The following is a rundown of what I commonly use in place of “allergenic” ingredients. Through trial and error (and trust me, there have been many), these allergen-free standbys have come to rule my kitchen.
Eggs provide moisture, richness, binding, and leavening. I use a variety of alternate ingredients throughout my recipes in place of eggs.
Applesauce works as a binding agent, and is also a great substitute for eggs or oil/shortening, when you want to reduce the fat. 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce = 1 egg
Works similarly to applesauce, but has a much more distinct flavor. I only use it when I want to taste banana. 1/2 a mashed banana = 1 egg
PRUNE PUREE (AKA, baby food!)
Again, works similarly to applesauce, with a sweeter flavor. 4 1/2 to 5 ounce jar = 1 egg
Vegan yogurt is great for adding moisture and binding. I use it in place of eggs, but also in place of buttermilk, or cream. I use coconut milk yogurt (see notes below re: coconut), and rice milk yogurt in these recipes. I prefer coconut milk yogurt, but please note that the allergy world is on the fence about coconut. Most people with tree nut allergies are NOT allergic to coconut, it’s an extremely rare allergy, but still, check with your allergist before consuming it. If the coconut milk is not an option for you, use the rice milk yogurt instead. 1/4 cup vegan yogurt = 1 egg
I love the effect of “flax eggs”, it works just like an egg, doing everything but leavening. It’s moist, rich, and binding. However, I use “flax eggs” sparingly, as it is difficult to find totally “clean” flax. It’s often processed in facilities along with tree nuts or other allergens. So be sure to check with the manufacturer before consuming flax if cross contamination is a concern for you. 1 tablespoon Flax Seed Meal mixed with 3 tablespoons warm water = 1 egg
Egg Replacer is great for leavening and binding. I use Ener-G Egg Replacer because it is manufactured in a facility free of all common allergens. 1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 2 tablespoons rice milk or water = 1 egg
BAKING SODA & VINEGAR
This is an old baking trick from WWII when eggs were rationed. It provides leavening in place of eggs. Add the baking soda to the dry ingredients, and the vinegar to the liquid. Wait to combine the dry and liquid ingredients until the very last minute, as the chemical reaction occurs as soon as the baking soda and vinegar meet, and you must get your goodie straight into the oven! 1 teaspoon baking soda + 1 teaspoon cider vinegar (or distilled white vinegar) = 1 egg
Replacing cow milk is pretty much a no-brainer since even our local supermarkets now sell soy milk and rice milk. Since this book also eliminates soy, I use rice milk anywhere one might traditionally use cow milk. I have chosen rice milk because it is easiest to find, and has a mild flavor, but if you wish to substitute another nondairy milk in my recipes, please feel free to do so. I have given several other dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free options below.
1 cup non-dairy milk = 1 cup cow milk
Rice milk is generally made from brown rice. It is a little thinner than other nondairy milks, but still provides yummy moistness. Rice milk is commercially available just about everywhere. Be sure to read ingredients carefully, as some rice milk brands contain gluten.
Hemp milk is the most nutritious of nondairy milks, and has a rich “nutty” flavor. Look for it at Whole Foods or your local health food store.
Traditional coconut milk is very rich. It can be used in baking, but bare in mind that it is thick and sweet. (Again, the allergy world is on the fence about coconut. Some say it’s a member of the date family, some say it’s a tree nut. Most people with tree nut allergies are not allergic to coconut, it’s an extremely rare allergy, but still, check with your allergist before consuming it.)
There is also a new Coconut Milk on the shelves made by Turtle Mountain, that functions like rice milk. It’s a thinner, lower calorie coconut milk, available in the refrigerated section at Whole Foods. It’s amazing for baking and yummy in cereal!
INSTEAD OF BUTTERMILK
You can easily make your own nondairy buttermilk at home. For any 1 cup of buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or cider vinegar to 1 cup nondairy milk, and let stand about 10 minutes to sour.
INSTEAD OF YOGURT, CREAM & SOUR CREAM
I use coconut milk yogurt, and rice milk yogurt in place of yogurt, cream, and sour cream. I prefer the coconut milk yogurt, as it has a better texture, and the tang of traditional dairy yogurt. If the coconut milk is not an option for you, use the rice milk yogurt instead. And if you can eat soy, then by all means, substitute soy yogurt.
INSTEAD OF BUTTER
Ah, butter… the backbone of western baking. Or is it? I’ve been delighted to find you can still make awesome “buttery” baked goods WITHOUT butter. Here are my favorite substitutes for old-fashioned butter.
DAIRY-FREE, SOY-FREE VEGETABLE SHORTENING
It’s non-hydrogenated, cholesterol free, and bakes up nice and light. 1 cup dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening = 1 cup unsalted butter
I generally use canola oil in my recipes, again because it’s easy to find, healthful, and mild. Alternately, you can use rice bran oil, another light, healthful oil . If you choose to use another type of vegetable oil, pick one that you know is safe for you, and that has a mild flavor. I like safflower oil, and sunflower oil, or you may choose to bake with extra light olive oil. 1/3 cup canola oil = 1/2 cup butter
Replacing Nuts & Nut Butters
The past few years has seen the advent of Sunbutter. Sunbutter (aka, sunflower seed butter) is a great replacement for peanut butter and other nut butters. It is available at Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and many local health food stores. It’s also popping up on some supermarket shelves. Additionally, you can now buy “safe” sunflower seeds for snacking, or use in baking, though you may have to order these online.
Replacing Wheat Flours & Other Gluten Flours
This is perhaps the trickiest part of baking allergen-free. It’s not so hard to bake gluten-free if you can still use eggs, butter, and nut flours, but learning to bake without ANY of them has been a learning curve for me. But I persevered, and am happy to report, I’ve come out triumphant. Baking AF/GF is not only possible, it’s downright delicious!
GLUTEN-FREE, ALLERGEN-FREE FLOURS
Rice, Corn, Potato, Tapioca, Beans, Garfava, Sorghum, Quinoa, Millet, Buckwheat, Arrowroot, Amaranth, Teff, Montina, and Flax.
Whoa, that’s a lot of flours! And trickier still, most of them can’t be used on their own, they must be mixed like you’re doing AP chemistry. They can’t be swapped out cup for cup for wheat flour, and they require varying amounts of xanthan from recipe to recipe. So to make things simple for YOU, I’ve created a Basic Gluten-free Flour Mix that you can whip up and store in your fridge.
BASIC GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR MIX (RECIPE)
Makes 6 cups
- 4 cups superfine brown rice flour
- 1 1/3 cups potato starch (not potato flour)
- 2/3 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)
1. To measure flour, use a large spoon to scoop flour into the measuring cup, then level it off with the back of a knife. Do NOT use the measuring cup itself to scoop your flour when measuring! It will compact the flour and you will wind up with too much for the recipe. Combine all ingredients in a gallon-size Ziploc bag. Shake until well blended. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT MY CHOICE OF FLOURS
Almost all my baked goods recipes are made with a blend of super-fine brown rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour. I have chosen these flours/starches not only because they are great for gluten-free baking, but also because they are generally the easiest gluten-free flours for the general public to find. But most importantly, I have chosen these three flours/starches because they carry the least risk of cross contamination.
Most gluten-free flours are still being processed in the same facilities as tree nut flours (such as almond flour). So I have chosen ingredients that I know can be found with the safety assurance that they are free from cross contamination with all common allergens, and which are easily found by the general public.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT EGG REPLACER
Egg replacer works best when whisked together with a liquid, using a small whisk. Be sure to beat it until slightly frothy and all the lumps have dissolved before adding it to a recipe.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT COCONUT AND GLUTEN-FREE OATS
I cook with two ingredients that need to be addressed: Coconut, and Gluten-free Oats. Coconut is the seed of a drupaceous fruit. I do not consider coconut a tree nut, and neither does the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), or the American Academy Of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).
Dr. Hugh Sampson, Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology in the Department of Pediatrics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, where he also serves as Director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute says, “Coconut is not a nut but the seed of a drupaceous fruit. We have not restricted our nut allergic patients of coconut, and have not seen a problem. If there is any question about coconut reactivity, we test for it and occasionally have found a coconut allergic patient.”
However in 2006, the FDA began mandating that coconut be considered a tree nut for labeling purposes. No one is sure how they came to this conclusion, and several food industry sources are asking them to revise this classification. As FAAN notes, coconut allergies are exceedingly rare. The available medical literature documents only a small number of allergic reactions to coconut, and most occurred in people who were not allergic to other tree nuts.
Therefore, I have used coconut in a few of the recipes in this book. I don’t think its fair to deprive people of such a healthful and delicious ingredient because the FDA has erroneously classified a fruit as a nut. But please err on the side of caution, and ask your doctor if you need to avoid coconut before making a coconut recipe.
Now, about Gluten-free oats. Oats have long been a source of controversy in the gluten-free community, because there is so often cross contamination with other grains that do contain gluten, such as wheat, rye, and barley. Oats themselves are not the offender, but rather, cross contamination. I am not recommending you bake with any old oats if you have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant. I am only recommending CERTIFIED GLUTEN-FREE OATS.
Over the past decade research has shown that most people who are gluten intolerant can consume oats if other grains have not contaminated them. And thankfully, it is now possible to buy gluten-free oats from specialized vendors and growers who dedicate fields and equipment to producing oats, and oats alone.
If you cannot find gluten-free oats in a store near you, order them online. Amazon.com is a great source for ordering many of the specialty items I work with, and will allow you to buy in bulk, which is much cheaper in the long run! And as always, please play it safe. Ask your doctor if it’s okay for you to bake with gluten-free oats before trying any of my oat recipes.
The first step to allergen-free cooking is stocking your pantry. The following ingredients are the essentials of an allergen-free kitchen. Though some of them may seem foreign at first, they will quickly become familiar and easy to use. Most of these items can be found at your local health food store, or natural foods market. I do almost all my pantry shopping at Whole Foods. If you do not have access to a local natural foods market, you can order necessary items online (see my store), and have them shipped to you. This is also a great idea if you are buying items in bulk, which is less expensive.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT XANTHAN GUM
Xanthan Gum is the be-all and end-all of gluten-free baking. I don’t know what we would do without it. It is a plant gum that mimics gluten. It provides structure and elasticity. A little bit goes a long way, so measure it carefully. I have found there is variation between brands. I like Ener-G Xanthan Gum best. It is a derivative of corn. If you can’t eat corn, you may use guar gum instead, but please note, these recipes have not been tested with guar gum.