Shopping for safe chocolate
It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I’ve got chocolate on my mind! I suspect visions of yummy chocolates are dancing in many heads. My food sensitivities are soy, gluten, and most chocolate. No fair! I can’t eat flowers… I yearn for chocolate! But wait… there is hope. Let’s walk down the Candy Land path to the chocolate village together to figure out what we can eat. By the way, good chocolate can be pricey…so a little may have to go a long way.
There is one chocolate that I can tolerate. Okay, I confess I have a small bite every one or two months. I am okay with that…most days. Let me clarify…I am not allergic to chocolate; if I was it would be total avoidance. The only brand I can tolerate is ‘Life Opening Chocolates’. They make flavored and raw organic chocolates. The ingredients list is minimal and there are no preservatives, gluten, egg, dairy, soy or nuts except for a disclaimer saying ‘made in a facility with tree nuts’. My one occasional bite of their raw cacao is savored. It has a dark, smokey, and rich flavor with a touch of bitterness that slowly softens in the mouth and satisfies my craving…thank you Life Opening chocolates! (see below for the link) In my next life I want to eat lots of chocolate and be named ‘Cocoa’.
Did you know?
Chocolate is so popular that approximately 3 billion pounds of chocolate was gobbled up in the U.S. in 2001… wow! Today chocolate is the favorite treat for Americans who tend to eat it late at night. (Got my info from –http://www.sfu.ca/geog351fall03/groups-webpages/gp8/consum/consum.html). What does that say about us? That we love our late night treats! Are you watching The Colbert Report while munching on a hefty square of chocolate? Late night movie and Snickers bar? Nonpareils before bed anyone? Bit ‘o Hersheys after the evening bath? I digress…back to chocolate talk…
Whatever your chocolate habits are it really doesn’t matter as long as you are eating a chocolate that is safe for you. It is full of nutrients like magnesium and iron; has powerful antioxidant properties; and studies are leaning towards health benefits such as strengthening the blood vessel walls and lowering blood pressure. (http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20030827/dark-chocolate-is-healthy-chocolate)
That does not mean you should be eating a handful of M&M’s right now…these properties are in raw cacao and dark chocolate. Adding milk, drinking milk, or even eating a dairy product with the chocolate can lessen the nutritional benefits.
Most chocolate brands these days have at least one product in their product line containing peanut or a variety of tree nuts. Often chocolate products are made in a facility that processes peanuts and tree nuts. Other common ingredients are dairy (milk chocolate), soy lecithin, and gluten. Often the flavors and other ingredients in chocolate have an allergen as well. Think about Russel’s box of chocolates. Ever put your thumb in the bottom to see what is inside? That’s my point. Caramel, cherry, coconut, brittle, and nuts …oh my! That makes it difficult for many food sensitive shoppers to indulge in one of the most wonderfully decadent foods in the world.
The Good News
You have two weeks before Valentines Day… a good lead time to either buy or give your significant other a food sensitive shopping list of what you can tolerate safely. Since shipping may be involved think about ordering soon. BTW… if you love your safe chocolate you may want to purchase extra during this cold weather month so you don’t have the extra surcharge for a special container with an ice pack. Some chocolate makers do not ship during warm months without the extra fee for cold shipping. Example – The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (not a safe product option for many food sensitive shoppers though)
Listed below are links of reputable companies who sell chocolate made for people like us who have food sensitivities or intolerance. Allergens and gluten are also listed according to their website information.
Vermont Nut free chocolate – Peanut and tree nut free –
Divvies – No nuts, eggs, dairy, or gluten in their chocolate candies –
Enjoy life foods – Free of top eight most common food allergens (dairy, peanut, tree nut, soy, egg, wheat, fish, shell fish) and sesame –
Hershey company – This link takes you to their list of gluten free chocolate candy products –
Amberlyn Chocolates – Gluten free –
Life Opening Chocolate – Made in a facility with tree nuts; otherwise no dairy, nuts, soy, egg, gluten. Common ingredients are cacao, agave and a pinch of salt. Some may have cherry, coconut or chili –
Remember this saying? ‘Life is like a box of chocolate; you never know what you are going to get’ (from the 1994 movie ‘Forrest Gump’ … you remember, right?)
So true for the Food Sensitive Shopper! We don’t know whether we will get sick from eating a ‘chocolate’ or any other food which is why I suggest always read the label and call the company customer service line if you have questions about a particular product.
We have some Valentine’s Day activities on Pintrest too. Look for our Holidays and Food Allergies board. Enjoy!
Want to continue our ‘chocolate talk’? Please make comments; and suggest products that you find are safe but add the link or phone number and any allergen or gluten statement to help our readers.
We hope your Valentine’s Day is filled with safe chocolatey delights and love! Cheers.