The only problem is that traditional chocolate is rarely considered “nutritious,” and it often includes ingredients that don’t fit into our lifestyles, like dairy and gluten.
If you are on a dairy or gluten-free diet, or even just a low sugar diet, it can be a real challenge to find products that check off all those little boxes for you. Lucky for you, we are here to talk about options. We have the scoop on ingredients, practices, and even a few recipes that will help you get your chocolate fix while still meeting your dietary criteria.
What Does Gluten Have To Do With My Chocolate?
This is a very reasonable question, as at first glance, it doesn't seem like we need to talk about gluten and chocolate in the same sentence. And to some degree, we don’t.
Cocoa has no naturally occurring gluten in it. It’s the additives and grain-based products included in the chocolate that might contain gluten.
Those delicious chocolate-covered pretzels have gluten, and so do most cookies and other baked goods, as well as anything else with wheat flour or barley malt.
A Bit About Gluten
No doubt many of you are well acquainted with gluten and what a fickle friend it can be. Gluten is the umbrella term for certain proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and other grains. They tend to have weird, difficult-to-pronounce names that we need not get into at the moment, but these proteins can be less than ideal for many people.
You probably know someone who is on a gluten-free diet or is allergic to the substance and therefore stays away from it. For people with celiac disease, it’s extra important to stay away from gluten, as it can result in some serious digestive problems.
Other side effects of a gluten allergy or intolerance might include:
- Skin conditions
- Iron deficiency
- Joint pain
Basically, if your body doesn’t like gluten, it will let you know.
Of course, an allergy or intolerance isn’t the only reason that people avoid gluten. Many of us who don’t have celiac or another condition still make an effort to avoid gluten whenever possible.
Whichever of these camps you find yourself in, rest assured there are solutions to the gluten problem.
Ingredients To Avoid in Your Sweets if You’re Gluten-Free
You obviously wouldn’t pick up a chocolate bar that listed gluten as the first ingredient, but sometimes this protein can be a little sneakier than that. If you need to avoid gluten but still want to get your sweet fix, don’t worry—we have the information you need.
Below are a few ingredients and products that you may want to steer clear of.
When asked, most people will likely tell you that they enjoy having rice in one form or another.
It is an amazing, versatile grain, not to mention that it’s gluten-free. You can eat it as cereal, fry it up with veggies and a protein of your choice, or even use it as the base for pudding. It regularly makes an appearance in chocolate bars to add a light, crispy texture. You can even distill rice into alcohol! What can’t rice do?
Well, as it turns out, it’s usually not ideal to have rice in your chocolate if you're trying to avoid gluten. While rice itself is gluten-free, it’s often processed with machinery that is used for a multitude of other grains that do have gluten in them. That means it can be contaminated with gluten, and you’re best off steering clear.
Malt in its various forms is a commonly found ingredient in confections, especially chocolate. It is made by germinating baby barley sprouts, drying them, and using them to make a number of products like brewers malt, malt syrup, and malt extract. The process isn’t exclusive to barley, but it is the grain of choice in most cases.
This stuff has a way of sneaking onto the back of nutrition labels for products that you might not expect, including chocolate. Because it contains varying levels of gluten, it should be checked for and avoided wherever possible. Not everything will be as forthcoming as “ malted milk balls,” so you’ve got to stay vigilant.
The Other Miscellaneous Bits and Pieces
We all know that chocolate plays very well with others. Why else would we have “chocolate-covered” as its own category? Chocolate is truly the great equalizer. But sometimes, chocolate’s friends might not get on with us so well.
Many of the ingredients in the average candy bar contain the gluten that we’ve been so fondly reminiscing over in this article. Consider chocolate-covered pretzels, cookies and cream products, chocolate-covered cookie dough, chocolate-covered wafer cookies—the list goes on and on.
Those colorfully wrapped little sneaks hide all kinds of ingredients inside.
What Ingredients Should You Look For In Your Chocolate?
Now we’ve arrived at the fun part—the gooey center of the article, if you will. We have covered a few things to avoid when you’re avoiding gluten, so now it’s time to talk about solutions.
You want non-processed and natural ingredients you can trust. Here are some good things to look out for the next time you look at the back of your chocolate bar.
If you are on a vegan, keto, or no-dairy diet, this stuff will be your best friend. Of course, keto doesn’t require you to cut dairy entirely, but the low carbs and nutritional value are still quite beneficial.
Nut mylk is made by soaking nuts in water and blending them into a creamy liquid that can be used in coffee, cereal, smoothies, baked goods, and of course, chocolate! It’s also notable for its usefulness in making dairy-free baked goods, and as a bonus, it keeps much longer than normal animal milk.
The cocoa plant on its own has benefits prior to processing. In other words, the less we mess with it, the better it is for us, which is a good rule of thumb when it comes to the food we eat in general.
Find products that are less processed and focus on non-GMO ingredients. If you are looking for a good place to start, here at MiiRO, we’re dedicated to providing just such products.
Take Things Into Your Own Hands
It may take a little bit of research, but finding gluten-free chocolate is possible without sacrificing taste. If you are having difficulty finding one that suits your tastes, then you can always make your own. Get some diet-appropriate baking chocolate chips and whatever nuts or berries you fancy. If you want to really spice things up, add some chili pepper or orange zest.
If you want to add some creaminess to your chocolate, try using some of that nut mylk we mentioned. It will add flavor and a smooth consistency that you are sure to enjoy. For some extra crunch, we have you covered. Incorporate our Deviously Delicious White Chocolate Bar With Crispy Almond Pieces into the chocolates that you’re making for the perfect bite.
While you're at it, go check out some of these recipes. Once you have your homemade chocolate, who's to say you have to just eat it straight? Use that yummy stuff to bake something even better!
Chocolate and Gluten
Next time you are at the store, look around. Check out the brands you know and see what ingredients they use. You may be surprised for better or for the worse; either way, you can start developing your own informed opinions.
Hopefully, at the very least, this article was able to present you with at least a few tips and tricks for how you can ditch the days of feeling guilty about the gluten after sneaking a piece of chocolate after lunch.