This healthy gluten free gingerbread loaf is sweetened with dates, leaving it moist and full of full of holiday flavor. Made with a blend of whole grains and almond flour.
I love being the one to organize holiday dinners. Call me crazy, but I get excited about looking for recipes, planning the menu, and even doing the shopping.
In college, I worked at the Melting Pot- you know, the fondue restaurant? The one where you have to cook your own dinner and it takes literally hours to get through a full meal? Seriously fun.
My family decided it would be fun to have a fondue dinner for Christmas Eve one year, and I planned dinner for 20 of us, including 4 cheese fondues, entree fondues with meats, seafood and vegetables, and 4 chocolates.
We ended up keeping my 80 year old grandpa up eating dinner until past 11 PM. It was such a good time, we’ve done it again every few years.
Of course, planning these elaborate holiday dinners are a lot of work. Without careful planning ahead of time, I never would be able to pull it off. But I spent hours planning the menu, writing shopping lists, and prepping sauces, grating cheeses, and testing tempura batters.
Last year, the arrival of my tiny bundle of energy changed the game plan for me. I can’t keep up with my laundry, let alone devote my “free time” to planning Christmas Eve dinner.
Plus, with such a labor intensive meal, my helpers and I are running back and forth between the kitchen and tables throughout the meal to prepare for the next courses. Not a great way to relax and spend time with family. Before, I didn’t mind- but this year, I want to be more present for Xander, and help him play with his cousins.
5 Ways to Simplify you Holiday Meals
This year, I have to take a step back and simplify. I still want to provide everyone with a memorable holiday meal. Here is my game plan:
- Bake and Freeze: Holiday cookies and desserts mostly freeze well. There is no reason to make these “fresh.” No one will be able to tell they have been in your freezer for weeks! This year, we are making Snickerdoodles, Ginger Sugar Cookies, and Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce (and this delicious Gluten Free Gingerbread!). All freeze very well! We are also doing gingerbread houses with the little ones, and because I would rather homemake these, I am baking them this week and freezing until Christmas.
- Make Large Pot Meals: We will still be making a turkey on Christmas day, but Christmas Eve this year will be simplified. To still make it special, we are making a “soup bar.” There will be 3 large pots of soups with toppings and bread, so everyone can serve themselves and try the different soups. It’s something different, but fun, and a lot less work than fondue! We have chosen my Roasted Butternut and Turkey Chili, a Dairy Free Sausage, Potato and Kale Soup (that will be posted soon), and Winter Root Vegetable Soup, for a nice variety. Large casserole dishes like lasagna and enchiladas would also be great options for feeding a crowd.
- Simplify Sides & Appetizers: With our soup buffet, the sides will be store bought artisan breads. For dishes like lasagna and enchiladas, a big salad would be enough- and this can be made by purchasing a large bag salad mix (I love spring mixes for this purpose because they don’t get “old” by being precut), and making it special by adding some dried cranberries, chopped pears, blue cheese, and toasted nuts (like pecans or walnuts). You could also go easy and savory by adding sun dried tomatoes, olives, and feta. I made this Golden Beet and Raspberry Kale Salad a few years back, and while it was an amazing salad, it was a lot of work for a holiday side dish!
- Prepare/Prep Ahead: Whenever I am cooking a large meal, I take a notebook out, and write out the menu, and then a shopping list. I make two separate shopping lists- one for things that can be purchased any time, and then a separate one for items that need to be purchased the day ahead or the day of (think fresh breads or greens). Then, I put each item that will be made on a different page of the notebook, and write down a list of prep that can be done ahead of time. For example, I can chop the veggies for the Roasted Butternut and Turkey Chili the day (or two) ahead. I can even make the onion/turkey/tomato part a week ahead, and freeze it. Then, on Christmas Eve, all that needs to be done is defrost the turkey tomato base, throw the veggies on a roasting tray, and then put both together and simmer for 20 minutes. That seriously cuts down on the amount of chopping and cleaning needed on the day of the dinner.
- Recruit Help: When I was still thinking about the fondue dinner, and how to simplify it, I was thinking we could assign each family a course — cheese, main course, and chocolate. Then, we could each take a turn, and the prep would be seriously cut down. That doesn’t work for us this year because we are all arriving at different times, and I don’t want to send everyone to gourmet stores with grocery lists they may not understand. With the soup bar idea, there will be 3 of us each making a different soup, and putting together the garnish bar will be easy for anyone.
And if you’re like me, you will probably go a bit overboard and end up with a bit too much work on the holidays anyway. I have this tendency to think, “oh, it’s not that much work,” and I keep piling on extras.
But that’s okay, because I love the holidays and making things special for my family. I am really looking forward to Xander being old enough to start to build these memories for him.
And then after the holidays are over, I will take a step back, leave Xander with his nanny, and go get a massage. Or lock myself in the bathroom, put some lavender essential oils in the burner, and take a nice long bubble bath (and maybe sneak a bar of dark chocolate in, too).
Mom’s Pampering Gift Pack Giveaway!
And that brings me to the GIVEAWAY! Some fellow mom bloggers and I got together to bring you this special gift pack, filled with luxury skincare and nail polish, an urban GORUCK diaper or multipurpose bag, two relaxing essential oils, and a dark chocolate bar. Just a little something special to help you relax after the holiday rush.
More Ideas for the Busy Holiday Season
- Delicious Meets Healthy: Easy, Healthy Winter Meals
- Food Smart Mom: Stay Organized in the Kitchen
- Vitamin Sunshine: Gingerbread Loaf + Planning Ahead for Holiday Meals
- BUB Society: Take a Break, Mom
- The Gingered Whisk: Healthy Meals for the Holiday Season
- Pulling Curls: Holiday Traditions for the Busy Family
- Jennifer Powter
Gluten Free Gingerbread Tips
- Don’t have millet flour, and don’t want to go buy it? Sub 1/2 oat and 1/2 almond flour in place of it. I have tested this, and it works great.
- I have started giving the measurement of dates in weight rather than in cups — after a reader told me my Gluten Free Date Bar recipe didn’t call for enough dates, I decided to weigh out a few different varieties, and found that 1 cup of Medjool dates weighs as much as 2 1/2 cups of honey or korma dates. That’s a big difference! I have made this recipe using both Medjools and a smaller date variety, and honestly, you can’t tell the difference.
- Make it Gluten Free: Be sure to use certified gluten free oats, if necessary. Millet and almond flours should already be gluten free. If you are not sensitive to gluten, any oat flour is fine.
- Make it Ahead: This loaf freezes beautifully! I have frozen a whole loaf and defrosted in the refrigerator overnight, and have also frozen (already frosted) slices and pulled them out in the evenings for dessert.
- Make it Dairy Free: This loaf is already gluten free, but I frost it with my Autumn Spice Buttercream, which is cream cheese based. I do this to get a creamy frosting with the lowest amount of sugar possible. If dairy is not an option for you, choose a traditional buttercream made with a vegan butterspread.
Nutritional data for Gluten Free Gingerbread Loaf and images courtesy of www.NutritionData.com.
Other Holiday Cake Recipes:
- Easy Chocolate Christmas Cake, by Cotter Crunch
- Paleo Pumpkin Bundt Cake, by Life Made Full
- Gingerbread Coffee Cake, by Kristine’s Kitchen
- Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Topping, by Vitamin Sunshine
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