7 Alternative Foods for People with Food Allergies
If you suffer from food allergies, finding healthy substitutes can be challenging. Here are some suggestions that may help.

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picture of a sweet potatoe 7 Alternative Foods for People with Food Allergies

Eight foods account for 90 percent of all food allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. Eight may not seem like a large number. But each one of these foods shows up as the main or minor ingredient in countless fresh, frozen, and processed foods.

Depending on your specific allergy, finding safe foods to eat can be challenging. That's especially true if you are looking to replace the nutrients you may be missing by avoiding some of these common foods. Check out the following list for some helpful suggestions.

If you need to avoid nuts, avocados can be an ideal source of healthy fat. Avocados are also a very good source of fiber, potassium, folic acid, and B vitamins. Here are some ideas for including them in your diet:

  • Mix together 1 cup each of corn and salsa. Mix with one diced avocado.
  • Cut avocado in half and remove the pit. Sprinkle with lemon juice and a dash of salt. Eat out of the shell as a snack.
  • Add sliced avocado to sandwiches and salads.

Just keep in mind that if you have a latex sensitivity or are allergic to melons, you may have a reaction to avocados.

Dark leafy greens
Working in enough food sources of calcium can be a challenge if you are allergic to dairy. Greens such as bok choy, broccoli, spinach, and kale are good nondairy sources of calcium. They are also rich sources of vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, folate, and fiber. Try these ideas at mealtime:

  • Saute greens with onion and garlic. Eat as is or add chicken and serve over brown rice for a complete meal.
  • Add to soups toward the end of cooking.
  • Lightly steam or saute and add to pasta sauce.

Lentils and other beans
Lentils and other beans such as black, navy, kidney, or pinto are all part of the legume family, just like peanuts are. According to allergy experts, if you're allergic to peanuts, you have a chance of having an allergic reaction to other legumes. Check with your doctor first to see if you can safely eat other members of the legume family.

Beans, like greens, are good nondairy sources of calcium. They are also prized for their high fiber content. What's more, they are high in protein, iron, zinc, folic acid, and magnesium. Beans are versatile and easy to store. They're also easy to add to your diet.

  • Add 1/2 cup of beans to any salad.
  • Mix beans with brown rice and vegetables for a delicious side.
  • Add white or garbanzo beans to pasta sauce.
  • Use legumes in soups such as lentil, barley, split pea, minestrone, and black bean.

Quinoa is technically a seed. But it's considered a whole grain because of its grain-like nutritional profile. Quinoa has become popular with many who are allergic to wheat. It contains more protein than any other grain, and is a good source of fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron.

  • One of the best things about quinoa is that it cooks quickly. Just simmer in water or broth for 15 minutes and it's done.
  • Add nuts and fruit to cooked quinoa and serve for breakfast.
  • Toss it raw into soups and let it cook right in the soup broth.
  • Use in pilafs or as a base for a grain salad.
  • Try quinoa pasta, an alternative to wheat.

Rice milk
Rice milk is a popular alternative for those who are allergic to milk and also need to avoid soy. Though rice milk is usually fortified with calcium, it is very low in protein. If you choose rice milk as a dairy milk substitute, be sure to get your protein from other sources.

  • Make a smoothie with 1 cup of plain rice milk, one scoop of rice protein powder, a cup of juice, and a cup or so of frozen fruit.
  • Use rice milk in your favorite hot or cold cereal.

Sweet potatoes
If you need to eliminate wheat from your diet, sweet potatoes provide a nice source of complex carbohydrates. Brimming with nutrients, they are rich in fiber - especially if you keep the skin on - B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. There are lots of delicious ways to add sweet potatoes to your diet:

  • Make fries by slicing and lightly coating the slices with olive oil and your favorite spices. Bake until crispy, about 20 minutes, at 300 degrees F.
  • Steam chunks and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and salt.
  • Roast with onions and parsnips.
  • Bake and then sprinkle with cinnamon and trans-free butter spread.

Water chestnuts
Miss nuts? Though not technically a nut, water chestnuts are a tuber vegetable. They are crunchy and have a starchy, neutral taste, similar to a bland nut. Water chestnuts are low-calorie and a good source of fiber, B vitamins, potassium, and zinc.

  • Not just for Chinese food, water chestnuts can be used to add snap to all types of stir-fries and salads.
  • Eat these crunchy treats right out of the can for a tasty snack.
By Jane Schwartz Harrison, RD, Staff Nutritionist
Created on 03/10/2011
Updated on 03/11/2011
  • Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. Allergens.
  • American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Allergy statistics.
Copyright © OptumHealth.
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