Food allergies are becoming more prevalent. They affect approximately five percent of children under five and four percent of adults and teenagers. Allergies involving food can be very challenging to deal with, especially for those with young children.
Allergic reactions result from an immune response wherein your body identifies a substance as harmful. Symptoms include itching, swelling, and shortness of breath. Severe reactions can be life-threatening.
If you or your child have an allergy, it’s essential to avoid the food that causes it. Therefore, it’s useful to know how to replace food that provokes an allergic reaction. We’ve put together these suggestions to help you find solutions for your family.
There are lots of possible alternatives to cow’s milk. Extracts from the following plants can be adequate substitutes:
- Macadamia Nuts
Options like soy, cashew, hazelnut, and macadamia nut milk may cause allergies for some people. Make sure you test them in small amounts first or talk with your allergist before trying them.
You can choose the alternative you like the most, but some experts believe that coconut milk is the best replacement. Coconuts are free of lactose, grains, soy, and nuts, so they work for people who suffer from multiple allergies.
Coconut milk is high in fat, but research has shown it reduces the harmful type of cholesterol (LDL) and increases the beneficial kind (HDL.) It contains less protein and calcium than cow’s milk, though, so you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough of these nutrients from other sources.
Wheat flour substitutes for baking are easy to find. Some of the most popular wheat and gluten-free flours are coconut, almond, spelt, oat, and rice flours.
Coconut flour is rich in healthy fats and fiber content. The body harvests its bountiful energy reserves, and it can support a healthy metabolism. It also helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
Almond meal is an excellent source of minerals like potassium, calcium, copper, manganese, and magnesium. It also contains L-arginine: an amino acid that helps improve blood flow and stimulate insulin production. Almond flour can also help lower cholesterol.
If you’re looking for a wheat pasta substitute, you might want to try noodles made from brown rice or quinoa. Both have textures similar to that of traditional pasta.
You should also be able to find gluten-free bread. These typically combine ingredients like chickpeas, millet, rice, potato, buckwheat, and tapioca flours, all of which are safe alternatives for people with wheat allergies.
Many baking recipes include eggs as a leavening or binding agent. There are several different substitutes you can try:
- 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed or chia seed plus 3 tablespoons of water
- 2 tablespoons of a fruit puree like applesauce or mashed bananas
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda plus 1 tablespoon of vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of unflavored gelatin dissolved in 1 tablespoon of cold water, plus 2 tablespoons of boiling water
- 1 tablespoon of agar-agar mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
- ¼ cup of pureed silken tofu
- ¼ cup of buttermilk or yogurt
- ¼ cup of carbonated water
You can also find commercial egg substitutes online and in many supermarkets. They contain powder typically derived from potatoes and tapioca plus leavening agents. You mix the powder with water in the proportions indicated on the package.
If your recipe calls for only egg whites or just yolks, the following are viable alternatives:
- Whites – 3 tablespoons of aquafaba (the thick liquid left over after cooking beans or legumes)
- Yolks – 1 tablespoon of soy lecithin
Peanut butter is a staple sandwich filling for many Americans, and it has a special place in the hearts of many kids. If you’re dealing with a peanut allergy, almond butter is a great alternative – as long as you’re not also allergic to tree nuts.
Almonds have many health benefits. They’re low in harmful fatty acids and high in beneficial ones. Their fiber content also helps you feel full for longer.
If you do have an allergy to tree nuts, sunflower seed butter could be the best alternative. It contains healthy fats and proteins, plus vitamin E and magnesium.
Soybeans are often a significant protein source for vegetarians or vegans, who often use them as a meat substitute. If you don’t eat animal protein and have a soy allergy, you can substitute them for the following high protein foods:
- Legumes, such as lentils
- Grains like quinoa
Many people like the flavor and dense texture of lentils, while quinoa is one of the healthiest grains available. Recipes with quinoa typically take little time to prepare, as it cooks in just 15 minutes.
Nuts make healthy snacks because of their high omega-3 fatty acid content. If you’re allergic to them, however, you can still get the omega-3 you need from:
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
People who are allergic to tree nuts may also have reactions to seeds. That’s why you should check with your allergist before trying seeds as a nut substitute.
Fish and Shellfish
Finned fish and shellfish are excellent sources of both protein and omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re allergic to these, you can get enough protein from other sources like:
- Yogurt and kefir
- Lean meats (grass-fed is best)
- Poultry (organic when possible)
- Plant products like beans and lentils
You can satisfy your need for omega-3 fatty acids by consuming:
Food allergies have become increasingly pervasive in society, so it’s essential to understand what substitutes are available. Cow’s milk, wheat, eggs, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish are among the most common foods that cause reactions. Fortunately, grocery and health food stores now sell excellent alternatives to help you get adequate nutrition from a wider variety of sources.