A Hunt for Dairy and Nut-Free Easter Eggs with Manpreet Azad!
I came across the lovely mum and business-woman Manpreet Azad and her extremely honest and informative Instagram feed last year, and was very taken by her energy and her desire to pass on what she has learned from her child's allergy journey to other parents. She shared her fabulous allergy-friendly Christmas recipe book Allergy-Friendly Christmas Recipes with me on my blog in December, and now she returns to help us navigate Easter with her allergy-friendly Easter chocolate recommendations!
Manpreet takes us on an Easter Egg hunt for dairy free and nut free chocolate!
Manpreet: "It’s the holiday that I love, the start of Spring, the long bank holiday weekend and masses of chocolate!
"But when my daughter was diagnosed with very severe allergies to dairy, nuts and much more, Easter was not something I looked forward to, instead it filled me with dread!
I would cringe when family members would ask to buy Easter Eggs for my little ones, when they barely had their full set of teeth, and I still hadn’t worked out for myself what options were available and where you could get them from!
"Even though we won’t be doing any this year, my heart races at the thought of an Easter Egg hunt with lots of children running around in excitement covered in chocolate.
Whilst dairy and nut allergies are becoming more common in young children, not all milk allergies are as severe as my daughters. Milk and nuts as well as being potential ingredients in Easter chocolate can also be found in traces of Vegan chocolates or dairy free chocolates which limits the options even further for us!"
"There is nothing like the selection you get to choose from like you do with the standard Easter Eggs – I mean an entire supermarket isle hosts every type of Easter Egg you could imagine! From Easter eggs shaped as your favourite vegetable (you’ve seen the aubergine egg, right?!) to your kids’ favourite children’s TV Character, there appears to be something for everyone!
"That’s why so many allergy mums buy the Character Easter Egg box and replace the egg with a dairy free version, so their kids are getting the same as their siblings!"
"Here are my tried and tested favourite brands and Easter chocolate selections which are both Dairy Free and Nut Free.
1. Nomo Chocolate – The original. They have a range of flavours but for my young girls this one is absolutely their favourite! £6.00 from most supermarkets.
2. Moo Free – the original is a "May Contain" for hazelnut, so we avoid these BUT they have a range of flavours which this year are produced in a separate factory and are Nut Free as well as Dairy Free – AMAZING! £3.50.
3. Sainsbury’s Free From Easter Eggs are both dairy free and nut free, £3.50 (Tesco and Asda also have dairy and nut free Easter Eggs too.
4. Sainsbury's Deliciously Free From Chocolate Bunny Bar - It’s really hard to find dairy free and nut free novelty chocolates so I love these ones from the Sainsbury’s Free From range and they’re only £1.00 – I will be stocking up on these!
5. So Free from Plamil Foods Easter Chocolate Range from £4.00 I love this brand, but they are only available online."
"For breastfeeding mums avoiding dairy – here are a few of my favourites that are both Dairy Free and Nut Free;
1. Nomo Salted Caramel £6.00 available from most supermarkets.
2. Hotel Chocolate Free From Vegan Egg £10.00 – free from Dairy and Nuts too – some of their Vegan range does contain nuts, but the Free From ones are nut free, it can be a bit confusing so always check their ingredients.
3. And for an indulgent treat Cocoa Libre have a stunning range of dairy free, nut free and gluten free gift boxes. They make a stunning gift, and the chocolate is very special! . From £14.00"
Manpreet, What advice would you give to parents who are just beginning their allergy journey with their child and are feeling a little bit apprehensive?
Manpreet: "Let your support system in and to really understand what you are facing, and what your concerns are, which in turn will hopefully allow them to be more understanding and able to help.
"If you are struggling to find people who understand, (and many people do), then do reach out for support because it really does help. Just having someone to listen who understands and can even offer practical advice. There are many places to look for support such as online support groups, local supports groups and ones run by Anaphylaxis Campaign.
"I run an allergy meet-up with monthly zoom calls where we can connect, and build relationships. The best thing is that we know that whenever we need to, we can chat through any problems or difficulties without any blame or judgement. Details can be found on my Instagram page if anyone would like to join in!"
How do you feel about the "food allergy-friendly" products currently available to parents in the supermarkets? Do you have any brands that you can recommend?
"I think it is fantastic that there is more choice and product innovation in this area. Manufacturers are realising that more and more people have allergies and are so trying to develop products to suit.
"There is still a long way to go, in that a child with allergies can’t buy anywhere near close the same things that a child without allergies can, from advent calendars, novelty chocolates, and smarties even!
"There are lots of parents who go to great lengths to make sure their child doesn’t feel left out, from taking the packaging of character advent calendar and melting their safe chocolate down just so that their child can have the same calendar as their friends and siblings.
"Even many of the Free From products are not safe for us because of the manufacturing methods. For us, it is not enough to have the allergen ingredients replaced with an alternative, the product needs to be 100% free from all my daughter’s allergens and all too often we can’t have them because of the potential cross contamination with say, milk and nuts. Meaning that a chocolate might say ‘Dairy Free’ but then declare ‘may contain nuts’ on the label. And my daughter has reacted to those, it’s not just a blanket warning as some might think.
"There are however, some great brands like Creative Nature who ensure their factory is free from the Top 14 Allergens and go through rigorous quality control in order to be absolutely sure it’s safe. They are continually innovating and bringing to the market great tasting products that the allergy community want to buy. Nomo chocolate and Sofree chocolate are also completely nut free facilities and these are the type of things I need to check when I’m buying free-from products.
"The other concern which I have with food labelling in general is the amount of product recalls that are being made so regularly, with allergens undeclared on the labels. I really would like to see much stricter control and protocols with manufacturers when it comes to producing and packaging food."
Thank you so much Manpreet for sharing your story and Easter selections with us!
Do you have any other helpful tips to share about cooking allergy-friendly meals for your family? Let me know! What works best for your family, and what matters most to your child?
My Spring newsletter will be coming soon, full of lots of positive, holistic, and sustainable ways to enjoy this beautiful season. While you are here why not read some more great tips from some of my other favourite specialists: Midwife and Lactation Consultant Shelley Wilson, Pre- and Post-Natal Fitness and Nutrition expert, Emma West, Sleep Consultant Alexandra Collingbourne, and Declutterer and Organiser Joanne Forde.
Get in touch for more information on any of the topics mentioned here or elsewhere on my site, I would love to hear from you!