Allergy Free Cooking

Adverse food reactions, also called food allergies and food intolerances, affect millions of people, and are believed to cause a variety of common health complaints and diseases.

If you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, recurrent otitis media, rheumatoid arthritis, or asthma, you may have been counseled by your health care practitioner to eat a more hypoallergenic diet.

That's because a great deal of scientific research indicates that eating certain foods, most notably wheat, dairy products, eggs, soy foods, yeast, and artificial colorings may cause allergic reactions, resulting in a variety of health complaints.

Unfortunately, the above-mentioned foods are widespread in the American food supply, and it is very difficult to avoid them, and it is often overwhelming to attempt to plan a hypoallergenic diet. To make the task easier, read the article titled Allergy Avoidance Diet, and read the following tips.

Many nutritionists and physicians believe that the only definitive way to identify and manage adverse food reactions is through an Allergy Avoidance Diet. Because the recipes on our website are prepared from minimally processed whole foods, you'll find very few "hidden ingredients" when meal planning from our recipes regardless of whether you are planning for wheat-free, soy-free, or other allergy-avoidance meals. But when you venture out into the grocery store and are selecting from highly processed foods, hidden ingredients are common.

Dairy-free meal planning

In addition to cow's milk itself, products made from cow's milk including yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, half and half, cottage cheese, hard and soft cheeses, butter, and puddings can be made from cow's milk. One of the most common allergenic proteins in cow's milk is called casein, and all variations of this word appearing on an ingredient list signify the presence of cow's milk as a food source: casein, caseinate, calcium caseinate, ammonia caseinate, magnesium caseinate, potassium caseinate, and sodium caseinate. Casein can be used in food processing as an extender, tenderizer, and protein fortifier, and can be found in unexpected places, including chewing gum and imitation sausage. The words "non-dairy" do not necessarily mean that a product does not contain casein, and many non-dairy products on the market, including soy cheeses, almond cheeses, and rice cheeses use casein as a primary protein-boosting ingredient.

Wheat-free meal planning

All of wheat's components, including wheat bran, wheat germ, wheat starch, wheat nuts, and wheat berries would be excluded from a wheat-free meal plan. Similarly, any type of wheat, including bulgar, durum, and graham would be excluded. Semolina, seitan, triticale, couscous, and tabouleh would also be avoided, along with any product containing the word "gluten" (or a variation of this word) in its ingredient list. These include high-gluten flour, vital gluten, and wheat gluten. Much more hidden are the food additives that may or may not be made from wheat. These additives include:

  • Dextrin, an incompletely hydrolyzed starch that may be derived from the dry heating of corn, potato, rice, tapioca, arrowroot, or wheat
  • Caramel color, which can be made from heat treatment of many food-grade carbohydrates, including molasses, corn sugar, invert sugar, milk sugar, barley malt syrup, or wheat starch hydrolysates
  • Extracts, including vanillin extract, which often use grain alcohol in preparation of the extract and contain wheat protein residues Egg-free meal planningThe dessert sections of the grocery store contain the most egg-based products, including puddings, custards, ice creams, cakes, cookies, meringues, cream-filled or fondant-filled chocolates, fudge, icings and frostings, doughnuts, and muffins.

Baked goods and baking mixes also frequently contain egg. The list here includes waffles and waffle mixes, pancakes and pancake mixes, and french toast. Egg noodles, breaded meats, breaded fish, breaded poultry, souffles, hollandaise sauce, most mayonnaise, meat loaf, some sausages, many fried rice dishes, egg drop soups, egg noodle-containing soups, and egg substitutes can also contain egg. On an ingredient list, any of the following words would also indicate the presence of egg: albumin, egg white, egg yolk, dried egg, egg powder, egg solids, ovalbumin, ovomucin, ovomucoid, ovovitellin, and livetin. The fat substitute Simplesse(TM) also contains microparticulated egg protein.

Soy-free meal planning

An ever-increasing number of ingredient-listed items can include some soybean-derived component. Items that indicate or may indicate the presence of soy include: hydrolyzed soy protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, texturized vegetable protein (TVP), soy flour, soy grits, soy nuts, soy milk, soy sprouts, isolated vegetable protein, vegetable gum, vegetable broth, or natural flavoring. Soy sauce, shoyu, tamari, miso, tofu, tempeh, soy curd, and soy granules would all be avoided on a soy-free meal plan.

Yeast-free meal planning

A yeast-free meal plan is one of the most confusing to implement because of the controversies surrounding residual amounts of yeast in many commercially-prepared, processed foods. For example, small amounts of yeast many become present during the drying of tea, coffee, and spices. The culturing of yeast is also used a starting point for commercial production of fermented products, including vinegars and ciders. Citric acid, a food additive, is also derived from yeast-culturing and yeast-fermenting processes. Many cow's milk-containing products also contain yeast, since yeasts thrive on milk sugar (lactose). This list of products typically includes sour cream, buttermilk, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and powdered milk. Because yeasts also thrive on concentrated sugars, many canned and frozen fruit juices, and particular fruit juice concentrates, can contain yeast. Since the mid 1970s, several dozen research studies on this topic have appeared in food science journals.

This page was updated on: 2002-11-22 18:11:54
© 2002 The George Mateljan Foundation