From chocolate-drizzled strawberries to colorful conversation hearts, we all want to share something sweet with our Valentines. Whether you’re giving or receiving treats, take a minute to learn more about unexpected gluten in chocolate and candy. Remember that taking care of your love’s health is just as romantic as any poem or serenade!
When choosing candy, here are some important considerations:
Candy and Chocolate May have Gluten-Containing Ingredients
Whether you buy them in a supermarket, confectionary, pharmacy or specialty stores, commercial chocolates and candies may have hidden gluten that you’ll only find by carefully checking the ingredients. Keep an eye out especially for barley malt, barley malt flavoring, barley malt extract, wheat flour or wheat starch. If you’re in a candy shop, ask to see an ingredient list or talk to the chocolatier or baker. If you don’t get a clear answer, just move on — there are plenty of safe treats to dazzle your sweetie.
Formulations Vary Around the World
Does your relationship cross borders? Keep in mind that favorites in one country can be made differently in another. For instance, Nestle Smarties in Canada are colored candy-coated chocolates (similar to M & M’s in appearance) that contain wheat flour.
In the U.S., Smarties are tart, candy wafer rolls made by a different manufacturer (Smarties Candy Company) altogether and are gluten free.
What About Licorice?
Ah, Licorice! Love it or hate it, it’s usually made from wheat, so I’m sorry to say it’s generally off limits.
But if you love a die-hard licorice fan, here is one company who sells gluten-free licorice.
There is a Simple Option
If you’re having trouble, why not go with an allergy-safe brand? Companies like Enjoy Life craft treats that are free of gluten and the top allergens.
You Can Always Make Your Own
Ready to go for the big gesture? Why not make your own decadent treat? Light some candles, serve up my flourless chocolate cake, and enjoy a romantic evening. (Need more help with gluten-free baking? Check out these Gluten Free Baking Tips.)
Chocolate Banana Rum Cake
- 2 1/3 cups slivered almonds OR 2 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 6 Tbsp. cocoa
- 1/2 cup canned black beans drained and rinsed thoroughly
- 2 medium bananas very ripe
- 4 eggs
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 Tbsp. rum extract
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- If using slivered almonds, place into a food processor or coffee bean grinder. Pulse until finely ground; be careful not to over grind or it will turn to almond butter.
- Combine finely ground almonds or almond flour, brown sugar and cocoa in a large mixing bowl.
- In food processor or blender, purée beans and bananas until smooth.
- Add eggs, oil and rum extract to beans and banana mixture. Mix well.
- Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients. Mix until well blended.
- Pour batter into a greased 8-inch round cake pan.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes. After 30 minutes, check for doneness: toothpick inserted into center of cake should come out clean.
- Cool in pan on a wire rack.
For an extra touch of sweetness with more rum flavor, combine 3 Tbsp. brown sugar with 2 Tbsp. dark rum; drizzle over cake while cooling.
Shelley Case, RD, North America's Gluten-Free Nutrition Expert
Jessica Ethier, RD, Gluten-Free Nutrition Expert
- Calories (kcal): 227
- Carbohydrates (g): 23
- Dietary Fiber (g): 3
- Fat (g): 14
- Protein (g): 6
- Iron (mg): 1.3
- Calcium (mg): 70
- Sodium (mg): 26
This Valentine’s Day, make sure your gift comes with a happy, healthy tummy. And if all else fails, might I suggest flowers?