Updated for 2021!
This post was first published in 2019, so it seems apt to remind you that allergen labelling changes all the time; always check the label with vigilance before consuming. You can also find more of my free from favourites over on Instagram!
AD – Products marked with * were press samples gifted by the brand, either this year or in previous years. Products marked with ** are affiliate links – this means I earn a small commission from any purchases made through these links, at no extra cost to you!
So, here’s the thing. Whilst there’s no denying that there’s been a huuuuge increase in free from food here in the UK, and it’s been absolutely brilliant for people with gluten and dairy allergies, many of these new developments have proved rather problematic for the nut-allergic community.
Why? Because so many of these brands that proudly proclaim they’re ‘allergy-free’ and ‘allergy-safe’ are full of nuts: one of the most fatal allergens of all. Whenever any existing foodstuff is developed into a free-from product, it often seems to be at the expense of nut allergies. And what’s more, so many of the products that are marketed as ‘nut free’ (either by themselves or others) are in fact, not. As anybody else with life-threatening allergies will know, that ‘may contains’ blanket warning is way too important to disregard.
What it all boils down to is this: many dairy free foods rely on nuts and nut milks as replacement ingredients. So, when you have both a severe peanut allergy and a dairy intolerance, your options for sweet chocolate treats do become limited. And as somebody whose life revolves around when they’re next eating, this has become somewhat problematic.
Therefore, I wanted to research the brands catering for both dairy and nut allergies in the run up to Easter, and which of them are worth the money… and I’ve heroically and selflessly took it upon myself to pig out on chocolate in the name of blogging. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.
But before we jump in, a disclaimer: the foods I mention below were safe for me, at the time of consuming. I’ll include below the allergen statements listed on packaging e.g. ‘dairy free’ or ‘suitable for nut allergies’, but do remember that labels change all the time. If you purchase any of these foods, always check the labels for yourself before consuming. If you’re in any doubt, don’t risk it. Easier said than done I know, but it’s not worth it, even for the most delicious looking treat.
Anyway, now for the fun bit. On to the goodies!
“Vegan & Free From Dairy, Gluten, Egg, Nuts”.
NOMO is the love of my life. I said what I said. Free from a handful of major allergens, affordable, and easily accessible in shops and supermarkets, it’s the brand the free-from community so badly needed. Their Creamy Choc and Dark Choc bars were never my favourite, and I’m yet to try their HazelNOT Crunch due to a deep-rooted fear of anything that tastes too nutty, but both their Caramel and Sea Salt and Fruit and Crunch bars have served me well ever since their launch. I dread to think how many I’ve purchased in even the short time they’ve been around.
However, the brand only seems to get better and better. NOMO’s Caramel Bars are my all-time favourites, and reminiscent of Cadbury’s own caramel offering back in the milk-consuming days. They’re indulgent without being sickly, and at 90p a bar, I believe they’re excellent value for money. Even writing this now, I’m having *all* the cravings.
I’ve also tried NOMO’s Caramel Filled Chocolate box in the past, but personally felt the value for money was compromised. £5.00 for a handful of noticeably small chocolates in just one or two varieties felt slightly disappointing, and I wouldn’t be quick to repurchase goodies in this format – much better to stock up on the bars instead.
However, NOMO’s Easter Eggs priced at £6.00 from supermarket shelves feel much more reasonable, and last year I ended up slightly hooked on their Fruit and Crunch eggs. I’m not saying a bought and demolished three of them all to myself over that short space of time, but I’m not denying it either. This year I’ve bought myself the Sea Salt and Caramel one, and I’m watching online stores like a hawk to see if I can get my hands on the newest Caramel one too. OOFT.
“Suitable for vegans…free from dairy, nuts, gluten and wheat, but still full of flavour.”
Back in 2019, I tried Hotel Chocolat’s newly released free from range and strongly concluded I had no idea how that milk chocolate ended up passing quality tests and on the shelves. It was the texture that threw me off: grainy, almost as if the flour and other ingredients hadn’t been completely mixed in during manufacturing. That, combined with the underwhelming flavour and the fact that I actually felt a bit ill both times after eating some, meant that there’s no way I could justify spending £8.00 on four small chocolate bunnies again.
Not long after this traumatic experience, I noticed the products promptly went out of circulation. However, this year (2021) Hotel Chocolat appears to have re-released the free from range, and I’ll be watching with interest to see the reaction to these. I haven’t tried them myself, but you can find all products on the Hotel Chocolat free from page.
“Wheat Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free & Vegan”.
Lazy Day Foods is by far one of my favourite free from brands. More often than not you’ll find a packet of their Rocky Road or Tiffin Bites tucked away in my cupboard, and sometimes I’m actually a little concerned by how much I crave their oaty biscuits and shortbread. They’re just SO good.
Whilst there are no specifically Easter-related products in their range, I wanted to highlight their selection boxes and individual cake portions for those who might be looking for treats that aren’t chocolatey. I’m not usually a shortbread kinda gal, but Lazy Day Foods’ Vegan Chocolate Chip Shortbread* is honestly one of the best biscuits I’ve ever tasted: both free from and non-free from. Quite the statement to make, I know. Their Oatie Gift Selection Tube* was equally impressive, with the three varieties of biscuit packaged individually within the decorative tube. It took real strength of character not to devour the whole lot in one go, let me tell you. My Dad also speaks highly of the Iced Fruit Cake Bites, and the Fruit Cake Slices look delicious too.
“All of our products are Vegan and are registered with The Vegan Society. Our marshmallows are certified non-GMO and are free from gelatine, wheat, gluten, nut, dairy, egg and soya. Our Round Ups are free from gelatine, dairy, egg and nuts. We also produce a Gluten free version of the Round Up.” More allergen info on this page!
Ananda Foods are a brand I’ve been loyal to for a few years now. They’re a gorgeous small business based in Derbyshire, and their bespoke goodies are completely different to anything else on the market.
Among other things, they offer gelatine-free marshmallows in a range of flavours and seasonal packaging. If I were looking for ‘standard’ marshmallows I will say that I prefer Dandies Marshmallows, but the gorgeous thing about Ananda Foods is their seasonal specialties and quirky flavours. This year’s offering looks to be their Easter Marshmallow Selection Box, complete with vanilla, lemon and lime, and caramel flavour mallows – the caramel ones come highly recommended by me.
Ananda also offer various other goodies, including fancy chocolate lollies (the Choc Crisp Mallow one is SO moreish) and their take on the traditional Waggon Wheel, the Round-Up. Ananda’s various goodies are at a slightly higher price point when purchased individually (£2.40 for 45g of marshmallows, £1.90 for the lollies, and £3.25 for the Round-Ups), but their various selection boxes make gorgeous gifts and there are usually treasures to be found in their online clearance basket too.
“Delicious without doubt… Top 14 Allergen Safe!”
Free from the top 14 food allergens, Creative Nature are an absolutely gorgeous brand who I’ve been a fan of for years. Their baking mixes are quick and easy to use and would make for an excellent seasonal activity to enjoy over the holidays: I’ve tried a few of these kits myself, but their Pancake And Waffle Mix** is by far my favourite. Requiring only plant milk and apple cider vinegar to be added, the mixture makes at least half a dozen fluffy American pancakes… ideal for an indulgent special breakfast, if you ask me.
Creative Nature is also the home of Gnawbles**, the closest thing yours truly has found to free-from Malteasers. These tasty little choccy balls of goodness come in a range of sizes and flavours, all of which have the satisfying *crunch* texture that so often I think is lacking in the free-from market. This year they have a limited edition jar of Bunny Droppings hazelNOT Gnawbles for Easter**, and my personal favourites are the good old Creamy Mylk Chocolate**. It’s taken real strength of character not to go the whole hog and make the pancakes topped with the Gnawbles, but I can’t promise this level of self-restraint can be maintained much longer, especially if Creative Nature carry on sharing people’s majestic creations over on their Instagram page. OOFT. You can also get 10% off everything Creative Nature and Gnawbles** using affiliate code PIPPA10 when you check out!
“Cocoa Libre is a leading producer of chocolate that is vegan and Gluten, Nut and Dairy free!”
I don’t mind telling you that I’ve done a complete U-turn on Cocoa Libre over the past couple of years. Whilst I initially wasn’t keen on their plain chocolate, I’ve gone on to try a range of their flavoured and fancier offerings and fallen slightly in love with them. I’m now a regular shopper of theirs, and whenever my friends ask for my favourite brands, they’re high up on my list. Their Chocolate Slabs* come in a variety of flavour combinations and believe me when I tell you they are out of this world. My personal favourite is their Milk Chocolate Caramel and Sea Salt, but I reckon any of them would make a fabulous little gift for a loved one.
Cocoa Libre have a diverse range of Easter products on offer, including chocolate eggs, rice milk chocolate shapes and the aforementioned chocolate slabs I’m always lusting over. They also do a couple of ready-made Easter gift boxes which look so adorable I actually want to cry a little. Do what you will with this information.
“We make positive claims of all products suitable for Vegans, No Milk and Gluten free… ” Plamil’s products are each labelled differently so do check each one individually before you purchase or consume, but more allergen info can be found on this page!
After trying Plamil’s range last Christmas and learning of the company’s ethics, this is definitely a brand I’ll be purchasing from more frequently in the future. They’re committed to ensuring ethical and environmental responsibility, and they’re the longest-running plant-based company in the UK. Most of the ingredients in their products are organic and Fairtrade, and all of the energy used in production is from 100% renewable sources. In short, I’m seriously impressed. I had everything crossed their products would pay tribute to these highest of standards, and it’s safe to say I wasn’t disappointed…
The So Free Cocoa Bites* are so unique: teeny tiny squares of chocolate, full of flavour to graze on. The Dark Cocoa Bites are smooth and flavoursome whilst not being too bitter, thanks to the coconut blossom sugar in the ingredients, whilst the Milky Smooth Cocoa Bites were lovely and sweet: the perfect nibbles to go with a cuppa, if you ask me. I personally didn’t love the White or the Strawberry Cocoa Bites, but the Salted Caramel had a subtle but gorgeous flavour, whilst the Chocolate Orange were by far my favourite and packed a heck of a punch. All Cocoa Bites come in paper pouches, or in reusable and recyclable jars with refill packs available. Ideal excuse to make them a regular on your shopping list, if you ask me…
Plamil So Free also offer a range of Easter eggs (including vegan and no added sugar options), as well as novelty shapes and smaller eggs in packaging that children would adore. I’ve tried their chocolate buttons before and can confirm they’d be perfect for little’uns at this time of year!
“… all our products are nut free and also dairy and gluten free. The ‘may contain traces of soya’ warning has now been removed from our chocolate products. They are now produced in a soya free environment”.
One thing I noticed throughout my chocolate tasting adventures is that many of the dairy-free brands simply offer just that: a plain, dairy-free chocolate on its own. That’s why D&D, which I became aware of after reading about them on nut free forums, was such a pleasant surprise: from their website alone I could see an abundance of flavours and bolder ideas.
The Chocolate Raspberry Hollow Crumble Eggs* are absolutely stunning. They’re the ideal size for snacking, and the freeze-dried raspberry gives such a strong, juicy flavour. I had my reservations about how well chocolate and raspberry go together, me being somebody who favours plainer foods and having never tried the combination before, but it’s safe to say I’ve been converted. Intense and flavoursome, I’ll definitely be looking to try D&D’s other flavour combinations in the future too. And given their gorgeous cheerful packaging complete with the personal touch of the decorative ribbon, they make the perfect aesthetically-pleasing Easter gift for a wide range of ages.
Because of the powerful raspberry flavour, I did wonder whether it was hiding a less-than-satisfactory base chocolate. However, I also tried their Dairy Free Chocolate Mini Eggs*, plain chocolate with a hint of vanilla, and they were excellent too. They had a much stronger cocoa taste than many of the other brands, and the texture and consistency were just right: absolutely perfect as a bit of something to have with your cup of tea. I’m becoming more middle-aged by the day, I know.
I will say that I expected there to be more mini eggs in the box: the 12 that were in there only filled the bottom of it, but maybe that was a result of a lack of waste plastic in the packaging: something that didn’t go unappreciated. The mini eggs were reminiscent of Easter Egg hunts as a kid, and they’d be perfect for this very purpose: tiny, colourful and absolutely delicious.
I haven’t been in a supermarket since this time last year (ah, life) and so haven’t tried the following options myself – or checked the allergen labelling in person. However, here’s what I’ve found online so far…
“This gluten and milk-free egg has a hollow centre filled with mini marshmallows, and is also vegan.”
“Strawberry flavour white choc egg with freeze-dried strawberry pieces, made with inulin, maltodextrin and maize flour.”
“A selection of Extra Special Free From Easter eggs, made with silky choc and an irresistible combination of flavours. Indulge in smooth choc and raspberry, white choc and sweet vanilla and Belgian dark chocolate eggs, for a sumptuously sweet Easter treat.”
ASDA also have a wider selection of beautiful fancy Easter Eggs at affordable prices!
“Our new dairy-free Egg Plant Kitchen Easter egg is made with a velvety smooth dairy-free dark chocolate in a fun hollow aubergine (aka eggplant) design.”