When Lori Sandler’s son Benjamin was diagnosed with severe food allergies to dairy and nuts at a young age, she decided to take action. While she wasn’t trained as a pastry chef, she had many fond memories of visiting bakeries as a child and wanted Benjamin to experience those same warm moments and treats. And so after years of testing, tasting, and refining, the Divvies Bakery was born in 2005, a bakeshop dedicated to peanut-free, tree nut-free, milk-free, and egg-free products located in South Salem, New York.
Since then, the company has thrived, with their signature pastel blue and white-packaged products sold to thousands online, as well as through retailers, including Whole Foods, Balducci’s, Blooomingdale’s, and Disney World. And Benjamin went from being the “kid with food allergies” to the one who always has fun treats to share with his friends and classmates. Now in The Divvies Bakery Cookbook (St. Martin’s Press; August 2010; $25.99 hardcover – available at a discount on Amazon), Sandler shares her story, mission, and the recipes that have made Divvies a beloved and winning brand.
According to Sandler, eating and celebrating should always be an inclusive experience and nobody should be defined by their food allergies. The very name of her company connotes “divvying up” and sharing. In her Introduction, she writes: “In the spirit of Divvies, I have written a book filled with recipes for delicious, safe treats that everyone will want to share, with or without food allergies, as well as tips, shortcuts, and ‘life recipes’ that will help everyone feel included.”
Featuring more than 70 sweet treats that anyone can easily prepare, The Divvies Bakery Cookbook is divided into sections that focus on the times in our lives when food plays an important role and those with food allergies often feel left out. From birthday parties and family holidays, to schoolroom and travel snacks, the book includes Sandler’s signature recipes, such as: crowd-pleasers like Warm Apple-Apricot Cake, Cinnamon Buns (pictured below), and Divvies Famous Chocolate Cupcakes; one-of-a-kind treats like Popcorn Snowman, Wafflewiches, and “Brown” Chocolate Bags that you can fill with fruit or sorbet; interactive desserts like her Chocolate Fountain with Dippers; and special sections on sweet beverages, party favors, cake frostings, pie fillings and more!
It’s hard to believe these scrumptious goodies contain no dairy, eggs, and nuts. The ingredients left out are replaced with healthy dollops of natural chocolate, oatmeal, fruit, and molasses. Along with the Divvies recipes, the book imparts Sandler’s handy resources, basics for stocking the kitchen and getting started, and hard-won wisdom for parenting a child with food allergies, with useful advice for communicating with teachers and parents. And the book also features a note from Benjamin, now 11-years-old, in which he shares his personal story and favorite treats.
Currently, more than 12 million Americans have food allergies, and more than 30 million are lactose intolerant. With the creation of the Divvies Bakery, Sandler has become a nationally recognized pioneer in servicing the growing population of people with special dietary needs, and The Divvies Bakery Cookbook is the perfect resource for celebrating life’s little pleasure of desserts.
Keep an eye out for our review of this new cookbook here on Go Dairy Free. We will be reporting back this summer after testing some recipes!