Festive Chocolates: What to avoid when gift-giving

Happy December! The holidays are here and there’s only 3 more Saturdays until Christmas- crazy!

With parties to attend, gift exchanges to buy for, and your own list of friends and family to cross off the pressure’s on to find a perfect gift. It can be easy to just go out and buy some nice chocolate to throw into the mix.

I know as someone who’s taken part in office gift exchanges and brought hostess gifts for my friends it can be hard to find something quick, easy, and gender neutral to buy.

If you have an allergy, holidays can be a minefield for treats to avoid. Chestnuts roasting on the open fire? No thanks.

Here’s a list of the top 5 Holiday chocolates to avoid if you or anyone you know has a nut allergy:

  1. Turtles
    walk away, it’s not happening.
  2. Ferraro Roche
    the packaging is so tempting… but Ill pass
  3. Lindor Chocolates
    Although they technically don’t have a nut flavour, it’s all about the fine print (may contain).
  4. Hersey’s Pot of Gold
    Not the gift I was hoping for at the end of the rainbow.
  5. Godiva
    Don’t bother even stepping into the store.
  6. Toffifee
    Not the most popular choice, but still not safe
  7. Toblerone
    The triangle shape probably makes it taste even better, but save it for someone else.
  8. Mini Egg Christmas Collection
    Love the festive colours, but how about Eggies instead? They have a higher chocolate to shell ration anyways.
  9. Terry’s Chocolate Orange
    I’ve always wanted to slam the orange onto the table and have the pieces break apart… oh well
  10. Russell Stover Assorted Chocolates
    Don’t think I’ve seen these before… but the word ‘assorted’ should be a giveaway

That’s the roundup! Have you noticed a theme here? As a rule of thumb, avoid chocolates that come in a sample, assorted, or variety pack. They make all of the chocolates in the same factory, and usually have at least one flavour in the pack made with nuts (hazelnuts are pretty popular).

Looking for a safe alternative to these options? Herseys has some great option of Kisses available around the holidays like their milk chocolate in holiday packaging, Candy Cane or Cookies and Cream.  After Eights is also a great option if you’re looking for a box to share with a party.

Happy gift-giving.

 

Restaurants to avoid if you have a peanut allergy

Eating out is hard when you have an allergy. For reasons I will clearly never understand, restaurants seem to always use some sort of nut in at least ONE of their menu options.

However, there are a few restaurants out there that are an absolute no for anyone with a nut allergy.

  1. Five Guys- uses peanut oil to cook their fries, offers peanuts to eat and throw around while you wait…. I think this is self explanatory why you should avoid this one.

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    Five Guys offers free peanuts while you wait for your meal
  2. Texas Roadhouse- although there isn’t one in Manitoba, this restaurant is one to avoid if you head to the states. It’s famous for being able to throw your peanut shells onto the floor once you’re done with them… they boast about going through 8.3 million pounds of peanuts every year.

    Peanuts_at_Texas_Roadhouse_-_panoramio
    At Texas Roadhouse, they offer buckets of peanuts to eat and throw on the floor as as appetizer
  3. Chick-fil-A- Again, another one you don’t necessarily have to worry about in Manitoba. However, it’s a popular option in other locations. The chain uses peanut oil to cook their products.

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    Since they use peanut oil to cook, there’s no avoiding a possible reaction at Chick-fil-A
  4. Finally, any and all Thai food restaurants (Thai Express, Sukhothai Restaurant, Bangkok Restaurant, Sabai Thai Eatery, etc.)- the cuisine is known for using peanuts and peanut oils to cook the dishes. It’s hard to be 100% certain it will be safe to eat, so I generally avoid eating it all together.

Grocery Isle Organization

It never ceases to surprise me when I see how grocery stores organize their products. Sometimes you go looking for an item that you have no doubt it should be in the refrigerated section, and you find it down a random aisle with cereal and protein bars (aka soy milk).

When it comes to shopping for peanut-free spreads, where you find them in your local grocery store just doesn’t make sense.

Now, lets say you are shopping with your young daughter. She’s 8 now, and likes helping you pick out the groceries. You need to re-stock your Sun Butter options, as your daughter likes the creamy kind, but her sibling likes the crunchy version.

You won’t find it down the condiments aisle, or the natural food section, or anywhere other than sandwiched in between 20 different versions of peanut butter.

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Can you spot the Sun Butter?

The one product you spend your days hoping your child never comes in contact with.

Now, I took marketing. I know all about how stores place product not necessarily by where it should obviously go, but where consumers would instinctively look for it.

Sure, maybe in this case if you asked your neighbour or friend to pick you up some Sun Butter (to which you will probably have to explain that it’s a product made out of sunflower seeds that looks and tastes like peanut butter) they might go looking for it in the peanut butter section. They don’t know any better and it’s the one phrase they remember you saying/ comparing it to.

But as someone with an allergy, I would never want to spend time looking through product I can’t eat just to find what I’m looking for. And this isn’t the same as someone who’s trying not to eat carbs standing in the bread isle…

So if you’re shopping with your child who has an allergy, just be aware of where the peanut free alternatives are located (this goes for WOW Butter too). It might be a product you consider grabbing yourself instead of letting your child reach for it.

 

Want more information on peanut-free alternatives? Check out my previous post where I go over a few of my favourite.

Keep your kid safe this Halloween: A How-To Guide

Halloween has never been my favourite. I’ve never liked dressing up in costume, even when I was little. I remember my sisters always use to have creative, DIY costumes that my mom would help them make weeks beforehand, but I just couldn’t care less. My mom use to have to coax me into wearing a costume to school so I wouldn’t be the only one in my class who wasn’t.

However there was once part of Halloween I was 100% on board with, looked forward too, and made plans for well in advance- trick-or-treating.

I grew up in a small town, so it was always a competition to see how long I could last collecting candy around the neighbourhoods before I got too cold and had to go back home. My sisters and I, and then my friends and I when I got older, would get our pillow cases ready, put on the warmest costume we could find, and set out on the town.

As I traveled from house to house, yelling “TRICK-OR-TREAT” at the doors, I would always pay close attention to what was being placed in my bag. I would count the number of full size chocolate bars I’d been given, and feel the disappointment every time I saw a brand I knew I couldn’t eat.

As soon as I got home, my parents would take my bag away from me.

I had three rules when out collecting candy:

  1. Always stay with the group, safety first
  2. Stay within my house’s side of town (you’d understand this one better if you knew where I was from)
  3. Do not eat anything

My parents would dumb the contents of my bag into a bowl and sort through it while I warmed up and took off my costume. I’d impatiently wait as they took out ever single item that a) had peanuts or nuts in it, b) may contained peanuts or nuts, or c) didn’t have an ingredients list.

By the time they were done, half of my candy was gone. My dad would keep it in a bag and take it to his work the next day. He would joke and call it “taxes” for him.

My parents would do this same process for my two sisters. Anything that could potentially be dangerous was removed out of the house.

This method might not work for everyone, but I definitely recommend it.

Even though your child has an allergy, they can still take part in trick-or-treating!

Just make sure you set the rules for your child: no eating anything while you’re out, and hand over the bag when you get home.

Peanut and nut allergy awareness is much higher than it use to be, so keep that in mind. The number of houses giving out chocolate with peanuts and nuts has definitely decreased since I was younger. Most houses would also be willing to give your child a different option if you tell them they have an allergy too.

The Best Peanut Butter Alternatives

Peanut butter and nut butter are everywhere. They’re a staple breakfast condiment, source of protein, and popular ingredient in baking.

So what do you do if you or your child has an allergy?

There are a few allergy-free alternatives on the market. Here’s the round-up:

Sunflower Seed Butter

Sunflower seed butter is my go-to. It’s made out of sunflower seeds (duh) and has a thick and smooth texture. It’s the most similar to actual peanut butter and is a great source of protein. SunButter is my favourite brand. It comes in a few different versions, such as creamy, crunchie, organic, and no sugar added.

I use it in any recipe that calls for peanut butter (same ratio), in my overnight oats (recipe to come), and spread it on toast for a quick morning breakfast.

Soynut Butter
Made out of roasted soybeans, soynut butter has a lot of protein. The consistency and colour are similar to peanut butter, but I find the test to be a little strange. I’ve tried WOWButter, or you can make your own.

Tahini

Tahini is made out of sesame seeds. It also has a fairly nutty flavour and has no sugar added. It’s traditionally a fairly thin consistency, but I’ve also seen it sold as a spread to be used on toast or bagels. The Minimalist Baker has a great recipe if you want to make your own.

Coconut butter
I’ve never actually tried this one myself, but I’ve heard it has a great ‘nutty’ favour and it’s naturally sweet. It’s made out of 100% shredded coconut and all you need is a blender or food processor to make it. The Kitchn has a great recipe.