On Your Health

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Alternative Products For Food Intolerances (with recipes!)

For many Americans living with food intolerances or allergies, finding tasty alternatives to items like dairy or wheat can be an ongoing scavenger hunt.

If you are allergic or intolerant to common foods like gluten, dairy, nuts, eggs or corn, you’re not alone. Food intolerances and sensitivities are common, and it’s estimated that up to 20 percent of the world’s population may have a food intolerance. Read more about food allergy signs and symptoms.

The most common food intolerances include lactose in dairy, gluten in wheat products, eggs, caffeine, shellfish and seafood, nuts and soy, eggs and corn. While the food industry has advanced in alternatives to dairy products and gluten products, people with allergies still battle to find healthy choices that taste good without causing a reaction.

Luckily, lots of options are being developed. Here is a quick guide to alternative products for food intolerances, with recipes!

Gluten-free products

Gluten occurs naturally through a pair of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale. Gluten intolerance can be mild, but can also lead to more serious complications like celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity and wheat allergies.

Plenty of alternatives to gluten exist, ranging from rice crackers to gluten-free beer. In fact, the Gluten Intolerance Group certifies thousands of products a year.

No longer do you have to avoid bread, desserts, biscuits or pancakes with so many alternative options. For wheat and gluten products, these include rice pasta, polenta, quinoa, gluten-free oat bran and more. Alternatives to traditional flour include chestnut flour, lupine flour, guar gum, arrowroot flour, tapioca flour, banana flour, coconut flour, hemp flour, chickpea flour, soy flour, almond flour, quinoa flour and amaranth flour.

Try these scrumptious gluten-free buttermilk cheddar biscuits from the Celiac Disease Foundation.

(download the pdf)


Dairy alternatives

Lactose intolerance is a problem for those who have the inability to digest lactose, the main carbohydrate in dairy products. It can cause bloating, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

The market has been flooded with dairy-free alternatives like soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, macadamia milk and more. Cheese alternatives also exist, including cashew cheese and dairy-free shredded or sliced cheese.

The dairy-free movement goes beyond cheese and milk, though. These days you can find dairy-free ice cream, dairy-free coffee creamer and even dairy-free stuffed ravioli. Some of the best products out there include Nutpods’ Hazelnut Unsweetened Dairy-Free Creamer, Cado Avocado Simply Lemon Ice Cream, Daiya brand cheeses, Kite Hill Greek Yogurt and Steve’s Cold Brew Cinnamon Coffee.

Want to try making stovetop mac and cheese without dairy? Check out this recipe from

(download the pdf)

Nut allergy substitutes

Peanuts may be the first nut that people think of when they hear “nut allergy,” but other nuts like Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios and almonds can cause symptoms ranging from mild reactions to serious anaphylaxis, a rapid-onset allergic reaction that may be fatal.

Most of the nut and tree nut alternatives are seeds, like sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin and squash seeds, chia seeds and more. For cooking, be sure to use products that are nut-free. Coconut flour is great for those with a nut allergy, just be aware that it acts differently from almond flour, so you’ll need to find a recipe written specifically for coconut flour. Other baking alternatives include using tapioca starch, potato starch, arrowroot powder and plantain flour.

If you’re a peanut butter fan, there’s a slew of spreadable products out there that will make you forget about the real thing. Try Soynut Butter from WowButter, Artisana Organic Raw Coconut Butter Cacao Bliss, Soom Foods Pure Ground Sesame Tahini or make your own alternative butter!

Here’s a great recipe by to make a nut-free sunflower nutella spread that’s more fun and delicious than the nut-filled stuff.

(download the pdf)


Egg-free alternatives

Eggs are one of the most common allergy-causing foods for children. Symptoms of an egg allergy can range from mild reactions such as skin rashes and nasal congestion to severe reactions such as vomiting or shock.

Many egg alternatives are on the market, even egg-free mayonnaise. Be sure to look for commercial egg replacement products. Make sure to avoid egg substitutes, as substitutes generally still contain some egg. 

Eggs are often used in baking as a binding agent, but you can replace eggs with applesauce, bananas or ground flaxseed mixed with water. Common substitutes you can use if a recipe calls for one egg are 1/2 of a medium banana, mashed; 1/4 cup of applesauce or 3 1/2 tablespoons gelatin blend created by mixing one cup boiling water and 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin.

Want a delicious and easy egg-free dessert? Try egg-free carrot cake recipe from King Arthur Flour.

(download the pdf)

Corn allergies

Corn allergies are also common but can be difficult to diagnose. Most dietitians recommend a food-elimination diet, where specific items are removed from a person’s diet for a period to see if symptoms improve.

Symptoms of a corn allergy mimic other allergies and can include rashes, hives, headaches, sneezing and stomach discomfort. For those who love foods like corn tortillas, corn chips and creamed corn, the struggle is real.

When eliminating corn from your diet, try shopping at health food stores, which often have corn-free ketchup, mayonnaise, corn-free baking powder, cereals and more. Rice syrup is a common substitute for corn syrup, and potato starch, tapioca flour and arrowroot powder can be used instead of cornstarch in baking.

Instead of using distilled vinegar, switch to lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or other corn-free vinegar. Corn and corn-derived ingredients are almost everywhere, so be sure to talk with your doctor and learn to read labels to know what you should avoid.

If you’re craving tacos, try this corn-free pulled pork soft taco recipe from

(download the pdf)




The good news is that no matter what food allergy you may have, substitutions and options exist. If you suspect you have a food allergy, it’s better to see an allergist than to try to diagnose a food allergy yourself. Call an INTEGRIS Health Allergy and Immunology specialist to help determine if your diet is causing an allergic reaction and how to treat those symptoms.