Published On: Fri, Sep 23rd, 2016

Free-from chocolate indulgence

Author of Sugar Free ME: Gluten, sugar, yeast and dairy-free eating, Alison Beadle shows us what to look out for when considering tucking into that perfect free-from favourite…

the chocolate bar

Chocolate, whilst easily available for those with no allergies or intolerances, is one of the trickiest things to find if you are looking for gluten-, dairy-, sugar- or nut-free. Being intolerant to sugar, dairy and gluten myself, chocolate is one of the things I miss the most. I don’t want it constantly, but it is nice to have once in a while.

Having been sugar-, gluten- and dairy-free since 2012 and, being a former sugar ‘addict’, I have done my fair share of research, some successful and some not so.

Here are a few tips on shopping for ‘free-from’ chocolates, and also a few of my favourites to help you in your quest to indulge in a sweet treat, or just to buy some for somebody so they don’t feel left out when every one else eating theirs!

Sugar-free chocolate

Check how it’s sweetened. Some sugar-free chocolates are sweetened with coconut palm sugar, Palma jaggery, dates or agave, which all contain fructose – which is still sugar, just not traditional refined sugar. While the average person can tolerate these, there are some diabetes sufferers who may get an insulin spike from fructose sweetened chocolates. These also aren’t great for candida sufferers as the candida will feed off the sugars. In both cases it also depends on the quantity eaten and the individual’s condition as to the effect it will have.

If sweetened with maltitol, an alcohol sugar, which is a common favourite in diabetic friendly chocolates, moderate to excessive consumption may have a laxative effect. Xylitol and erythritol are also alcohol sugars, but aren’t quite so harsh on the digestive system. It depends on the individual. Personally I’m fine with xylitol, but my body hates maltitol.

You can also get chocolate sweetened with stevia. It is low in calories, is produced from a leaf and is easy on your digestive system too. For me it has a slight aftertaste, but many people don’t notice this at all.

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Dairy-free chocolate

There is a lot more of this about now and you can generally find it in most large supermarkets as well as health food shops. The obvious choice is dark chocolate, but that can be too strong a flavour for some. I’ve had chocolate made with almond milk, but many use soya lecithin. Most people are fine with this, but those who are allergic to legumes may be sensitive. Obviously if you have a soy allergy it’s not going to be suitable for you. I’ve also used coconut milk powder when making my own chocolate at home.

Gluten-free chocolate

Generally chocolate shouldn’t have gluten in it and may not be labelled as containing gluten, but it could be manufactured in a site where there is a risk of cross-contamination so don’t assume it is gluten-free. If you are coeliac then go for products which actually state ‘gluten-free’ and are approved for coeliac consumption. The Coeliac Society has a website which provides a list of gluten-free chocolates.

Chocolate pieces

Nut-free chocolate

Again, unless you are going for a nut-based chocolate, it generally doesn’t contain nuts, but once again there is the risk of cross-contamination so, to be sure, always go for something that states ‘nut-free’ on the packaging.

The final option is you learn to make your own. I went on a chocolate making workshop at Melange, in Peckham, and now use those skills to make my own. I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and Isabelle, who runs the shop, is a great source of knowledge and expertise. There are also raw chocolate workshops run by the creator of Perfect Chocolate, sold at Snowfields Wellness, London Bridge.

Below are a selection of chocolates I’ve tried and tested. There are many more in the market, but I’d rather recommend ones I’ve tried. The range covers gluten-, dairy-, sugar-free (including fructose-free) and fructose sweetened. My favourite to eat is Perfect; favourite to cook with, Willies. Manufacturers often change recipes so always double check the ingredients before eating.

Brand

Range

Where can I
buy it

Free-from options

Sugar-free option

Website

Planmil

Plain, milk, coffee, mint

Holland & Barrett and most health food shops

Gluten, dairy, sugar

Sweetened with xylitol

 www.plamilfoods.co.uk/chocolate

Melange

Great range of flavours available

Melange,
Peckham, The Chocolate Museum, Brixton

Dairy, nut,
gluten, sugar

Sweetened with stevia

 www.themelange.com

Perfect

Sour cherry, mint, vanilla,

Snowfields Wellness

Gluten, dairy, sugar

Sweetened with xylitol

www.snowsfields.co.uk/products/raw-chocolate-and-making

Cocoa Libre

Dark, raspberry, mint, milk

Holland & Barrett, website

Gluten, dairy, wheat, buts

No sweetener

www.cocoalibre.co.uk

Thorntons

Speciality boxes

Thorntons

Gluten, sugar

Sweetened with maltitol

www.thorntons.co.uk/product
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Hotel Chocolate

Various 100% flavours

Hotel Chocolate

Dairy, gluten, sugar

No sweetener

www.hotelchocolat.com/uk

Willies

Various 100% flavours

Waitrose, Ocado

Dairy, gluten, sugar

No sweetener

www.williescacao.com/chocolate/#cooking

Cavalier

Various flavours

Website

Sugar

Sweetened with stevia

sweetswithout.co.uk/collections/cavalier-stevia-chocolate/products/cavalier-dark-chocolate

Perlege

Various flavours

Health food
shops and website

Sugar

Sweetened with stevia & malitol

sweetswithout.co.uk/collections/perlege-stevia-chocolate/products/perlege-stevia-dark-chocolate

Ombar

Various flavours

Store locator on website

Refined sugar, dairy

Sweetened with coconut palm sugar

www.ombar.co.uk

For more information, visit www.livewellbhappy.co.uk

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