The holiday season is quickly approaching, and that means at least a few food-centered events. There is something magical about gathering around the table with family and friends to share a meal. Of course, these holiday meals can also be a source of stress if you’re the one hosting. Chances are, at least one of your friends or family members will have some food allergies or restrictions. We are fortunate to have an abundance of Boston-area allergy-safe bakeries and restaurants. Make sure everyone feels welcome at your table by picking up a treat from one of these amazing allergen-friendly establishments!
Everything at Jennifer Lee’s is gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sesame-free, and vegan (so no egg allergies to worry about!). Most items are coconut-free as well, but be sure to ask if those allergies are a concern for your guests. She has locations inside Boston Public Market and Worcester Public Market, but if you need those cupcakes and cookies delivered to your doorstep, that’s an option, too! Jennifer Lee’s is offering special holiday items, but call ahead if you have a specific treat in mind — your guests will not be disappointed by her delicious baked goods.
Violette’s is a dedicated gluten-free bakery, where everything is made from scratch. They even hand-mill many of the flours! They do not use any soy- or corn-based products, and many of their products are also dairy-free or vegan. You can scroll through the menu here, but it changes weekly so be sure to check back often. (Dairy-free and vegan items are clearly marked on the menu.) Violette’s does make several products containing nuts and tree nuts, so be sure to keep that in mind, depending on the needs of your holiday guests. In addition to baked goods, you can also pick up some savory items from the freezer to have on hand for houseguests.
Blacker’s is a kosher/pareve (dairy-free) bakery — and it’s entirely nut free. There are also several vegan options for those who need to avoid eggs. Blacker’s makes a variety of cakes, pies, and muffins, and they also offer an assortment of traditional Jewish treats, including kichel, rugelach, and challah. You can also place a special order for cakes or cupcakes. Be sure to check their Facebook page for special holiday hours and seasonal items.
This bakery was started by two sisters who had both wheat and dairy allergies in their family. Everything in the bakery is gluten free, and there are many dairy-free options as well. They bake an assortment of cookies, muffins, pies, whoopie pies, brownies, breads, cakes, and cupcakes at their facility in Woburn. They also have a special holiday menu (which includes a gluten-free gingerbread house kit!). You may have seen some of their goods on sale at various coffee shops, museums, grocery stores, and even hospitals in the greater Boston area. If you can’t make it to Woburn, you can order online and the sweets will be shipped to your door!
Twist believes you can limit ingredients without limiting expectations — and I can personally attest that their baked goods do just that. Everything in the bakery is free from gluten, peanuts, tree nuts (except coconut), artificial colors, and corn syrup. (The complete list of all their no-no ingredients can be found here — it’s long!) Their extensive menu involves bakery items like cakes and cupcakes, but they also serve sandwiches, salads, soups, paninis, pancakes, and the list goes on and on. In other words, this would be a great place to take a holiday guest with food allergies for a rare treat — a safe dining-out experience! Twist was named the “best gluten-free bakery in the United States” by USA Today!
Last but not least, I have to mention this gem based in New Hampshire. These delicious treats are baked in Conway but then packaged and shipped to various retail locations, or, best of all, right to your front door! Nancy, the owner and founder, has to avoid gluten, dairy, eggs, and soy, so none of those ingredients are found in her tasty treats. Her individually wrapped muffins and whoopie pies are a great way to ensure you have safe snacks for any guests dealing with food allergies. They even come in seasonal flavors, including gingerbread, pumpkin spice, and chocolate peppermint!
Note: If you purchase any of these treats for guests with allergies, make sure to leave them in the packaging until you serve them. If you place a non-allergen treat on a plate with other desserts, it could become cross-contaminated. It’s always safest to leave it in the packaging, and hang on to the ingredient list so your guests can have peace of mind.