Holiday Staples x Allergen Free!
The holidays are a tough time when you have food allergies. I know I miss the peanut butter cookies my family were sent every year for a holiday gift. For years, if you wanted these holiday treats, you had to make everything yourself. But one good thing that has come out of 2020 is that the food allergy space has exploded, in thanks to the explosion of veganism and brands wanting to reclaim market share of consumers. Here are some holiday treats you can find at the store (and the brands I recommend the most).
I loved Egg Nog growing up. Everyone except my dad and me hated it, so there was plenty to go around. When I got diagnosed with EoE and had to radically change my diet, I was devastated I could no longer enjoy the holiday beverage. In the last couple years, though, there are brands who have tackled this dilemma! My favorite is the version by Califia Farms (gf/vegan/nongmo/kosher). I find it most consistently at Whole Foods or local organic grocers.
Pumpkin Spice Latte
Is it really fall without mentioning PSL? If you have food allergies, getting any flavored drink at Starbucks is a nightmare because of cross contamination and hidden ingredients, so you end up left out of the PSL sphere. I've considered making it from scratch at home, but it requires A LOT of ingredients. Again, Califia Farms (gf/vegan/nongmo/kosher) comes to the rescue. They have a pre-done PSL drink, saving you the hassle of owning a coffee maker or any of the specialty ingredients necessary!
Finding dairy free/vegan hot chocolate is unnecessarily difficult in my humble opinion. You would think by now, more places would have the option. Luckily, the ingredients necessary have fantastic options, and it isn't too difficult to make at home. Here are the brands I use in my homemade hot chocolate!
Milk: Oatly (gf/vegan/soy free/nut free/nongmo)
I have asked baristas, and they seem to agree that oat milk blends like regular milk, making it the best option for blended drinks like hot chocolate. Plus Oatly is certified gluten free unlike most oat milks on the market.
Chocolate Syrup: Hershey's Simply 5 (gf/vegan/nongmo)
When I discovered Hershey's Simplify 5, I was convinced I was reading the ingredients label incorrectly. It tastes just like regular Hershey's chocolate syrup, but without all the unnecessary ingredients, making it the perfect swap for a vegan hot chocolate!
Marshmallows: Dandies (gf/vegan/nongmo/kosher)
If you prefer to top your hot chocolate with marshmallows, then I recommend Dandies. They taste good, are allergen friendly, and come in a variety of sizes to fit your needs! I think the mini-marshmallows taste better personally.
Whipped Cream: So Delicious (gf/vegan/nongmo)
If you prefer to top your hot chocolate with whipped cream, I like So Delicious Whipped Topping*. Since it is kept frozen, it can last a lot longer, so you end up wasting less. Plus, it tastes good and melts into desserts like regular whipped cream.
*This product is coconut based, as are most vegan whipped cream options
Chocolate is a critical sweet treat no matter which winter holiday you celebrate. My favorite brand for this is No Whey Foods (gf/vegan/nongmo/kosher/top 8 free). They have gelt for those who celebrate Hanukkah and dairy-free advent calendars for those who celebrate Christmas. If you want more generic options, they have holiday truffles as well as all of their non-seasonal options.
Candy Canes are an easy, safe option for many as is. But if you are like me and prefer organic options, the best brand is YumEarth (gf/vegan/nongmo/kosher/top 8 allergen free/organic)! They have mini candy canes that taste just like you want, plus they are individually wrapped! Perfect for a COVID-19 safe holiday!
Enjoy Life Foods: (gf/vegan/nongmo/top 8 allergen free)
Enjoy Life Foods has been coming in clutch for the allergen community for years. This does not stop around the holidays. In fact, in recent years, they have greatly increased their holiday offerings, including individually wrapped pieces of chocolate and special holiday packaging. For cookies, they have seasonal flavors like apple spice and peppermint, which are just as delicious as the traditional line.
Sweet Loren's: (gf/vegan/nongmo/kosher/top 8 allergen free/organic)
If you prefer to make cookies fresh rather than have packaged ones, then Sweet Loren's is the brand for you! Their cookies come ready to place on a cookie sheet and bake, so they are super easy and accessible to all. You can bake them how you prefer, crispy or soft, and they come in multiple flavors, all of which taste great. They don't have any specialty items for the holidays, but they can help take some of the stress out of the season!
Hope you re-discovered an old favorite! Food allergies don't have to stop the holidays from being sweet. Happy holidays and happy new year to you all!