This weekend marked my second Easter as a dairy-free mum and in all honesty, it was pretty damn good. With 18 months of avoiding cow’s milk behind me, I found it much easier to hunt out alternatives, including Easter eggs for me and the little miss. She was far too young for chocolate of any kind last year. However, while we don’t make a habit of giving her super sweet things like chocolate on the regular, this year she had a dairy free egg all of her own. Here she is preparing to crack open her Tesco white chocolate button egg mid morning.
I’m not much of a white chocolate fan personally, but it went down a treat with Alex, even if it tasted slightly like icing or frosting to me! Luckily, this year I was very happy to receive a few Easter packages of my own, featuring some fantastic goodies from two of my retail favourites, M&S and Hotel Chocolat.
M&S Dairy Free Easter
I’ve always loved a bit of M&S for a treat. Percy Pigs have a special place in my heart and since going dairy free I’ve been delighted to discover the growing Free From range at M&S. I was invited for an introduction to the range at my local M&S Silverlink last year and was suitably impressed with the efforts the retailer has put into this growing market. Their coconut & chocolate cream Bailey’s alternative caused a frenzy at Christmas and the Coconut Cream Dessert they sell is a consistent favourite here served with strawberries.
For Easter, the brand put together some nice non-egg options, including some gorgeous little sweet boxes with deliciously juicy jellies, which just happen to be my personal weakness. Dark chocolate eggs also feature in the range. I know some parents would prefer to have a ‘milk’ chocolate alternative for little ones, but Alex rarely gets chocolate and is very happy with a little taster of dark chocolate as a result. Plus -the egg came in very shiny and elaborate wrapping – which she’s usually far more interested in.
Hotel Chocolat Dairy Free Easter
Hotel Chocolat is another brand I’m pretty smitten with. When friends, family, clients or colleagues are due a gift, it’s my go-to retailer for choosing something tasty to send. Two years ago I completed one of their Bean to Bar experience days and along with being a heap of fun, it helped me learn a lot about the brand’s ethics, sourcing and ingredients and in turn won my customer loyalty. Buying boxes of Hotel Chocolat at Christmas for clients has become a little envy inducing since I’ve gone Dairy Free but I’m glad to see the retailer stepping up and offering more vegan products within their range. For Easter they had a really decent range of dark chocolate eggs. We received some delicious almond and raisin studded dark chocolate eggs from my mum and Hotel Chocolat were kind enough to gift Alex and myself these beautiful eggs too. Again the child option is dark chocolate, but it was wrapped to appeal to littles. The ginger studded slabs with the adult egg make the perfect accompaniment to a coffee and if you act fast, you can snap them up at half price in the Hotel Chocolat Easter sale. Egg-cellent!
Looking ahead to Easter after the ladder
Alex is now over half way up the milk ladder. In fact, if we can just get her to happily eat some baked cheese and not stay up all night screaming, her next rung up is milk chocolate. This means there’s a very real chance that next year we won’t need to launch a dairy free egg hunt at Easter. The reintroduction of dairy still produces mixed feelings for me as her mum. I’m excited for us both that a future without vigilant label checking and restaurant managers who make me cry is well within sight. However, I’m not too sure I can go back to consuming dairy to the scale I once did. I won’t go back to using it in my coffee or cereal at home because I simply don’t think we need to. Nowadays, I much prefer the taste of a good quality dark chocolate than milk chocolate too. In fact, chances are I’ll be hoping for something from the M&S or Hotel Chocolat dairy free ranges next Easter too. It’s amazing what a difference a year makes. Last year, I felt a bit deprived at Easter time and Easter weekend 2018 has been thoroughly indulgent. Here’s to retailers continuing to step up by providing delicious dairy-free alternatives ,so kids with allergies and intolerances never need to feel left out!