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I recently found out through my doctor that I have the following food allergies; soy, wheat, peanut, dairy, eggwhite.

Now I figured if I am to cut this stuff from my diet I might as well cut out the bad like sugar(only the refined, corn syrups, artificial, and other heavy weights)

I have been eating a lot of grilled meats and veggies, I love rice. but yeah, It's difficult to be creative if your only used to cooking one certain way, and this is really difficult to stick to and to do on a low budget in the US.

Any tips, advice etc welcome!

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  1. wow, thats a difficult set of allergies. Rice is good and cheap, you can still do a lot of asian food with ginger and garlic and things like that without getting too expensive. Visit asian markets near you if there are any. Buying vegetables in season will help a little. Rice noodles will also offer a little variety from just rice, and if purchased at an asian market will be much cheaper then at your standard grocery store.

    Peanut is pretty easy to avoid, so many foods are in peanut free facilities because of how common it has become, dairy is one to watch out for, my nephew is dairy allergy so I know all the different protein names to watch out for. Soy is more difficult, its used a number of things as a protein that you might not expect.

    1. The good thing about allergies means you are forced to cook more for yourself, which while it can be time consuming, a little more expensive and difficult, at least you can control exactly what you're eating and eat much healthier and better tasting foods in my opinion. Just try to buy as much raw basic things as you can and stay away from processed stuff.

      1. Asian isn't a good idea if you are allergic to soy and peanuts. Risotto is good. Maybe Mexican food if you can eat corn.

        20 Replies
        1. re: Helene Goldberg

          you can use the base of asian food as a start, rice, rice noodles, rice flour, and expand from there, you don't have to use tofu or soy, and japanese cuisine has no peanuts at all. You can use ginger, you can use garlic and still have a good meal with rice.

          1. re: TeRReT

            I had some wasabi cucumbers the other day mmmm so much yum w/ a little bite. w/out soy sauce and yes it had sugar... but I absolutely love the sweet/spicy thing

            1. re: Ssica

              That does sound very good.

              Basically I'd centre your diet around rice now that I am thinking about it. Rice bread is fine, rice milk for milk is fine, they are definitely more expensive then standard ingredients though. Maybe investing in a bread maker and making your own rice bread? You could kneed rice or another gluten free flour dough in it for pizza dough as well, can do a nice pizza with no cheese.

              Vinegars will be good for flavour, rice wine vinegar in asian, balsamic vinegars can be used in sauces as well to give different flavours, also with cooking vegetables.

              Nutrition wise you're fine, you can get proteins and meat easy enough, its calcium that you'll have to be careful with. Did the doctor suggest any form of calcium suppliments or anything? There are foods that have calcium that aren't dairy, but its just one thing you'll have to be careful of.

              Also, maybe small planters with herbs and tomatos or any other simple produce you could grow yourself would help offset costs of foods. Lots of herbs like cilantro can bring a lot of flavour to the table and go well with rice.

              1. re: TeRReT

                yeah, I've been taking some calcium supplement pills... but I do have my doubts on how effective they actually are..

                1. re: Ssica

                  eating canned sardines is a great way to get calcium, so are dark leafy greens.

                  i'd avoid buying processed low-carb, allergen-free "foods". they tend to be very expensive and far less delicious than anything you make from from scratch. same goes for vegan products. they use all sorts of weird oils and starches that i wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole.

                  a google search for low-carb, even primal/paleo, recipes will get you on a good foot. eliminating processed foods will go a very long to improving your health.

                  look for cheaper cuts of meat, like thighs instead of chicken breast, pork shoulder instead of loin, and learn to work with foods like chicken liver and gizzards. these foods are super cheap, and offal cuts are chock full of minerals and proteins vs. lean muscle meat.

                  soups, stews, braises, egg custards using only the yolks with unsweetened almond or coconut milk.

                  i buy herbs and leafy greens at asian markets for pennies and use them profusely in dishes.

                  egg yolks are where most of the flavor and nutrition is, so eat up. give the whites to the dog. :) cholesterol from food does not translate to elevated cholesterol in the blood and eggs are VERY cheap.

                  as for sugar or hfcs, vs. agave, your body reads sugar as sugar. you can eliminate it entirely for better health. for occasional baked treats i use almond or coconut flour with stevia.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    "as for sugar or hfcs, vs. agave, your body reads sugar as sugar."

                    That line is good advertising copy for the corn consortium, but the bottom line is that it is just not true. A LOT of people are allergic to corn syrups, many of them allergic to high fructose corn syrups specifically. All bodies do not read the same! Just for the record.

                    1. re: Caroline1

                      as far as the insulin response goes, sugar is sugar is sugar.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        The insulin response is NOT the only response a body can have to corn syrups. Some of these corn syrup (especially high fructose corn syrup) reactions can trigger anaphylactic shock. THAT can be lethal. Sugar is NOT "just" sugar. Despite what that lovely little commercial says to confuse people, the body does react differently to different kinds of sugars. Anaphylaxis is not something to mess around with. Been there. Done that. It is not a party anyone wants to go to a second time. Trust me!

                        1. re: Caroline1

                          Yes, also sugar is not all the same according to the glycemic index either. If you are someone that needs to keep a stable blood sugar for any reason (not just diabetics) or you are trying to deal with hunger responses and cravings, etc., the glycemic index is helpful in understanding how the body breaks down sugars.

                          I think the "sugar is sugar" saying is from a commercial promoting HFCS. I know I have heard that somewhere before anyway (not just from here).

                          1. re: sedimental

                            Yup. It's a commerical paid for by the good folks who make hfc's, and just brimming with misinformation! Bless their hears. Anything for a buck.

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              abnormal cells in the body (read cancer tumors) also seem to have a marked preference for hfcs over regular sugar-- it causes tumors to grow quickly.


                              1. re: soupkitten

                                oh, duh. i got off tangent on the sugar stuff, but i wanted to tell the op that the allergy set is similar to that of some people i used to cook for. their favorite comfort food which replaced all the baked goods they loved but could no longer eat was a coconut milk rice pudding (vegan). i swear i made that stuff by the gallon, it was poplar not just for dessert, but breakfast and snacks as well.

                                the tip to check out indian recipes is a good idea, too.

                              2. re: Caroline1

                                i am not pro-sugar. i don't eat it in any form except for occasional berries or in-season stone-fruits. no white or brown sugar, no molasses, no honey, no agave, no hfcs, etc.

                                the op isn't allergic to sugar or hfcs, but seemed to be making a distinction between good and bad sugars.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  I didn't say you are pro-sugar. But I will say you aren't doing anyone a favor with your "sugar is sugar is sugar" remarks simply because that is absolutely NOT true.

                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    as far as the insulin response it is true.

                                    as for the glycemic index, that has been falling out of fashion, with more people relying on the glycemic load of foods. even that cuts a wide swath, determined by what else is in your system and what you eat at the same time.

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      You just don't get it. Oh, well. We tried.

                  2. re: TeRReT

                    I just miss the easy lifestyle... -_- I think I might start growing my own food to cut costs because I don't like spending money...

                1. re: Ssica

                  Polenta is a great starch and can be a base for many red-sauce Italian dishes like chicken cacchitore or meatballs, which are not very expensive to make and last a few days.

                  1. re: jenhen2

                    Polenta and its near-twin grits can both be used in mush format or firmed-up overnite and served crispy.

              2. You might check out Gluten free, vegan and low carb specialty products. They are not necessarily cheap, but in my town we have a bargain health food store and I have found really great things to try. Check out web sties for recipes for these diets as well. You can learn about interesting substitutes like flax meal as a substitute for egg in recipes. The paleo diet is largely based on meats and veggies and there are GREAT recipes all over the web for this diet as it is pretty wildly popular right now.

                I eat low carb (by choice for good health) and it was challenging at first, but learning about products and substitutions really made it interesting and fun.

                1. There are a lot of good products out there now. I know my nephew uses becel vegan margerine, but it does have soy in it, there is an earth balance margerine that is egg-free, soy-free, dairy-free, so you can use it as your butter, you can bake with it as well. I have made cakes with the becel for my nephew's birthday, the recipe called for earth balance but i didn't hae it so that should work fine. I am not sure about us, but the earth balance was available in canada, so i'd expect you could get your hands on it too.

                  Most things i'd try to make myself, but certain things like margerine and a few other health products i'd splurge on, they can be very useful.

                  1. The good news is that what you're allergic to today, you may not be allergic to tomorrow. Ask you allergist to teach you how to do a challenge, then test yourself every few months. Couldn't hurt! I have about sixteen tons of allergies, mostly acquired through blood transfusions. Immediately following the transfusions, I was allergic to ALL foods except white rice. I had a brilliant allergist, and I'm very happy to say that today there's not a whole lot left that I can't eat There *IS* hope!

                    For the dairy allergies (bummer!) some obvious answers are things like soy milk, almond milk, rice milk (I think there's a recipe for making your own horchata somewhere on the Chow boards). An obvious is olive oil in place of butter, and unless you're replacing grass fed butter, you'll be doing your heart a favor at the same time. Nut butters can also add interesting texture and flavors to many dishes.

                    If you really enjoy custards and such, you can compensate for the loss of eggs by making things like panna cottas and other dishes that use gelatins and such instead of eggs to give the dish substance. You might like the texture of agar agar flakes instead of gelatin. Agar agar is basically a vegetable gelatin instead of animal based and has the interesting advantages of setting at room temperature and holding its shape at room temperature as well. It's also called kanten, and you can find recipes using it on the web. It's used in a lot of Japanese dishes that are excellent.

                    Other than that, avoidance is your friend. There are lots of interesting nut butters that will compensate for the loss of peanut butter. I'm quite fond of almond butter and have (so far) successfully resisted the temptation to check out the fat content compared to peanut butter. But almonds are said to have great health benefits, so I'm happy leaving it there.

                    If you have an Asian market nearby, you'll find lots of good stuff there that will help you avoid your allergy triggers. For example, they have tons and tons of rice noodles and "pastas" that are wheat free and delicious. Even though the labels may be in Chinese, Japanese, or some other puzzling language, they will all have clear labels in English, so it's easy to avoid wheat and soy.

                    For the most part, cooking from scratch is the best way to control the allergies and (fortunately) the best way to control costs. Who knows? You may discover some fun and delicious dishes with this kind of challenge. Good luck and enjoy!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Caroline1

                      I agree with this. At the height of my weird symptoms, my tests showed I was allergic to wheat, soy, dairy, pork, beef, shellfish, peanuts and legumes, various vegetables, yeast and more besides. Once things had settled down a bit I was, and still am, able to eat pretty much anything, though I do understand how hard it is in the short term.

                      Anyway, you still have meat, fish, shellfish to work with. Roast chicken/beef/pork, roast potatoes, all kinds of vegetables. Stirfried chicken or prawns with vegetables, flavoured with coriander, lime juice, sesame oil, fish sauce, chilli. Fajitas made with corn tortillas (?) guacamole and salsa. Pretty much any kind of vegetable soup that isn't finished with cream. Chicken soup with rice noodles? Thai curries with coconut milk, served with rice. There was a Cookbook Of The Month a while back called Seduction of Rice, maybe you could look through those threads and see if anything meets your requirements.

                      It's my understanding that a "dairy" allergy may only be an allergy to certain things, and one day goat's milk, or hard cheese, might be ok, and beef might not.

                      Good luck!

                    2. Quinoa is a delicious grain which can be made Into any number of dishes.
                      Coconut milk and coconut butter are excellent alternatives to dairy.
                      Embrace the beans and lentils. You can substitute oil in Indian dishes, and make any number of dishes to serve with rice.
                      Soups and stews will mix it up a little. Use arrowroot powder in lieu of flour if necessary.
                      Fish -- poached, grilled, baked in parchment
                      Embrace fresh herbs and a variety of produce. Mix it up with your veggies -- raw, roasted, sautéed, steamed. Add fruits to savory dishes.
                      Concentrate on what you can eat, rather than on what you can't. It may encourage you to mix up your technique a little.

                      1. Are you able to eat rye and spelt? If so you can use them for your bread.

                        1. Folks, just a quick reminder that medical advice is off-topic here. If you've got recipe suggestions for the original poster that's great, but please don't go into suggesting medical tests, doctors visits, etc.

                          1. Some things I make as I have similar allergies:
                            -salmon croquettes - just use egg yolk no white and almond meal to bind, mix in chopped cooked onions, S & P, and chopped parsley. pan sear or bake
                            -polenta - you can sub soy-free Earth Balance and nutritional yeast for parmesan
                            -spaghetti squash with whatever sauce you like
                            -zucchini noodles or black bean or corn spaghetti with turkey meatballs (i use lean ground meat and egg yolk to bind and add a bit of fat) along with almond meal, herbs, onions, etc
                            -(turkey) meatloaf - again using egg yolks and almond meal along with whatever else i'm using
                            -enchiladas - chicken roasted and sauteed with onions and green chiles, filled corn tortillas with other veggies and topped with homemade enchilada sauce and baked
                            -soups - i use almond milk to make creamy if desired
                            -lentil cakes
                            -pancakes - use egg yolks or a little fruit puree, almond or rice milk, sorghum flour, sweet rice flour, white rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch, and leavener
                            -stuffed potato skins
                            -chicken cacciatorre
                            -lemon curd - i use egg yolks only and then sub earth balance
                            -seared scallops with crispy lentils
                            -broiled/seared fish with a lemon sauce or pumpkin sauce or checca or whatever i have on hand

                            ...i could go on and on... hope something helps! and i hope for you things change!

                            1. I hear you, to a certain extent - I don't have allergies per se, but I have serious difficulty digesting a lot of things like gluten, dairy, red meat, raw veg.. so I had to cut them out (mostly).

                              It gets easier, first off. I almost never miss things I used to eat in abundance, because I 'forget' what they're like after 3+ years. Since I suspected this might be the case, for the first little while I avoided eating substitute foods -- gluten-free bread, rice milk, etc. -- because before I had 'forgotten' what the originals tasted like, the subs seemed much lesser. Another argument in favour of this strategy is that specialty diet packaged foods are invariably more expensive. Even now, I buy a loaf of gluten-free bread maybe once every couple of months. There are just more interesting options out there.

                              Don't: pity yourself (not implying you do, but I sure did for a time). Do: learn the sneaky names that allergens assume in ingredients lists. The internet is a great resource for us these days.

                              Quinoa is great as a grain, as someone mentioned, and millet is also a nice one that you can prepare somewhat like rice and is pretty cheap (check Asian markets or aisles). If you can get your hands on it, buckwheat (kasha) and amaranth are both good. Consider having a (sweet or regular) potato instead of a grain as a starch with your meal, and consider the simple creation of stacks of homemade corn tortillas made with cheap masa harina.

                              Honey, molasses, maple syrup, palm sugar, and agave all have their merits as sweeteners. Homemade (to cut the sugar) apple sauce or overripe bananas do the trick for sweetness in baking. Sugar is addictive so you will definitely find you use less sweeteners over time if you cut down now. You have it tougher in the US than I do in Canada, where we don't really have the same problem with so much high-fructose corn syrup, but you can do it!

                              Water + ground flax (and/or chia) seed is a great binder that behaves like egg whites, and there are many delicious non-dairy 'milks' (I'm partial to almond or coconut milk) that you can use just like you would cow's milk. Non-peanut nut butters are just as good (cashew! almond!), and are often available either in bulk at a health store, or in jars at a regular market.

                              I drink orange juice that's fortified with vitamin D + calcium, as pill-form supplements make me kind of nauseous.

                              Finally, I'll mention that I was worried about the cost of this diet when I first started on it, but I've found that the higher product cost is offset by the lower dining-out cost -- I just can't eat at as many restaurants, so I grab convenience meals much less frequently. Do stock up when something expensive goes on sale, and periodically hit up someone with a Costco card if you don't have one. I've gotten some of these things much, much cheaper there (almond milk, gluten-free pasta, Mary's crackers, nut butters, granola-type bars like Kind or Lara).

                              I can post some links for you to allergen-reduced recipes or ideas I've tried and had success with, if you'd like. Hope this helps! :)

                              1. Some ideas for the starch part of your meals --

                                Potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, celery root, jerusalem artichokes
                                plaintains, refried beans
                                winter squash, garbanzos, lentils