Shopping and Stocking for Non-Allergy Foods During a Pandemic
You may not always find the foods you’re used to buying for your food allergic child or family member, so it’s good to have some options.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, grocery shopping was stressful for people with food allergies. Now with grocery shelves bare from lack of essentials, the challenge is even greater for those with special dietary needs such as food allergies.
For people with life-threatening food allergies or special dietary needs, shopping during a pandemic means more than just finding food the whole family likes and can eat. It means finding safe foods that are available.
While many people feel fortunate to snag the last jar of peanut butter left on the shelf or that last carton of milk, if those foods are not options because of food allergies, the problem is even more dire.
Preparing more meals at home is a smart alternative as long as you have the ingredients for non-allergenic food recipes. And if you find that some of the ingredients you normally use are unavailable, there are options for substitutes.
Kids With Food Allergies offers some substitutions for common allergies, replacing an allergen food with a safe ingredient. It’s still vital that you read labels to be sure you know what you’re getting and contact the manufacturer if you have questions.
Milk: Milk substitutes are not created equal. Research indicates soy milk is the most nutritious option since it provides almost as much protein, essential fats, vitamin D and calcium as regular milk. Rice, cashew and almond and most other nut milks are low in protein and fat, but provide comparable amounts of calcium and vitamin D. Rice, almond, coconut, cashew, hemp, pea, and soy milk substitutes often work well for cooking and baking as long as you don’t depend on them for complete nutrition.
Butter: Milk-free margarine and soy butter are common substitutes. For best results when baking with margarine, look for one with low-water content. Margarine sticks usually have less water than tub margarine.
Yogurt: Soy, coconut, almond, cashew, and pea-based yogurts are good alternatives to milk-based versions. Look for yogurt that has calcium added. Soy yogurt provides a good source of protein and overall is most similar to milk-based yogurt.
Eggs: For baking, you can use one of the following methods (per egg called for in recipe):
- One-quarter cup of unsweetened applesauce with one-half teaspoon of baking powder
- One-quarter cup of mashed banana (there may be a slight banana flavor)
- One tablespoon of ground flax seeds with three tablespoons of water; mix until water is fully absorbed
- Two tablespoons of water with one tablespoon of oil (vegetable or corn oil works best) and two teaspoons of baking powder
There are also powdered egg replacers that are free of the top eight allergens at most grocery stores.
Wheat: There are many wheat-free grains available, such as rice, corn, millet, potato, tapioca, and quinoa. Many of these grains are also made into wheat-free flours. You can find a number of gluten-free flours that can be used cup for cup for wheat flour.
One recipe for making your own wheat-free flour is to mix four cups superfine brown rice flour, one and one-third cups potato starch (not flour) and two-thirds of a cup of tapioca flour (sometimes called tapioca starch).
Peanut butter: Sunflower seed butter, soy butter, pea butter, and tahini (made from sesame) are common substitutes. Tree nut butters, such as almond or cashew butter, can be used by individuals who do not have a tree nut allergy.
Note that tree nut butters can be produced on equipment shared with other tree nuts and, in some cases, peanuts. Contact the manufacturer before eating these products.
Recipes Made Without Common Allergens
Food allergy free chocolate cake makes the whole family smile. Warm and comforting, you don’t have to wait for a birthday to celebrate cake.
Beanie burgers to the rescue! Warm weather and lazy days cry out for some fun and these scrumptious burgers do the trick.
Easy, peasy, pita pizza is the perfect afternoon snack or yummy lunch.
Seriously delicious and allergy free, this herbed prime rib roast is free of peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.
Learning to work with the ingredients you have on hand can be challenging, but it can also spur you on to be creative. Consider your options and invite the kids to share their ideas.