The Best Substitutions for the Top 8 Allergens

The Best Substitutions for the Top 8 Allergens

Eating well in today’s world can be a challenge for those of you juggling your sport, studies, family and social life. For those of you dealing with food allergies, you know that this becomes even more of a tangled web to weave!

The vast majority of the human immune system can is found in our gut, hence why it is critical for athletes to fuel themselves with excellent nutrition, especially those suffering from food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances. A solid nutrition routine should be the foundation of every athlete’s regimen. This may seem like a no-brainer to some of you, but for those of us with wheat, dairy, soy, egg, tree nut, fish, shellfish, or peanut butter allergies/sensitivities, we have to think a little harder and plan a little further, or else we end up miserable and starved!

I coach hundreds of individuals with food sensitivities, so I know how real that struggle is during their first few trips to the grocery store. It breaks my heart to see my athletes spending 3-4 hours on ONE shopping excursion because they are frantically flipping over food label after food label in an attempt to not accidentally contaminate themselves. OK, in the words of Sweet Brown, “ Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat!” Or, even worse, they come back to my office saying they bought everything that looked “legal” but they ended up spending a fortune. Alright so at the same token, no one should have to sell a kidney on the black market to be able to pay for decent groceries.

Listen friends, I work around the clock so you don’t have to when it comes to eating well. My sole focus is to help you eat in a way that best supports your unique immune system and personal performance goals. Ideally, I want to help you do this in the most time-efficient and cost-effective manner. Below are my favorite substitutions for the top 8 allergens commonly encountered in cooking.

Egg Allergies

Eggs are an awesome source of nutrition, particularly amino acids, B vitamins, and choline. However, if you are unable to tolerate eggs, this can be a tricky situation to navigate.

If you were accustomed to eating eggs for breakfast, try a few homemade turkey or chicken patties. You can throw salsa, hot sauce or guacamole on the patties just like you would for eggs and feel just as satisfied when the meal is over.

If you typically use eggs for baking, try flax eggs or aquafaba, the liquid found in canned chickpeas. Strange, I know, but it works wonders and the person who figured that one out deserves a Nobel Prize. Flax eggs are purchased in the grocery store or you can make your own at home by using this recipe:

For one egg, follow this template. It can be exchanged for one egg in any recipe:

Flax Egg

1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed (Purchase them pre-ground or grind your own. Just be sure to measure after you’ve ground the seeds)
3 tablespoons of water
Stir well, and allow the mixture to set for 10 minutes.

If you are looking for more of an egg white consistency or a meringue texture, aquafaba works best. Keep in mind that 1 whole egg = 3 tablespoons of aquafaba and 1 egg white = 2 tablespoons of aquafaba. When looking for a replacement for meringue, you will need to beat the aquafaba for approximately 10-15 minutes until you reach the texture that you desire.

Pro Tip: If you have a sensitivity to egg and not a true IgE food allergy, consider trying farm fresh eggs from your local farm. The diet of a free range chicken eating an organic diet produces a very different egg than the eggs from your standard conventionally raised chicken. I have worked with an overwhelming amount of individuals who could tolerate farm fresh eggs and not conventionally raised eggs.

Wheat Allergies

Please do not shed any tears. Avoiding wheat does not mean you can never eat pasta again. There are dozens and dozens of wheat and gluten-free pastas on the market now, although not all of them are created equal. Two of my favorite brands are Tolerant and Banza. Tolerant is pasta made strictly from lentils- literally, red and green lentil are the only ingredients! Banza is a little more protein dense as it is made from chickpeas and pea protein. I love these brands and I eat them on a monthly basis but if you try these and you are not sold on the taste or texture, check out Tinkyada organic brown rice pasta. The flavor is bit more mild and the texture comes closer to traditional pasta made from flour.

Pro Tip: I would highly recommend cooking all of these pastas 2-3 minutes less than the directions on the box, or al dente as the Italians say. Otherwise, you will have a mushy bowl of pasta and for most people, that is not appetizing.

Are you a sandwich lover? Check out Siete almond or coconut flour tortillas. These are perfect for anything from a grilled chicken sandwich, to a hummus and veggie wrap, Taco Tuesday, and even a quick PB & J roll up.

Dairy Allergies

Good news for all my dairy lovers: There are so many completely dairy free nut and seed milks/cheeses/ice creams on the market now, the possibilities are endless! I could talk about dairy-free alternatives for days but I will spare you and only list my top picks:

Milk

Lucky for you, non-dairy milk is completely mainstream at this point. Almond milk, rice milk, pistachio milk, hemp or flaxseed milk, hazelnut milk, and the list goes on. For those of you hoping for a taste and texture that is somewhat similar to cow’s milk, check out Almond Breeze, Silk, or Diamond regular or vanilla almond milk. These can typically be found at any grocery store. Add the nut or seed milk to your smoothie, oatmeal, pudding or just drink it straight.

Worried about all the gums and fillers in your non-dairy milk? Check out the brand Elmhurst. They offer a variety of gourmet, plant-based nut milks each containing only 4 natural ingredients and no artificial flavors or binding agents.

Cheese

Looking for a nice little cube of cheese to pop in your mouth? Maybe a little shredded cheese for your salad? Daiya takes the dairy-free cake! With options like mozzarella, cheddar and pepper jack, what’s not to love?!

Are you more of a cream cheese lover?

Check out Red Lotus Vegan Cashew Spread (my favorite is garlic and herb) or Kite Hill Chive. Dip your favorite cracker or veggies in here or use this as a spread on your sandwich. I’ve had a few alfredo-obessed athletes in the past and they enjoyed melting a few tablespoons of the non-dairy spread over their pasta.

Yogurt

Need a creamy landing pad for your fruit and granola in the a.m.? Check out these dairy-free yogurts at your specialty grocery store:
Anitas Coconut Yogurt (No gums or fillers!)
Kite Hil Almond Yogurt

Tree Nut & Peanut Allergies

To all my peanut butter lovers out there- Don’t panic. Sunflower butter has come to the rescue! The brand Sunbutter is my favorite because they make mini portable cups of sunflower seed butter, perfect for athletes on the go. Sunflower seed butter is an excellent substitution to peanut/nut butter in smoothies, oatmeal and also a great spread for fruit. You can dip your favorite cracker in sunflower seed butter and carrots actually work as a nice dipping vehicle too. Looking for an even easier version of sunflower seed butter? Yumbutter offers a squeezable nut butter pouch. The pouch contains a little spout for your eating convenience. Lastly, sunflower seed butter is a great alternative to peanut butter in the famous Pb & J sandwich.  Or, if you are anything like my husband Michael, you can just polish off large spoonfuls of sunflower seed butter by itself. No judgment! (Well, maybe a little, ????).

Are you the type of person who prefers the convenience of eating large handfuls of nuts? Try a handful of seeds or a trail-mix-esque mixture instead. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and pine nuts taste better than you might think when you add a few raisins and a variety of dried fruit.

Fish/Shellfish Allergies

Can’t tolerate shellfish?  No big deal. Salmon, tuna, and cobia fish are some of your best options as they are all full of high-quality protein and heart-healthy fat, particularly Omega 3. Looking for a more convenient version of these fish? Wild Planet is a great brand for wild caught, canned salmon and tuna. These items are found at your specialty grocery store, but the best price are found at Thrive Market. For 25% off your first order click here.
Can’t tolerate fish or shellfish all together? Try Sophie’s Vegan Toona, a top 8 allergens free version of canned tuna made from pea protein. Eat it straight from the can or add it to a fresh green salad or a bowl of Tolerant pasta. 

Soy Allergies

Love the crunch and convenience of dried edamame? Try toasted chickpeas instead for a similarly delicious protein packed snack. There are several brands to choose from, but I love the flavor selection that The Good Bean has to offer. Chocolate? Mesquite BBQ? Thai Coconut Lemongrass? Yes, please.

Is soy sauce the condiment of your dreams? Check out Coconut Aminos made by Coconut Secret. This tasty, slightly sweeter version of soy sauce is a magical replacement for soy sauce in stir fry. Bonus: it is soy AND gluten free!

ProTip: Not interested in paying full price for some of these luxury items? Me neither. That is why I mention Thrive Market.  As mentioned above, here is a link for 25% off your first order with ThriveMarket.com. Thrive Market is an online (Dry goods) grocery store selling your favorite specialty items at 25-60% off! The items from this article that can be found on Amazon (which most of the links are to), or for a small membership fee you can get a great discount on them through Thrive Market.  Many of the items which can be bound on Thrive include: Banza Pasta, Tolerant Pasta, Tinkyada Pasta, Yumbutter Organic Sunflower Seed Butter, The Good Bean Chickpeas, Coconut Aminos, Sophie’s Vegan Tuna, Wild Planet Tuna & Salmon, and Canned chickpeas (aquafaba)>

Where is your favorite place to shop for allergen-free food items? What are your favorite substitutions for the Top 8 Allergens? Do you use any substitutes that we didn’t mention? We’d love to hear your thoughts below!

More Awesome Reading

What is the difference between a food allergy, sensitivity, and intolerance?

Sweet Swaps: Healthy Swaps for Junk Food

 4 Amazing Gluten Free Pasta Alternatives for Athletes

What Are Healthy Fats?

About The Author

Kylene Bogden

Kylene Bogden is one of the most well respected Functional Sports Dietitians in the United States. As a high school and collegiate sprinter, she experienced recurrent injury and fatigue. After years of constant struggle, she eventually learned that an abundance of processed foods and poor fueling strategies were the root of her performance issues. Kylene's personal journey as an athlete fueled her passion for finding a more progressive approach to sports nutrition. Since then, she has helped thousands of individuals dramatically improve overall health and athletic performance by taking a whole food approach. To learn more about Kylene's story and how a functional nutrition approach can help you to achieve your goals, simply click on the contact us link in the upper right-hand corner today!

3 Comments

  1. Josh Farria

    One thing I’d prefer to comment on is that weight loss program fast is possible by the perfect diet and exercise. Someone’s size not simply affects appearance, but also the entire quality of life. Self-esteem, depression, health risks, in addition to physical abilities are affected in an increase in weight. It is possible to just make everything right and still gain. Should this happen, a medical problem may be the perpetrator. While an excessive amount food but not enough workout are usually guilty, common medical ailments and traditionally used prescriptions could greatly enhance size. Many thanks for your post right here.

    Reply
    • Michael Bogden

      Thank you so much for your thoughts, Josh! There is a lot of truth in what you are saying. We believe in helping others get to the root of their chronic health issues vs. slapping a “band-aid” over the matter by encouraging an approach such as calorie counting. We will definitely take your comments into consideration for a future post. Thank you for reading our content!

      Reply
      • Monica Flores

        Love everything published through this site. Your guys’ work is amazing. so easy to read, relevant, applicable…

        Reply

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