Remember These Tricks to Avoid This Halloween for a Safe and Fun Holiday!

By Bridget

Aside from the costumes, one of the best parts of Halloween is the ability to gather a plethora of candy treats through the simple declaration of “Trick or Treat!” Laura provided a great post last Thursday, with lists of gluten-free treats that are commercially available so your trick-or-treaters don’t have to worry.

To keep your kids (and yourself!) safe, here are three important things to remember about food safety this Halloween:

Continue reading “Remember These Tricks to Avoid This Halloween for a Safe and Fun Holiday!”

Gluten-free Easter Candy and Baked Treats

spjellybeansHolidays that are connected to candy, including Valentine’s Day, Easter and Halloween, bring many people with food allergies or intolerances a lot of anxiety. Which candies are gluten-free and which are not almost seem to change with the seasons. Some traditional favorites in the original versions have remained gluten-free for a while, but some such items are not gluten-free when you find them in a mini form. Not one to be really into candy, once I went gluten-free, I found out which of the few things I like (but rarely have) were gluten-free and left it at that.

The original versions (in the standard size) of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, and Baby Ruth bars were all gluten-free four years ago and they still are today. One of the most famous Easter candies is Marshmallow Peeps. The traditional version of those funny looking treats are not only gluten-free, the package even bears gluten-free on the label these days. Make sure to read the label of all new Peeps products before purchasing. The gluten-free candy list over at Sure Living Foods is pretty comprehensive and our Gluten-Free Grocery Guide contains about seven pages of safe candy. Surf Sweets just introduced gluten-free jelly beans and they are also free of corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors. As candy goes, Surf Sweet products are pretty healthy and very tasty!

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Shabtai-Gourmet Rainbow Squares

People looking for gluten-free baked treats for Easter might want to check out the many delicious offerings from Shabtai-Gourmet. The gluten-free, dairy-free and Kosher treats from this bakery are in a league of their own for products with those distinctions. The exceptional Raspberry and Apricot Roll cakes are good enough to serve to gluten eaters at a holiday brunch. They are very moist and perfectly sweet. We try to keep the apricot flavor in the freezer all year long. Items from this line hold up really when frozen and don’t take very long to thaw out.

Shabtai-Gourmet Marble Cake
Shabtai-Gourmet Marble Cake

The Marble Cake and Sponge cakes are also moist and delicious. The sponge cake works great for strawberry shortcake and is delicious plain! These cakes stay fresh in the fridge for a couple of weeks. This tasty line of gluten-free baked goods is available at many health food stores. Check this store locator page to see if they are available at a store in your area. and the website offers FREE shipping on all orders to the 48 continental U.S. states.

The most important thing to remember is to enjoy yourself and eat fabulous food during holidays of any kind. There is no reason to let the fact that you’re gluten-free keep you from enjoying life to the fullest every day of the year!

Enjoying Valentine’s Day Gluten-Free Style

njoying Valentine’s Day Gluten-Free Style
When holidays involving food roll around, people with food allergies and intolerances can get a bit anxious about what might be safe for them to consume. Valentine’s Day is one of those days – it’s about flowers which thankfully are usually not eaten (except in outrageously fancy restaurants). But it’s also about candy and for some, a romantic dinner out. The first time I ever ate out after my diagnosis was on Valentine’s Day. I was determined to not let having celiac keep me from enjoying life, but looking back I don’t recommend this idea to other “newbies” to the diet.
For three years, I vowed that I would not stay home on Valentine’s night just because I could not eat gluten. Each year our experiences when dining out were less than optimal. The good news is that I never got served gluten but I also encountered overstressed servers at all three places we tried on Valentine’s Day. Finally last year, we stayed in and had a gloriously gluten-free gourmet meal without the stress that had accompanied the previous three years on the holiday. Since Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday this year, we are going out again, but at an absurdly “early bird dinner” time. It’s doubtful that when we arrive anyone else will be at the place and that’s just fine by us. If you go out, it’s helpful to the staff if you go early or late so they can spend the time needed to prepare your meal safely. Our Restaurant Guide lists tons of places that are happy to accomodate gluten-free diners, but on any busy night (Friday, Saturday) or  special holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, the best of intentions at a restaurant can go horribly wrong.
Now let’s talk about candy. There is so much good news raining down on us these days – tons of food products are being reformulated to be gluten-free and more restaurants are providing great gluten-free options to their customers. There is one place where I don’t notice much of an improvement from four years ago, when I first investigated the issue. Candy companies seem to be lagging behind some of the other companies in terms of gluten-free allergen information. Since candies are generally processed on the same lines that many allergens are, candy companies often just tell us not to eat their products, period. But with more and more of the U.S, population going gluten-free (for various reasons) each month, one might assume that the candy companies would rethink their positions on what market they want to shut out.
Russell Stover Candies have actually improved their website information regarding allergens and this is much appreciated. At least potential consumers can read their statement and make an informed decision about the products from the company. They also own Whittman’s, maker of the famous Whitman’s Sampler box. The Ghiradelli website has no allergen information on thier website so I called the company to see what, if anything, in their line-up was gluten-free. I was referred to the corporate office xxxx. I’d noticed a lovely heart shaped box of candy from their line at Target, along with heart shaped boxes of Kisses and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. At least the latter two items are gluten-free and each is quite inexpensive at Target.
Ordering gift baskets from gluten-free companies is an option. I Can Have That, Carriage House Gifts an Well Baskets are just a few of the companies that offer nice gluten-free themed gift baskets. Edible Arrangements is a nationwide company that offers fresh fruit bouquets that can also be dipped in chocolate. When I spoke to someone from the company’s corporate office, they said they didn’t “think” there was any gluten in the chocolate since the word gluten wasn’t listed. The person referred me to my local Edible Arrangement where I found a more assured business owner. She quickly told me she’d investigated to make sure the chocolate they are using is gluten-free. It’s probably best not to assume all locations have safe chocolate. We found some nice online ordering candy options including Raising the Candy Bar and The Natural Candy Store.
For those who prefer to make their own gluten-free goodies for Valentine’s Day, check out the lovely recipes we found:

russtoveWhen holidays involving food roll around, people with food allergies and intolerances can get a bit anxious about what might be safe for them to consume. Valentine’s Day is one of those days. True, the holiday is also about flowers which thankfully are usually not eaten (except in fancy restaurants). But it’s also about candy and for some, a romantic dinner out. The first time I ever ate out after my diagnosis was on Valentine’s Day. I was determined to not let having celiac keep me from enjoying life, but looking back I don’t recommend this idea to other “newbies” to the diet.

For three years, I vowed that I would not stay home on Valentine’s night just because I could not eat gluten. We eat out all the time but do avoid dining at peak times whenever possible. Each year our experiences when dining out on Valentine’s Day were less than optimal. The good news is that I never got served gluten but I also encountered overstressed servers at all three places we tried on February 14th. Finally last year, we stayed in and had a gloriously gluten-free gourmet meal without the stress that had accompanied the previous three years. Since Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday this year, we are going out again, but at an absurdly “early bird dinner” time. The Triumph Dining Restaurant Guide lists tons of places that are happy to accommodate gluten-free diners, but on any busy night (Friday, Saturday) or  special holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, the best of intentions at a restaurant can go horribly wrong.

Now let’s talk about candy. There is so much good news raining down on us these days – tons of food products are being reformulated to be gluten-free and more and more restaurants are providing great gluten-free options to their customers. There is one area where I don’t notice a huge improvement from four years ago, when I first investigated the issue. Candy companies seem to be lagging behind some of the other companies in terms of gluten-free allergen information. Since candies are generally processed on the same lines that many allergen ingredients are, candy companies often just tell us not to eat their products. Even though the candy listings in the Triumph Dining Grocery Guide have grown substantially in the last couple of years, some pretty big names won’t be found there still.

hersheytRussell Stover Candies have actually improved their website information regarding allergens and this is much appreciated. At least potential consumers can read their statement and make an informed decision about the products. Recently I noticed heart shaped boxes of both Hershey’s Kisses and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups at Super Target. At least those are two items are gluten-free and each is quite inexpensive. Many items from Necco’s are gluten-free, including Haviland Thin Mints, which are only $1 at Everything’s a Dollar! The iconic Necco Sweethearts Conversation Hearts are gluten-free as well. With any candy not marked gluten-free, always read the ingredients, of course.

Ordering gift baskets from gluten-free companies is an option. I Can Have That, Carriage House Gifts and Well Baskets are just a few of the companies that offer nice gluten-free themed gift baskets. Edible Arrangements is a nationwide company that offers fresh fruit bouquets that can also be dipped in chocolate. When I spoke to someone from the company’s corporate office, they said they didn’t “think” there was any gluten in the chocolate since the word gluten wasn’t listed in the ingredients. That person referred me to my local Edible Arrangement store, where I found a more assured business owner. She quickly told me she’d investigated to make sure the chocolate they are using is gluten-free. You might want to verify the safety of chocolate at other Edible Arrangements before ordering.

Photo courtesy of Cybele Pascal
Photo courtesy of Cybele Pascal

We found some nice online ordering candy options including Raising the Candy Bar and The Natural Candy Store. Also, this helpful post from Celiac Family can guide those with more than just gluten to worry about. If you want to make youre own gluten-free candy, check out the chocolate heart recipe from Jens Gluten-Free. If Red Velvet Cake is something you’ve been craving, check out Cybele Pascal’s gluten, dairy, soy, egg and nut free recipe from The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook!

Whatever you do for the holiday, remember to enjoy yourself and eat fabulous gluten-free food!

Enjoy Halloween and Fall Traditions Gluten-Free Style

Ooey-Gooey Rocky Road Bars
Ooey-Gooey Rocky Road Bars

October brings cooler weather and gorgeous Fall colors for most of us. It also brings worry to many parents of gluten-free kids. The simple act of Trick-or-Treating can be a mine field for kids who can’t eat gluten. If you or your kids need to avoid gluten or other allergens, check out this comprehensive allergen candy list from Alison at Sure Foods Living. It appears from this extensive list, that most of my favorite candy (from my own Trick-or-Treating days) is actually gluten-free!

Caramel apples are a definite Fall treat and they’re actually pretty easy to make. Here is a recipe that looks delicious and simple enough for the kids to help with. I prefer candied apples and they are also gluten-free. It’s probably been 20 years since I’ve had one of these so maybe I’ll buy a candy thermometer and make my own one fo these days. When you find candied apples in specialty stores, they might be gluten-free but they are generally full of things I can’t pronounce.

If making old fashioned popcorn balls is a part of your Fall traditions, this recipe is gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free! In my Trick-or-Treat years, popcorn balls were a special Halloween treat we looked forward to each year from a family friend of ours. We lived in a tiny town in the panhandle of Florida but for some reason, we drove around to  friends homes instead of walking around our own neighborhood. Now that I think about it, that wasn’t a very “green” way to Trick-or-treat.

At our house we give out only gluten-free candy just in case some of the kids that get it can’t have gluten. We also give out a gluten-free, nut free and dairy free item. We’re not sure why, but some years we almost run out of candy and others we have only five or so groups of costumed goblins stop by. In those cases we have to give the candy away at my husband’s office.  Just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean I need to eat it all myself!

Over the weekend we attended a party where hot mulled cider was served. It was wonderful and naturally gluten-free. Here is a recipe to make your own from Recipe Zaar. They actually have over 25 gluten-free Halloween recipes over there! That website never disappoints and it even has a gluten-free funnel cake recipe – did you every try making them? They are much easier to make than you’d think!

Carol over at Harris Whole Health has some great Halloween tips and the NFCA has a wonderful downloadable form for parents to print, fill in the blanks and hand out to teachers or other adults that might be in a position to feed their kids during this festive time of year.

Everyone knows that Betty Crocker introduced four gluten-free dessert mixes this summer but did you know that the company is creating quite the gluten-free dessert recipe collection on their website? These Ooey Gooey Rocky Road Bars look sinfully good! For a holiday twist on cookies, try this Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe!

Special thanks to Allison and Carol and the rest of the gluten-free bloggers, for helping us all enjoy the Fall season and Halloween treats in gluten-free style!

Enjoy Halloween and Fall Traditions Gluten-free Style

Ooey-Gooey Rocky Road Bars
Ooey-Gooey Rocky Road Bars

October brings cooler weather and gorgeous Fall colors for most of us. It also brings worry to many parents of gluten-free kids. The simple act of Trick-or-Treating can be a mine field for kids who can’t eat gluten. If you or your kids need to avoid gluten or other allergens, check out this comprehensive allergen candy list from Alison at Sure Foods Living. It appears from this extensive list, that most of my favorite candy (from my own Trick-or-Treating days) is actually gluten-free!

Caramel apples are a definite Fall treat and they’re actually pretty easy to make. Here is a recipe that looks delicious and simple enough for the kids to help with. I prefer candied apples and they are also gluten-free. It’s probably been 20 years since I’ve had one of these so maybe I’ll buy a candy thermometer and make my own one fo these days. When you find candied apples in specialty stores, they might be gluten-free but they are generally full of things I can’t pronounce.

If making old fashioned popcorn balls is a part of your Fall traditions, this recipe is gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free! In my Trick-or-Treat years, popcorn balls were a special Halloween treat we looked forward to each year from a family friend of ours. We lived in a tiny town in the panhandle of Florida but for some reason, we drove around to  friends homes instead of walking around our own neighborhood. Now that I think about it, that wasn’t a very “green” way to Trick-or-treat.

At our house we give out only gluten-free candy just in case some of the kids that get it can’t have gluten. We also give out a gluten-free, nut free and dairy free item. We’re not sure why, but some years we almost run out of candy and others we have only five or so groups of costumed goblins stop by. In those cases we have to give the candy away at my husband’s office.  Just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean I need to eat it all myself!

Over the weekend we attended a party where hot mulled cider was served. It was wonderful and naturally gluten-free. Here is a recipe to make your own from Recipe Zaar. They actually have over 25 gluten-free Halloween recipes over there! That website never disappoints and it even has a gluten-free funnel cake recipe – did you every try making them? They are much easier to make than you’d think!

Carol over at Harris Whole Health has some great Halloween tips and the NFCA has a wonderful downloadable form for parents to print, fill in the blanks and hand out to teachers or other adults that might be in a position to feed their kids during this festive time of year.

Everyone knows that Betty Crocker introduced four gluten-free dessert mixes this summer but did you know that the company is creating quite the gluten-free dessert recipe collection on their website? These Ooey Gooey Rocky Road Bars look sinfully good! For a holiday twist on cookies, try this Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe!

Special thanks to Allison and Carol and the rest of the gluten-free bloggers, for helping us all enjoy the Fall season and Halloween treats in gluten-free style!