It’s tough navigating dietary needs, and as a result, eating at times can be a joyless experience. Knowing that, some good-hearted chefs and bakers in our region have made it their mission to make eating a little sweeter. We’ve rounded up the spots in NoVA that are serving up masterful dessert creations that work around all kinds of diets and allergies.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on September 8, 2021.
Qualifiers shouldn’t belong in food descriptions, especially desserts. And for the bevy of treats coming out of the kitchen at Noshy, you don’t have to worry about hearing, “It’s good … for a gluten-free cookie.” The snickerdoodle option lets the cinnamon sugar dusting seemingly dissolve in your mouth, and the peanut butter is more moist than traditional cookies. Then there are the fun sandwich cookies with buttercream filling, in flavors like root beer float, blueberry, and cherry blossom. Farmers markets and online
Emma Cech was studying at L’Academie de Cuisine in the Professional Pastry Arts program when she learned she was gluten intolerant. Instead of changing her path, she was determined to forge her way into creating French pastries that were delicious and gluten-free. The Happy Tart, which opened in 2012 and with locations in Del Ray and Falls Church, offers cakes, crepes, and pastries (cookies, cupcakes, pies, tarts, petit fours, eclairs, cake pops, breads, and macarons) along with breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. All offerings fit the bill for those eating sans gluten. 410 S. Maple Ave. #110, Falls Church
Dessert options are almost endless at this darling outfit focusing on small, locally produced ingredients for homemade foods, a handful of which have a nod to veganism. Choose from mini pop tarts, scones, coffeecakes, cheesecakes, homemade Oreos, tarts, and more. 26 N King St., Suite 110, Leesburg, and at farmers markets
A chemical engineer who dabbled in gelato making as a hobby has brought Alexandria one of its most frequented chilly treat spots. Benjamin Umansky’s Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato offers 20 different flavors each day with a rotating menu of healthy treats like vegan sorbets (11 flavors), vegan gelatos (five flavors), and sugar-free gelatos (three flavors) that aren’t your everyday options. Sorbet choices include cranberry-mango, strawberry-kiwi, honeydew, and lemon primavera. Vegan gelato and sugar-free gelato offerings have basic chocolate and vanilla, plus pistachio. 111 S. Payne St., Alexandria
Gluten-free, vegan, paleo, whichever diet you are on right now, Bakefully Yours is the icing on the cake, the cherry on top, the dessert you are allowed to have. Sarah Seligman started Bakefully Yours as a challenge to herself: to make delicious, traditional desserts that are healthy. Desserts range from cookies and brownies to brittles, with no artificial flavors, colors or high fructose corn syrup, and anyone with food allergies such as gluten, soy, corn, dairy, nuts or eggs can still indulge, too. Grocers, coffee shops, and online
The entire space of Kickshaws is gluten-free and nut-free, from its market to the kitchen where they serve up breakfast, lunch, dinner, and plenty of sweets. Everything on the menu—meals and desserts—use natural ingredients sourced from local farms, and the bakery is not only gluten-free, it is also vegan, meaning no eggs or dairy (no nuts either) are used in any of the cupcakes, cookies, scones, pies, or cinnamon rolls. 1511 Central Park Blvd., Fredericksburg
Letty Cintron opened Sweet Zen7 last spring after she struggled to find all-natural foods for her daughter. She wanted a place where dessert didn’t have to be thoroughly researched before diving in. At Sweet Zen7 all the options are all natural, and are found in the ice cream, smoothies, sno and snowballs (ice cream covered in shaved ice)—even down to the Spirulina used for coloring and the syrups that are made in-house. 12757 Braemar Village Plaza, Bristow
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