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Allergen Free & Healthy Cooking Tips

Posted Feb 24 2009 9:34pm
Confused? Lost? Uncertain? I know the feeling. I've been there and I want to help. On this page, you will see a large amount of substitutions for allergen causing foods and healthy alternatives to everyday cooking. Some of them are pretty obvious while others shoot off a mental light bulb. If you have any questions, words of advice, or suggestions, feel free toemail me. I always check my email daily so worry not for a response you will soon receive! Now, let us begin!

Fat Substitutes
The role of fat is considered an important factor to a baked good, usually. Butter, lard, or oil increases the moisture contained in a cake in addition to adding color and flavor. Low fat batters and recipes are prone to over mixing and gluten free flours make it ten times work. This is why I often state to mix until well incorporated because any step further might damage the components of the batter.

Typically, when adding fats to a baked good, you cream with sugar until a light and fluffy mixture is formed. After the introduction of the fat to the flour, the fat coats the protein of flour and shortens the length of gluten when it is stirred, hence the name ‘shortening’. Without fat, the texture of the baked good will become hard, grainy and unpleasant. This is why if you are going to avoid adding shortening, butter, or any other fat derivative, here are some alternatives but make sure you adjust the quantities to assure that the formula equalizes.

Fruit purees - Applesauce, bananas, pumpkin, and prune purees are best since they provide enough moisture to substitute. The applesauce is best for the least altering of flavor; pumpkin is second.
Yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream (if not lactose in tolerant) - dairy products, which contain milk proteins, have their own natural fats that can replace the amount called for in a recipe.
Silken tofu - works similar in the way that dairy fat replaces overall fat in a recipe. It also adds a significant amount of protein but those with soy intolerants should veer away.
Olestra - Olestra is a fat substitute that adds no fat, calories, or cholesterol to a product and is found prominently in the light potato chips, high fiber breakfast cereals, and in a few other commercial products. As great as Olestra may seem to be, there are side effects to over consumption, primarily diarrhea. How canal fat be calorie free? Olestra is synthesized using sucrose molecules arranged so largely that it is unable to through the intestines and be absorbed, thus, it is immediately flushed out. Another cause and effect situation with Olestra is that fat soluble nutrients consumed at the same time of Olestra become flushed as well since they stick to the fat molecules. I personally have not used Olestra, or Olean, but I am interested in its effect in baking and even its result in frosting. The over consumption side effect is if the product is used consistently as in eating a 20 serving large bag of potato chips in one sitting or 2 dozen cookies made with Olestra. It is currently only available for business purchases but I’m certain if there’s a will, there’s a way. For more information, see

Sugar Substitutes
Ever since the world became conscious to the disease, diabetes, sugar substitutes became increasingly available. Saccharine was once only available by prescription alone but now it is currently one amongst the many available at your local grocer by traditional name brand or store brand. Which is the best? What is better for you? What tastes and works the same in food? All these questions are asked by customers and food providers who are on the search for the perfect sugar substitute that will nix extra calories yet impact flavor.

Saccharin was once the only sugar substitute available, known as Sweet N’ Low. Fear about saccharin increased around the 1960s were the high level consumption of the bitter sugar sweetener may cause or lead to stomach cancer as well as allergic reactions in some people. Five years later after the horror had subdued, aspartame was born. Aspartame was discovered in 1965 by James M. Schlatter by accident on his search for an anti-ulcer drug. This sweet powder of discovery was comprised of two amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Aspartame was suggested to cause brain damage but since the research was inclusive, it was approved as a food additive. Aspartame is marketed as Equal, NutraSweet, and is found in commercial diet beverages. Those who suffer with phenylketonuria - a genetic disorder when the body is unable to metabolize phenylalanine - have to abstain from using this sweetener or foods that contain it, which explains the warning labels that contain the product on sodas.
The next big thing in sweetener subs that became approved in 1998 was sucralose AKA Splenda. The rage in Splenda was that, “it tastes like sugar because its made from sugar”. However, when the Sugar Association more closely examined Splenda, they unearthed undesirable information and filed five separate complaints against the company regarding false advertisement. The chemicals in Splenda, called organchlorides are considered possible carcinogens, but, the presence of chlorine subdues the toxicity and the method sucralose metabolizes.

What to do and use when all this information is thrown at you about how nasty the name brand sugar subs can be? Enter Stevia and the Sugar Alcohols. Stevia belongs to the genus specials of herbs and shrubs related to the sunflower plant in South and Central America. Stevia is marketed by Sweetleaf, TruVia, NuVia, and a few other companies. It is considered to be 30 times sweeter than sugar without any side effects or negative impacts against the human body, minus a possible bitter aftertaste if over consumed in products and the very rare occasion where allergic reactions may occur (if you suffer from ragweed allergies be cautious but again it is rare to react to stevia). It is the sugar substitute; I use it and am getting attached. The reason why I am currently finding difficulty in using Stevia is because I’m accustomed to Aspartame and that is 200 times sweeter than sugar and stevia. The key with Stevia, however, is less is more and the liquids appear to be sweeter due to their concentration. It works well in baking, tastes great, and is actually good for you oh and calorie free.

If you’re diabetic or have seen diabetic products and low sugar products, it’s a good chance you’ve noticed the ingredients, ’sugar alcohol’. Sugar alcohols are natural occurring hydrogenated forms of carbohydrates. They are used to replace sugar, typically, in combination with artificial sweeteners because they are less sweet than sugar and contain less calories. The over consumption of sugar alcohols can lead to GI distress except for one, known as Erythritol, which I use in baking for diabetics. It is difficult to locate sugar alcohols save for some vitamin/nutritional stores that may carry it but it is effortless to locate online. Erythritol is good to use in combination with a low GI-Index sweetener, I.e. agave nectar, for those with sugar issues or simply to replace half of the sugar content for a healthier baked product. It works the same, never had a difficulty yet and its cheaper than Stevia.

Sugar & Sugar Free Substitutes (after you throw out the aspartame and splenda):
- Stevia
- Erythritol (
- Agave Nectar (use half of what is called for in the recipe due to sweetness)
- Honey
- 100% Fruit Juices
- Mild/Light Molasses

Dairy Substitutes
When I found out I was lactose intolerant, I admit, I cried. I love my cheese and yogurt. I was never a milk fan because it caused acid in my stomach (for the obvious reason and never knew why) but I always, always loved my yogurt and cheeses. After I found out I should also avoid large amounts of soy, I found almond milk and fell in love. Almond milk is a fantastic product, healthier than rice milk (and much better tasting than), and contains a great source of protein. Now, if only they made almond milk yogurt. Soy milk, again, my favorite brand is 8th Continent and I love the stuff but I just limit myself to tofu, tempeh, and edamame when it comes to soy with the occasional GF certified TVP. There are numerous products on the market to accommodate those who suffer from lactose intolerance, but, be very very cautious. Why? 80% of those who suffer from a lactose intolerance, also suffer from a casein intolerance. Casein is the predominant phosphoprotein in the milk itself which is similar to gluten, thus, those who are gluten intolerant are more likely to be casein intolerant and lactose intolerant - WHICH SUCKS. Sorry.

Anyway, the problem with dairy-free alternatives on the market is that they usually contain trivial amounts of milk fat or still contain casein, so, those who are only primarily allergic to the lactose can have these soy alternatives providing they don’t have a soy allergy or nut allergy. The nut-based dairy alternatives don’t contain any casein or milk products so that would be the best bet unless you’re allergic to tree nuts. If that’s the case, go for the rice milk or hemp milk. There’s oat milk too but uh if you’re allergic to gluten and casein, you should avoid most oat products. No matter what they say, I’m too chicken to try gluten free oats. In baking and cooking, most dairy free milk products work just the same.

And if you are primarily and only lactose intolerant, you may be able to digest goat’s milk due to the dissimilarities to the protein base. I tried it but since I have an allergy to the casein, it presents the similar effects.

-- Almond Milk (Use if allergic to: soy, oat/gluten, lactose, casein)
-- Rice Milk (Use if allergic to: soy, oat/gluten, lactose, nuts, casein)
-- Oat Milk (Use if allergic to lactose, nuts, soy, casein)
-- Rice Milk (Use if allergic to lactose, nuts, gluten/oat, soy, casein)
-- Goat Milk (Use if allergic to soy, nuts, lactose, oat/gluten)
-- Coconut Milk (Use if allergic to lactose, nuts, gluten/oat, soy, casein)
- Cheese
-- Soy based Cream Cheeses (Caution with casein & milk fat content)
-- Rice based shredded cheese and soy shredded cheese
-- Rice, almond, and soy sliced cheese
-- Nut based homemade cheese sauces
-- Rice, soy, and almond cheese blocks
- Ice Cream
-- Soy based ice cream
-- Coconut milk based ice cream
-- Water based sorbets
-- Rice based ice cream (Note: Some rice based ice creams are made with brown rice syrup which was fermented over barley; celiac be weary)
- Yogurt
-- Soy based yogurt
-- Coconut Milk based yogurt
- Butter/Margarine
-- Oil
-- Vegetable lard (I.e. Crisco - great pies, btw)
-- Animal fat
-- Nut butters
-- Sunbutter
-- Tahini (Sesame Seeds)
-- Coconut butter
-- Soy Butter
-- Rice Butter (May contain casein)
- Other
-- Soy based sour cream
-- Nutritional Yeast homemade sauces

For more information about dairy free alternatives, feel free to email me.

Soy Substitutes
The discovery of the soy bean was to some individuals the discovery of the century. People proclaim the benefits of soy over the rooftops and preach its exquisite taste. I love soy but, again, everything in moderation. To some people soy is a wondrous product while to others soy can be just as deadly and lethal as gluten or dairy. Yes, is considered one of the ‘big eight’ food allergies along with egg, peanut, tree nut, seafood, shellfish, and wheat. The reaction is similar to that of gluten, if not worse, where an extreme case can send people into an anaphylactic shock. The symptoms can occur days after soy consumption and some studies suggest that the consumption of soy over a large period of time may cause breast cancer in women. It is yet to be 100% proven true but it is speculated.

It isn’t hard to find a substitute for soy products if you do not have a primary or secondary allergy but - yes, the but - read the warning labels for ingredients because a vast amount of prepackaged frozen dinners (gross!) and a slew of products are processed on machinery that also processes soy containing products.

- Protein
-- Seitan (If you aren’t allergic to wheat or gluten)
-- Mushrooms (contain more protein than you think)
-- Lean poultry, fish, legumes, & lentils
-- Quinoa (contains a lot of protein)
-- Cheese & Dairy (If you aren’t lactose/casein intolerant)
- Milk
(See Dairy Alternatives)
Soy Sauce
-- 100% Soy Free Substitute
-- Fish Sauce (if you aren’t allergic to seafood)

Egg Substitutions
Not as incredible to some as to others, egg allergies do exist Just as similar with gluten, the egg becomes the infiltrator of the body and the immune system sounds the alert and attacks. Symptoms vary from moderate to severe including but not limited to flu-like symptoms, skin breakouts, GI distress, and respiratory interruptions. How can one be allergic to the egg? Well, think of it this way. Just as someone is allergic to the proteins in milk people can be allergic to the proteins in the egg, the white in particular. I, personally, don’t like the white if it is undercooked which is why I low-fat pan fry most of my eggs or cook my eggs to the crispy point.

No matter the purpose of your egg-substitute search (be it do to allergies or meat avoidance), below is a list of substitutions to use in baking and cooking.

- Tofu
- Chickpea flour/besan
- Polenta
Egg Wash
- Nondairy or dairy milk
- Melted margarine or non-dairy margarine
- Oil with a little water
- Mayonnaise - Vegenaise, Nayonaise, or homemade tofu-based spread

For Baking (All equivalent to 1 egg)
- Ener-G’s Egg Replacer (Read box for instructions)
- Orgran No Egg (Read box for instructions)
- ¼ cup pureed Silken tofu - ¼ cup mashed potatoes- ¼ cup canned pumpkin or squash- ¼ cup puréed prunes- 2 tbsp water + 1 Tbsp. oil + 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tbsp unflavored gelatin dissolved into 1 tbsp cold water + 2 tbsp boiling water and beat until frothy- 1 tbsp ground flax seed + 3 Tbsp warm water- 2 tbsp potato starch
- 1 tbsp cornstarch + 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp arrowroot flour + 3 tbsp water
- 1 tsp baking soda + 1 tbsp vinegar
- 1 tbsp agar agar dissolved in water
- ¼ cup tomato puree

No matter how many physicians preach that seafood is best for you, it isn’t going to be if you swell up like a balloon from eating crab or tuna. About 3% of the American population is allergic to seafood and shellfish. Unlike eggs or wheat, however, seafood is rather easy to avoid by simply not eating seafood or shellfish, period. There are trivial amount of products that have specific fish ingredients on the market but it is labeled accordingly via the FDA food label. The greatest hazard of having a shellfish/seafood allergy is upon dining out, especially with a grill. A person may be allergic to one type of fish and not another but if you are uncertain, I wouldn’t take the risk.

Common products that contain seafood/shellfish are:
- Worcestershire sauce
- Steak sauce
- Caesar dressing
- Roe/Caviar
- Surimi - Imitation crab based on Pollock
- Fish Sauce
- Certain pasta sauces

Again, carefully read the labels and avoid the obvious locations of cross contamination since that is the main cause of getting an allergic reaction. There is also the possibility of being allergic to iodine which upon ingesting fish, you would react according to the iodine level in that particular species. If you believe you are allergic to iodine, go to your local lab or consult a physician to get tested.

Now onto the subject of Carrageenan AKA Irish Moss. Carrageenan is a gelatinous extract of seaweed that is found in many foods and capsulated supplements on the market much like agar-agar working as a food stabilizer. Studies have proven thatis no connection between seafood allergies and the consumption of carrageenan so rest at ease.

Wheat/Flour Substitutes
Long long ago in various countries across the world, man unearthed one day that bread ailed him. But, how can one get sick from bread? Bread is life according to the bible, bread is the near global staple, crops of wheat consumed half of the US eons ago - how can one not eat bread? I can’t and many others exist out there. There are two types of this allergy - full blown celiac’s disease and a wheat allergy.

Celiac/coeliac/koliac is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that is DNA destined effecting anyone at any age at any given time. It can be considered a silent killer or a merciless killer slayer. Those who suffer with celiac’s disease have symptoms of chronic diarrhea, growth defects, fatigue, hives, weight loss, abdominal pain, cramps, mouth ulcers, constipation - the list is nearly endless with secondary disorders that can possibly follow. There is no cure but there is hope because others do exist and the recognition of celiac’s disease and autoimmune disorders is growing; yet, physicians fail to see the light. It can take up to three years for a person to get diagnosed, even longer if the individual starts a gluten free diet prior to testing. There are various forms of testing available (an endoscopy & biospy, blood tests and genetic testing) as well as several levels of intolerance (positive positive, false positive, and false negative).

The main difference between those with a wheat allergy and celiac’s disease are that the prior can outgrow their allergy (its more common in children) or eventually be able to tolerate small amounts of wheat. They are not allergic to the gluten proteins but to the wheat itself. Tests can reveal if the condition is full blown celiac’s disease or a wheat allergy.

In both cases, Foods & Ingredients to avoid are:
Abyssinian Hard (Wheat triticum durum)
Alcohol (Spirits - Specific Types)
Amp-Isostearoyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Barley Grass (can contain seeds)
Barley Hordeum vulgare
Barley Malt
Bleached Flour
Blue Cheese (made with bread) Bran
Bread Flour
Brewers Yeast
Brown Flour
Bulgur (Bulgar Wheat/Nuts)
Bulgur Wheat
Cereal Binding
Club Wheat (Triticum aestivum subspecies compactum)
Common Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Disodium Wheatgermamido Peg-2 Sulfosuccinate
Durum wheat (Triticum durum)
Edible Starch
Einkorn (Triticum monococcum)
Emmer (Triticum dicoccon)
Farina Graham Filler
Flour (normally this is wheat)
Fu (dried wheat gluten)
Graham Flour
Granary Flour
Groats (barley, wheat)
Ground Spices
Hard Wheat
Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Pg-Propyl Silanetriol
Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch
Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Kamut (Pasta wheat)
Malt Extract
Malt Syrup
Malt Flavoring
Malt Vinegar
Macha Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Matzo Semolina
Oriental Wheat (Triticum turanicum)
Pearl Barley
Persian Wheat (Triticum carthlicum)
Poulard Wheat (Triticum turgidum)
Polish Wheat (Triticum polonicum)
Rice Malt or Syrup (if barley or Koji are used)
Semolina Triticum
Shot Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Shoyu (soy sauce)
Smoke Flavoring
Soba Noodles
Soy Sauce
Stock Cubes
Small Spelt
Spirits (Specific Types)
Spelt (Triticum spelta)
Sprouted Wheat or Barley
Stearyldimoniumhydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Strong Flour
Suet in Packets
Teriyaki Sauce
Textured Vegetable Protein - TVP (If nto certified GF)
Timopheevi Wheat (Triticum timopheevii)
Triticale X triticosecale
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Flour Lipids
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil
Udon (wheat noodles)
Unbleached Flour
Vavilovi Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Vegetable Starch
Wheat, Abyssinian Hard triticum durum
Wheat amino acids
Wheat Bran Extract
Wheat, Bulgur
Wheat Durum Triticum
Wheat Germ Extract
Wheat Germ Glycerides
Wheat Germ Oil
Wheat Germamidopropyldimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed
Wheat Protein
Wheat Grass (can contain seeds)
Wheat Nuts
Wheat Protein

Wheat Starch

Wheat Triticum aestivum
Wheat Triticum Monococcum
Wheat (Triticum Vulgare) Bran Extract
Whole-Meal Flour
Wild Einkorn (Triticum boeotictim)
Wild Emmer (Triticum dicoccoides)

It’s long, isn’t it? A diet of gluten free is basically a non-processed food diet. No more TV dinners, no more prepackaged mixes, and no more instant meals. To some, it may appear restrictive but to others, it’s an open portal. Think of all the things you crave to experiment with now and all the foods you aren’t even thought of trying. Baking and cooking will take more practice but, after all, practice makes perfect. I will provide a list of items that I use daily for my needs in hopes that you can find some assistance. If you do need more advice, feel free to drop me a line - I love getting mail.

Gluten Free Basic Food Substitutions
- Mochiko Rice Flour
- Bob’s Red Mill
-- Coconut Flour
-- Brown Rice Flour
-- Xanthan Gum
- Garbanzo Bean Flour (From local Indian Market)
- Cornstarch
- Potato Starch
- Tapioca Starch
- Arrowhead Mills
-- Cornmeal
-- Soy Flour
-- Buckwheat Flour
- Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes

- White Jasmine Rice
- Short Grain Brown Rice
- Red Rice (Asian Market Brand)
- Quinoa (regular and red)
- Millet (I love millet..)
- Buckwheat Groats

- Tinkyada - This is the only pasta brand I found I seriously like. It tastes like pasta and cooks just like pasta.

- Maple Grove Farms (Company also has a good variety of GF products)
-- Fat Free Balsamic Vinaigrette
-- Maple Grove Farms Maple Syrup
- Soy Sauce
- Braggs Liquid Amino Acids
(I like this far better than standard soy sauce. Less sodium, good flavor, better for you.)
- Peanut Butter
-- Better ‘n Peanut Butter, Low Sodium
- Mayonnaise
-- Hellman’s Light Mayonnaise

Non-Dairy Dairy
- Milk
- Almond Breeze
- Margarine
-- Smart Balance
- Cream Cheese
-- Tofutti Cream Cheese (Love this stuff!)
- Shredded & Sliced
-- Yet to find one I like..

The list will grow when I think of things or find out new products. I’m always willing to experiment, open to suggestions, and almost always hungry.

Happy and safe eating!

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