We all enjoy gifting something delicious and yummy but it gets a little sticky when our friends or family are on a special diet or have food allergies. Knowing what to look for (and what to avoid) adds that special touch to your gift and makes the recipient feel like you’ve put a lot of thought into it. Here are a few tips for finding that perfect balance of good-tasting, healthy snacks that fit just about every diet.
How to Pick a Care Package for Special Diets
Special dietary needs can make food gifting a challenge but it’s still the favorite special occasion gift loved by all ages. This article breaks down how to choose the right foods that fit most dietary needs and what to look for when ordering.
Watch out for Food Allergens
Let’s talk first about the importance of awareness for food allergies. Navigating what’s allowed and what’s not is especially difficult if you’re not accustomed to decoding food labels! But it’s critical to read every label of every product – even if you’ve bought that same product before. If you’re making homemade treats, you must also read the label of every ingredient going into the dish. Foods that on the surface seem to be “safe” may still have come in contact with the allergen through the manufacturing process.
By law these eight ingredients must be listed in the ingredients list or tagged as “manufactured/made with/may have come in contact with”: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and crustacean shellfish. Some of these ingredients can cause life-threatening reactions so it is never worth the risk to eat or serve something you haven’t checked.
Most other labels (gluten-free, vegan, organic, or natural) are not strictly regulated by the FDA as with allergen foods. However, they have put in place voluntary, industry-wide standards and guidelines that ethical manufacturers follow in labeling of these types of foods.
Start with Clean Ingredients
Most people on special diets appreciate snacks made with clean, all-natural ingredients. Snacking can be good for you and people love a gift that’s packed with food they can feel good about eating or sharing. Especially important to avoid are sugar, salt, carbs, or highly-processed or refined foods with chemical fillers and dyes. These aren’t healthy for anyone!
Keto, Paleo, Vegan, Gluten-Free Basics
Each individual diet has certain foods that are allowed and those that aren’t allowed. These are general guidelines but please visit our Diet Basics links to learn more about each diet. A hint for now: we’ve made it easy to gift to each specific diet and we’ve curated each snack collection to meet that particular diet. Another note when shopping, the diets below have become ultra popular so a lot of manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon and making labeling claims that are not completely accurate! We are careful to choose properly labeled foods for each dietary need and test them first to make sure they’re just right for each box.
Vegan: this diet excludes all animal products or foods produced by animals. This broadly includes meat, poultry, fish/seafood, dairy products (including whey, casein, or lactose), eggs, or honey but also includes ingredients derived from animal products such as certain additives, flavorings, and dyes (such as shellac, cochineal, or castoreum); gelatin or isinglass (used in beer or wine); Omega-3 fatty acids; and Vitamin D3. Browse our vegan choices here.
Keto: this diet is high in natural fats (olive, dairy, coconut, or avocado); allows moderate protein; and eliminates sugar and most carbs (including beans or legumes, most fruits and veggies). Browse our Keto selections here.
Paleo: this diet is based on eating like a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer so it limits foods that are farmed (dairy products, grains, sugar, salt, and processed/refined foods) and allows foods that “cavepeople” would have had access to: meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Browse our Paleo choices here.
Gluten-Free: this diet excludes the protein gluten found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, triticale, oats (in some cases) and their varieties (durum, einkorn, emmer, kamut, spelt, farina, graham, and semolina). Grains that are allowed include: arrowroot, buckwheat, flax, hominy, millet, rice, and quinoa but it’s important to check labeling for cross-contamination. Browse our Gluten-Free choices here.
All-Natural: all natural does not mean unprocessed (after all, sugar is natural). At The Good Grocer, we consider all-natural to be minimal, clean ingredients that are not highly-processed. Only snacks that are free from artificial preservatives, flavors and colors meet our standard for All-Natural. Browse our All-Natural Snacks choices here.
They say every good meal (or snack) begins with your eyes! Packaging and delivery matters and from the moment your gift is opened, you want to create a delicious experience. If you’re putting it together yourself, choose a cute box and nestle the goodies into cute tissue paper. And be sure to include an encouraging, handwritten note!
Here at The Good Grocer, we’ve already done the work for you and each of our snack collections is delivered in a cute gift box that just bursts open with yumminess the minute they open it. We’ve also created a box designed for common rooms such as office breakrooms or community rooms. The Snack Station is filled with tasty treats for every diet and is the perfect gift for your employees or coworkers, the teacher’s lounge, or your favorite client. Browse the Snack Station here.