This allergy-friendly product review was written by guest blogger, Danielle Barry. Danielle is a student at the University of Toronto, finishing the last term of her Masters of Information. She has been allergic to peanuts her entire life, and has recently developed a soy allergy. In her spare time, Danielle enjoys travelling, photography, and finding new allergy-safe foods. All opinions are her own.
It doesn’t matter if your sweetheart is a romantic partner or your precious little one… finding safe Valentine’s Day treats for that special food-allergic someone in your life can be a challenge! Lucky for you, I’ve got a sweet tooth (and food allergies), so I’ve compiled a list of allergy-friendly sweets to share with you. In cases where I’ve actually tried them—let’s be honest, that’s most of the time—I’ve included a short and sweet review.
I heart: Laura Secord Boxed Assorted Chocolates
Free of: peanuts, possibly tree nuts
Spotted at: Laura Secord
My heart practically exploded when I saw this for the first time. I had never had the pleasure of eating a box of chocolates until I lived in Finland and found a peanut-free chocolate company. I was 20 at the time. When I moved back to Canada, I brought a few boxes with me to enjoy at home. When they were gone, I was sure my affair with boxed chocolates was over for good. Until I found this magical box of assorted peanut-free chocolates.I swear, I say this about every new allergy-friendly treat I find, but… they’re the greatest treat ever!
My favourite chocolate of the bunch is the Crispy Log. I sometimes struggle with the taste/texture of something ‘nut like’ in my food—mostly because crunchiness isn’t something I’m used to when chowing down on some chocolate. For that reason, I can’t stand most chocolates that contain rice crisps (even if they’re free of my allergens)! You’re probably thinking that’s a silly reason not to eat a safe treat, but having to overcome textures that are reminiscent of our allergens is an actual thing allergy kids go through! Anywho, the Laura Secord Crispy Log is the perfect balance of crispy and chocolate… AND it doesn’t have the consistency of nuts. Overall, it’s amazing!
Consolation Prize: Laura Secord [Im]Perfects
Money-saving hack! Allergy-friendly treats can be expensive. Luckily, Laura Secord sells a peanut-free box of [im]perfects. They come to the store sealed, and staff members don’t know what’s inside. That said, they have the full list of ingredients listed on the bottom, so you can kind of guess what flavours are inside (and make sure they’re okay for your other allergies). In my box, I had toffee hearts that were accidentally made into squares, crispy logs that were coin shaped, and chocolate balls that were more like cylinders. They taste just as great as the regular box—they just weren’t the right shape! So if you aren’t trying to impress your food-allergic sweetheart (or if they have a great sense of humour), this imperfect box of chocolates is a Valentine’s Day steal!
Alternative: No Whey Chocolate Truffles
Free of: dairy, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, and gluten. A vegan product
Spotted at: No Nuts About Us
I haven’t tried these yet, so I can’t vouch for how they taste, but No Whey is a pretty well-known allergy-friendly brand so I imagine they’re amazing. And allergy mom and founder of No Nuts About Us, Elly Ward, confirms it: “I’m a self diagnosed chocoholic. When I couldn’t get my fave chocolate truffle smoothies at my local chocolate shoppe anymore due to peanut CC, I figured I’d never find anything near as good. Enter No Whey truffles! They are amazingly smooth and delicious, and honestly have a better flavour than anything I’ve had. It’s hard to believe they are top 8 allergen free!”
So, if you need chocolates that are free of allergens beyond peanuts and tree nuts, you should give these truffles a try!
NOTE: These can be tough to find in Canada, but if you’re in one of the areas* listed below, you can order them from No Nuts About Us… just in time for Valentine’s Day! Just make sure to send in a special request (with your postal code) so Elly can confirm whether or not she can get it to you in time.
*southern Ontario, most major cities in other provinces
I heart: Queen Anne Chocolate Cherries
Free of: peanuts
Spotted at: Walmart
I think these are technically a Christmas chocolate, but I’m going to include them in this post since we’re talking about Valentine’s Day and, well, cherries are red. (Good enough?) My aunt gets some every year for Christmas and she always unwraps the corner, takes a small bite, makes a very happy sound, and then puts them away again… still partially wrapped. She will not share. I finally got to try one for the first time this year when we realized it actually didn’t contain my allergens. (I think both my aunt and I know the truth: She was keeping that secret from me all these years for a reason).
Now that I’ve tried them, I understand why she becomes territorial over these delicious little things. They’re like eating chocolate covered cherry pie. AMAZING. I found some hiding around my Walmart earlier this month, so they’re definitely still available after Christmas. You have to dig a bit, but it’s worth it.
Alternative: Cella’s Cherries by Tootsie
Free of: peanuts, tree nuts, gluten
Spotted at: Shopper’s Drug Mart
I don’t find this option as scrumptious as Queen Anne—they’re a lot more sugary and they don’t even come close to chocolate covered cherry pie! BUT… they are peanut, tree nut, and gluten free, so if those are the allergens your loved one avoids, they’ll probably want to taste them for themselves and judge.
I heart: Gimbal’s Cherry Hearts
Free of: peanuts, tree nuts, gluten, dairy, soy, egg.
Spotted at: Shopper’s Drug Mart
True story: I went to every Shopper’s Drug Mart between Bloor Street and Union Station in Toronto trying to find these last February. I lost count after thirteen stores. Someone in one of my allergy groups had shared a photo of the bag, and one of the flavours was cherry cheesecake, so clearly I needed to try them. I’m not sure how long they’ve been around in Canada, but I hadn’t seen them before last year. Right after Valentine’s Day, the Shopper’s closest to my apartment found an entire box that they had forgotten to put out for Valentine’s Day. The bags were only $0.70 each. So let’s just say I went a bit overboard and bought more than I would like to admit.
I’ve had a few Gimbal’s products during my lifetime, and they’re all great. Their candies are comparable to Jelly Belly when it comes to consistency and flavour—but I don’t have to worry about any cross contact with soy protein. The cherry hearts come in a bag of assorted flavours* and they are ALL SO GOOD. I’m permanently scarred from the nasty cherry medicine we all get as children so I struggle with cherry flavours, but these don’t taste even remotely close to that. They’re grrrrreat (read that in Tony the Tiger’s voice).
*flavours include: wild cherry, kiwi cherry, cherry vanilla, chocolate cherry, cherry cheesecake, bing cherry, cherry daiquiri, black cherry, and cherry cola
A final treat: Dum Dum’s Valentines
Free of: peanuts, treenuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat gluten.
Spotted at: Shopper’s Drug Mart
These are the traditional Dum Dum lollipops, but come with a Valentine you can attach to the stick. I didn’t end up buying some for myself, but how could a lollipop be bad? So I’m giving myself permission to include them here. The flavours themselves aren’t typical Valetine’s flavours (grape, blue raspberry, green apple, etc.), but sometimes getting something familiar on a special day is all an allergy kid wants.
Speaking of what an allergy kid wants, I’m off to eat an entire bag of Gimbals in, like, 30 seconds. Hope you find your food-allergic sweetheart a treat like this to love!
Friendly. Supportive. Encouraging.
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