03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Ring In The New Year With Allergy-Free Funnel Cakes

In a yoga class this morning, contorted into the shape of a gluten-free pretzel, I tried unsuccessfully to touch my toes and relax. I do yoga just once a year, always at this time of the year when my resolve to change everything about myself is strong, and I am motivated to try something new. Instead, I rediscover that I hate yoga for being too slow and that years of running without stretching have made my body so inflexible that I will never be able to touch my toes again.

Bored and frustrated rather than limber and relaxed, I considered of all the things that I want to do in 2010. I want to be neater, more organized and more fiscally responsible. Of course, I want to lose some weight. Who doesn't? I want to clean out all of our closets. I'm ambitious. But, what I really want to do this year is eat.

As you might know, I suffer from food allergies, and eating often turns into a chore. There are several foods like turkey burgers and roasted vegetables that suit my dietary restrictions and are simultaneously quick and easy. Thus, I often find myself in a culinary rut. Sure, I've mastered the gluten, dairy, soy, nut and egg-free cookies and pastries that eluded me for so long after my diagnosis, but this year, I want to tackle the savories. I love flaky Southern biscuits. Driving through Ohio last night on our way back from my parents' house I spied a Long John Silvers and, don't laugh, remembered how much I love Hushpuppies. It's been years since I've had one. A gluten, dairy, soy, nut and egg-free chicken pot pie? It's on the list of things to do before 2011.

This is not to suggest in any way that I am abandoning my beloved sweets. I continue to branch out in that category almost every day. I'm currently going through a phase of rediscovering and recreating all of the recipes that we made in 7th grade Home Economics. It's been fun, and so many of the recipes are not only delicious, but simple too. Remember, they were chosen to introduce 13 year-old boys and girls to the joy of cooking. They did not disappoint.

So, lying on that yoga mat, I considered which thing I would like to eat for my last hurrah on New Year's Eve, the one dessert that sounded so good that I would want to inhale every last calorie, lick every moist crumb from my finger tips, the treat that would satisfy me in so many ways that I will surely wake up on New Year's Day ready to stop eating dozen of cookies every day, and I settled on Funnel Cakes. This recipe was one of the first things that we made in Home Ec, and it's still one of my favorites. In the following video, I serve them dusted with confectioners sugar and garnished with strawberries. This New Year's Eve, I will drown them in homemade, casein-free, soy-free chocolate sauce and smother them with coconut milk ice cream. And I will enjoy every bite.

Here's to a New Year filled with lots of safe and delicious baking and eating (in newly discovered moderation, of course).

Funnel Cakes

canola oil for frying

1 TBS cider vinegar
2 c vanilla rice milk (I like to make my own from powdered rice milk--2 TBS powdered rice milk mixed with 2 c tepid water)
2 TBS applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c Arrowhead Mills All-Purpose Baking and Pancake Mix
1 tsp xanthan
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS sugar
1/4 c canola oil

confectioner's sugar for dusting

Pour enough canola oil into a large saucepan to go halfway up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil over high heat until a drop of batter dropped into the hot oil sizzles. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar, vanilla rice milk, applesauce and vanilla. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the baking mix, xanthan, soda, salt and sugar until well-combined. Beat in the wet ingredients, stir in 1/4 cup of canola oil until it is combined. Pour the batter into a large funnel, with your finger over the spout to keep it from spilling out. When the oil is hot enough, release your finger from the bottom of the funnel and let the batter run out, moving the funnel around so that the cakes are vaguely spiral in shape. Fry the cakes for about 3-4 minutes per side or until the cakes are golden brown on both sides. Remove from the oil with a metal, slotted spatula and drain on paper towels. Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve warm. Makes about 4-6 cakes