Easy Gluten-Free Living: The Preschooler Version (and Vanilla Cupcakes)

by Maggie on May 21, 2011

Living with gluten-free preschoolers is a lot easier than you might think.

Callum, our almost five-year-old, has been living gluten-free and dairy-free for a year and a half. His two-year-old sister has never had gluten.

Callum’s diagnosis was probably the hardest part. I knew how to live with a gluten-free husband, but I wasn’t sure where to begin with gluten-free kids.

The first decision we made was a tough one. We decided to become a gluten-free family. No gluten in our house, no gluten outside of our house.

That made life so much easier for us.

The second decision we made was to include Callum in our discussions about living gluten-free. We needed him to know as much as his cute little brain could handle about living gluten-free.

So we talked to him about it, we told him what gluten did to his belly and his brain.

That made it much easier for him to understand.

Now when we’re out at a party or playgroup, Callum comes to us to see if food is safe for him. He knows if he can’t eat what’s there, we’ll have something for him to enjoy.

Whenever Callum gets upset about not being able to have a certain food, we are quick to point out all of the foods he can enjoy.

And, we always keep his favorites in the pantry, fridge, or freezer (and in my Mary Poppins-sized purse).

Here’s my latest cupcake recipe. Everyone who feeds gluten-free kids needs a recipe for both chocolate and vanilla cupcakes. From there, you can play with these recipes and lose yourself in your imagination!

Vanilla Cupcakes

I like to make sure my kids eat whole grains and healthy gluten-free flours.  These cupcakes are a healthy treat that anyone will enjoy.  Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature or your liquified coconut oil will solidify again.


  • 1 cup non-dairy milk combined with 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp arrowroot flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp guar gum or xanthan gum (I’ve also used ground golden flaxseed and no gums)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, liquefied
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • ½ cup maple syrup OR honey OR agave


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners or lightly grease with coconut oil.
2. Combine non-dairy milk with lemon juice. Let sit while it turns into buttermilk.
3. In a small bowl, sift sorghum flour, almond flour, arrowroot flour, baking powder, baking soda, gum or flaxseed and sea salt.
4. In a large bowl (or the bowl of your mixer), combine the coconut oil, vanilla, maple syrup and non-dairy milk-vinegar combination.
5. Sift in the dry ingredients and gently mix until well combined. Spoon batter into cupcake pan – filling at least ¾ full. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Test with a knife.
6. Let cool for a few minutes in pan and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. Frost with desired frosting.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Ricki May 21, 2011 at 11:10 am

They look fabulous! And so true, we all need cupcakes in our lives. 😀 Hope you have a great long weekend, Maggie!


Maggie May 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Thank you Ricki! Cupcakes make the world go round. Don’t they?


Zoe May 21, 2011 at 11:46 am

Callum sounds like my brother – he also always checks with us if something is healthy (safe) for him to eat, sometimes multiple times to be absolutely sure. It’s also sweet because he tells us what is and what isn’t healthy after he’s been told if that particular something is okay for him or not; it’s all done in a matter of factly way, even when we all already know and, more often than note, told him the very information he’s informing us with.

The cupcakes look beautiful! So glad you’ve come up with a recipe, I remember that you commented once about how it was tough to make a white cupcake without eggs. Well, it seems like you’ve done it! 🙂


Maggie May 21, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Hey Zoe – I think we all feel good when we can exercise some control or power over ourselves. Your family is giving your brother some control and we’re doing that with Callum. I think it’s really important, it builds confidence! Thanks for being excited about my cupcakes. You’re so sweet.


Heather @Gluten-Free Cat May 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Mmmmm, your cupcakes look so festive and delicious! I love how you’ve talked with your son about the damage that gluten does to him and made him a part of the discussion. Gluten isn’t just a no-no in the presence of his parents. What respectful parenting.


Maggie May 21, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Thank you Heather. They were pretty delicious. I am testing out a new macadamia nut frosting and it was pretty good but needs a few tweaks before I share it with the world 🙂 Thanks for the comment about respectful parenting, it’s so nice to hear it from that perspective.


Hallie @ Daily Bites May 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Getting kids involved in the GF discussion is such a great tip. And these cupcakes…wow! 🙂


Maggie May 21, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Thanks Hallie – Hope you’re having a great weekend! Can’t wait to hear all about it.


Shirley @ gfe May 21, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Lovely yummy cupcakes, Maggie! And such a great addition to 30 Days to Easy Gluten-Free Living. I think it’s vital that gluten-free kids learn the in’s and out’s of gluten-free living from an early age. It just makes so much more sense for them to have an understanding to build upon as they grow up. They can be given a basic understanding at an early age as you all have done. Then as they mature, if they question it more or want the facts so that they’ll know how to choose gluten-free food items when out on their own, then you can provide that info, too. In other words, you give them as much info as they are ready for at the given time, which I’m sure you’ll do. 🙂 Callum is so mature for his age, yet also all five-year old boy. 😉 It’s really a delightful combination and you all should be very proud. I’m sure your daughter will be the same. Empowering your kids and having gluten-free cupcakes are both key to them happily growing up gluten free! Oh, and love the mention of the Mary Poppins purse–too cute and true! 🙂



Maggie May 21, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Hi Shirley – We are on the same page again! It is so important for kids and I think it’s also important to empower them. I love teaching my kids about food and nutrition. It’s not the easiest part of being a mom, but it’s definitely one of the most important parts! Thanks for your comments Shirley. Yes, Mary Poppins was on to something there! I am so glad big purses are in style 🙂


Debi May 21, 2011 at 5:46 pm

That’s great that Callum is so attentive and double checks with you guys to make sure food is safe. I hope there are more parents out there doing this with their children that need to be gf. I still love that story of him at the Expo and the waffles. Making gf waffles makes me think of him. 😀


Maggie May 21, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Ah Debi, I love reading that making gf waffles makes you think of him 🙂


Kristin @ Peace, Love and Muesli May 22, 2011 at 4:57 am

Laila will tell anyone who listens that she’s gluten free. I’m not certain she knows what totally what it means but she understand she can’t eat what everyone else eats.
But she can have these cupcakes…


Maggie May 22, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Yes Kristin, she can indeed have these cupcakes. As can her fantastic Mother.


glutenfreeforgood May 22, 2011 at 6:42 am

I remember those Mary Poppins-sized purse days! Love your good attitude. When mom has a “together” attitude like you do, it rubs off on the kids. Oh, and it helps to have wonderful looking cupcakes like these on hand for special treats. =)


Maggie May 22, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Melissa I am glad to hear that I am not the only one who carries (carried) a Mary Poppins purse. Today I found a sand toy in there. Luckily the sand had been dumped out first. Thanks for the comments. They made me smile.


Carol, Simply...Gluten-free May 23, 2011 at 7:54 am

Lovely! I am laughing at the image of a Mary Poppins sized purse. I remeber all the random and yet essential things I had in my purse when the boys were young, I wanted to be prepared for anything 🙂


Maggie May 24, 2011 at 4:30 am

Thanks Carol. I think all of the Moms out there can definitely relate to the Mary Poppins purse! Preparation is the key to happy kids and happy mommies 🙂


Heidi @ Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom May 23, 2011 at 9:35 am

Great post Maggie! I would be lost without my Mary Poppins purse…although my back sure wouldn’t miss it, LOL! I absolutely agree with you about making the entire home gluten-free, no doubt about it. It’s safer and no one feels like an oddball in their own home, there’s enough of that to deal with in the real world. It’s also cheaper and healthier for everyone (I’ve found that to be true anyway, but again, it depends on how you go about the lifestyle. We eat mostly naturally GF foods and I bake my own treats). Talking is another very important tip, kids can handle much more than we often give them credit for, especially when there is an open dialogue.



Maggie May 24, 2011 at 4:31 am

Thanks Heidi. We’re the same way, it is cheaper because we save so much money and I only hit two or three aisles at the grocery store. When I have to go into the middle of the store (for garbage bags or something) I get freaked out and lost. LOL! Thanks for your support. xo


Alta May 23, 2011 at 10:45 am

Great article, and I can imagine having the whole family eat gluten-free is much easier! Love these cupcakes – I’ve made a gluten-free, dairy-free version, but haven’t made them refined sugar-free yet. Need to make some for my twin niece’s first birthday coming soon!


Maggie May 24, 2011 at 4:32 am

Thanks Alta. Your neices are lucky little girls! Hope the party is great!


Rebecca May 23, 2011 at 11:10 am

And no Eggs! Yesssssssssssssss!


Maggie May 24, 2011 at 4:32 am

No eggs all the time Rebecca! Enjoy!


Gigi May 23, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Excellent post, Maggie…love how you addressed this! 🙂



Maggie May 24, 2011 at 4:32 am

Thanks Gigi. I’m sure you can relate 🙂 xo


Iris May 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm

These cupcakes sounds absolutely delicious. I think you’re right that a basic vanilla and chocolate cupcake recipe should be in everyone’s recipe index! Also, I love that your whole family has gone gluten-free to make it easier for those of you who need it. There’s nothing better than having a supportive and safe environment at home.


Maggie May 25, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Thanks Iris! I really hope my kids always feel safe and supported at home 🙂


Christine May 24, 2011 at 11:19 pm

I’m always so impressed with your recipes, Maggie! They’re always so simple, healthy and sound absolutely delicious! 🙂


Maggie May 25, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Ah Christine, you totally made my day. Thank you so much!


Kim - Cook It Allergy Free May 25, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Maggie, those cupcakes look amazing! We are similar to you as well. My oldest has been gluten free for quite a few years, and my youngest has never even had gluten. We made the whole house gluten free after hubby and son were diagnosed with Celiac Disease. And I always have a batch of cupcakes stashed in my freezer! The kids pull them out and decorate the before every party we go to! 😉 I love this post, by the way! Such a great idea!


Maggie May 28, 2011 at 11:56 am

Hey Kim – Thank you! I love hearing about other family’s who have made the decision to go entirely gluten-free. It makes me feel better about my decision! Hope you’re enjoying your swim time with the boys. xo


Charlene May 31, 2011 at 7:59 pm

What would you substitute almond flour and coconut oil for? My boy and myself are sensitive to both of these ingredients.


Maggie June 1, 2011 at 5:00 am

Hi Charlene – For the almond flour I would try using quinoa flour (so you get some good nutrients) or even finely ground brown rice flour would work. Can you guys tolerate butter? You could try butter, or another oil like grapeseed or sunflower. I hope this helps. Let me know how yours turn out!


Jeannine June 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I’m looking forward to trying your cupcake recipe when the weather cools off (no AC, so I rarely bake when it’s hot), but meanwhile I wanted to know where you got your cupcake liners? They’re gorgeous!


Maggie June 18, 2011 at 8:49 am

Thanks Jeannine! I’ve been backing off the baking too. My Mom bought the cupcake liners at Target for me. Aren’t they adorable? I think they’re Fox Run.


Shirley @ gfe November 24, 2012 at 11:48 am

Maggie, I was shocked to see that I didn’t leave a comment on this post when you originally posted it! I remember reading it and sharing it, but missed commenting. 🙁 Anyway, making up for last time, I love your simple, common sense approach with your kids and that you have a “Gluten-Free Cupcake Plan.” I’m so very happy that you are letting me feature this recipe over at my new site All Gluten-Free Desserts … All the Time! 🙂

Thanks! xo,


Bea November 25, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Could this recipe be made into a birthday cake? Been looking for a gluten free white cake (without much success) as chocolate cake is not our birthday tradition. Thanks for all you do!


Maggie November 26, 2012 at 8:32 am

Hi Bea – I’ve never tried to make this specific recipe into a cake, but I have done it with other cupcake recipes. You’d have to adjust the baking times. Let me know if you try it and how it goes 🙂 Thanks for reading!


Anna February 6, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Hi Maggie! I love the recipe & the flavor of these is great…I had an issue with the texture though. I want to use them for my daughter’s first bday but they are super crumbly. Did I do something wrong? Did I over beat? thanks for your help!!


Maggie February 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Hi Anna – I’m not sure, did you make any substitutions or changes? You can’t really over beat gluten-free, it’s gluten that doesn’t like over-beating. Let me know if you made any other changes and we’ll try to get to the bottom of it before the big party 🙂


L May 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm

This recipe is amazing. Without a doubt, these are the best vegan and/or gluten cupcakes I’ve had. I made these for Mother’s Day, and they were gone by Sunday evening. My brother, who is vegan with not much of a sweet tooth, called me on Monday to ask when I was going to make them again and if he could have the recipe. I also couldn’t believe how easy the recipe was – the only hiccup was the coconut oil solidified when I initially mixed it with the milk.

Thanks so much!


Maggie May 19, 2013 at 7:53 am

Hi L – Thanks for the note and I’m so glad you love them so much. It is important to make sure liquid coconut oil is used with ingredients at room temp, otherwise it does do that! I’ll modify the recipe to make sure that’s clear.
Thanks so much.


Bernadette September 22, 2013 at 11:24 am

Hi Maggie. I made this recipe this morning and it turned out great. I doubled the recipe and made both cupcakes and 2 round 7″ cakes with the intention of making a layered cake for my hubby’s birthday. As my tummy doesn’t like sorghum and I’m allergic to almonds I did some substitutions. I used cashew milk, raw buckwheat flour, cashew meal and sunflower seed meal in place of sorghum and almond flour and ‘pixie dust’ (combo of sprouted flax powder, sprouted chia powder and psyllium husk in place of guar gum. I used a mix master to blend first the wet ingredients, then With the dry ingredients. They turned out GREAT!!!!! They are moist, not crumbly, rose very nicely (and stayed risen!!! Yes!) I baked them for 40 minutes and the crust on the muffins is crispy but not so much on the cake. I added some chocolate chips to some of the cupcakes and it didn’t affect the texture or rising power.


Maggie September 23, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Oh Bernadette, I love seeing how you make a recipe work for you. This one is so impressive. I must try that pixie dust! Is it just ground flax seed that’s been sprouted? Or is powder something different? You are a kitchen super star! I love it.
Thanks for letting us know,


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