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A blog about all things allergen-free and delicious

Entries in candy (4)


Fun Ideas to Keep Your Trick-or-Treaters Safe from Food Allergies

Welcome to guest blogger, Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP, of

Melanie is speech language pathologist who specializes in feeding.  Her work brings her into the homes and schools of her clients, kids, who for various reasons have difficulty with food or with eating. She works with kids and their parents to develop effective strategies that help children become “more adventurous eaters”.  At least 50% of her clients have food allergies or intolerances, and for them, “adventurous eating” takes on a special meaning.  Her last post, "How Can Parents Feel Less Stress with a Food Allergic Child in School", was a major hit with readers.  Welcome, Melanie!


Trick or Treat Nirvana (What'a a Parent to Do?)

My neighborhood is a child’s Trick or Treating nirvana; street after street of tightly packed  houses, much like enormous Pez candies crammed inside a spring-loaded Casper the Ghost container. It’s the perfect setting for little fists holding giant plastic pumpkins to collect as many pounds of sugar as humanly possible in the shortest amount of time.  The neighbors are obsessed with decorating their homes to the hilt and consequently our sidewalks are packed with little Batmans, Disney Princesses and giant Rubik’s Cubes negotiating their way to each and every over-the-top decorated home and loading up on anything the neighbor’s offer when the kids shout “TRICK OR TREAT!”

So what’s a parent to do when their child with food allergies so desperately wants to join in on the door to door fun? 

  Well, keep this in mind: For the kids, Halloween is about ringing a doorbell, shouting “TRICK OR TREAT”,  remembering to say “thank you” as they scurry off to the next house and most of all – giggling non-stop with their friends.  It’s truly about the social experience, and not so much about what gets thrown in the bag.  But for parents, what ends up in their bags is vitally important for safety reasons. Here a few strategies to consider.


Enlist the help of a few neighbors

…and be sure to send them a thank you note in November!

1.    SECRET PASSWORD:  Nobody wants a child to miss out on the big night.  Most friends and neighbors will be thrilled to stash your candy alternatives by their front door.  If your alternative treat needs to be kept separate from other food substances,  be sure to let them know.  If your child is old enough and/or you are not present,  just tell them that  Mrs. Smith needs to hear the secret password (e.g. “monster mash”) because she is saving something just for them.  The last thing you want is Mrs. Smith accidently giving some random fairy princess your child’s special allergen free treat!

2.    Create a “TREASURE HUNT” with clues that lead your little pirate to the buried treasure where X marks the spot.  Give ten clues to ten neighbors; use brown grocery bag paper, black ink and even singe the edges for that authentic “treasure map” look.  Each piece of paper provides the next clue on where to go:  “Yo ho ho, ye pirate gents! Go to the next house with the white picket fence!”  Little do they suspect that the 10th clue will send them back to their own house, where they will discover a giant X and a special treasure buried beneath, just for them!

Tangible Alternatives to Candy

Whether you are planting a few of these with your sweet neighbors or giving them away to the little creatures knocking on your door that night, here are a few tangible alternatives to traditional candy:

1.    Eyeballs (and other spooky treats):  Google that Michael’s coupon or head to your favorite craft store to stock up on creative options for candy.  Whether you are trying to avoid sugar or the top 8 allergens, bringing home a pillow-sack of party favors such as blood-shot super ball eyes, miniature magnifying glasses, Halloween stickers or a tiny decks of cards is still a nice pile of loot for your little goblins to dump on the living room floor when they get home!

2.    My favorite treats are glow-in-the-dark bracelets.  We activate all of them just before the doorbell starts to ring and put them in a clear plastic bowl so they give off an eerie glow when we open the front door.  Little munchkins pop them on their wrists and run off to the next house, literally glowing.  Because my nick-name is “safety-mom”, I feel better knowing that everyone’s kids are a bit more visible running around in the dark.

3.    Think outside the box.  Most toy or craft stores have bins of whistles, harmonicas and bubbles to use in replace of candy.  Don’t forget small packets of origami paper, craft buttons, jewelry kits and beads, etc.  There are isles and isles of wonderful candy substitutes that will keep your child busy long after the other kids’ candy is eaten.  Believe me, parents all over town will be eternally grateful to see something creative in their children’s sacks rather than yet another pack of sour gummy worms.  Create a little karma for yourself!

Allergen-Free Candy


A spectacular list of allergen-free candy (many, free of the top 8 allergens) is available on The Tender Foodie blog.  Be the “good house” that the kids rave about with the really cool candy.

Got Candy?  (Too Much)  Here’s how to get rid of it FAST!

1.    Hold a Candy Auction:  Dig into that Monopoly game and grab those pastel paper bills!  Here’s your child’s chance to hold a candy auction! When all the bidding is over, he gets to count out how many paper bills (dollar amount is now a moot point) he received and trade those in for real money, but half goes in his savings account.  

2.    Worth Their Weight in... Dollars:   Finally, a chance to use your bathroom scale and rejoice as the numbers go UP!  Kids get to weigh their loot and get paid $5 for every pound.  The next day, extend the family fun by going to the toy store or a favorite “haunt” to buy something together.

Safety Considerations

In addition to the general safety considerations for all trick-or-treaters noted at, there are additional safety considerations for children with food allergies:

1.    SEPARATE CANDY:  Make it clear to other adults if alternative treats need to be separate from other food substances due to cross-contamination.

2.    Bring an EPI-PEN and if you are not accompanying your child, make sure his friends know where the pen is stored.

3.    Trick or Treating in groups only.  As for any child, stay together.

4.    Give your child a fully charged CELL PHONE with emergency numbers on top; make sure her friends know how to use it, too.

5.    Make sure your child is wearing an ID bracelet that is visible despite her costume.

6.    Ask the other children to WAIT to eat their candy until it can be inspected at home.  This is a general safety rule for all kids, but also prevents accidental contact via another child during the excitement of trick or treating.

A final thought…

Consider your own expectations and how those may define your child’s expectations for Halloween.  Lori Lite of Stress Free Kids has a few words of wisdom applicable to any holiday:

“It is not necessary for children to have the full blown experience in order for them to have a good time.” _Lori Lite (Stress Free Kids)

Ask your child what they would like to do.  Perhaps he just wants to be in charge of passing out the glow bracelets and while the two of you wear matching glow-in–the-dark Vampire teeth!  So often as parents, we try to do make a huge production out of a holiday because we feel we owe it to our kids.  Funny thing is, most of the time, the kids are just thrilled to be a small part of it as long as they are sharing it with you.  

So enjoy and be in the moment.  Wear a funny hat.  Tell a spooky story.  Take LOTS of pictures and video, too.  Stick a plastic spider on someone’s chair at dinner.  Don’t be afraid to scream – it’s the one night you can do so with abandon!   Happy Halloween everyone!





Tender Halloween Candy List (Allergen-free & Vegan)


If you are reading this post, and are a parent of food allergic kids, you don’t need me blabbering on about what a pain in the buttocks Halloween can be.  It must be tough to tell your kids that they can’t go trick or treating or that they can’t trade candy with their friends. Your kids just want to belong.  And Halloween is a huge social event.

For some children, however, even the very presence of allergens like peanuts, dairy or wheat could be deadly, so even wrapped, allergen-free candies mixed in a bowl with other candy can cause a reaction.

To help with the candy part of Halloween, we are compiling a “living list” of candy and other treats that are free of the most common allergens.  If you have a favorite that isn’t here, send me an e-jingle.  I’ll research it and add it to the list as appropriate. 

Stay tuned for more from Melanie Potock on creative (and practical) ways to deal with the social side of Halloween.  Read my Interview with Melanie on reducing school & food allergy stress...

NOTE:  Please remember to look at EVERY label to double check that each product is safe for you or your child.  Also, if you see something you like, order it soon! 

Free of the top 8 allergens

The candies in this section do not have any of the top 8 allergens (eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, dairy, fish or shellfish)



Indie Candy really goes the extra mile to make not only safe, but delicious candy.   I've tried several of their sweets.   Their chocolate truffles are delicious and their gummies are fantastic. 

Indie Candy Lime Frankenstein Lollipop (big 8 allergen free)
Indie Candy Orange Jack O' Lantern Lollipop (big 8 allergen free)
Indie Candy Pineapple Ghost Lollipop (big 8 allergen free)
Indie Candy Orange Jack O' Lantern Gummies (big 8 allergen free)


Additional Information on Indie Candy:

  • Kitchen free of Big 8 allergens
  • Cater to a variety of special diets - GFCFSF, vegan and Feingold
  • Kosher certified.
  • Majority of our ingredients are organic.



Enjoy Life

 click image to go to coupon.Chocolate Bars

  •  Big 8 free
  • Made in a dedicated nut- and gluten-free bakery     



Yummy Earth Organic Candies 

They sell wholesale allergen-free and organic hard candies with names like "Roadside Rootbeer Barrells" and Pomegranate Pucker".  None specifically for Halloween it seems, but they are in retail stores like Whole Foods, Baby's R Us and many Marriotts around the country. Thanks to for this suggestion.

  •  Big 8 Free
  •  No High Fructose Corn Syrup
  •  Free of MSG
  •  100% Natural Colors
  • No chemical dyes
  • Real Fruit Extracts   
  • 100% Natural Flavors
  • Kof-K Kosher Parve
  • Processing Plant: no tree nuts or peanuts allowed in the facility.



Gimbal's Gourmet Candies 

The gourmet jelly beans look great, and they make those and their other flavors without the Big 8 allergens.  We haven't tasted them yet, but we like their ingredients and their philosophy.  Their Honey Lover's flavors support a project that keeps the ever-important honey-bee healthy, alive and pollinating.  Gimbal’s donates 5% of Honey Lovers proceeds to the University of California Davis Honey Bee Research.

  • Big 8 free
  • Gelatin-free
  • Kosher-Pareve
  • No High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Facility is free of big 8 allergens

Sold online through Candy Direct.


Free of Many Common Allergens


These candies are free of some of the most common allergens.


Premium Chocolates 

Thanks to Audrey Depenbrok for this suggestion.  Audrey has good taste in vegan cupcakes, is a dairy-free Tender Foodie contributor, and a chocolaholic like myself.  So I respect her judgement here.

Located in Lakeside, NJ, or order online:

  • Soy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Vegan
  • Kosher-Pareve
  • Nut-free
  • Testing:  Random testing for dairy & nuts


Goody Good Stuff

Gummies, is what I would call these candies, and I heard of them through Saffron's Gluten-free MarketDeb, from Saffron's calls them "gummie-type thingies". 

  • Vegetarian
  • Fat-free
  • Meat-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Nut-free 
  • Gluten-free
  • Egg-free
  • Gelatin-free
  • Soy-free   




Fancypants Bakery


Fancypants makes the cutest nut-free cookies.  Just too cute to eat.

  • Peanut-free
  • Tree nut-free
  • Facility:  Nut-free





Divvies Bakery

Divvies (and their jelly beans) gets mentioned by fans on the Tender Palate Facebook Page every so often, and Halloween has been no expection.  Divvies is a bakery, and they make candy as well.  Including ghosts, goblins and dinosaurs.  Rahr.

  • Peanut-free
  • Tree Nut-free
  • Egg-free
  • Dairy-free
  • dedicated facility where no peanuts, tree nuts, milk or eggs "enter the doors". And Divvies uses ingredients that are certified allergen-free.
  • Divvies conducts routine testing to minimize the risk of any cross-contamination in their certified allergen-free ingredients.




Potential Mainstream Candies

I say “potential” for these, since there is no testing or processing information on the web site.

Dove Chocolate

Rockford Allergy Food Network, a support group for food allergies in Michigan, gave me the heads up that many Dove Chocolate products are now produced in a tree-nut- and peanut-free facility.  Bravo, Dove!  Since they went nut-free in 2009 or 2010, there may still be products on the shelves that were produced with nuts.  So read the label carefully for the "May contain" labeling.

  • Peanut-free
  • Treenut-free
  • Allergen-free facility since 2010 (so read your labels carefully)
  • Testing information not available.



Tootsie Products

It would be great if Tootsie offered facility, allergen testing, and processing information - but they don't.  They have so many options that are gluten- and nut-free.  I have two emails into the company to request further information, but have not heard back.  (They are Kosher-certified, which, in my opinion, is a good sign that they are testing oriented.)

  • Gluten-Free (All Tootsie products are gluten free except Andes cookies.)
  • Peanut-Free
  • Nut Product-Free
  • “Tootsie does not use wheat, barley, rye, oats, triticale, spelt, or any of their components, either as ingredients or as part of the manufacturing process.
  • Corn and soy products are used
  • No testing or facility information provided. 
  • Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Fruit Rolls, Frooties and DOTS have become kosher-certified by the Orthodox Union (OU).




Recipe: Candied Orange Peels


The Story

When looking for candies that would complement my dairy-free Simply Coconut Chocolate Truffles, I came across this recipe from The Food Network Kitchens.  I found the recipe a few years ago, but it immediately brought back the memory of family trips to Florida to visit my Grandparents.  They had wintered and later retired there and for many years, rented a house with a Kumquat tree in their back yard.  There was a lemon tree, a grapefruit tree and an orange tree, as well.  But my first taste of the tart, tangy, sweet kumquat was so memorable, that I still have a picture of that moment imprinted in my mind.  I think I was six or seven years old, and when I asked how one might peel such a tiny thing, my Grandfather said, "Just eat it all at once - peel and all."  I was rather pleased to have permission to partake in a substance that was here-to-fore forbidden.  (The peel.)  And it was good.

This recipe isn't on Food Network's web site anymore, but it is still a favorite of mine.  I make this and an array of truffles every Thanksgiving.  I love the brightness and color that the orange brings to the table.  I also recently made this for a Power Chicks Brainstorming Party this winter and those sweet, tangy peels still reminded me of warm breezes, kumquats and my Grandfather's extraordinary talent of wiggling his ears without moving any other muscle on his face.  He taught me that trick, too, and I think I can still pull it off. 

So in honor of Grandpa Veltman (hello Grandpa, wherever you are :)), I hope you enjoy these beautiful and unusual treats.



Prep Time:  30 minutes

Inactive Prep:  4 Hours

Cook Time:  1 Hour 13 Minutes

Yield:  about 4 cups of peel (depends on your orange size)


The Ingredients

9 thick-skinned Valencia or navel oranges (try to find organic, since you are using the peel)

6-3/4 cups of sugar, plus an extra cup for rolling

2-1/4 cups of water


Do a Little Orange Surgery

Cut the tops and bottoms from the oranges.  Then score each orange into quarters.  Cut down into the peel without cutting the fruit (do your best).  Peel the skin and the pith from the orange - it will come off in a large piece.  Set the orange aside and use for another recipe.  Cut the large sections of peel into 1/4-inch wide slices - the long way. 


Boil the Peels

Put the orange peels in a large saucepan with cold water to cover.  Bring the water to boil over a high heat.  As soon as the water boils, remove the pan from the heat and pour off the water.  Repeat this one more time.  (If you would like them softer, you can do it a 3rd time, but this makes the peels a little mushy for my taste).  Remove the orange peels from the pan and set aside.


Give the Peels a Sugar Bath

In the same pan, whisk the 6-3/4 cups of sugar with 2-1/4 cups of water.  Put it back on the stove, bring up to a boil, then reduce the temperature so that the peels simmer and cook for 8 or 9 minutes.  The sugar mixture temperature should be at the soft thread stage, 230-234 degrees F after 8 or 9 minutes.  Add the peels to the sugar mixture and simmer gently for about 45 minutes.  You will be tempted to stir the peels - do not do this or you may introduce sugar crystals into the syrup.  You can swirl the pan to get the floaters to sink down into the sugar if you need to. 

Drain the peels and save the syrup for another recipe.  There is a good 8 or more cups of simple syrup left over, and I'm still looking to find the perfect way to use such a copious amount of syrup.  It can be used in iced tea, drink recipes, cakes and other candies.


Roll & Dress the Peels

Roll the peels in sugar and dry on a rack for 4 or 5 hours.  Store the peels in a litte of the left over sugar, and store the rest.   You will have a little orange flavored sugar for another recipe.

The peels can be dipped in melted bittersweet chocolate.  I like to do a mixture of both plain peels and chocolate dipped peels. Yum.


Many thanks to the Food Network for introducing me to a recipe that has inspired such great memories.






Review: Indie Candy


Allergen-Free Sweets for Your Valentine

Having a tough time finding the perfect sweet for your favorite Tender Sweetie? You can pull out all of the stops and make your own, or order from a professional like Indie Candy. Most of their sweets contain none of the “Big 8” allergens. Plus, they cater to special diet protocols (like Feingold, Kosher and Vegan). You would think this is a recipe for crappy candy, but it’s not. It’s tasty. I sampled a few of their Valentine-themed products for you. You don’t have to thank me. No really. Here are my choices.


Dark Chocolate Truffles

Truffles are love. Truffles are sensuous. “Truffle” even sounds romantic. So when you bite into one, you long to hear that naughty little voice in your head say, “Ohhhh. (pause) “Ohhh Yeah.” And these truffles do not disappoint. What I like the most is the initial snap as you bite into the hard chocolate shell and the caramel-like consistency of the center. Yum. Are they as fluffy as the dairy-packed confections that I remember? Not quite. But they don’t have to be. They are the “real thing” and they are very, very good.


Sweet Hearts Gummies

These gummies are yummy. And pretty. Indie Candy uses no artificial dyes or flavors so the wild cherry and watermelon flavors pop genuinely. The texture is satisfying and sexy, too. Might make your gluten-free Valentine’s imagination run wild.


Other products that I sampled were the Pineapple “Love Heart” which was not a favorite (it just tasted like sugar).  But the “Beary Sweet” dark chocolate sucker used high quality chocolate and would please adult and child alike. The packaging of each product is not highly designed, but sweet and down-to-earth.


Sweetheart GummiesThe Company

Before I took my first bite, I wanted to understand the company and its practices. I spoke with the President/CEO, Hanson Watkins. I was sincerely impressed with her knowledge and passion for both confections and health. She emphasized their goal of making things truly delicious, not just allergen-free – a goal that the Tender Foodie requires. Indie Candy carefully sources each ingredient right down to the factory where it is processed and to the seed that is sown. The majority of their ingredients are organic and they do their best to use non-GMO foodstuff. They sell their own in-house artisan candies (no Big 8 allergen is allowed in their kitchen) as well as those from other independent confectioners who cater to more narrow allergen-free markets. The Indie site clearly directs you by allergen, diet and confection and includes the ingredients, so read them.

If you are a Tender Foodie (or a Tender Valentine) and you give Indie Candy a try, let me know what you think!