How to Make Easy Allergy-Friendly (One-Ingredient) Chocolates

Allergy-friendly candy for my boy. Thanks, Enjoy Life!!

Allergy-friendly candy for my boy. Thanks, Enjoy Life!!

I complain every year about Valentine’s Day being a junk-food holiday. So much of the holiday is about the candy and sweets. But as my son has firmly grasped this year, Valentine’s Day is about love, not sugar. And there are lots of ways to express our love — sweet cards, simple gifts, homemade mementos, simply saying “I love you.” No need for candies! (But, hubby, if you’re reading, there IS still a need for flowers. Not necessarily roses; those are overpriced right now, and I’m a reasonable girl. So, how about tulips? I even have a vase. Just sayin’.)

While I do resent the fact that this is a candy holiday, I also would be lying if I didn’t admit that part of the way I express love and seek to establish traditions is through food. And I feel bad that my adorable Valentine’s Day-loving 3-year-old can’t have most chocolates because of his dairy allergy. (Though he’s really come to enjoy my 72 percent cacao chocolate. Kid’s got expensive tastes, man.)

I work hard to find non-candy ways for him to enjoy Valentine’s Day, but I also don’t want him to feel left out. And I think one day, he’ll appreciate the effort I went through to give him his very own special chocolate candies.

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It’s super-simple if you’d like to do the same:

  1. Pick up a bag of Enjoy Life brand chocolate morsels or chunks.
  2. Pick up some candy molds. (Craft stores like Michaels typically carry them.)
  3. Melt them in a double-boiler (I use a ceramic bowl set on top of a pot of gently boiling water on the stovetop) or the microwave.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate into the molds.
  5. Set the molds on a flat surface in your fridge for several hours.

Voila! Allergy-friendly chocolates that you can package up in any creative way you see fit.

Traditional Fall Slow-Cooker Chili

Few things say fall like stews, soups and chilis. In our house, chili is in the rotation from Halloween to the first of March. Smelling it cook all day is part of the joy. And because you make it yourself, you get to decide the type of beans you use and just how spicy you make it. I've been keeping ours on the milder side in the hopes my son will eat it, and I never use kidney beans because I hate them. I don't care if people (hi, Mom) say it's not chili without them. Regardless of any modifications, I find it's always delicious — and perfect this time of year. And while the upside is that it's super simple, the downside is there really isn't much for kiddos to do to help.

Down-the-Hatch Breakfast Hash (egg-free, dairy-free)

I've recently become a big fan of the hash. You can modify it in any way you want. It can be allergy-friendly, and it needs no recipe. (Just try it!)

And if you're cooking with kids, here's a cool bonus: There's no real need to measure anything, so it takes some pressure off ... which is helpful because you probably aren't fully caffeinated when you're cooking breakfast.

Ideas for an Allergy-Friendly Easter Menu

Ideas for an Allergy-Friendly Easter Menu

As the host, I feel it’s my responsibility to ensure that the Easter table is safe for him. And I welcome that responsibility (and sometimes challenge). Of course, if you have a 2-year-old, you know they’re picky little buggers who don’t eat much.

These days, our allergies are eggs and dairy, but if you also have nut, peanut, soy and gluten on your list, there are lots of options. Here are just a few ideas to pull from this Sunday.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dressing (Egg-Free, Dairy-Free)

Stuffing/dressing has always been one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving. But a lot of traditional recipes call for egg and butter, which we can't do. So, here's the traditional option we'll be doing this year.

Chorizo and Jalapeño Dressing (Egg-Free, Dairy-Free)

Chorizo and Jalapeño Dressing (Egg-Free, Dairy-Free)

At Thanksgiving, people tend to expect the traditional foods. But what if you had the latitude to kick up the spice level on your dressing/stuffing? You'd get this. Oh, and it's dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free and soy-free.

Resources for Thanksgiving Turkey

Resources for Thanksgiving Turkey

Whoa, Thanksgiving is a week away. How did that happen? Despite my love of cooking, last year was my first time ever hosting Thanksgiving. And boy, was it stressful. I'll work on building out some allergy-friendly ideas this year so they can be a resource in future years. But in the meantime, I can share some resources for turkey that I hope will be helpful to you.

Simple Vegan No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Now that my son is OK to have peanuts, it’s opened up some opportunities on the snack and dessert front. One of my personal favorite combinations of all time is peanut butter and chocolate. But with my son’s other allergies, he can’t have Reese’s peanut butter cups. And I find this to border on tragic. Sooo … I made my own chocolate peanut butter cups.

No-bake chocolate peanut butter cups.

No-bake chocolate peanut butter cups.

How kiddos can help: Swirling the PB and chocolate!

Ingredients:

    •    1 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chunks or chips

    •    ½ cup peanut butter*

    •    2 tsps. olive oil


What to do: 

If you spray your mini muffin tin with cooking spray first, popping the PB cups out of the tin will be much easier.

If you spray your mini muffin tin with cooking spray first, popping the PB cups out of the tin will be much easier.

 

    1.    Coat a mini-muffin tin with cooking spray. (Learned this one the hard way.)

    2.    Melt chocolate in double boiler.

    3.    Combine peanut butter and olive oil. (I think you could use coconut oil … I just don’t want my PB and chocolate tainted with coconut flavor, personally.) The oil helps make the PB easier to swirl.

    4.    Spoon chocolate into muffin tin. (I got 15 out of 1 cup of chocolate.)

    5.    Add peanut butter mixture. Use a toothpick or knife to swirl.

    6.    Freeze for about an hour. When you pop them out, you will have a limited time to eat them before they melt. And have a wash cloth handy for cleaning up the kiddo.

*A note about the peanut butter: I tried both a regular peanut butter and an all-natural, no-salt-added variety. The regular PB is better. Creamier, yummier, more candy-like. But if you prefer to avoid the extra ingredients that come in regular PB, the all-natural will certainly work. Oh, and if you have peanut allergies in your house, sunbutter works too.