Sunday, February 07, 2010

Nut-Free, Vegan and Gluten-Free Valentines

Everybody has at least one friend with special dietary needs. There's Lactose-Intolerant Lucy, who is forced to eat frozen "dessert product" instead of Ben & Jerry's; Celiac Cicely, who still eats pizza but pays the price two hours later; and Vegan Violet, who wonders why she never gets an invitation to dinner parties.
So what's a guy or gal to do for Valentine's Day for their special-needs sweetheart? Fortunately there are major candy options in these enlightened days. Let's look at a few.Any parent of a school-age kid knows the importance of the peanut-free zone. At the Sugar Baby's school, the rules are strict: no products with nuts or made on machinery with nuts. I'm so thankful that he has no nut allergies; it makes life a lot easier. But for his little friends with sensitivities (and, of course, let's not forget No-Nuts) there are companies like Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates. They have chocolates, truffles, granola bars and jelly beans, in addition to holiday goodies, like these heart-shaped sweets.
For some vegan chocolates with a spiritual bent, Wei of Chocolate offers a unique product. Their organic dark chocolates come in cute little flower shapes and are packaged in environmentally-friendly bags packaged by nymphs and wood sprites. (Okay, I made that last part up.) For your crunchy granola, crystals & moonbeams partner, check out their Herbs & Spices chocolates:

Daily Gratitude
- 65% cacao with cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and other "chai" spices together with herbs traditionally thought to encourage mental clarity, immune system support and be calming and relaxing, like lemon balm, rhodiola and codonopsis.

Daily Love - 74% cacao with a subtle blend of cinnamon, mace and a chili finish, together with South American maca, eleuthero and astragulus, herbs thought to support the immune and adrenal systems.

Sensual Love - 74% cacao with a smoky, earthy blend of five herbs respected by indigenous cultures worldwide for their gentle aphrodisiac qualities, like maca, shatavari, gingko biloba, epimedium and catuaba bark, together with a two varieties of chilis and some tasty spices.

They also have a line of chocolates with flower essences with names like Inner Clarity, Inner Peace and Inner Delight.

It just doesn't get any groovier than that.

And last, but not least, I'd like to share a recipe I made a couple of weeks ago for a gluten-free flourless chocolate cake. I know, I can see you rolling your eyes. Flourless Chocolate Cake is so '90s, with its ooey-gooey molten chocolate center. But this was totally different. It wasn't molten. It was fudgey like a brownie with a crisp outside and dense inside. We served it with homemade cinnamon whipped cream and strawberries. I don't know how everyone else felt about it, because I was too busy staking out a second piece to care. Let me point out that this was a super easy recipe. I highly recommend it. (Note: I refused to go out and buy chocolate for the recipe, since I have so much candy in the house. I decided to use five dark chocolate Dove hearts and it worked out perfectly.) You can find the recipe here.

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