Posted in Easter, Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Life, Holidays

Is There Life After the Chocolate Bunny? (5 Years Later)

5 years ago I posed this question when writing about my first dairy-free Easter. I was making a batch of Katie-safe peanut butter eggs this week and pulled up that old post to double check the ingredient ratios. (Yes, sometimes I have to look up my own recipes.) As I read I could remember so distinctly how I felt: sad, wistful, grateful, confused. I was still mourning the way life had once been, but was also so incredibly grateful to wake up feeling healthy each day. Keep in mind, I was 28 at the time; just imagine how it feels for people who are much younger.

The good news is, here I am 5 years later and that mix of feelings is so foreign to me now. Now I feel nothing but joy and excitement as we look forward to Easter celebrations…and not just because I miss Twitter and the screentime I gave up for Lent.

I have found SO many Katie-safe options. (Of course, having a toddler brings a whole new sense of wonder to the celebration too.) I have learned that there was no need to ask that question in the first place- because even in a world that no longer includes dairy, you can still have a chocolate bunny!! Not to mention, plenty of other chocolate treats 🙂

You can find SO many Easter Candy allergy lists out there with a quick Google search. However, I want to share with you some of the treats I have personally ordered (and eaten!) so I can give them the Katie stamp of approval and feel confident that you won’t be disappointed. Just keep in mind that Easter will be upon us in just about two weeks (hopefully the Spring weather will come along too!) and some of these allergy-safe treats need 7-10 days for shipping so…

…if the Easter Bunny has baskets to fill for kids (or grown-ups!) dealing with food allergies, now is the time to make sure he knows where to find the best options.

No Whey Chocolates

Yes, there is a reason I’m listing No Whey Chocolates first. They are AMAZING. As in, double check the ingredients list because this can’t possibly be dairy-free, amazing. And there is no reason to fear because all of their products are free from the 8 major allergens! They’re also vegan, Kosher, and free from artificial colors and flavors. They have an ADORABLE line of Easter products this year…and if you sign up for their emails, they often have promotions where you can try a product for free (with another purchase). Plus, what might be most exciting (to me anyway) is…THEY NOW HAVE PRODUCTS ON AMAZON. That’s right, Prime members, you can procrastinate with the knowledge that 2-day shipping can be yours! (But I wouldn’t because you never know what will sell out as Easter gets closer)

Katie’s Recommendation: Literally anything on their website…but if pressed I’d say the Truffles can’t be beat.

Amore di Mona

Now this is definitely a fancier product, so this might be great for the adults your life (teacher gift!). They even have some cute bunny-shaped treats this year. This chocolate is also alarmingly delicious (I definitely checked the ingredient list again on this one too) but all of their products are free from gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts. They also use only organic, kosher, non-GMO, sustainably-sourced ingredients…and there is NO refined sugar. (I know you might be skeptical, but trust me this will change the way you think about chocolate.) You can order directly from the website, use the store locator to find products near you, OR you can find them on Amazon too!! (I promise this is not an Amazon Prime ad…it just seems like it.)

Katie’s Recommendation: This Perfetto 3 Pack. I mean, chocolate and coffee?? You can’t go wrong 🙂

Free2B

All of the products made by Free2B are free of the 12 major allergens instead of the typical “Big 8″(sesame, corn, mustard, and coconut are the additional 4). The sunbutter cups are the perfect size for an Easter basket- and the perfect surprise for anyone with a peanut allergy. Honestly, I hadn’t heard of their Snack Breaks until today, but based on how much I love their sunbutter cups, I’m excited to try them next! You can use the store locator to find the products near you (if you have a Whole Foods, chances are you can find them there) or you can place an online order. Right now everything on the website is 30% off! (But I’m not sure how long that will last.)

Katie’s Recommendation: Definitely the Dark Chocolate Sun Cups. Of course now that I have seen the Dark Chocolate Peppermint Snack Break, that is what I personally want to try next 😉

Enjoy Life

This brand is probably most familiar to you since they are now in most conventional grocery stores. They have a huge selection of products, which seems to be constantly growing, and everything they make is free from 14 common allergens. That’s right, 14! I will be honest and say that if you’re looking for a chocolate, I would recommend one of the brands mentioned above. (Though Enjoy Life does have some cute Easter designs this year if that matters more than taste.) However, their Protein Bites and Crunchy Cookies are phenomenal and would be a perfect (non-Easter-themed) addition to any Easter basket.

Katie’s Recommendation: The Double Chocolate Crunchy Cookies…or if it’s a gift, the 10 Snack Trial Pack!

Make sure to remind the Easter Bunny that anything ordered online needs some buffer time to arrive- so he should probably order this weekend 😉 However you celebrate the holiday (and holy day) this year, I hope it is filled with joy, faith, happiness, hope…and a you-safe chocolate bunny, of course.

Posted in Easter, Sweet Treats, Teacher Life

Is There Life After the Chocolate Bunny??

I’ve made it: Spring Break is approximately 15 hours away. I’m not sure who would win the title of “most excited/off the wall because Spring Break is imminent” between the students and the teachers…but I have a strong suspicion the scales are tipped in the teacher corner. A solid week of alarm-clock-free mornings, laidback sips of coffee while watching the Today Show, reading books for pleasure (though really that will actually be spent writing feedback and comments on countless unit plans for Notre Dame), and of course time to travel and catch up with old friends and family. In fact, I get to meet my new godson!! (Remember that exciting news I wasn’t quite ready to share a few weeks ago?) He is just about 3 weeks old and I’m heading to Virginia this weekend to meet him and to catch up with his mom who was my next-door classroom neighbor/1st grade teacher extraordinaire at my ACE school in DC. Add this to the list of good things I wish I could have promised my “5-Years-Ago Self” would come out of those days in DC 🙂

A friendship that formed in the humble halls of Holy Redeemer DC 🙂

And most of all, Spring Break means one of my favorite weeks of the year is upon us: Holy Week. I wish I could explain it but as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved Holy Week. I remember sitting in my bedroom as a 9-year-old poring over my 365-page “Bible Story A Day”book which I was determined to read in its entirety between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. While most kids seem to dread a string of nights in a row that entail lenghty Church services, I looked forward to the events of Holy Week with the same excitement most kids reserve solely for Christmas. Each Holy Thursday my family processed up the aisle with our contribution to the family bread tradition. I craned my neck to watch in awe as “regular” churchgoers like myself were called forward to have their feet washed (and the year I finally got to be one of those lucky 12…well you can imagine). I even loved the seemingly endless Eucharistic procession and adoration which followed Holy Thursday mass. Granted I think it was moreso because I played the violin and thus was entranced by the gorgeous string quartet which provided the music just that one night each year. I don’t think I yet understood what was even going on with that golden monstrance.

Good Friday was even better. We got to process through the streets of our small town with members of other churches for the Walking Stations of the Cross. Then we’d be back at church again that night for Lenten supper, one last traditional Stations of the year, and then my favorite activity: transforming the church sanctuary for Easter Sunday. Lily after lily after lily on an assembly line of helping hands. I loved it all. Yes, Triduum always was, and still remains, one of my favorite seasons of the liturgical year. In fact, I enthusiastically professed this fact during my first year in ACE as I scampered out the door with the Saint in a Bow Tie to attend mass at Georgetown…and it was at that moment when several members of our community (and their parents) decided I must be bound for the convent. Needless to say, most people don’t seem to share the enthusiasm I have for Holy Week and the various remembrances therein.

Of course, most people do share that same enthusiasm for Easter Sunday. Though I’d say this enthusiasm tends to be more fueled by visions of bunnies, baskets, and an endless supply of jelly beans than Christ’s triumph over the grave. Baby steps. There is one thing I always looked MOST forward to about Easter: my peanut butter egg. (I know, you thought it was going to be something church-related didn’t you?? See, I really was a typical kid too) It’s the one treat which never grew old, and even up until last year I loved. I even worked in the most amazing chocolate store (Gertrude Hawk Chocolates….I promise you if you haven’t had a Smidgen, you just haven’t lived!) for a total of 6 years during high school and college vacations which meant I had my fair share of delectable chocolate treats. No, nothing says Easter to me like a giant peanut butter egg on Easter Sunday followed by days and days of 50% off leftover eggs of the strawberry cream and caramel variety (there were never PB left on the shelves by Easter Sunday).

Until this year that is. It’s my first official dairy-free Easter. (Though considering last Easter was spent in Urgent Care, I’d say that was my first unofficial dairy-free one). To be honest I haven’t given much thought to the candy side of the holy day this year. One wistful encounter with the jelly bean aisle soon after Valentine’s Day has had me purposely steering clear of the Easter candy shelves for the past month. But then tonight I found myself at Target and it was unavoidable. It’s like Easter is cramming every nook and cranny of that place. As I sadly walked past Cadbury mini eggs and pastel PB M&Ms, I had one of those moments I’ve warned you allergy friends about: I started to feel those “Why is this my reality?” thoughts creeping into my mind; I gazed at the people piling bag after bag of candy into their carts wondering how is it that everyone else in the aisle can safely consume such treats without a trip to the couch or the ER; I felt sadness coming on. So what did I do? I marched myself to the baking aisle, grabbed a bag of Enjoy Life “Katie-safe” chocolate chips ($5.49 a bag, really Target??), and headed home to address this issue head-on. And I’m proud to say here is what ensued:

That’s right. Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free PB eggs. They’re delicious AND what’s best? I can pronounce every ingredient in them…and none of them end with the words “dye #4”. Here are the beyond simple steps to make some delicious eggs (allergenic or non) for your own Easter baskets by next weekend! Also, if your kids do have allergies, here is a great link to find safe candy.

Katie-Safe PB Eggs
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1.5 cups powdered sugar*
1/6 cup melted Earth Balance spread (I used coconut)
2 Tbsp. vanilla almond milk

1 cup Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chips (dairy AND soy-free)
1 Tbsp. Earth Balance spread 
*NOTE: Conventional powdered sugar is NOT corn-free. Cornstarch is usually the anti-caking agent used. Unless you bought powdered sugar labeled as corn-free, you will need to make your own. Just substitute tapioca starch for the cornstarch!*

1. Combine the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and melted Earth Balance. Mix as well as you can before slowly adding the almond milk. The batter will become stiff.
2. Form the batter into small egg-shaped balls and set on wax paper.
3. Freeze the PB balls for an hour.
4. An hour later, melt the chocolate chips and Earth Balance in the microwave (I used 15 and 30-sec. intervals and it took 1 min. 45 sec.)
5. Dip the chilled PB balls into the melted chocolate and return to the wax paper to dry.
6. Cry tears of joy. It’s really that simple 🙂


Now I know I usually wrap up with some kind of witty comment or heartfelt reflection…but tonight you’ll have to excuse me. There is a PB egg calling my name from the kitchen.
Happy Almost Easter!!