Top 8 Allergen Substitutions | Veggiecation© a Culinary-Nutrition Education Program About Vegetables
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 09:44

Top 8 Allergen Substitutions

Veggiecation’s primary audience is children. Therefore, we have to be especially careful and alert when it comes to food-borne allergies. Severe allergic reactions to food have been on the rise over the past several years.  Parents, schools, and after-school programs have to be highly sensitive to children with allergies. 

Veggiecation recipes use a variety of whole ingredients. We attempt to stay away from the Top 8 Allergens but at times, healthy recipes can call for ingredients such as milk, yogurt, or nut butters. We strive to make our Healthy Kids Cooking Classes a safe environment for ALL students so it is our responsibility to be creative and seek out suitable substitutions.


Because we are in the business of cooking and teaching children about healthy eating, we are aware of all of these great and super nutritious options for those with food allergies. We want to share this helpful information with those whom might not know where to begin when they learn that their child has a severe food allergy. Therefore, we have created a simple guide to basic substitutions for the 8 most common allergens. While this isn’t a complete list of the various options out there, we are certain you will find it helpful!

As always, please feel to contact us with questions that you may have!


Cheese Substitutions

  • Daiya Cheese – This non-dairy alternative to cheese is most popular for its ability to melt, stretch, and shred like most dairy-based cheeses. The main ingredients in daiya cheese are tapioca and/or arrowroot flours. Note: Daiya is generally higher in sodium than soy cheese.
  • Soy Cheese – Soy cheese is another great dairy free alternative for cheese; in fact, it’s probably one of the more popular, or at least, most common non-dairy cheeses.  Note: If there is a severe dairy allergy, soy cheese sometimes contains a dairy protein called casein. Please read labels carefully!
  • Nutritional Yeast – Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that can be sprinkled on top of pastas and baked into “cheesy” dishes. It’s great as a topping for popcorn, mashed potatoes, and scrambled tofu. Note: Nutritional yeast is one of the highest non-animal sources of vitamin B.

Butter Substitutions

  • Oil Based Substitutions – Products such as Earth Balance are a great cholesterol free butter substitution.
  • Avocado – Has a spreadable consistency similar to that of butter. If it’s not flavorful enough, add a sprinkle of salt to make it more like butter.
  • Coconut Oil – Coconut oil is naturally thick like butter and spreads easily. Use instead of butter when baking.

Milk & Yogurt Substitutions – There are so many awesome alternatives to traditional dairy! The main and most important difference between non-dairy milk/yogurt is taste preference. Most come in original, unsweetened, and vanilla flavors. We recommend you try the various options and make sure to read labels. Note: When purchasing non-dairy milks, make note of the amount of sugar found in the various options.

  • Soy
  • Almond
  • Rice
  • Hemp
  • Coconut
  • Cashew
  • Flax

Wheat Substitutions

Quinoa, Corn, or Rice Noodles – These are some of the more popular options for gluten free pastas that have been introduced to the market over the past few years. The texture and taste of these three options are some of the highest rated among gluten free pasta options.

Shirataki Noodles – Made from the konnyaku yam and tofu, these noodles are super low calorie and low carb. One serving is only 20 calories!

Flax & Rice Crackers – As far of gluten free crackers go, these are two favorites of ours! Generally, these are the least processed and contain the least amount of ingredients.

Peanut and Treenut Substitutions

Nut Substitutions – Seed butters such as sunflower butter and tahini (made from sesame seeds) are the best alternative to nut butters as the texture is most similar. 


Flax or Chia “Egg” – Mix 1 tbsp flax or chia with 3 tbsp and refrigerate for at least 15 mins but an hour is best. This type of “egg” makes for a great binder in pancakes, veggie patties, and baked goods.

Veganaise – Veganaise is an egg-free mayonnaise product. Another option would be something Canola Whipp, but Veganasie is the most popular brand out there.

Fish & Shellfish

Kelp Flakes – Use this sea vegetable to add that desirable salty, sea flavoring to any dish. For example, use in our Chick Pea Tuna recipe of the month! 


Soy is fairly easy to avoid as long as you read ingredients. Some big soy ingredients that you’ll want to avoid if you or your child has an allergy is tofu, tempeh, soy sauce, edamame and all other non-dairy soy based products. Make sure other plant based proteins that you may use, such as seitan (wheat protein), don’t use soy in their marinade.

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