Allergen friendly ingredient substitutions

Javier Zayas-Bazan, MD

Javier Zayas-Bazan, MD, Associate Director HonorHealth – Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center – Heuser Family Medicine Program

I love to cook at home and have 5 or 6 shelves full of cookbooks and binders I have made with recipes and notes. My inspiration comes from my 6-year old who has several food allergies. I’m helping my daughter live as normal a life as possible while navigating her extensive food allergies. I prefer to take recipes that I like and make substitutions to make them allergen friendly using common ingredient substitutions. Try these trustworthy brands that are sure to help you and your family live as normal a life as possible in the kitchen. Be sure to check out a few of my favorite recipes and try them at home.

Allergen friendly ingredient substitutions:

Milk – cow milk substitutes abound include soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk and rice milk. Many of these substitutes may alter the flavor of food with the exception of rice milk (which does not have a lot of fat though and can affect the consistency of certain dishes). Heavy cream in dishes can get tricky. There is a product called DariFree that I will sometimes use to make my own heavy cream (add hot water to this powder and mix) but I tend to avoid heavy cream containing dishes.

Soy sauce – Try Coconut Aminos (available at Sprouts and Whole Foods). It tastes the same as soy sauce in dishes and has allowed me to make stir frys and many other dishes I previously had to avoid. Make sure you read labels when buying packaged foods at the store. Many products use soy lecithin to preserve flavor or keep oils and water from separating in packaged foods. Many people with soy allergies tolerate this in small quantities but some do not so make sure to read those labels. Go here for details.

Eggs – ¼ cup apple sauce can be used to substitute for one egg in baking or when mixing in other dishes.

Peanut butter – many schools these days have policies against peanut containing products, including peanut butter, due to children with a peanut allergy. My child used to be among those kids until she grew out of it and began to tolerate peanuts. Almond butter (we use Barney Butter smooth – available at most stores) has a different flavor than peanuts but is great for sandwiches. Other nut-free alternatives include sunflower seed butter (closest in flavor and texture to peanut butter) and soybean butter.

CheeseDaiya makes a variety of dairy-free items such as cream cheeze, cheezy mac, and cheezecake which we use frequently as cheese on our pizzas (cheddar, mozzarella) and taquitos, etc. They also make their own brand of gluten-free, dairy-free frozen pizza. Sometimes it is more fun though to grab pizza crusts from the store (gluten-free if needed) and put the pizzas together at home with the kids.

Gluten-free pastas – there are a lot of options for gluten-free pastas these days and spaghetti is an easy dinner to prepare for the busy parent at the end of a long day. I used to have issues with my gluten-free pastas clumping, turning into a big ball of mush or just not tasting good. I came across Tinkyada brand pasta however and have never looked back. Tinkyada makes brown rice pasta in several varieties (spaghetti, linguine, spirals, shells, elbow pasta, etc.). It tastes like real pasta and does not clump like other brands I have tried. This has allowed me to make countless numbers of pasta dishes for the kids with little fuss and no complaints.

Gluten-free breads – There are several brands of Gluten-Free bread available these days including Udi’s which is widely available in most stores. Canyon Bakehouse, which is available at Sprouts, Whole Foods, Target and several other places, makes gluten-free versions of white bread, 7-grain bread, cinnamon raisin bread, bagels, hot dog buns, hamburger buns, and several more products. This is the closest thing we have found to real bread and the kids love to eat their peanut butter (or almond butter) and jelly sandwiches with it almost every day.