I'm allergic to soy. Let's just get that out there. And until you have an allergy you don't realize how many products contain your allergen. For me it's soybeans.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link.
I have to check for the addition of soy in most every prepared item I eat. But the place I search the most is chocolate! (Did you know you can search for Soy Free Chocolate on Amazon?)
Just a few years ago soy free chocolate was unheard of! What if you were allergic to soybeans…like me? I became allergic to soy in my 20's. Overnight I could no longer eat anything with soy and that included soy lecithin, modified food starch, tofu (I'm okay that I can't eat that), miso, vegetable oil, monosodium glutamate (I'm okay that I can't eat that as well), and some artificial and natural flavorings. Tears are forming as I type this.
The results of my ingesting soy were and are immediate and long lasting. And if you're curious what happens is that I get huge hives all over my face. And I do mean huge! I look like another person. It's hideous. And I was eating chocolate when this first happened…. (Que music).
Why is there Soy in Chocolate?
You may wonder why there is soy in chocolate in the first place. Soy is found in so many pre-packaged foods that is is very difficult, or at least it used to be, to find something on store shelves without it.
In a nutshell soy lecithin is added to most, mainstream, chocolate as an emulsifier. It's cheap and keeps the cocoa butter and cocoa from separating.
My first allergic reaction was to the soy lecithin in chocolate chips (I won't name the brand here but you can guess). I've read a lot of articles through the years that say people with soy allergies are generally not allergic to the teeny amount of soy lecithin found in many foods, or that they don't have reactions to soybean oil because the soy protein is removed.
Ha! Tell that to my hives. That is completely untrue for me. My lips can sniff out a soybean molecule a mile away.
My first allergic reaction was with chocolate that had soy lecithin so I am uniquely sensitive to this little tidbit.
It starts with a tingling in my lips. No. It's not fun.
If I've had a fair amount the skin around the edges of my lips swells (just the edges mind you). And it will itch there for about 3 days.
If I've had a lot of soy, or what my first reactions would look like. I get huge hives across my forehead, at the corners of my eyelids, on the skin under my nose, and on either side of my chin. It distorts my face something awful. And takes weeks of diligent care to my face and to my diet to clear.
Soy Free Chocolate Used to be Hard to Find
So after having a few more incidents of eating things with soy in them and finally figuring out that soy was the culprit I went about revamping my entire diet in my mid twenties.
To cope with my allergy my cooking skills went up a notch. I already enjoyed cooking, which was a plus, I learned to make mayonnaise, bread, crackers, cookies, cakes (all important things), and even a pseudo soy sauce to make favorite Asian dishes.
But the one thing I couldn't manage to duplicate was chocolate. I mean I could make things out of cocoa powder but it wasn't the same. I missed chocolate bars, chocolate chip cookies and simple chocolate candy. It was a sad dark time.
Then one day my mom showed me a newspaper article that featured a local chocolate supplier that only sold chocolate without soy! Oh.My.Word! I wanted to cry. I probably did.
Their name is SoyfreeSales and they sold soy free chocolate chips, soy free chocolate bars, soy free desserts mixes and most of the things my life was missing. You know chocolate. I became a frequent customer and ordered in bulk a couple of times a year! Mostly what I purchased from them were chocolate chips.
Following that time other manufactures (finally) caught on and soy free chocolate became a thing and more readily available. And today I can purchase soy free chocolate at my local grocery store. That is amazing and a long time coming.
Since in real life I share my favorite chocolate with people suffering like me (because life without chocolate is pure suffering) I thought I might share my favorites with you too.
Soy Free Chocolate Bars
1. Theo Organic Chocolates are made by a, local to me brand, that makes some amazing chocolate. Theo makes a lot of lovely flavors. I was blessed to get to try several at a recent conference where they were a sponsor. I may have even brought home a few. But my favorite from this brand is the simple 85% dark. So smooth so delicious. Only 3 ingredients. Cocoa Beans, Sugar, and Vanilla. I love dark chocolate and really enjoy Theo's version. In addition to saying soy free Theo Chocolates also list as Fair, Kosher, non GMO, and Organic. They have several delicious flavors and here in the Pacific Northwest can be found in most grocery stores (gasp!). You can also buy Theo Organic Chocolates online.
2. Michel Cuizel Mini Chocolate Bars are considered fine gourmet chocolates. They are first chocolate bars I ate when I found soy free chocolate (sing!). I would order a few mini bars and (hide them) treat myself after dinner to one. On the website they state, “never any soy or artificial flavorings.” One little bar is truly a treat. Smooth silky chocolate. My favorite is the simple 85% dark (do you see the pattern here). So smooth so delicious. Only 3 ingredients. Cocoa Beans, Sugar, and Vanilla in theMichel Cuizel 85% Dark Mini Chocolate Bars. Who needs soy!
3. I sometimes will pick up some Equal Exchange Chocolate bars when I need chocolate in a recipe. This company uses Organic cacao beans from a co-op in Latin America. They are also good to eat straight. Several flavors including an Almond, Mint, and Chocolate.
4. Free2B Foods Snack Bites. I don't know if these qualify as chocolate bars but since they're kind of flat and made of chocolate that's how I'm going to see them. These are good! Free2B brand is free from the top 12 allergens (yes baby soy is one of those!). And Free2B Foods is another brand you can find many times in your favorites grocery store.
5. Enjoy Life is a brand of chocolate that I love and can find easily in several of my regular shopping stores. Yay! The Enjoy Life brand is free of soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, casein, egg, sesame, sulfites, lupin, mustard, fish, shellfish and crustacean. Their products are also made in an allergy friendly facility. They make a yummy Dark Chocolate bar that you can buy online.
Soy Free Chocolate Chips
Once you're found soy free chocolate bars the next step is to find soy free chocolate chips and make some chocolate chip cookies! In fact for a while I was so happy to have soy free chocolate chips I would make chocolate chip cookie dough in bulk and freeze it so I could have cookies for a loong time. Unfortunately they didn't last a long time so I had to buy more chips more often.
6. In addition to chocolate bars Enjoy Life also sells some yummy soy free chocolate chips. These are the chips I use the most. They've expand the line over the years and now have mega chunks and mini chips as well.I still prefer the regular chocolate chips. Again many grocery stores carry this brand in stock but if you having trouble finding it you can purchase them online.
7. California Gourmet is a new to me brand. They are also listed as allergy friendly and their website says soy free. Their chocolate chips are Vegan, Dairy Free, Kosher, Gluten Free, and Nut free.
8. Exchange Bittersweet Chocolate Chips are made from cacao beans sourced from a co-op. They are Organic as well as soy free. I also buy these sometimes to make my chocolate chips cookies (or just to melt with a little coconut oil and use as a cool ice cream topping).
There are several brands that make soy free chocolate chips so you can make all the chocolate chip cookies you want.
Soy Free Chocolate Candies
By far my most favorite category.
So after years of happily indulging in soy free chocolate there was still something missing. It was chocolate candies. You know the mainstream brand M&M's. I really missed those but actually I missed something that was a treat even earlier in my life.
When I lived overseas we didn't have M&M's but we had something called Smarties. If you live in the US there is another candy called Smarties but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about chocolate candies. They are popular in Canada and overseas and I missed them.
One day I was just looking them up and came upon the Nestle website. As I was reading and reminiscing I read something shocking! Nestle was moving to using more natural ingredients and so one thing they had removed was the soy lecithin!!! What? After that I was on a mission to get myself some Smarties. They didn't list the candy as specifically soy free but they had removed the soy so I was willing to sacrifice my health to test them for you. Note: I buy the Nestle Smarties made in the UK NOT Canada. Canada is still listing soy lecithin in their ingredients.
Smarties are chocolate coated candies. They are not as chocolaty flavored as M&M's and that's the beauty of them. I find I like them better that way but not to worry, if you like a more chocolaty flavor I've got some other soy free chocolate candies to present to you.
Note: And by the way since Nestle doesn't necessarily list Smarties as allergen free they don't really make this list but I have not had any issues and am so happy to be able to enjoy them again.
I order my Smarties in bulk off of Amazon. There are a few other places you can purchase Smarties online (and possibly in your city) but I like that I can get a big box with free shipping on Amazon.
9. Unreal Chocolate Candies. I think the first place I discovered Unreal Chocolates was in a Whole Foods. They have a more real chocolaty flavor than my preferred brand up above. But! They have a few varieties including dark chocolate which is mostly what I buy when I get these. And then the milk chocolate and also crispy version. Most health food like stores carry Unreal candies so you can find them at Whole Foods and if you have Amazon Prime you can get your Whole Foods order delivered!(if not try a 30 day trial of Amazon Prime).
10. No Whey Chocolate candies are another brand that is free from the top 8 allergens including soy (the others are dairy, peanut, nut, egg, wheat, sesame, fish, and shellfish).
Soy Free Chocolate Cups
Finally on my list of soy free chocolate delights are soy free chocolate nut butter cups. If you've been allergic to soy all your life you may not know the joy that is a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Unfortunately I was too aware of what I was missing, but fortunately several companies have made my day.
11. First up of my favorite soy free chocolate nut butter cups are Theo's Peanut Butter Cups. Of all the brands of nut butter cups I've tried these are my favorite. Again I prefer the dark chocolate. And the butter is Peanut Butter. But not to worry there are some nut free cups coming…
12. Free2B also has some delicious nut butter cups. In addition to being soy free these are nut and peanut free and instead are made with sunflower seed butter. Still delicious though! They come in several flavors such as dark chocolate, rice crispy, mint, milk chocolate, and even a mini variety.
13. Not to be outdone Unreal also has nut butter cups. There is a peanut butter and almond butter variety. Also ones with Quinoa for a crispy crunch. Admittedly theirs are good but really small and you pay so much for so little. We already have it hard please make them bigger so we feel like we got some. Even though I wish I got more for my money I do buy them often enough.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Purchasing Soy Free Chocolate
Except for one item I have purchased and continue to purchase the ones on this page. This list is by no means exhaustive and we soy allergy sufferers now have a bevy of soy free chocolate products to choose from. If you have a favorite soy free chocolate that I have not mentioned drop me a comment so I can check it out. You know for science 🙂
Please, as alway, with anything health related do be mindful of your allergy and how serious it is. Some people need their products to made in completely allergen free factories. Others just need the product to be allergen free. All these products on this page I have eaten (and enjoyed) with the exception of California Gourmet. My own soy allergy has not proven to be life threatening but very very uncomfortable.