Let’s Make Gluten-Free Halloween Candy Less Spooky for Our Kids!

When I was a kid, Halloween meant a carnival at school featuring large black pots filled with smoking dry ice, a darkened haunted house where you put your hands in ketchup-covered spaghetti “guts”, and a church carnival featuring bobbing for apples in a bucket of water.

Our costumes were mostly homemade. Little Bo Peep was a favorite. Trick-or-treating included the occasional homemade popcorn ball or caramel apple. These treats were the best!

J & B

Of course, there were stories of razor blades in candy somewhere far, far away, but never a problem in our small town. The biggest danger we faced was getting excited and forgetting to watch for cars before we crossed the street.

I raised my children in a larger town. We were careful to limit our trick-or-treat stops to the homes of friends. Even then, we checked every wrapper to make sure it was sealed before the kids started their feast.

I’m sure that most poisoned candy stores are urban myth, but there are some real Halloween dangers – especially for celiac and gluten-intolerant children. Many popular candies are not gluten free. Brands that are normally safe sometimes use slightly different formulations during busy seasons. All of this is a bit scary. So how can we make Halloween less spooky for gluten-free kids?

If you have a tendency to want to keep the kids at home, I would encourage you to rethink. I always feel that it’s best to let our children feel as normal as possible. As long as you participate and set some boundaries, there’s no reason your little goblin can’t go trick-or-treating with his friends.

I doubt if you let your children dive in and eat all the candy they want to right away. Since you already have rules, it shouldn’t be hard to let those rules include some label reading. You can review ingredients for the little ones, and make label reading into a game for the older kids.

If you think you’ll get some protests about being deprived, you can offer a substitution program in which you trade piece for piece a gluten-free candy for a problem candy your child has in his bucket. Of course, I’m all in favor of limiting the amount of sugar your children are allowed as well.

If you’ll primarily be trick-or-treating at relatives’ houses, you can send them a list of acceptable candy in advance to make your job easier. To help you accomplish your mission, let’s start with these lists of popular candy brands to see how many gluten-free Halloween candy options we can find:



Gluten-Free: Almond Joy, Mounds, Milk Chocolate Kisses, Caramel Filled Chocolate Kisses, Cherry Cordial Creme Kisses, Hershey’s Nuggets, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar with Almonds, Heath Bar, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (except for seasonal shapes), Skor, Skor Toffee Bar, York Peppermint Pattie

NOT Gluten-Free: Hershey’s Special Dark Bar, Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme Bar, Hershey’s Air Delight, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Drops, Hershey’s Miniatures, Mr. Goodbar, Symphony Bar, Hershey’s Extra Dark Chocolate, Kit Kat

Jelly Belly

Gluten-Free: All jelly beans are gluten-free and dairy free. Jelly Belly Candy Corn.

NOT Gluten-Free: Chocolate Malt Balls, Chocolate Bridge Mix, Licorice Bridge Mix, Licorice Buttons, Licorice Pastels or any mix containing malt balls.

Just Born

Gluten-Free: Seasonal Peeps as noted on package. The following Mike and Ike’s – Berry Blast, Italian Ice, Jolly Joes, Lemonade Blends, Original Fruits, Redrageous, Tangy Twister, Tropical Typhoon, Zours, Hot Tamales, and Goldenberg’s Vintage Peanut Chews

NOT Gluten-Free: Any Peep not labeled GF.


Mars Chocolate

Gluten-Free: Plain M&Ms meet the stringent standards for GF certification, additional M&Ms other than pretzel flavored or special flavors, All flavors of 3 Musketeers, Milky Way Midnight Bar, Milky Way Caramel Bar, All flavors of Snickers, Dove Chocolate products other than those containing graham or cookies, Munch Nut Bar unless noted

NOT Gluten-Free: M&M pretzel flavor, some packages of M&M White Chocolate, Mint, and M&M Coconut flavor, Milky Way Bar, Mars Bar, Mars Combos, Twix, Maltesers,

Please read labels on all Mars products.


GlutenFree: Necco Wafers, Necco Chocolate Wafers, Candy House Candy Buttons, Canada Mint, Wintergreen and Spearmint Lozenges, Mary Jane, Mary Jane Peanutbutter Kisses, Banana Splits Chews, Mint Julep Chews, Haviland Thin Mints, Wintergreen Patty, Nonpareils, Chocolate Stars, Skybar, Sweethearts Conversation Hearts

NOT Gluten-Free: Red Hot Cinnamon Bat-Wing Wafers, Sweethearts Mummy Hearts, Zombie Hearts, Mighty Malts, Clark Bars, Peach Blossoms, Haviland Bridge Mix, Haviland Real Chocolate Covered Raisins, Haviland Real Chocolate Double Dipped Peanuts, Slap Stix, Squirrel Nut Zippers


Gluten-Free: Baby Ruth, Bit-O-Honey, Original Flavor Butterfinger, Milk Chocolate, Goobers, Nips, Oh Henry!, Rasinets including Cranberry and Dark Chocolate, Sno-Caps, Wonka Pixy Stix, Laffy Taffy, Laffy Taffy Rope, Wonka Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip, Runts

NOT Gluten-Free (or processed in a facility that processes gluten, read label): Butterfinger Crisp Bar, Butterfinger Giant Bar, Butterfinger Snackerz, Butterfinger Medallions, Butterfinger Jingles, Butterfinger Hearts, Butterfinger Pumpkins, Wonka Nerds, Sweetarts, All flavors of Wonka Bars, Chewy Spree, Wonka Gummies, Wonka Kazoozles, Everlasting Gobstopper, 100 Grand Bar, Nestle Crunch Bar


Gluten-Free: Salt Water Taffy, Chocolate Jelly Sticks, Jelly Beans, Gummy Bears are all certified GF

NOT Gluten Free: Candies packaged by Sweets, but not made by Sweets. Read labels.

Tootsie Roll Industries

Gluten-Free: All Tootsie Rolls and Charms products with the exception of Andes cookies. These Tootsie Roll products are also peanut and nut product free. Tootsie Rolls, Fruit Rolls, Frooties, Dots, Tropical Dots, Crows, Celia’s Milk or Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries, Junior Mints, Charleston Chew, Junior Caramels, Tootsie Pops, Tootsie Peppermint Pops, Caramel Apple Pops, Fruit Smoothie, Pops, Tropical Stormz Pops, Child’s Play, Charms Blow Pops, Charms Super Blow Pops, Charms Pops, Zip-A-Dee-Mini Pops, Fluffy Stuff Cotton Candy, Sugar Daddy, Sugar Mama, Charms Squares, Charms Sour Balls, Charms Candy Carnival, Pops Galore, Andes mints, Sugar Babies

NOT Gluten-Free: Andes Cookies

Mars Wrigley

Gluten-Free: Cream Savers, Lifesavers, Skittles, Starburst, Altoids other than flavors listed below.

NOT Gluten-Free: Altoids Smalls Peppermint Mints, Altoids Chocolate Dipped Covered Mints

As you can see, there’s quite a list of acceptable treats. All you have to do to make Halloween candy less spooky for your gluten-intolerant child is set some boundaries and use these lists as a reference. That’s not such a tough trick!

Happy Halloween!


If you have a specific question about labeling or want a more definitive answer, you can contact these candy companies at the following numbers:

Hershey’s 800-468-1714

Jelly Belly 800-522-3267

Just Born 888-645-3453

Mars Chocolate 800-627-7852

Necco 781-485-4800

Nestle USA 800-225-2270

Sweet’s 855-772-7720

Tootsie Roll Industries 773-838-3400

Mars Wrigley 800-974-4539



Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”







Does your doctor throw drugs at the problem?

Can I get a witness? Does your doctor throw drugs at the problem?

If you’re following a gluten-free diet, chances are that you’ve had quite a bit of experience with the doctor’s office. An undiagnosed hiatal hernia landed me there a couple of times recently leading to diagnostic procedures and then follow-up visits. One week, I’d had so many GI cocktails that I suggested to the nurse that they might want to offer Happy Hour.

I’m feeling better, but I continue to be perplexed by the practice of medicine. During the three week process, I’ve had 4 different drugs essentially thrown at me without discussion. I don’t know about you, but if my condition is not life threatening and can be improved or controlled with lifestyle changes, then I do not want drugs.

PillsWhen I told the GI doctor this, he looked confused and asked me if my insurance wouldn’t pay for the PPI that I had been taking since my first visit. I think my response confused him even more. I told him I did not want to have to take a drug every day for the rest of my life.

Instead I wanted to know what I could do with diet and exercise. Then I wanted a wean-off plan so that I wouldn’t have the rebound acid problem created from suddenly stopping the drug. After telling me that 99% of the population was not successful in making the lifestyle changes required to control acid reflux associated with hiatal hernia, he reluctantly agreed to devise a plan to transfer me to an over the counter proton pump inhibitor (PPI) and slowly spread out the doses until I am again drug free.

Why is it that standard medical practice seems to be primarily based on treating or masking symptoms? Why do physicians start throwing prescriptions out like Santa throws candy in the Christmas parade? Why isn’t it standard practice to present the patient with test results and all the options available so that patient and doctor work as a team to develop a plan for optimum health? Why do doctors assume I won’t be successful?

By the end of a week of taking the sample prescription, the side effects were making me feel worse, not better. The side effect list on the 2nd drug deterred me from ever starting it. As I wean off the PPI, I am feeling better day by day. I’ve limited my caffeine, eaten smaller meals at regular intervals, increased my amount of exercise, and paid close attention to how I feel after I eat so I will know what irritates the situation.

I feel grateful that I am healthy, and I feel grateful for this episode of discomfort. I have come to recognize that acid reflux for me registered as pressure in my chest and as hunger, so I tended to feed myself to reduce the symptoms. This brought temporary relief, but also caused me to gain weight over the past few months. The additional weight made problems with acid reflux more likely. The disruption of my normal routine was a chance to recognize how I was contributing to the problem.

Yesterday, I learned that my state is one of 9 states that prescribe antibiotics to patients at a higher frequency than that of other states in the US. Now I’m wondering whether this tendency bleeds over into a tendency to overprescribe other drugs. What’s your experience with your doctor? Is he/she supportive of using diet and lifestyle changes to control disease when possible? Do you feel comfortable asking your doctor questions? Am I the only one who prefers to stay chemical free?

It is clear that today I have many more questions than answers. Sharing your experiences will help all of us gain perspective. Thanks!

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Fall is a great time for easy enchiladas!

Ahhh, fall is here and finally it’s getting cooler. In the summer, my whole kitchen feels like an oven. Located on the southwest side of my house, the heat gathers and hangs there or swirls there when the ceiling fan is on. The heat even spills over into the breakfast room.


Of course this means that I avoid using the oven as much as possible in the summer. That’s why it feels so good when fall rolls around. Now I can try out all the recipes I’ve been wanting to try, but avoiding in an attempt to stay cool. Or, I can throw something together that needs to be baked without the fear that I’ll be a melted puddle on the floor before it’s done.

I’ve been hungry for enchiladas. I want them quick, easy, and I don’t want to have to go to the store.

After rummaging through the cabinets, here’s what I came up with:





Makes 10

Olive oil spray



1 – 2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped

1 lb ground turkey or ground beef

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp chipotle powder

1/4 tsp paprika



2 avocados

1 cup sour cream

Sprinkle of salt

Sprinkle of garlic powder

1/3 can + all the liquid from 10 oz can Rotel diced tomatoes and peppers


4 oz cheddar cheese, grated

10 white corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 350º.  Spray baking pan with olive oil spray.

Prepare the filling

Heat olive oil in medium skillet. Add chopped onions and cook until they turn clear.  Add ground turkey or beef, breaking apart with your fingers as you add it to the pan.  Once meat has browned on one side, use spatula to stir and continue to break meat in to smaller pieces. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, chipotle powder, and paprika. Continue to stir and cook until meat is browned through.


While meat is browning, cut avocado in half. Remove pit and scoop out of skin into a medium bowl. Using a fork, mash the avocado until it begins to become creamy. Add sour cream and stir until mixture is smooth. Add salt, garlic powder, and 1/3 can Rotel tomatoes plus all the liquid from the can. Mix well.

Lay a tortilla on the countertop or a plate. Place a spoonful of filling in the tortilla. Top with about 1 1/2 tbsp grated cheddar cheese. Roll tortilla closed and place seam down in baking pan. Continue until all tortillas are filled an placed in pan.  Top with sauce and any remaining meat or cheese.

Bake at 350º for 20 – 25 minutes.  Remove and serve hot.


Now the kitchen smells delicious, and my mouth is full. Give these a try and let me know if you think they’re as tasty as I do.



The Importance of Appropriate and Adequate Support for Gluten-Free Kids

Yesterday I wore an elastic wrist support band while I worked.  Since I was a kid I’ve had weak wrists. Yesterday it hurt really badly to move my right wrist. Lifting and twisting motions were the worst.  Writing a post-it note brought me close to tears. I kept adjusting and readjusting the Velcro on the band and still my wrist hurt. I changed how I was shifting my car. I decided to order out for dinner to avoid having to chop anything.

When I got home from work I happened across a traditional Ace bandage and decided I would switch to it so there would be some thumb support and I could suspend my wrist at a different angle. I wore the bandage all evening and all night. This morning, you’d never know I had any pain.

The difference was amazing. I went from excruciating pain to no pain in about 12 hours without any medication.

What made the difference? Appropriate and adequate support made the difference.

If the first band had wrapped my knee, my wrist would have continued to hurt. So the short band was appropriate because it wrapped the correct part of my body, but it did not provide adequate support. Without adequate support my pain continued.

If being dependent on someone else is causing me pain, then you giving me the money to pay all my bills may be supportive, but it is not appropriate. Unless I have the courage and insight to refuse your help, I am choosing to prolong my pain.

And so it is with life. Without appropriate and adequate support, we continue to live in pain.

As parents we want to support our children. We’re willing to do almost anything to help as long as we think it’s important. Sometimes we may have a differing opinion from our children’s other parent regarding what is important. This may be especially true if we’re divorced.

For all of us who maintain a gluten-free lifestyle, we know how much support it can take to stay on track. When our kids have to be gluten-free, it takes both parents working together with doctors, teachers, daycare workers, coaches, friends, friends’ parents, and siblings to provide adequate support.

Angry child

It’s always good to keep in mind how hard it is for us when we feel different from other diners in a restaurant. It’s even more difficult for our kids when they feel different from their peers. They may soon find it unbearable and go back to eating regular pizza if one parent belittles the gluten-free lifestyle or them for adhering to it.

Providing adequate support for a Celiac child requires that all his/her caregivers understand that even a small amount of gluten causes an autoimmune response that can damage the small intestine and require a whole year for his body to heal. Helping our children understand what to avoid is hard enough. Helping them develop enough social backbone and social grace to politely resist another adult’s insistence that “just a little bite of cake won’t hurt” requires that we all work as a united force.

I know that sometimes it would be easier just to give in when our moms, dads, spouses or kids want to debate the merits of staying gluten-free, but if we know that our children’s health depends on it, we must stay the course. If we do not, we are failing to provide appropriate and adequate support.

Have a particularly sticky situation you don’t know how to handle? Let us know what it is and our team will respond with some options to help you.


Photo by David Castillo Dominici