OK In Health - Gluten Free Goodness

Keeping Dessert in Your Gluten Free Diet - June 2021

Do I Have To Give Up Dessert?

By Cathy Lauer

gulten free fruit platter

The easy answer to that question is of course “No”! However there will certainly have to be some changes. For so many people dessert is what they look forward to at the end of a meal. For some, the meal would not be complete without it. It need not be big or fancy; it just has to be a comforting sweetness at the end of a meal. Depending on your culture it can range from simple custard to decedent chocolate fudge cake, fresh fruit to warm fruit crisp. Whatever your comfort dessert is, being gluten free does not mean you have to give it up.

Fresh fruit is often a welcome dessert especially at this time of year when there are so many choices, often from our own back yards or at farmers markets. Fruit is actually a healthy way to end a meal as the enzymes in the fresh fruit help to breakdown and digest the food you just ate for dinner. With the increase in produce from other countries there are also completely new fruits to try. If you prefer to eat closer to home there are new fruits, varieties of apples and pears, and locally grown berries being introduced all the time so be adventurous and try something new. 

So what can you do with fresh fruit to make it an interesting and appealing dessert? A fruit platter arranged artistically with a variety of colours and cut in bite size pieces is always a hit. Hand out small forks or fancy toothpicks and place the platter in the center of the table and let the eating begin. Kids and adults alike will enjoy this fun way of eating as well as the conversations that are sparked by it. If something more formal is a better fit for you try making a fresh fruit salad. No recipe is needed. Just cut a variety of coloured fruit into bite size pieces and toss gently. If there isn’t enough juice from the fruit for your liking add a little pineapple juice. The acid in the pineapple juice will help to keep the fruit from browning. Fresh fruit salad is best eaten the day it is made but leftovers can be refrigerated and eaten for breakfast the next day.

Fresh fruit crisp and pie is always a favourite and with the harvest in full swing there is a multitude of combinations to bake. If you can eat wheat free oats then making a fruit crisp only requires that you change to gluten free flour. If you cannot have wheat free oats you will need to use gluten free flour plus half the amount of oats as gluten free flour. If you like quinoa or millet flakes you can add ¼ cup to the topping mix to give it a little more texture. If you can have nuts add ¼ cup of chopped nuts to the topping for extra flavour and crunch. Gluten free pastry is very easy to make, so there is no reason you cannot have pies. There are even some gluten free bakeries that make ready to use pie crusts so don’t feel you have to give up on pies for dessert.

If you like custard, pudding or tapioca for dessert you can still have them even if you have to give up milk as well. Coconut milk is a great substitute for cow’s milk in custard, pudding or tapioca. Some of the thinner rice milks don’t thicken up as well and often leftovers separate in the fridge overnight. We like soy or coconut milk best for this type of dessert. To dress up your custard, pudding or tapioca add a little fresh or stewed fruit of your choice, or homemade or store bought ice cream.

What about chocolate cake and ice cream? Well you can have those too. There are a number of pre-packaged gluten free chocolate cakes as well as gluten free cake mixes. The best of course is making your own. With the advances it gluten free flour mixes you can make a really great chocolate cake that even your wheat eating friends will adore. If your friend or neighbour has given you a zucchini you can add 1 cup of grated zucchini to your cake batter and you will get a very moist chocolate cake. If chocolate isn’t your thing there are hundreds of recipes out there for gluten free desserts from simple to complex. Just be sure to get a good mix of gluten free flours and be sure you are baking in a gluten free environment. You also might want to check out your local gluten free bakery to see what they have to offer for dessert. They may even be willing to make something special just for you.

Over the past few years many gluten, dairy and soy free ice creams have been introduced to the marketplace. Some are really great and others are just so-so. Sometimes it is just a matter of personal taste. Either way there are a number of companies making ice cream and ice cream treats that will satisfy many who have allergies. If you have an ice cream machine you can even make very nice ice cream at home. We really like the fresh fruit sorbets as well as ice cream made with coconut milk. 

Cookies are a quick yet satisfying dessert. Pre-packaged gluten free cookies are made by a great number of companies now and come in many shapes, sizes and flavours. Personally I prefer home made and they are very easy to make. Most homemade cookie recipes make two or three dozen cookies so put a few in the freezer. They thaw quickly so if you take one or two out as you begin to prepare dinner they will be thawed by the time you finish eating dinner. If you have a favourite wheat cookie recipe substitute a good quality gluten free flour mix for the wheat flour, add you favourite flavourings (seed, nuts, raisin, chocolate chips) and you will have your favourite cookie in gluten free form.

As you can see being gluten free does not mean having to give up dessert. Be adventurous, try some new things and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If there is some wheat dessert you really crave contact me and I will find a way to help you make it so you can still have your comfort dessert. With a few adjustments you will find there is still a wide range of ways for you to get your little sweet fix after you have made yourself an amazing gluten free dinner.


Cathy LauerCathy's Bio: Cathy Lauer has been cooking/baking gluten/dairy free for 17 years. She has written 3 all baking cookbooks and has a gluten free baking blog/store. In her spare time she loves to garden in a big way with fruit, vegetable and flower gardens. She is a classically trained singer and loves to read and collect recipe books. She homeschools her youngest son (11) and has 3 grown children and is grandmother of 2. Cathy's Gluten Free Creations Ltd. Gourmet Gluten Free Baking. Cookbooks and Baking Mixes. 250-758-5232 - Cathy Lauer Website - Email

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