make pancakes as you normally would.

Try 2 cups gluten-free flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 eggs, 2 cups almond milk and ½ cup melted butter. For a delicious treat add 2 mashed bananas and ½ cup dark chocolate chips. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth and let rest for half an hour until bubbles rise.

Then cook big spoonfuls of the batter in a hot frypan and serve topped with maple syrup or honey.

Chia Pudding

Combine 2 cups of unsweetened almond milk with ½ chia seeds, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence and a pinch of salt. Cover and leave for at least 2 hours to soak, but even better if you leave it overnight.

This is a basic chia pudding recipe, but you can mix in all sorts of flavours and cover with some incredible toppings. One we love has chopped mango, mint, dark chocolate and pistachios on top!

For other varieties of chia pudding, check out here:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/09/26/the-best-chia-pudding-recipes-for-brekkie-or-dessert_a_23222730/

Chocolate Ricotta Mousse

In a blender, combine a 15-ounce container of ricotta with 2 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar and 4 ounces of dark melted chocolate. Mix until light and fluffy and then serve when set. Sprinkle with shaved chocolate.

Meringues

Using an electric mixer, beat 2 large whites, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ cup sugar and a pinch of cream of tartar until the mixture is stiff and you can make lovely glossy mountain peaks with it.

Spoon the meringue onto a baking sheet – you can individual ones or one big one, or even little cookie sizes. Adjust your cooking time for the size. Bake at 200 degrees very long and slowly, for even up to two hours. Let them cool in the oven.

To serve you can dip them in melted chocolate, cover with whipped cream and berries, serve with ice cream or sorbet, whatever you like really.

Cheesecake

Stir together 1 ¼ cups almond flour, ¼ cup sugar, 3 tablespoons melted butter, a tablespoon of lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Push into the base of a springform tin, flatten with the base of a glass. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Let the base cool while you do the next bit.

With an electric mixer combine one pound cream cheese and ½ cup sugar until light and creamy. Then mix in a teaspoon vanilla essence and a pinch of salt, and one at a time 2 large eggs. Pour this mix over the base and then bake in the same oven for 20 minutes. Let it cool completely with the oven turned off and the door open, for at least an hour.

This is a basic cheesecake recipe that is wonderfully gluten-free, but again there are many flavour options out there, check out here for some inspiration:

https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gluten-free-cheesecake-recipes/

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