Healthy Baking Tips and Gluten-Free & Vegan Gingerbread Loaf

by Maggie on December 2, 2012

The holiday season is full of delicious indulging, isn’t it?  Appetizers, cocktails, cookies, squares, and so much more!

So how do you go about enjoying the holidays without overdoing it and crashing into a tray full of Christmas shortbread?

It’s all about balance at this time of year – and you need to go easy on yourself.  After all, it is Christmas.  You’re supposed to be surrounded by joy, not stressed over eating too many cookies!

Here’s some healthy baking tips that will help you get through the holidays:

1.  Use unrefined sugars in your baking.  Yes, sugar is sugar, but it’s much easier on your body if the sugar you’re baking with is less refined.  Try maple syrup, honey (unless you’re vegan), coconut sugar, or stevia. You could even try sweetening your recipes with fruit!

2.  Use whole grain gluten-free flours that are higher in nutrients – teff, quinoa, and millet are some of my faves.  Teff goes oh so well when paired with chocolate and gingerbread spices.

3.  Use grain-free flours like almond flour or coconut flour.  These flours will help to balance the blood sugar spike that comes with sweet treats.

4.  Whole grain and grain-free baked goods also leave you feeling a little more full, so maybe you won’t eat so many sweets from that tray that keeps calling your name.

5.  Take lots of Vitamin C and drink lots of water.  Okay, so this isn’t a baking tip, but Vitamin C and water will help you stay healthy through the holidays, especially if you’re indulging in a little more sugary goodness than normal.

 Did someone say Gingerbread? 

This loaf is delightful, if I do say so myself.  As usual, I did my best to balance out the sweetness by using nutrient-dense whole grain gluten-free flours (say that ten times fast), ground chia seed, and as little starch as I could get away with.  The result is an incredibly dense and chewy gingerbread recipe I know you’ll love.

Pete loves his gingerbread minus the sweet icing and topped with peanut butter (so glad I married him).  Callum likes his sans icing, and Livvie and my sweet toothed Dad like theirs loaded with icing.  I think I’m with Livvie and my Dad on this one!

Gluten-Free and Vegan Gingerbread

2/3 cups teff flour
½ cup quinoa flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch
½ tablespoon psyllium seed husks
2 teaspoons organic cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ginger ground
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup grated apple
1 tablespoon ground chia combined with ¼ cup warm water
1/2 cup coconut sugar (you could use cane sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup melted coconut oil, plus more for brushing
1/3 cup molasses unsulphured

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9×4 inch loaf pan. This recipe will work in other pan sizes, just adjust the baking time.
2. Sift the flours into a large bowl.
3. Add the psyllium seed husks, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt. Mix well  to combine.
4. Add grated apple to dry ingredients and stir to combine.
5. Combine the ground chia and warm water in a medium-sized bowl.  Let sit for a minute.
6. Add the sugar, vanilla, melted oil, and molasses. Stir well to combine.
7. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir through.
8. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with melted coconut oil. Return to oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Remove from oven and check with a knife for doness.
9. Let cool in pan. Remove bread from pan and cut into thick slices.
10. Add icing if desired.


Stay tuned for more recipes to keep you focused on healthier eating throughout the Holidays.  Starting on Monday, December 10th I’ll be taking part in a Gluten-Free Progressive Dinner Party with some of my friends!  I’ll be hosting on December 13th with a Gluten-Free and Vegan Main Dish!


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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Kayla December 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Maggie, this looks amazing!! I love gingerbread, especially when it’s not too sweet. I’ll definitely be making this recipe sometime this holiday season.


megs December 2, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I tried…and I am with Livvie and you…the icing is yummy yummy!


Kathy December 3, 2012 at 8:37 am

Thank you for sharing your gifts and talents. I have a child who has issues with eggs and cannot digest the chia seed or husk seeds. With your experience, do you think the recipes would work with powdered egg replacement? They look so good, I think I smell them as well.
Thank you


glutenfreeforgood December 3, 2012 at 9:43 am

Icing! Where’s the icing recipe? I’m with Livvie and your sweet-toothed dad, please serve mine with icing. After all, you said it was Christmas and to go easy on ourselves. I interpreted that to mean, top with icing and don’t worry about it. =)

Seriously, this recipe is right up my alley (or oven, in this case). I’m a huge fan of teff and I love anything with a gingerbread flavor.

Good one, Maggie!


wanda December 3, 2012 at 11:53 am

Where do you find Teff I have looked everywhere? By everywhere I mean Whole Foods, Sprouts, Fry’s, Costco, Trader Joe’s and a huge Asian Market and cannot find it anywhere. Can you help? thanks so much I love your blog and am always anxious for new posts.


Kim - Cook It Allergy Free December 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Awesome tips, Maggie. I love this recipe… I have not made a gingerbread loaf in years! I am SO making this, my friend. It looks absolutely fabulous! I am going to have to go with Callum and take mine sans icing… my boys, on the hand, will definitely be siding with Livvie. And Pete? Hmm…not so sure about the peanut butter. LOL


christine December 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm

I love gingerbread, and don’t like things too sweet, this sounds great – if I can find some teff flour:)


Alisa December 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Yum! Gingerbread is one of my favorites Maggie. You always know how to make tasty goodies wholesome!


Angela December 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Do you have a substitution recommendation for the coconut oil? Its out of my budget. Thanks – it looks delicious and it would make a great gift for my dad!


Wendy December 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm

This looks and sounds just amazing! I happen to have a bag of teff flour in my freezer that I bought for another recipe and haven’t used since so I’ll be giving this a shot this week. Thanks for all the great tips too!


Lorne Marr December 13, 2012 at 8:27 am

First thing that crossed my mind, when I looked at the recipe was – where are the raisins? :O When I was (a lot) younger, me and my siblings were always looking forward to mom baking one of her specialties and she always used a huge amount of raisins. When she cut the gingerbread, all three of us were looking for the slice with the most raisins. :)


Katherine December 20, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Thanks for this recipe! I made it and we are enjoying it lots. :) We are eating it with forks and it seems very cake-like to me. Do you think it would work just as well to bake it in a round cake pan?


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