Nut-Free “No-tella” Coconut Cookies

It’s been a hard life for chocolate lovers with nut allergies. So many candy bars are “processed in a facility that processes nuts” or just generally “may contain peanuts or tree nuts.” I’ve never tasted M&Ms, but I love Vermont Nut Free’s Skippers, which are basically the same. And as I’ve written before, finding allergy-friendly candy on Halloween is a hassle.

But other companies are occasionally popping up with nut-free alternatives. I hate the smell of peanut butter, so I don’t try to find soy alternatives for that, but I’ve successfully found an alternative to Nutella—something I like to call No-tella.

Don’t Go Nuts has a line of soy butters, and so far I’ve only tried their chocolate spread. From what I’ve been told, it’s not quite as sweet as Nutella—it’s definitely a dark chocolate flavor though—and my favorite way to eat it is on a tortilla with sliced bananas, lightly warmed on the stove.

But today I needed to make some cookies for a party tomorrow—preferably, chocolate. Not wanting to go to the store for chocolate chips, I decided to search around the kitchen when my eyes found the No-tella.

So I modified this recipe for 10 Minute Nutella Cookies and made it more my own. I added some coconut too, because I love coconut and it’s not actually a nut. Now that I made these cookies, I want to eat them all…but I need to save them for other people tomorrow.

Because the No-tella tends to be a bit dryer and less sweet than Nutella, you might want to eat the cookies with tea (I love it with Earl Grey), coffee, or even just milk. And of course if you’re not allergic to hazelnuts, by all means use Nutella.

Suggestion: Skip the greasy pan and use parchment paper instead—it’s so much easier to clean.


No-Tella Coconut Cookies

Yields just over a dozen cookies.


  • 1 cup of No-tella
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2 tbsp milk (optional—if your dough is so crumbly that it won’t form a ball at the end, add the milk)
  • Heaping 1/2 cup of coconut (optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix sugar, egg, and flour well until it forms a crumbly dough.
  3. Add No-tella and mix together until it forms a dough.
  4. If the dough is still crumbly, add milk.
  5. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place them 1 inch apart on a pan covered with parchment paper (or greased pan).
  6. Bake for 5 minutes, then using the back of a fork press the middle of each cookie.
  7. Bake for 2 more minutes.
  8. Remove from oven to cool. The cookies should firm but still soft.

Will I bring my cookies to the party tomorrow? Only my appetite will tell.


New Year, New Store

Update December 2015: The store has changed to, please look there instead!

So now it’s 2015. Has been for over a week, in fact. It’s no longer the year in which I graduated, I’ve started doing more freelance work, and—even more exciting—I’ve set up my own online shop for crafts and prints. It’s located on Storenvy.

This shop really is years in the making. Starting around first grade, maybe earlier, I made up my own “business” that I called Katie’s Kreations. I made little crafts such as painted rocks, desktop-printed cards, and some other silly things that only family members would buy because I was a kid. I even made my own business cards. For the next few years in my gifted & talented class, I used desktop publishing to write and design my “logs,” or journals, instead of simply handwriting them.

But it wasn’t until high school that I realized I could put my creativity into use as a graphic designer. Over four years later I’ve now graduated, and I’m sort of back where I started—making designs and crafts to sell—but of course in a much more advanced way.

I started with printed designs that were (and are) printed by another company. Some of them were designed as a part of my classes. After graduation I designed a set of mugs for coffee and tea drinkers that include quotes ranging from literature and pop culture.


I’ve also designed stickers, a few of which were modified from class projects.

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But again, printed items are not the only things in my store—now that I’m out of school I have had more time to do crafting. In the past year I have taken up needle felting and have made several projects with the process, most notably my eco-friendly dryer balls that help finish laundry faster & therefore cheaper.


But I have—and continue to—make paper crafted, felted, and various fiber arts projects.

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And so my store continues to grow every day with new designs and crafts, and I hope I’ll be able to sustain this store for as long as possible, because I really do love it.

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Golden Snitch Giveaway

We’re heading into the holiday season, and that means it’s gift giving time. But before most of the gifts are given, we give thanks—or as they say, Thanksgiving.

So in the spirit of the holidays, I’m giving away a Golden Snitch ornament! That’s right, all you Harry Potter fans: a Golden Snitch just for you! It also comes with a small gift box.


I’m doing this giveaway with Rafflecopter, with the hopes that you’ll also give a gift to me: the gift of social media. Since everyone uses their preferred social media, I will by no means force anyone to use a particular one, but multiple options can certainly be used together.

The possible options include visiting my Facebook page, tweeting about the giveaway or my store, reblogging on Tumblr, pinning to Pinterest, and commenting on a blog post. Some of these can be done multiple times for multiple entries! To enter the contest, like my Facebook page & click the Contest tab or visit my website.

So get to it: you have until December 8, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. EST.

And thanks for your support!


Halloween, allergies, and the #TealPumpkinProject

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Halloween is a fun time for a lot of people, kids and adults alike. It’s socially acceptable to dress different, scare people (okay, I’m actually not a fan of this but others are), and get free candy. What’s so bad about that?

Well, to put it bluntly—death by candy.

While the majority of kids can happily go door to door, pick any candy they want, and only have to worry about that house that’s giving out raisins or pennies (you know the one), one in 13 kids have a food allergy that makes their Halloween outing less enjoyable. Their parents aren’t just looking for needles in their bag of candy, they’re checking the ingredients. If children eat something they are highly allergic to, there is probably a 100% chance they will go into anaphylactic shock and die if medical care is not received.

I have personally experienced the Halloween horror of “can I eat this?” my entire life. Three years ago, while at college, my friends and I decided to go trick-or-treating. What I came back with was surprising to my friends, but not to me:


About 1/3 of the candy I received—on the right—was edible, and the rest was either iffy or a definite no. Notice how there are Kit-Kat and Hershey bars in the “no” pile—Kit-Kat bars are always a no in the US (unless you go to the international food aisle and get the ones manufactured in the UK, as I do) and Hershey bars at this size almost always may contain almonds.

My trip to the candy aisle

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Today when I went to the store to buy our bags of Halloween candy I decided to do an analysis. How many bags of candy in the holiday aisle are safe? Now of course there were other people also buying candy and I was also right in front of customer service, so this isn’t by any means a very scientific test. But I did my best to count how many bags of candy would be safe for someone like me—allergic to peanuts and tree nuts—and how many I would have to avoid. This included bags that had assortments, so if there was a bag of Twizzlers and a bag of assorted candies including Twizzlers, I counted that twice.

What did I find? There were at least 40 varieties of nutty/peanutty candies. How many peanut/tree nut free? 15. That’s about a 27% chance of choosing a safe bag of candy.

Be aware of food labels

Excessive sugar aside (it’s Halloween after all!) it’s always a good idea to read ingredient labels, especially when your choice could affect your life or the lives of others. Some companies make it easy for you:

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Tootsie Roll seems to be pretty good with allergens. This ingredient label is from their limited edition Tootsie Rolls (I forgot the flavor already), and it clearly shows they’re peanut, tree nut, egg, and gluten free, though they unfortunately use milk and soy ingredients.

But some companies try to fool you with their “helpful” icons:

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Flipz chocolate covered pretzels show that they do not contain peanuts, but as many people allergic to peanuts know, peanuts and tree nuts go hand in hand—the label clearly states that the product may contain tree nuts. (This product also contains wheat, milk, and soy.)

I did surprise myself while shopping, however, to find that Dum-Dums are free of the eight main allergens.

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For a long time I thought they were a no-go, and perhaps that has changed in recent years or I was always mistaken, but their label clearly states on the front and side of the bag that the product is free of all major allergens.

What may surprise you though is Hershey’s mini chocolate bars. Though some of Hershey’s other chocolate bars are free of peanuts and tree nuts, their small packs for Halloween are not.

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And though I did not find them in the Halloween aisle—in recent years I remember seeing specific Halloween packs—I think it’s important to mention that Snyder’s pretzels are not necessarily peanut free, since they also make peanut butter pretzels in the same facility, as their label states.

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So if you were planning on handing out healthy treats, please be aware that candy products are not the only culprits. Dried fruit packages also frequently contain or may contain peanuts or tree nuts.

What can you do to help this Halloween?

Again, read the label. Educate yourself and others on how to read ingredients lists, and try to keep the label for when trick-or-treaters come by. The FDA requires manufacturers to state if anything definitely contains one of the eight main allergens: milk, wheat, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustacean shellfish, and soy. They are not required to state if an allergen may be present, though if the ingredients list says a product may contain peanuts, then someone with peanut allergies should stay away. Coming home to count how many treats you can actually eat out of your Halloween bag is bad enough, but not knowing if a certain candy is safe or dangerous is just as upsetting. Experiencing the slow drip of politely thanking neighbors for candy that would kill you can really ruin one’s night (though not as bad as rushing to the hospital).

This is where the Teal Pumpkin Project comes in. Last year, the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET) began a campaign to raise awareness of food allergies and provide safe alternatives for kids with allergies. The symbol is a teal pumpkin, which helps show allergic kids and their parents that your house has safe alternatives. This campaign has been taken up by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) and is spreading all across the US. The goal is to be aware of food labels and provide non-food alternatives for kids with allergies on Halloween. Personally, I’m going to give out glow sticks (which are also helpful for parents for night trick-or-treating).

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If you’d like to learn more, check out FARE’s website.

So please keep kids and adults like me in mind, and provide safe alternatives for a happy Halloween.


P.S. If I gave any incorrect information, please let me know and I will be happy to fix.

P.P.S. This is my 100th blog post. I hope it’s worth it.

Life update and projects

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about anything. Since then* I’ve graduated, unexpectedly lost a family member, went to a music festival, went on our annual family vacation, and have continued to work as a graphic designer for myself and others. It’s been a bit of an odd whirlwind.

During that time, I was contacted by the folks at DFTBA Records (they don’t forget to be awesome, as per usual) because I had once designed a poster for the fictional band The Hectic Glow from John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, now a movie. Now the poster has become a shirt and is part of the official The Fault In Our Stars store. As I’m sure you can imagine, this was very exciting to me. In all of my excitement, I completely forgot to blog about it!

The greatest band you’ve never heard of—The Hectic Glow.

I have also been trying to be more crafty. Since around April I have been trying my hand at needle felting—a process of sculpting raw wool into any shape—and I’m excited to do more. One of my favorite things I’ve made is this little elephant, and I’m excited to make more!


And so I’ve begun a handmade craft store, much like Etsy but also free of cost. The store is on Storenvy, and I have felted items and Golden Snitch holiday ornaments (Harry Potter of course).


So it’s exciting times for me and I hope it continues. I’m planning on making more items, felted or not, and I hope it takes hold. The best part about it is if someone wants me to make something, they can easily let me know and I can do it. I hope soon I will have a wider variety of stock items once I know what types of felted items are popular.

Do you have any project ideas? Let me know!


*Not entirely true, since my last post was Fourth of July fireworks after graduating, but I didn’t really write anything.

Fireworks before the Fourth

Well, it’s almost Fourth of July. That means fireworks everywhere and a lot of me flinching from synesthesia because I sometimes see bright lights from noises (a double whammy with fireworks). But last Saturday I muddled through it, focusing my energy on taking photographs with my camera on a tiny tripod on top of a rock wall (which led to very crooked pictures and thus a lot of cropping).

If you want to learn how to take long exposure fireworks photos like I did, check out Photojojo’s guide to shooting fireworks. The majority of these were 6 second exposures.


Not fireworks, just fire. Long exposure of a fire pit.

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Bonus: yesterday we had a weird storm and this is what I saw when I looked at the sky at sunset. IMG_439007022014e



Much Ado About Music: A Musical Study of Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing

This is it: my last essay of my college career. That’s it. I’m done. It took a bit longer to write partly because I didn’t want the classes to end, and partly because I kept forgetting that I was watching a movie for the purposes of writing a paper instead of pure entertainment.

So without further ado, I present my essay on the music of Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing.