Managing your newfound dietary restrictions can feel so overwhelming that you want to quit your elimination diet before you’ve even begun. We get it, food sensitivities are stressful, and navigating life without your go-to meals really isn’t fun.
This is exactly why we’ve decided to compile an easy-to-reference guide for healthy alternatives to the most common food sensitivities.
Today we’ll be taking the magnifying glass to four common culprits: dairy, baking yeast, wheat, and eggs. Let’s dive in!
Healthy dairy alternatives.
Dairy sensitivities can manifest in so many different ways, that sometimes it’s hard to tell whether dairy is the culprit. Especially because your symptoms might not be obvious for hours after eating that Brie covered cracker. Keep an eye out for common dairy sensitivity symptoms like bloating, gas, stomach cramps, diarrhea, or even skin issues like acne.
Sometimes, it can even cause sinus congestion or headaches (yes, migraines, too).
Fortunately, the market is bursting with delicious and nutritious alternatives to dairy. Plant-based milks like almond, soy, or oat milk can be fantastic substitutes in your morning coffee, cereal, or smoothies. They offer a creamy texture and often come in a variety of flavors, catering to different taste preferences.
Cooking and baking without dairy doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor or texture. There are plenty of substitutes available that can give your recipes the same richness and moisture. For instance, you can swap butter with coconut oil or plant-based margarine, and use almond milk or coconut milk as a replacement for cow’s milk. You’ll be surprised at how well these alternatives work in your favorite dishes and baked treats.
If you want a deep dive into great dairy alternatives, check out this blog.
Are there baker’s yeast alternatives?
We’re not going to lie, this one is one of the more confusing sensitivities to have. So many of our favorite foods contain baker’s yeast, and for the non-proficient cook, identifying what has baker’s yeast and what doesn’t can feel like playing sudoku without knowing the rules.
A good rule of thumb is that pretty much any bread-based food (pizza dough, bread, cinnamon rolls, etc.) contains baker’s yeast. So, what happens when you have an unbearable craving for your favorite baker’s yeast containing food? Well, search for alternatives, of course.
One of the most common substitutes for yeast is baking powder. It’s a leavening agent that contains both an acid and a base, which react when combined with moisture and heat, creating those lovely bubbles that make your baked treats light and airy. Baking soda is another option, and it works particularly well in recipes that have acidic ingredients like buttermilk or vinegar.
But here’s a unique twist: sourdough starter. This naturally fermented mixture of flour and water can be a fantastic yeast replacement. It contains wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria that work together to create that desirable rise in your bread and impart a distinct tangy flavor. Plus, sourdough bread has the added benefit of being easier to digest for some individuals.
The best part? Absolutely zero baker’s yeast needed.
Note: Baker’s yeast is not the same thing as brewer’s yeast. If you have a brewer’s yeast sensitivity, check out this blog for the low down.
Managing your wheat sensitivity.
There’s a common misconception that having a wheat sensitivity automatically means that you have a gluten sensitivity. These are two different sides of the same coin, so it’s important to understand the difference and how that affects your new diet.
Wheat is a hidden ingredient in so many different foods, especially since it’s used as a thickening agent in many sauces, dips, and dressings. Always check the ingredients before buying your old favorites.
Let’s talk about some wheat alternatives that may make your culinary adventures a little easier.
To replace wheat flour, try gluten-free flour blends made from rice, almond, or coconut flour. Experiment with different combinations to find the right texture and flavor. Adding a binding agent like xanthan gum can help improve the structure of your baked goods. Increasing moisture with ingredients like applesauce or yogurt can keep them moist and delicious.
For grains, rice is a versatile option that can be used in various dishes, from stir-fries to risottos. Quinoa is a protein-packed grain with a nutty flavor, perfect for salads or as a rice substitute. Buckwheat, despite its name, is gluten-free and great for pancakes and noodles. Amaranth, with its mild, nutty taste, is a nutritious choice for porridge or baking.
Egg-free but make it fun.
Like baker’s yeast, eggs are in so many things. From baked goods to dressings and sauces (did you know that mayo is made with eggs?), this makes living with an egg sensitivity that much more stressful.
Here’s the cool thing about having an egg sensitivity (silver lining…?), ingredient labels in the US have to disclose, in bold letters, any major allergens that are present in said food. This means that you don’t have to scour through labels with a fine-toothed comb to find it.
Let’s get into some fun egg alternatives. When using egg substitutes, it’s essential to adjust your recipes accordingly. In general, you can replace one egg with a quarter cup of applesauce, half a mashed banana, or one tablespoon of flax or chia seed mixture. Whichever one you decide to use, it’s always a good idea to consult specific recipes for precise measurements.
Keep in mind that the flavor and texture of your dishes may vary slightly when using egg-free alternatives. Experimentation is key to finding the perfect balance. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try different combinations of egg substitutes to achieve your desired results.
Guess what? We have the perfect blog for you if you’re living with an egg sensitivity. Check it out if you want to take a trip down egg-free lane.
A note of optimism.
Dealing with food sensitivities can feel overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone on this journey. Food sensitivities are surprisingly common, and many people have successfully overcome them. The good news? Unlike food allergies, food sensitivities are often temporary. In fact, most of them resolve themselves after about three months of avoiding the culprit food.
In the meantime, embrace this opportunity to unleash your inner chef and embark on a culinary adventure. Explore the vast array of delicious ingredients and alternative options available to you. Navigating your dietary restrictions can actually be an exciting and fulfilling experience. With a positive mindset, you can discover new flavors, try new recipes, and create meals that are both nutritious and enjoyable.
Who knows, you might stumble upon new favorite dishes that you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.