With the Holidays in full swing it is hard to avoid the casual indulgence of a cookie (or 5) here and there. But, if your like me, you are not only challenged by the inner struggle to maintain your waistline but also the struggle to avoid Gluten riddled sweets and treats.

Although I am not celiac, I react very strongly to Gluten. For those of you that do not know, Gluten is a protein found in Barley, Wheat, Rye, Kamut, Spelt, and Oats (that are contaminated during processing).

Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together, giving your bread that elasticity and chewiness.

It has a similiar effect on the villi and microvilli in our digestive system that are meant to stand strong and filter and absorb nutrients from the food we eat. Gluten acts like a glue, preventing these tiny, finger-like projections from doing their job. Over time, certain symptoms can lead to disorders such as leaky-gut and celiac disease.

Personally, my body reacts to gluten, almost instantly, by making my hands and fingers swell (seriously, my rings won’t fit), my skin turn dry, red and scaly, inducing a heavy brain fog and making me instantly yearn for a siesta, and making my digestion sluggish.

It has been a blessing and a curse this year to have to avoid gluten in all its devilishly sneaky and hidden forms. Learning to navigate the company potluck or a friends cookie exchange at this time of year has been a learning curve…but a good one.

Food sensitivities can last in your system for a few hours or even for a few days.

To be honest, they may not even rear their ugly little head for a 2-3 days either! This makes it really hard to figure out what caused a reaction in the first place sometimes, so it is best to just avoid it!

Gluten seems to be hidden inside every convenience food out there!

That being said, I also need to satisfy my sweet tooth and have a little fun this Christmas season so last night I buckled down and did what I do best – get creative in the kitchen!

Here is a recipe I just created for delicious…

GF Spiced Holiday Ginger Cookies.

They bake in under 12 minutes and are ridiculously chewy and soft thanks to the cream of tarter. With these little Betties I won’t feel left out this year when the rest of the family is dunking cookies in milk by the fire waiting for Santa to drop gifts down the fireplace…because I’ll have my own sweet indulgence to enjoy with my almond milk!


Yield: approx. 24 soft and delicious GF cookies


  • 1 cup Blackstrap Mollasses
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar or organic cane sugar (you can substitute dates if you prefer, but will have to play with adding more flour)

In a separate bowl combine:

  • 1.5 tsp cream of tarter
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda (aluminum free)
  • 2 cups (plus) gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF Baking Mix)

On a plate:

  • 1/4 cup finely ground walnuts, coconut sugar or organic cane sugar (your choice here) to roll balls in before baking.


Combine wet ingredients. Set aside. Combine dry ingredients. Stir well. Add to wet ingredients and stir until reaches a consistency that can be rolled into 1 inch round balls. You may have to play around with adding a little more flour. It is better to add too little then too much and just wet your hands before rolling to avoid sticking. Roll each ball into the ground walnuts or sugar. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet 2 inches apart and press down with a fork. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. Bottoms should be golden brown and tops of cookies light golden brown and soft in the middle. Let cool and enjoy!

Side note: cream of tartar is a type of potassium salt of tartaric acid and contains no grains that have gluten.

Katie Israelson