With the global pandemic lingering, reading about being your own Valentine this February may not sound the most thrilling, but hear me out. I’ve designed a short list of allergy-free ways to be your own valentine this year with self-love and relaxation at the heart of each one. In addition, I’ve put together a list of nut-free Valentine candy and nut-free Valentine chocolates. I believe we can all use a little extra self-love and food allergy-friendly things to look forward to these days.
Give it a go and try one of these activities this February, and hey, maybe make it a tradition every February! First, take note of your quality of breathing and mood before these activities, and then briefly check in with yourself and your body comparing your breath length and mood afterwards. You may notice a slight mood lift, sense of calm, or a deeper belly breath after doing something nice for yourself out of the below:
1. Allergy-Free Hot Chocolate – 6 Servings (Top 8 & Vegan)
This recipe was adapted from www.allergycookie.com
*feel free to sub out any that don’t suit your diet or pantry
- 3/4 cup Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels (or your favorite allergy-free chocolate)
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar or sweetener of choice (agave, maple syrup, etc)
- 3 cups unsweetened milk of choice (flaxseed, coconut, hemp, sunflower seed, etc)
- Tiny pinch of salt (optional)
- In a saucepan, combine chocolate and water over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until chocolate is melted
- Add sugar and ½ cup of allergen-free milk of choice
- Continue stirring until sugar has dissolved (about 2 minutes)
- Reduce heat to medium while stirring in the rest of the milk, and adding your optional tiny pinch of salt now
- Pour into cups and enjoy slowly, focusing on the flavor and warmth of it going into your body, and the warmth in your hands!
- If you want to get creative or make it extra tailored to your taste buds, you can spruce up your hot chocolate by adding an additional element, such as: garden mint, rosemary, nutmeg, allergy-friendly marshmallow, or an allergy-friendly candy cane! Any coffee, spices, extracts, or spirits work, too.
2. Create A Food Allergy Affirmation
When thinking about affirmations, positive statements or judgements, begin thinking about the positive self-talk you already say to yourself when food allergies become stressful for one reason or another. Take a seat someplace comfortable, grab a pen and paper, and close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths, try to make those 3 breaths the deepest breaths of your day.
Now, let your mind begin to ponder words of wisdom that you believe could be beneficial to say to yourself in these heightened moments when stress is getting the better of you. These aren’t meant to take the place of responding if a food reaction is occurring, but are to help aid in mental reframing and grounding in situations where things may be frustrating but everyone is safe and healthy. Such as, if you forgot your allergy-free snack at home, or if someone lets you know in advance they can’t accommodate your allergy.
An example could be, “Everything is okay, and I’m going to be okay” or, “I take comfort in the fact that that I am safe right now”.
Begin journaling positive affirmations you feel would benefit you when you’re in a heightened state of emotion. Let them flow out of the pen onto the page without judgement, you can finalize them later. Now, you can decide from these affirmations which would be the most helpful to turn to, or keep them all! I suggest if one really resonates, writing it down someplace where you can easily reference it as-needed, such as typed in your phone ‘Notes’ or written on a small piece of paper that can be taped to your phone or wallet.
“I take comfort in the fact that that I am safe right now.”
3. DIY Allergy-Free Play Dough
Adapted from www.neocate.com
There are a few types you can make at home to get a soft, malleable dough that’s allergy-conscious. This dough can be for adults just as much as teens or children! It can be infused with essential oils, if you use those, or left unscented. Roll it between your fingers, massage it into the palm of your hand, and just have fun playing with no expectations! I often do this while watching TV or listening to music. Pick one of these quick recipes that suits your allergy-free lifestyle:
- Option 1 – Gluten-Free Baking Soda-Based Dough
- 2 cups baking soda
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon allergy-free oil
- Mix ingredients together in a sauce pan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. If you have older kids, they may get a kick out of doing this part. During the heating process, baking soda makes the mixture fizz for quite a while before it starts to thicken. When it starts to thicken, be careful! It goes really fast.
- Take the mixture off the heat as soon as it’s thick enough to start wanting to stick together. Let cool, partially covered until it can be handled.
- Option 2 – Gluten-Free & Corn-Free Free Dough
- 1 firmly packed cup brown rice flour
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1 Tablespoons allergy-free oil
- 1 Tablespoons cream of tartar
- Place all ingredients into a medium sized saucepan.
- Stir continuously over a medium heat until the mixture congeals and forms a ball, approximately 3-5 minutes. Continue to turn the ball over on the heat for another 1-2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and turn dough out onto a board or bench top.
- Allow to cool completely and then knead until the dough is smooth. Sprinkle with a little rice flour as you knead if the dough feels at all sticky but be sure to only add a little at a time to prevent your dough drying out.
- Option 3 – Sunflower Seed Butter Dough
Lastly, a Top 8 allergy-friendly version for children who may try to eat it.
- 1 cup sunflower seed butter
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- ⅔ cup arrowroot powder (or cornstarch, if you can have corn products)
Mix all ingredients together and play! You may need to add more arrowroot powder if the consistency is too sticky to play with.
5 Nut-Free Valentine Candy Brands To Look For
*Check these labels yourself before buying to make sure they’re suitable for your allergies, as well as that the ingredients have not changed
- Smarties Love Conversation Hearts
- Made in a nut-free facility, I believe last time I checked the allergen policy for Smarties stated, “All products are free of milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy.” I love to see nut-free conversation hearts since they’re such a classic!
- Yum Earth Organic Lollipops
- Produced in a dedicated nut-free and peanut-free facility, these are easy for me to find in-stores where I live and I love that they are organic.
- Valentine’s Dum Dum Lollipops
- Made in a dedicated nut-free facility, these are easy for me to find in-stores and are an inexpensive and yummy peanut-free candy.
- Valentine’s Dots
- Dots Candy makes varying colored and flavored gummies for many holidays and are made in a dedicated nut-free and peanut-free facility, so it makes for a great and easy to find peanut-free candy.
- Jelly Belly Jewel Valentine Mix
- While Jelly Belly makes these specific Jewel jelly beans, I personally love their more traditional fruity flavors! Jelly Belly brand is a peanut-free candy, and ingredients do not contain milk, egg, fish, wheat, shellfish or gluten. I believe they do process coconut and tree nut in their facilities, but could be wrong, so check each label accordingly.
5 Nut-Free Valentine’s Day Chocolates
- Vermont Nut-Free Chocolate
- The name says it all, and this brand is peanut-free, tree nut-free, delicious, and makes a lovely variety of chocolates! Unless you’re in Vermont, make sure to order online in advance so you can get your shipment in time for Valentine’s Day!
- Andes Valentine Mints
- Andes mints are made in a facility free from; peanut, tree nuts, egg, wheat, and gluten. They’re such a classic chocolate in my mind- yum! Here’s a tip: I usually find these at Dollar Tree!
- No Whey Chocolate Boxes
- While I’ve not tried these myself, I’ve been wanting to, so I’m adding them to this list! They’re made in a facility free from the top 8 allergens and gluten-free. They have a variety of chocolate truffles and M&M type chocolate candies.
- Ghirardelli Chocolate
- Ghirardelli chocolate does not use peanuts in their facilities, many products are gluten-free as well. Check their product FAQs if you have a tree nut allergy, but everything is peanut-free.
- Pascha Chocolate Bars
- While these aren’t Valentine-specific, this is my favorite chocolate brand! All their products are free from the Top 8 Allergens and made in a nut-free facility, dairy-free facility, and are certified gluten-free. Here’s a link to their FAQs to learn more about what their products are free-from.
Have A Happy Allergy-Free Valentine’s Day!
Well, there you have it, now you have a list of nut-free candy companies and nut-free valentine chocolates! I hope however you decide to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year that it’s relaxing and brings you joy. XO!
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This blog post was originally written by Invisibly Allergic for the Food Equality Initiative (FEI) and was featured in their Free-From Magazine, however, it’s been updated now on the Invisibly Allergic blog to include more updated information.