Food Allergen-Free Substitutes for Your Kitchen

Tasty Alternatives for Common Food Allergies

Food Allergen-Free Substitutes for Your Kitchen

When you have a serious food allergy, you might sometimes feel frustrated about your dietary options. Many condiments and prepared foods are off-limits, and it can be difficult finding recipes and ingredients that work with your diet.  

Thankfully, there are an increasing number of alternatives that are delicious and healthy.  

The Top 8 Food Allergies in the United States 

In the United States, our top food allergies include: 

  • Peanuts 
  • Tree Nuts 
  • Milk 
  • Eggs 
  • Wheat 
  • Shellfish 
  • Soybeans 

Combined, 90% of all food allergies involve these eight foods. For this reason, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires food manufacturers to post allergen notices for these foods on all processed food products. 

Exposure to a food allergen can lead to a variety of symptoms. While many food allergies are relatively minor, causing hives, an upset stomach, or wheezing, others are life-threatening. For some people, any exposure to a food allergen can result in anaphylactic shock, a potentially fatal condition. For this reason, you should never ignore someone’s food allergies. 

Learn How to Read Food Labels 

Most food manufacturers must list all major food allergens on their labels. This can be done in several ways: 

  • Listing an ingredient by its common name (“shrimp”) 
  • Putting the allergen in parentheses (“whey (milk)”) 
  • Providing a “contains” statement next to the ingredient list (“This product contains tree nuts.”) 

While many manufacturers issue advisory warnings about cross-contact (“This product might contain peanuts.”), they are not mandatory. 

Peanuts and Tree Nuts Alternatives 

Between 1997 and 2007, the number of children with peanut and tree nut allergies tripled in the United States. Peanuts and tree nuts are different substances. Peanuts are legumes, while tree nuts include almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pine nuts. However, peanut and tree nut allergies both can cause life-threatening anaphylaxis.  

While some people are allergic to both peanuts and tree nuts, others only need to avoid one of these allergens. However, you should always look for risks of cross-contact. Many facilities process both peanuts and tree nuts. You should also avoid getting food from places with increased risks of cross-contact, such as bakeries, ice cream shops, buffets, salad bars, and bulk good stores. 

If you’re allergic to both peanuts and tree nuts, you can still safely eat seeds and seed butter. Popular substitutes include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, sunflower butter, and soy butter. 

Avoiding Milk  

There are a wide variety of milk substitutes, including coconut, soy, almond, hemp, and rice milk. However, milk proteins are common ingredients in many foods. The following products frequently contain milk products: 

  • Processed meats, such as hot dogs, lunch meat, and breaded meats 
  • Muffins, cakes, cookies, pancakes, waffles, and other baked goods 
  • High-protein cereals 
  • Egg substitutes 
  • Salad dressing and mayonnaise 
  • Margarine and other butter substitutes 
  • Chocolate and caramel 

When in doubt, look for kosher foods listed as “pareve” or “parve.” These should not contain milk products. 

Egg Substitutes 

There are a lot of egg substitutes on the market, but some are best used for baking rather than making an omelet or a quiche. For baking, you can substitute the following for eggs: 

  • Applesauce 
  • Bananas 
  • Commercial egg substitutes 
  • Ground flaxseed or chia seed 
  • Gelatin 
  • A combination of baking powder, oil, and water 

You’ll want to think about why you’re adding eggs to a recipe. People add eggs for flavor, leavening, binding, and other purposes. Depending on the purpose, you’ll want to use a different substitute.  

For cooking, you can use silken tofu and chickpea flour for egg-free scrambles, omelets, and other dishes. For custards and puddings, consider replacing eggs with agar powder or coconut milk. 

When you’re buying prepared foods, be particularly careful when you get baked goods, salad dressings, breaded meats, meatballs (many recipes use egg as a binder), pudding, custard, and ice cream.  

Going Gluten- and Wheat-Free 

Wheat-free and gluten-free diets are not the same. Gluten is a sticky protein that makes baked goods stretch and pull apart.

Make sure you understand your exact sensitivity — if you’re only allergic to wheat, you might be able to eat rye and spelt. However, if you have celiac disease, a wheat-free product could still trigger your symptoms.

 Thankfully, there are many wheat-free and gluten-free options in your grocery store.  

For home cooking, try alternative flours, such as tapioca, rice, oat, and almond. Pure cornmeal and potato starch are also wheat-free. 


You might think that shellfish are relatively easy to avoid. However, many condiments and prepared foods contain shellfish-based ingredients.

 Don’t assume that “imitation crab,” sometimes called surimi, is shellfish-free. Instead, look at the product’s ingredients to determine whether the manufacturer uses shellfish in its recipe.

 You should also carefully check the ingredient list on fish sauces. Kosher foods should not contain shellfish. 

You can always replace shellfish with other lean proteins or mushrooms (such as oyster or shitake mushrooms). 


Americans eat a lot of soy, and a soy allergy requires a lot of diligence. Most prepared and process foods contain soy. Thankfully, most soy allergies are relatively mild. Depending on your purpose, your soybean alternatives might include: 

  • Coconut aminos, instead of soy sauce 
  • Chickpea or adzuki bean-based miso 
  • Lima or fava beans, rather than edamame 
  • Quinoa or coarse bulgur, instead of soy-based meat substitutes 

While processed soy oils typically do not trigger an allergic reaction, it is possible. 

Aim for a Nutritionally-Balanced Diet 

The food substitutes listed above aren’t always nutritionally equivalent to the allergens they replace. For example, some milk alternatives contain large amounts of carbohydrates and less protein than cow milk. You should carefully look at your substitute’s nutritional labeling and adjust your diet to compensate for its levels of carbs, protein, and nutrients. 

Try to aim for a well-balanced diet. If you’re concerned about your nutrition or need help creating a better dietary plan, ask your primary care provider for a referral to a registered dietician within Canopy Health’s alliance. (To find a primary care provider or immunologist, search our physician database.) 

Canopy Health: Partners in Your Health and Wellness 

Canopy Health is committed to our members’ health and wellness. Our alliance contains respected allergists and immunologists, registered dieticians, and other specialists. For more information about our network of medical providers, contact us online or by calling 888-8-CANOPY. 


Food Allergy Research & Education. Facts and statistics. Retrieved from


Tips for Allergy-Free Cooking

Food Allergen-Free Substitutes for Your Kitchen

Planning meals around food allergens, whether for you or your child, doesn’t have to be complicated and stressful. All it takes is certain kitchen organization tactics and some simple food swaps.

Any food could provoke an allergic reaction, says Matthew Greenhawt, MD, an allergist at the University of Michigan Allergy Clinic and an assistant professor at the division of allergy and immunology with the University of Michigan Health Center in Ann Arbor. But he says eight foods account for 90 percent of food allergies: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy.

It’s rare, but some people, especially children and young adults, can have a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) if they come in contact with these foods. So you want to keep them not only dishes you prepare, but also away from “safe” foods to avoid cross-contamination.

Food Swaps for Allergy-Free Cooking

Here are simple allergy-free food replacements that work well with many recipes:

Milk. This one’s easy, says Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDE, a dietitian in the Los Angeles area and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. You can substitute equal amounts of water or juice for milk in most baked goods. Another option is rice milk or almond milk, if there's no allergy to almonds.

Eggs. If you're baking a recipe that calls for up to three eggs, substitute 1 tablespoon baking powder plus 1 tablespoon of any liquid or water plus 1 tablespoon of vinegar for each egg.

Another option is half of a mashed medium banana or ¼ cup applesauce for 1 egg. “Mashed banana or applesauce works if it’s a sweet baked product,” Sheth says. You may want to use 1 to 2 tablespoons less sugar than the original recipe calls for to avoid too much sweetness.

In a savory baked dish, the fruit's sweetness may throw off the intended taste of the food, she says. In this case, try 3 tablespoons warm water and 1 tablespoon ground white chia seed meal for each egg. This makes a gel- mixture that substitutes well for an egg.

Because eggs are a leavening agent that helps baked goods rise, you may need to add ¼ to ¾ teaspoon baking powder or baking soda to compensate when you leave eggs out. Caution: Too much leavening agent can leave a bitter taste, so you may need to experiment for just the right amount.

Wheat or flour. If the recipe calls for 1 cup of wheat flour, you can substitute: ? cup rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, or ? cup potato starch.

These are all good choices for a gluten-free diet, too. Experiment with the different options to find the texture you best.

Nuts. Nuts are often optional in recipes, Sheth says, so you can simply eliminate them. Unless there's a seed allergy, seeds can give you crunch and some nutty flavor, she says. Try poppy, flax, and sesame seeds.

When making these substitutes in baked goods, you may need to adjust the cooking temperature or time. For example, when using applesauce in place of eggs, the temperature of your oven may need to be lowered by about 25 degrees. Check for doneness periodically and note if you needed to cook it for a shorter or longer period than the original recipe stated.

How to Give Your Kitchen an Allergy-Friendly Makeover

Cooking for loved ones with food allergies also takes organization. Use these tips to create allergy-free zones in your kitchen:

Give allergy-free “top” priority. Designate a shelf in your cupboard and refrigerator for allergy-free foods. Choose high shelves to prevent allergens from accidentally falling down onto allergy-free foods.

Have two of everything. This includes utensils and plates, toasters, cutting boards, and baking pans. One set is designated for those who have allergies, and the other is for those who don’t.

Color-code these kitchen items so no mistakes are made.

“Having separate cookware increases the confidence that your allergy-safe foods won’t come in contact with allergens,” says Teresa Schwartz, RD, dietitian at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Cook non-allergic foods first. When preparing meals for people with food allergies, cook that food first. Cover tightly and set aside. This step helps ensure that the food prepared for loved ones with allergies doesn’t inadvertently get contaminated.

Clean with care. Be sure to wash all dishes and pans you used for preparing allergy-free and regular foods in hot, soapy water. Even if you use a dishwasher, carefully rinse all dishes before loading them to keep bits of dried allergenic foods from sticking to allergy-free dishes.


Substitutes For Common Food Allergies

Food Allergen-Free Substitutes for Your Kitchen

Food allergies can be a real drag when you’re in culinary academy or you’re just a foodie who loves to try new things. You may feel there are so many dishes that you don’t get to experience due to your food allergy or intolerance.

This doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, most foods that people are commonly allergic to have alternatives that are just as delicious. Next time you’re thinking of nixing a dish because of a certain ingredient, try an alternative.

Many people suffer from wheat allergies or gluten intolerance, which can make baking a real drag. Flour is a common ingredient found in almost every pastry. However, tapioca or rice flour can do the trick just as well. Pasta is fairly easy to substitute for, as well. Just look for rice pasta or try your recipe with quinoa instead of noodles.

Soy comes in many forms, but one of the most popular is tofu. This meat substitute can wreak havoc on those with a soy intolerance, though. Ricotta cheese mimics the texture of tofu and can be used in just about any recipe that calls for the protein.

Peanut allergies are one of the most dangerous allergies, because they can cause anaphylaxis, closing off a person’s airways.

It’s a good idea for people to stay away from nuts in general if they’re allergic to peanuts, but that doesn’t mean they have to go without crunch. Add some seeds, sunflower or pumpkin to recipes that call for peanuts.

Many of these come in butter form as well, so you don’t have to go without “peanut” butter and jelly sandwiches!

People may be allergic to citrus or simply unable to enjoy it due to acid reflux. Many cocktails are made with citrus ingredients, but can easily be made with other fruits berries or juices apple. If you’re looking to mimic the acidity of citrus in your recipes, an acidic white wine is a nice substitute.

Substituting goat’s milk for cow’s milk isn’t usually acceptable for people who are lactose intolerant. Most “dairy-free” products are made with some sort of milk substitute. There are countless possibilities, however. Soy, rice and oat milk have been noted as the most similar in taste and consistency. These can be used in any recipe that calls for milk.

If a recipe calls for more than three eggs per batch, an egg substitute doesn’t usually work as well as eggs would. For recipes that don’t need as many eggs, though, there are multiple options.

If you’re baking and need egg as a binding agent, try substituting a half of a mashed banana or a 1/4 cup of applesauce per egg. If you’re cooking, try a gelatin blend or ground flax seed mix. If eggs are used in your recipe as a leavening agent, try a mixture of 1.

5 tablespoons of vegetable oil mixed with 1.5 tablespoons of water and one teaspoon of baking powder for each egg.


10 Food Allergy Books and Cookbooks To Know

Food Allergen-Free Substitutes for Your Kitchen

There’s so much talent within the food allergy community, from writing to recipe development, to photography, and more. In this post I share a list of some incredible food allergy cookbooks and lifestyle books. I’ve broken them down into categories, so they are presented in no particular rank or order.

And don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new book, Everyone’s Welcome! In Canada (here or here) and in the US (here and here and here)

Desserts and Baking

Nutritionally Nicole’s Allergy Friendly Holiday Sweets
Format: ebook
Buy Link:
Blog Link: Nutritionally Nicole
Number of Pages: 15
Free From: All recipes are free from dairy, eggs, peanut, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.

Number of Recipes: 13
I Baked: Orange Pillow Cookies, page 11
Review: Nicole’s ebook is ideal for any home baker, especially around the holidays. It’s a well curated collection of simple, tasty recipes that are made with easy-to-find ingredients and without complicated steps.

Although branded as a book for the holidays, it would suit all year round. Snippets of her Italian heritage can be found throughout, from pillow cookies (just my Nonna makes), to pizzelle, and biscotti. These recipes sit alongside classics chocolate chip cookies and cranberry orange muffins.

Nicole’s list of allergies is very similar to my own, and I found very little to no substitutions were required on my end. Her list of trusted brands is very handy too. The photography is light and airy, just the pillow cookies I whipped up in under a half hour.

I found her instructions clear and easy to follow, making it ideal for families (with young kids) who to bake together. When sharing my cookies with a friend, she declared they were “so decadent”, a wonderful compliment!

Nina Modak’s Chocolate Treats
Format: Paperback
Buy Link:
Blog Link: https://www.eatallergysafe.

Number of Pages: 106
Free From: All recipes are free from wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soya, sesame, lupin and of course crustaceans, fish, molluscs, sulphites, celery & mustard.

Number of Recipes: 25
I Baked: Sweet Potato Brownies
Review: Nina seriously knows her chocolate. The recipes in this book are diverse and indulgent. As I sifted through it deciding which recipes to bake (it was difficult to decide), I imagined that her friends and family must have loved being taste testers.

I think this book is wonderful for families or individuals who manage celiac disease in addition to food allergies. If you love British-isms, you’ll love this book even more. For example, her recipe for “tray bakes” which we call “sheet cakes” in NA.

Doesn’t a tray bake just sound so much nicer? Canadians often switch between imperial and metric measurement systems, but if you are used to imperial it would be helpful to do all your conversions before you begin baking. This book is really special and has a sweet treat for literally every occasion.

Slow Cooking and Instant Pot

Allergy Awesomeness’s An Allergy Mom’s Lifesaving Instant Pot Cookbook
Format: paperback
Buy Link:

Blog LInk: https://allergyawesomeness.

Number of Pages: 144
Free From:
top 8 allergens
Number of Recipes:
Because I own neither an Instant Pot, nor a slow cooker/crock pot, or pressure cooker, I wasn’t able to cook from this book. But I think we all know how lovely and delicious Megan’s recipes are, and that they all come from the heart. These family-friendly meals will be a total lifesaver any night of the week, and I love that you can just set it and forget it in the Instant Pot.

Meal Planning/ Everyday Cooking

Corinna of The Friendly Pantry’s Weeknight Allergy Busters
Buy Link:
Blog Link:

Free From:
Top allergen flexible
Number of Recipes:
3 weeks worth of weeknight recipes
I love that Corinna’s book is allergy flexible. Many of us have allergies to some combination of top allergens and gluten, but might not want to avoid other top allergens that are safe for us.

This book provides many substitutions and ingredient options so that you can cater the meal to your dietary needs. I really that her recipes are so simple and nutritious. For example the pumpkin seed dip was delicious and so versatile; it can be combined into many recipes outside of the ones in this book too.

The book was designed as a meal plan with families in mind, so each recipe is portioned accordingly and the ingredients are easy to shop for. A must-have for food allergy families.

The Kitchen Alchemist Cookbook
Format: paperback, black and white
Buy Link:

Blog Link:

Number of pages:
Free From:
top allergens as indicated per recipe
Number of Recipes:
Frances Castelli is a very active member of the food allergy community, and a dedicated allergy mom and FA advocate.

You can feel her passion and experience when reading this book. The majority of the text focuses on her personal story and journey as a food allergy mom, with 30 bonus recipes at the back for your family to enjoy.

I appreciate that she included a section about how to take care of yourself when your kids have food allergies, because it is a very stressful load to bear. For a family that is new to food allergy, this book would be a comfort as we all know how it feels to connect with a person, blog post, or book, who just “gets it”.

Allergy Hospitality
Format: spiral bound
Buy Link:
Blog Link:

Number of pages:
Free From:
top 10 allergens plus corn, oats, yeast, coconut, chocolate,and refined sugar
Number of Recipes:
many of the food allergy cookbooks on the market, this one was written by a busy allergy mom! And it includes her backstory about why she decided to create such an inclusive cookbook for other families her own. She provides a detailed list of the products she uses which is helpful for beginners or those who are unsure how to stock their pantry. The recipes are extremely simple and designed to feed a hungry family!

Dairy Free

Alisa Fleming’s Eat Dairy Free (also see Go Dairy Free)
Format: paperback
Buy Link:

Blog Link:

Number of pages:
Free From:
dairy, with options for egg/soy/gluten/peanut free
Number of Recipes:
I’m a huge fan of the Go Dairy Free blog, and of Alisa’s books.

Eat Dairy Free is intended for those who either have to avoid dairy due to allergy, or who choose to avoid dairy for health and wellness reasons. The recipes are beautiful and vibrant, printed on glossy paper and in full colour.

The book touches on nutrients, organic and non-GMO, meal plans, milk alternatives, forms of coconut, and other simple ingredients swaps. Recipes range from sweet to savory, and can be accomplished by any home cook. Fantastic book for recipe inspiration, or for those living with dairy allergy and who either love to cook or are learning to navigate the DF kitchen for the first time.


Emma Amoscato’s book
Format: hardcover or paperback
Buy Link:

Blog Link:

Number of pages:
I recommend this resource for any adult or family living with food allergy.

The amount of information contained between the covers is incredible, with lots of attention to detail, and written in an accessible way. It would make a good classroom resource for teachers or caregivers who want to learn about allergy. What is anaphylaxis? How do I adapt my home? How will I be diagnosed? And many other practical, important questions are answered in this book.

Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl
Format: paperback
Buy Link:

When I came across this book, I bought it immediately. Reading Sandra’s story was reading my own story.

It was a reminder that there are so many shared experiences between those living with food allergy. From drinking stories to dining in restaurants, it all felt very real as I reflected on my parallel experiences. I highly recommend this book for any teen or adult living with food allergy.

For parents of kids with food allergy, this book provides valuable insight into what it’s for your child to grow up with food allergy, and how it doesn’t get easier as they get older – the challenges and successes change over time.

When Every Bite Matters by Olivier Deldicque
Format: Paperback
Buy Link:

Olivier’s writing about his life experiences with multiple food allergy reinforces that you can do so much despite your allergies, and that family and friends are a great support system.

It’s also a reminder for someone myself, who has not been a teen for quite some time, about how teens think about their food allergy. He provides handy resources for learning more about food allergy, and some of his favorite recipes. This book could be a spring-board for discussions about food allergy with teenage kids.

”Having food allergies in the teenage years can be tough for many reasons. That’s why I wrote the book, “When Every Bite Matters”. It takes you through my journey and how I’ve dealt with my food allergies” – Olivier


Cooking With Food Allergies: Substitutes for Common Food Allergens

Food Allergen-Free Substitutes for Your Kitchen

Cooking nutritious meals that kids will eat isn’t always easy. It's even trickier when you have to navigate food allergies. Many processed and prepared foods contain common food allergens, so cooking fresh is important, but you don't need to be an expert in the kitchen to safely cook for children with severe allergies.

However, this can still seem a daunting task, as more than 160 foods may potentially trigger an allergic reaction in kids who have allergies. But most parents can focus on eliminating these eight foods that have been identified as the most common food allergens and are responsible for 90 percent of allergic reactions to food:

  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Tree nuts, such as almonds and walnuts
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Soy

However, these allergens are the food sources used to make other ingredients found in many products lining supermarket shelves, says Joyce Rabbat, MD, an assistant professor of pediatric allergy and immunology at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill. For example, eggs, milk, and wheat are key ingredients in recipes for everything from cakes to quiches.

The mainstay of treatment for food allergy is strict avoidance of the allergen,” says Rabbat says. But fortunately, there are some easy ways to safely replace common food allergens with other ingredients.

How to Replace Common Food Allergens

Milk: “You can substitute different types of milk for cow's milk, such as soy or rice milk,” says Kristi L.

King, MPH, RDN, LD, senior clinical dietitian at Texas Children's Hospital, a clinical instructor at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

King says that these alternatives can be used for drinking as well as one-for-one substitutions for cow's milk in recipes for pancakes, desserts, and other baked goods.

For young children, however, she stresses that it's important to opt for a milk alternative that's enriched with calcium and vitamin D because alternative products are lower in these nutrients, as well as protein and fat.

“If you need to use a milk alternative, it's important to provide children with additional sources of these nutrients,” King says. She suggests cooking vegetables in olive or canola oil instead of butter and putting an extra protein on a child's plate. For toast, a dairy-free margarine is also an option.

Soy yogurt and soy sour cream are also safe alternatives to products made with cow's milk.

Eggs: When looking to replace eggs in a recipe, first consider how they’re being used. For example, if you need a binding agent, you can replace one egg with ¼ cup applesauce, half of a smashed medium banana, or 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons of warm water (let this mixture stand for one minute before using).

If you need a leavening agent for a cake or other baked dish, one egg can be replaced with 1½ tablespoons of vegetable oil mixed with 1½ tablespoons of water and 1 teaspoon of baking powder.

Wheat: When baking for children with wheat allergies, there are a few substitutes available. For every cup of wheat flour, King says to use either 2 cups of tapioca flour, ¾ cup of potato starch, or ? cup of rice flour.

Other grain sources that can serve as an alternate to wheat include:

  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Corn
  • Oat
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Rye

If you're going to bake, it's best to experiment with different blends of wheat-free flour to find out what gives you the best texture.

Peanuts: Peanut allergy is separate from tree nut allergy because peanuts are legumes and not tree nuts. Although children with peanut allergies can’t eat peanut butter, if they don’t have a tree nut allergy, they could have almond butter or sunflower butter, also known as sun butter, Kind says. Other possible substitutes for peanut butter include cream cheese and hummus.

Tree nuts: Because kids with a tree nut allergy don’t necessarily have a peanut allergy, they can have legumes such as:

  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds

Fish: Kids allergic to fish can miss out on essential omega-3 fatty acids, which help the body in many ways and are a component of fish salmon, tuna, and anchovies. Tofu is a healthy alternative to fish, but King says it's important to find other sources of these omega-3s too, such as:

  • Ground flaxseed
  • Almonds, walnuts, or other tree nuts
  • Healthy oils, olive or canola oil

Shellfish: Kids with allergies to shellfish may not be allergic to other types of finned fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.

Soy: Although soy is a legume, kids with a soy allergy aren’t necessarily allergic to other legumes. As a result, they may not have a problem eating beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts.

When children have multiple food allergies, working with a registered dietitian can help ensure they're getting all the nutrition needed with the right substitutions.

Empowering Kids Early

The process of empowering kids with severe allergies to manage their condition begins at home and at a young age. Parents and caregivers can help kids with allergies protect their health by encouraging them to do the following:

Speak up. If kids are ever in doubt about the ingredients in foods being offered to them, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask how it was prepared or what might be in them. Children may not outgrow their food allergies, so they also need to feel comfortable asking about ingredients when they're at school or a restaurant, King says.

Read food labels. As soon as kids are able to read, King says they should be encouraged to read the nutrition labels of the foods in their house and the supermarket to familiarize themselves with the ingredients they need to avoid. “Reading food labels is one of the most important things parents of children with allergies can teach them,” she says.

For example, kids who are allergic to wheat should know to avoid any ingredients that include the word “wheat” as well other less obvious terms bulgur, cereal extract, couscous, cracker meal, spelt, and triticale.

Soybeans are also used in many processed foods. Food with soy, soy protein, tofu, soya, and textured vegetable protein should all be avoided. King says. However, foods that contain soy lecithin are safe to eat because the soy protein has been removed.

And, kids with a fish allergy need to know to look for some surprising sources of fish, such as Caesar salad dressing and Worcestershire sauce (which both contain anchovies), and even some brands of barbecue sauce.

Just say “No, thanks.” Kids are often told to watch their manners.

If they have allergies, they need to know it's perfectly fine to politely refuse a food from anyone if they’re unsure about its ingredients.

“If there’s any doubt in their minds about a particular food, they shouldn’t eat it,” King says. Role-playing with your kids can help them be prepared for this type of situation.

“If you read food labels, talk to a dietitian, and empower kids from a young age,” King says, “all of these things can help reduce the risk of children coming in contact with a food they shouldn’t be eating.”


9 Simple Substitutions for Common Food Allergies

Food Allergen-Free Substitutes for Your Kitchen

Food allergies are the worst. For some, it could be a deadly anaphylactic reaction; while for others, it’s a bad stomachache that makes Timmy’s birthday cake unpalatable. Soy, wheat, peanuts, and tree nuts are among the most common food allergies, but coconut and citrus fruits make their mark (in the form of hives) too.

While food allergies have been on the rise in recent years, the silver lining is that more people are aware of allergens, and there’s a bounty of substitutes just waiting to be tossed, baked, and blended into your treats.

With these readily available alternatives, you can have your soy-, gluten-, peanut-, tree nut-, citrus-, and coconut-free cake and eat it too.

Citrus allergies can be quite sour. Though not as widely discussed as other allergens, citrus fruits, such as lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange, cause about three percent of adolescents, and many adults, discomfort.

With so many drinks topped with lime or zested with orange, we feel for those who spend Saturday nights seeking a citrus-free adult beverage. Vegan White Russians and other creamy cocktails are a safe bet, as are grape, pear, or watermelon-based drinks––none of which are citrus fruits.

Strawberry, raspberry, and apples are also in the clear; so give this Apple Cider Sangria recipe a try for your next book club meeting.

Coconut, with its thick and creamy consistency, is a vegan staple often used to replace dairy.

It’s the base of ice creams, curries, and sweet drinks everywhere, and while there are plenty of cruelty-free alternatives (rice, oat, or soymilk or even mashed up soaked cashews) that can easily be called in to take the place of coconut in recipes, some of us just want a coconut-free dish without the research and math that goes along with substitutes. If coconut allergies have kept you from digging into ice cream or curry, check out this raw Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream that uses a cashew base, or nosh on some lentil curry that is totally coconut-free.

Peanut allergies are one of the most common food allergies today. With an occurrence of nearly one in every 50 children and one every 200 adults, peanut-heavy cuisines, such as Thai food, and childhood favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are off limits.

These allergens are often the cause of anaphylaxis, a severe condition where patients’ throats swell, closing off airways. Thankfully there are plenty of seeds––sesame, pumpkin, and hemp to name a few––that have a nutty flavor and are offered in butter-form. We can’t get over this divine and simple DIY Pumpkin (Pie) Seed Butter.

Forget PB&J: pumpkin seed butter is magic on toast.

Tree nut
Tree nuts are another common trigger that affect nearly 1.8 million Americans. While cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts, and macadamia nuts are among those that should be avoided, there are a bevy of nut- choices available to the tree-nut intolerant.

Sunflower seeds lower risk of heart disease and make a great substitute for tree nuts with the added benefit of anti-inflammatory properties.

Next time you’re in need of a healthy meal, feeling a little puffy, or just in the mood for delicious noodles, toss some pasta with Miso Sunflower Seed Sauce or go ahead and dip your spring rolls in it.

Beloved by many vegans, soy is also a source of much heartache––or at least stomachache––for those allergic and intolerant. Soy allergies are not as common in adults as they are in children; almost 300,000 people younger than 18 show signs of a soy allergy.

But regardless of age, it poses a real problem when it comes to pizza as many come covered in soy cheese. The first dairy-free cheese, made of fermented tofu, is said to have originated in Asia in the 1500s. Luckily, vegan cheese isn’t what it used to be, and has grown beyond just soy.

Kathy Patalsky’s Pesto Cashew Ricotta Pizza is a perfect example of how delicious soy-free cheese can be.

Wheat is a major problem not only for those with celiac disease (gluten intolerance) but also people with wheat allergies (they’re two different ailments).

Wheat may well be the most prevalent grain; it’s found in everyday staples such as bread, pasta, and seitan, as well as in obscure places caramel coloring and soy sauce. Reading labels and having a keen eye is key to managing this allergy.

Replace traditional flour with tapioca or rice flour in your baked goods, or pop this Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread into the oven and take it easy because life without wheat is good.

In case you’re still thinking about that allergen-free cake we promised, here’s one sure to win you and your friends over. With these simple swaps, you needn’t fret another moment about missing out on good eats because of food allergies.  

Photo courtesy of Cybele Pascal

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