Chocolate Almond Clusters

I adapted this recipe from one that appeared in Good Housekeeping magazine in 2010. It is simple to make and is a great idea for gift-giving or bake sales, granted  no one has a nut allergy, that is!

Chocolate Almond Clusters
Makes 2 dozen

8oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup roasted, salted almonds*
Mini candy cups

On a large cookie sheet, arrange 24 mini candy cups in a single layer. In a microwave safe bowl, heat half of the chocolate on high for 20 seconds; stir and repeat for 1 additional minute or until chocolate just melts. Stir in remaining chocolate and microwave at 50% power (medium) in increments of 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval. Total melting time will vary based on your microwave’s power.

Once all chocolate is melted, let cool for about 3 minutes so that chocolate achieves a shiny finish.

Stir in almonds until evenly coated by chocolate.

With a teaspoon, drop 1 spoonful of mixture into each candy cup.

Refrigerate at least 15 minutes or until set.

According to the GH website, chocolate clusters can be kept in an airtight container for up to a month. After nearly a week, mine are still fresh!

*I used Wegmans’ brand, which were quite delicious, even without the chocolate!

Book Review: Complete Gluten-Free Diet & Nutrition Guide by Alexandra Anca, MHSc, RD with Theresa Santandrea-Cull (Robert Rose, Inc.)

By Christine A. Krahling

From its fact-filled preface to the over 100 recipes included within, the Complete Gluten-Free Diet & Nutrition Guide is a must-read for newly diagnosed celiacs. Author Anca notes, “It is no longer sufficient for newly diagnosed celiac patients to be handed a sheet with two columns listing, ‘Foods Allowed’ and ‘Foods Not Allowed’” (page 7). Amen to that. As a parent of a young adult who was diagnosed with celiac disease nearly 20 years ago, I know all too well the feelings of confusion and isolation that come with leaving a medical professional’s office with a list similar to what Anca mentions, and then left to figure it out on my own.

On page 28, the section, “How Will This Disease Affect My Life?” touches on emotions that often accompany a diagnosis of celiac disease, such as denial, resentment, feelings of neglect and information overload. The fact that the authors discuss that “coming to terms with the disease is not always easy” shows that they truly “get” what a newly diagnosed celiac is feeling and that it is okay to have these types of feelings.

The section titled, “Shopping for Gluten-Free Groceries” (page 50) provides great tips for that first, often-daunting trip to the grocery store and “Gluten-Proofing the Kitchen (page 62) breaks down in simple steps how you can effectively keep your pantry and appliances gluten-free so as to avoid cross-contamination when cooking or preparing foods for yourself or a family member.

The “30-Day Gluten-Free Meal Plans” section (page 126) not only provides guidelines for what types of foods to prepare but a Daily Nutritional Analysis is included as well, emphasizing the importance of proper calorie intake, fiber, iron and other vitamin and mineral content  of foods, and how to best incorporate them into a gluten-free diet.

Recipes are divided into sections titled, “Breakfast and Brunch,” “Breads and Muffins,” “Soups and Salads,” “Pizza and Pasta,” “Vegetarian Mains and Seafood,” “Meat and Poultry,” “Side Dishes,” and “Snacks and Desserts.”

This will make a welcome addition to the celiac’s bookshelf.

Order your copy at

When in Rome…

My Facebook friend Silvana Nardone posted a link to this article on her page. The article is titled “Gluttony Without Gluten” and can be found on the Atlantic’s website (see link below). The author discusses how when she was looking for gluten-free foods on a trip to Italy, she discovered that nearly every pharmacy carried them. The reason, it seems, for the abundance of gluten-free shopping options is because the Italian government pays a monthly stipend to everyone that is prescribed a gluten-free diet. The article states, “The amount varies by region, but many adults get nearly $200 a month.” Could you imagine how wonderful that would be, especially for people in the United States who cannot afford the cost of a gluten-free diet? I mean, let’s face it, the stuff’s expensive.

Thanks, Silvana, for sharing a great article.