Oh chocolate, my chocolate, how do I love thee? In my case, not at all. It might surprise you to learn that chocolate, especially milk chocolate, is known for triggering a variety of ills. Some patients have genuine allergies to chocolate, resulting in hives, nausea, a swollen tongue and even trouble breathing. Patients who are sensitive to caffeine may experience an increased heart rate, anxiety, digestive distress (nausea, diarrhea, etc.), irritability and headaches. It took me several years to discover that our annual holiday tradition of See’s Candy triggered agonizing bowel spasms, ruining several Christmas celebrations.  I, like many of you, simply cannot tolerate milk or dark chocolate. It feels like poison in my body and wherever it is in my system, my gut reacts violently. As a result, I haven’t willingly eaten milk or dark chocolate for more than 25 years…. but I don’t lack in sweets! There are options.

White Chocolate

Because it contains no cacao powder, white chocolate may be more tolerable. Its sweet and creamy flavors come cocoa butter, milk and sugar rather than cocoa solids. Every holiday season, you can buy white chocolate and peppermint M&M’s which are to die for. Miss hot chocolate on cold winter days? White chocolate cocoa is just as good without a tender tummy afterwards. Thankfully, I’ve never reacted to white chocolate but that’s because I do NOT have a true allergy to chocolate. I am sensitive to it. Those with allergies must avoid all chocolate products.


Carob is a sweet, satisfying and healthy alternative to chocolate that was first cultivated by the ancient Greeks more than 4000 years ago.  Carob has plenty of fiber and anti-oxidants, with less fat and sugar than chocolate. For those who struggle with high blood pressure, carob can work because it contains no caffeine. It also contains no oxalates making it ideal for those prone to kidney stones or vulvodynia. Migraine sufferers can take comfort in knowing that carob contains no tyramine.  Carob is an excellent source of vitamins A, B-2, B-3 and B-6, as well as containing copper, calcium and other minerals. It’s also high in fiber and protein. What’s not to love, right?

For baking purposes, you can buy carob powder or carob chips at most grocery and specialty stores. Try sprinkling carob powder on ice cream or add carob powder to smoothies. Carob brownies are luscious but my personal favorites are the carob products produced by Missy J’s. Her Carob Truffley Treats are wonderful, especially the Coconut, Almond and Sea Salt! In fact, as I’m writing this, I think I’ll head back over to the grocery store to grab some.

Recipes From The IC Chef Cookbook

Carob Brownies

5 tbsp. carob powder
1⁄2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1⁄2 cup almonds, processed into a fine meal
1⁄4 cup rice flour
1⁄2 tsp. sea salt
1⁄4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and 8” x 8” pan. In a bowl combine the dry ingredients and whisk. In a bowl, combine the wet ingredients and mix. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. The batter will be thick. Spread into the greased pan. Add crushed almonds on top.

Bake in 350F oven for 33-35 minutes . Do not over bake! Cool in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan. Chill before cutting so they don’t break apart. (I ate them warm out of the pan.)

Peanut Butter & Carob Cookies Gluten Free

2 cups peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1⁄2 cups carob chips
1 1⁄2 cups chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease cookie sheet. Combine peanut butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Add carob chips or nuts if you are using them. Bake about 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet before removing.

Mexican Hot “Carob-cocoa”

2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp. carob powder
4 tbsp. white chocolate chips (try to find ones that actually contain cocoa butter without junk. Trader Joe’s has some great ones right now)
1⁄4 tsp. cinnamon (if can tolerate)

Put all in a pot and bring to a low simmer, stirring to melt the white chocolate and blend the ingredients. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy!

Fake Mocha Latte

Sweetened carob chips
Cafix® coffee substitute
vanilla extract

Put enough carob chips in the bottom of the mug to cover the bottom. Fill the mug halfway with milk and microwave until all of the carob chips melt. Fill the mug up the rest of the way with water and microwave until it is really hot (but be careful it doesn’t overflow). Add a little less than a tsp of Cafix® and stir it in. Then add a few drops of vanilla extract, and it’s done! I was disappointed in the hot carob drink by itself, but with the Cafix® and vanilla added it tastes really good!

Additional Information:

Chocolate allergy vs. chocolate sensitivity. Medical News Today. June 5, 2017

The Benefits of Carob. Healthline. November 8, 2016

IC Chef Cookbook – Available from the IC Network