Being mindful of our diet is one of the keys to a healthy body and healthy living. However, when you are allergic to a particular food, it goes beyond, and becomes a question of survival. Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are serious conditions where the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues when gluten is consumed. And one would assume that chocolate is safe. It contains cocoa, possibly milk powder, sugar…  but surprise! Not all chocolate is gluten-free.  Keep reading to find out why many commercial chocolates might contain some gluten, and we will also go into detail about chocolate’s main ingredients and gluten so you can safely enjoy your favorite cocoa-based treats without worry.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a type of protein found in many grains, such as rye, barley and wheat. Your typical pasta, bread, cookies, pizza dough, cakes, ice cream, flour and cereals contain gluten.

Most people are able to digest gluten without experiencing any problems. However, consumption of gluten-containing foods can cause serious side effects in those with celiac disease or those who are sensitive to gluten.

In the case of those with celiac disease, gluten consumption triggers an immune response that causes the body to attack healthy tissues. This results in symptoms such as diarrhea, nutritional deficiencies and fatigue. People with gluten sensitivity may experience problems such as bloating, gas and nausea after eating foods containing gluten.

Some common ingredients to watch out for that indicate a product may contain gluten include:

  • barley and barley malt
  • brewer’s yeast
  • farro
  • graham flour
  • malt (extract, flavoring and syrup)
  • rye flour
  • wheat flour

Isn’t all chocolate gluten-free?

Milk, dark and white chocolates in their purest form are gluten-free using only some combination of cocoa, cocoa butter, milk powder and sugar. Unfortunately for celiac chocoholics, the reality is that not all chocolate is gluten-free because some have gluten-containing ingredients added to them or are made in a factory where they may be contaminated with gluten.

Commercial chocolate usually uses lower grade cocoa beans and relies on high temperature roasting which can give a bitter taste to the chocolate (this is very different from most craft chocolate bars). As a result,  most commercial chocolate makers add ingredients to mask the undesirable flavors. This is a big problem for celiacs, as these ingredients may include barley malt, wheat flour and dextrose or glucose syrups containing wheat.  So, always make sure to check the ingredient list to make sure that the chocolate is gluten-free. 

One of the best features of our CocoTerra chocolate maker is that you can select recipes and ingredients based on your dietary restrictions. If you want to make gluten-free chocolate or vegan chocolate or sugar-free chocolate, there will be many recipes from which to choose. 

Definitely, the best solution for all celiacs out there is to enjoy  your own homemade chocolate, which you will know is 100% gluten-free.

Read the label

We recommend that you always check the label to make sure the chocolate is gluten-free.  Ingredient lists and labels may differ between brands, especially with regard to gluten content.  Keep in mind that manufacturers can change their recipes at any time without notification to consumers. Therefore, it is always best to check the ingredient list for any recent changes to your old favorites.

To avoid buying the wrong chocolate, you can easily rule out all chocolate bars that contain wafers or cookie pieces, such as KitKats, Kinder Bueno or Twix. We have found that Snickers bars are gluten-free depending on where they are produced, so definitely check the label on this one!

How to make gluten-free chocolate at home

gluten free round chocolate rings

There is a quick way to make a gluten-free chocolate treat at home by mixing unsweetened cocoa powder, coconut oil and maple syrup.  However, it would be a crime to call this “chocolate” since the texture and taste leave a lot to be desired, but in a pinch, it will do the trick if you have a serious chocolate craving.

Quick gluten-free chocolate treat recipe 

Ingredients:

  • cocoa powder
  • coconut oil
  • maple syrup

Recipe:

  1. Warm the coconut oil until melted.
  2. Mix the cocoa powder, coconut oil and maple syrup until smooth.
  3. Pour the chocolate mixture into a chocolate mold and sprinkle with any desired toppings.  
  4. Place molds in the refrigerator for at least one hour or until firm before unmolding the chocolate.

If you have a particular taste for fine chocolate (and the quick chocolate recipe above isn’t your style), you can also start experimenting with chocolate making by melting a good quality, gluten-free chocolate and tempering it while adding your favorite gluten-free ingredients such as candy pieces, nuts and more. We are sure that the taste and texture of this method will be much better.  These are just a couple options to elevate your chocolate making technique at home before you have your own CocoTerra chocolate maker in your kitchen.

Health benefits of gluten-free chocolate

Gluten-free chocolate is on the rise and it’s no surprise. More and more people are eliminating gluten from their diets and it seems the rest of the world is catching up with that trend. Why eliminate gluten? Well, if you have celiac disease or any other type of allergy, you know why. But even if you don’t have a gluten allergy or intolerance, eliminating this protein can have a number of health benefits.  Here are a couple health benefits of a gluten-free diet:

1 Digestive symptom relief

If your stomach isn’t always feeling settled, try cutting out gluten which might reduce instances of  bloating, diarrhea or constipation, gas, fatigue and other similar digestive symptoms.

2 Weight loss

It is not uncommon to lose weight when you start following a gluten-free diet. This is because many junk foods are eliminated from your diet that can add unwanted calories. These foods are usually replaced with fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.  However, it is important to avoid processed “gluten-free” foods, such as cakes, pastries and cookies, as they can quickly add a lot of calories to your diet.

Focus on eating plenty of whole, unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.

The bottom line

Most people can eat gluten without any negative effects. However, those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity will usually avoid gluten in all aspects of their diet. And when eating chocolate, realize that while chocolate is gluten-free at its core, always check the label to be sure.  You will find that although a gluten-free diet is restrictive, there are many healthy and delicious options, especially in the world of craft chocolate! Just be sure to eat plenty of whole, single-ingredient foods, such as fruits, vegetables and lean protein sources. They will keep your stomach happy and promote optimal health.

We can’t wait to see what gluten-free chocolate recipes you create with CocoTerra!

Create with CocoTerra

You can choose a recipe or design your own with our CocoTerra mobile application.  Choose a dark, milk, or white recipe. Add gluten-free flavors and inclusions. Design and decorate your chocolate. You can even explore single origin cocoa nibs and blends from around the world. The choice is yours. Select from a wide range of recipes provided by CocoTerra or create your own.

Watch the transformation, smell the chocolatey goodness, and wait for your chocolate to mold – voila! – your gluten-free chocolate ring is ready to eat! 

We wanted to share this blog with all gluten-free chocolate lovers out there since we get a lot of questions about customizing homemade chocolate based on dietary restrictions.  CocoTerra is ideal for making sugar-free chocolate, vegan chocolate, dairy-free milk chocolate, low-calorie chocolate or whatever else you want to satisfy your chocolate craving while sticking to your healthy lifestyle.  We hope we have been able to inspire and motivate you to make your own gluten-free chocolate at home once you have your CocoTerra chocolate maker!