Acidic marinades

     Most conventional marinades include some kind of acid (often wine, vinegar or a citrus juice) to help break down meat and tenderize it.  What if you need to avoid both fermented stuff (vinegar and wine) and citrusor food acids generally?   One solution is to use a base: a base can actually be more effective at tenderizing. Baking soda is effective on small pieces of meat such as thin-cut steaks or chunks of meat for stir frying or shish kabobs. Stir 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into a cup of water, use it to treat 1 pound of meat for half an hour, and rinse thoroughly. Do not increase the proportion of baking soda. Remember that the stuff has a nasty, bitter flavor, so you don’t want to use too much of it. Also, if the meat is treated for too long it may become disagreeably mushy.

     Another approach is brining, which helps keep meat moist when it cooks.  You need ½ cup of salt per gallon of cold water. Boil a small amount of the water and use it to dissolve the salt. Chill this and stir it into the rest of the water. Immerse the meat and refrigerate overnight. The effect of brining penetrates deep: it works well on a large chunk of meat, such as a whole turkey.  Place a turkey into brine breast side down and leave it there for 12-24 hours: it’s the white meat that most needs help not drying out.

     Still another approach is to use an unusual source of acidic juice.  For example, if you have a juicer and rhubarb is in season, you can make rhubarb juice, which can be substituted for vinegar or lemon juice in any marinade recipe. Rhubarb juice is about the same pH as vinegar. (See my recipe for rhubarb juice marinade.) You need to peel the rhubarb so that the tough, stringy peel doesn't clog up your juicer.

     Meat that has been treated with baking soda or salt can still be marinated to pick up extra flavors. Indeed, soaking in an acidic marinade will help leech out any baking soda still lurking in your meat.

    Or forget marinating altogether and use a spice rub. (See Spice Rub.)


Apples simmered until soft,
ready for mashing
     Applesauce, which can be useful as a binder in wheat-free, eggless baking, shows up in lists of foods for people with yeast or mold allergies to avoid.  I assume this means enough yeasty, moldy old apples end up in commercial applesauce to be a problem. Fortunately, it is very easy to make your own applesauce. Just peel and core some apples and put them on the stove to simmer.  (The reason for peeling is that most grocery store apples are coated with wax containing corn, soy or dairy derivatives.) You may need to add a small amount of water to get the apples started.  After they are thoroughly soft, you can either mash them with a ricer or put them through a food processor.  If you like your applesauce on the thick side (which is better for baking), let them simmer a bit longer.
Mashed cooked apples:
i.e. applesauce


    Ethylene gas is used to ripen avocados. You wouldn't think it would penetrate such thick peels, but apparently some of it does, because some very corn-sensitive individuals do report reactions to avocados. Whether gassed avocados can be considered organic depends on which authority is doing the certifying.

Baby food

     Even baby food can contain allergens, especially if your baby has unusual allergies.  If you buy commercial baby food, read the complete list of ingredients on every label, every time. To really control what’s in the baby food, make your own using a blender or food-processor. Alter­natively, just put chunks of food on the kid’s highchair tray and don’t mind the mess he/she makes while becoming an independent eater. I raised one daughter who refused to be fed with a spoon, and I discovered that little overpriced jars of designated baby food are surprisingly unnecessary.

Baby formula

     There is now "hypoallergenic" baby formula on the market that is based on cow's milk.  The claim is that the milk in it is so thoroughly processed and the proteins in it are so broken down and denatured that they are no longer capable of eliciting an allergic response.  We tried one of these on our grandkid (allergic to milk and soy) when he was 8 or 9 months old.  In addition to a serious asthma attack, he developed a nasty rash. The poor kid had blisters over much of his body: he looked like he had been barely rescued from a house fire. It is possible these products are useful for some kids with a mild allergy to milk, but do exercise caution in relying on them.
     The other option, of course, is formula made from soy. Unfortunately, not only are there serious questions about whether soy is a safe, healthy alternative to milk, especially for babies (read, for example, The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla T. Daniel), soy is one of the most common food allergens.  
     If you have a serious family history of food allergies, you should think carefully before deciding to rely entirely on baby formula. What will you do if the kid is allergic to all commercial baby formulas? 


     Much of the bacon on the market has had corn, soy and other additives added to it, so be sure to read the label if you have food allergies. Applegate Uncured Sunday Bacon is one variety that contains only pork, sea salt, cane sugar and celery powder. It is notable not only for being free of gluten, casein and other allergens but also for being really excellent bacon.

Baking powder

      Commercial baking powder contains cornstarch.  If you need to avoid corn, you can easily mix up your own using tapioca starch instead:

     1 part baking soda
     1 part tapioca starch
     2 parts cream of tartar

     You only need the tapioca starch if you are planning to store the baking powder for a while.  The alternative is to replace each teaspoon of baking powder in a recipe with 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar plus 1/4 tsp. of baking soda.


     Ethylene gas is used to ripen bananas. You wouldn't think it would penetrate such thick peels, but apparently some of it does, because some very corn-sensitive individuals do report reactions to bananas. Whether gassed bananas can be considered organic depends on which authority is doing the certifying.


     Barley contains gluten.

Bouillon, beef or chicken

     Bouillon cubes, besides including multiple allergens (soy, corn, yeast,  etc.) consist largely of salt and MSG and contain a variety of chemicals. I would avoid them even if I weren't allergic to yeast and corn (see also Broth, beef or chicken, below).

Bread crumbs

     The boxes of bread crumbs in the grocery store come with great long lists of ingredients in addition to the obvious fact that they’re full of wheat and yeast.  A substitute that works well in meatballs and gives a good crunch to fried foods is made from cereal. Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice, which consists entirely of organic brown rice, organic brown rice syrup and sea salt, is a good choice. Perky's Crunchy Flax was excellent, too, but has gone off the market. Just put a couple of cups or so of dry cereal into a food-processor and let it noisily grind away until it acquires the texture of fine bread crumbs. You need to grind up a large enough batch for the food-processor to work on it properly.  Keep whatever you don’t need immediately in an airtight container.
     Update: Lately I can't find Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice either. Full Circle Market Organic Toasted Oats makes excellent bread crumbs and lists only "organic whole grain oats, organic rice, organic cane sugar, sea salt, calcium carbonate tocopherols (antioxidants to maintain freshness)" as ingredients. Note that oats may contain wheat (because farms sometimes rotate oat and wheat crops) and tocopherols can be a soy product.
     If the waxy coating (possibly containing corn, soy or dairy) on the packaging is a concern and you want the bread crumbs for meatballs, try this recipe for mostly authentic Swedish meatballs or this recipe for egg-free, bread-crumb-free Turkish meatballs.

Broth, beef or chicken

    There is, of course, plenty of perfectly good chicken broth and beef broth on the market. Most of it, however, comes in paperboard cartons covered with a waxy coating likely to contain corn, soy and/or dairy derivatives. If you are very allergic to any of those ingredients, this could be a problem.  Opening enough cans of broth for a big pot of soup is a possibility, of course, but it’s kind of an expensive nuisance.
     Meanwhile, making your own stock is really quite easy. (To be technical, ‘broth’ is made from meat and ‘stock’ is made from bones; many people use the terms interchangeably.) Put your soup bones in a pot. Some people prefer to roast them first. If you’re making chicken or turkey stock, you can slice up and throw in the giblets (neck, heart, gizzard).  I don’t like liver, so I leave that out. Many recipes recommend you add vegetables (such as carrots, celery and onion) and herbs (parsley, bay leaves, etc.)  These additions can give your stock a deeper, richer flavor, but they aren’t strictly necessary.  In fact, you may prefer to choose them according to what you intend to do with the stock.  If your plan is to make mushroom soup, go ahead and throw bay leaf into the stock pot; if you're getting ready to make wonton soup, leave it out.  Add enough water to cover, bring to a boil, and simmer.  Add water as needed to keep the bones covered. 
     Recipes vary as to how long you need to simmer your stock.  Some insist on 6 or 12 hours.  Frankly, most of the flavor is out of the bones and into the stock after a couple of hours.  You can keep cooking it after that, and the flavor will continue to intensify; however, if you need to get on with making your gravy or soup, or you have something else to go do, any time after a couple hours is fine.
     Discard the bones; strain; chill. When the stock is cold, the fat will congeal on top of it; it can then be removed easily.

Chicken stock simmered for 3 hours

     Alternatively, consider making mushroom broth, which is also an excellent base for soups, gravies and sauces.


     Buckwheat is not related to wheat, in spite of the name.  It does not contain gluten.


     I sometimes see the advice that butter is safe for people with a milk allergy because it is the proteins in milk that can cause allergies, not the butterfat. Butter is not, however, 100% protein-free, and at least some people react to it.  
     A similar argument is sometimes made that clarified butter (ghee) has had its watery portion (which contains a small amount of milk proteins) removed and is therefore nonallergenic. I tried cooking with ghee a couple of times and made the grandkid sick, so that theory isn't entirely right either.  


     You may hear that people who are allergic to milk can still eat cheese. Indeed, some folks who are mildly allergic to milk are able to eat some amount of cheese.
     Our grandkid, who was very allergic to both cow’s milk and goat’s milk when he was little, was sickened by both cow’s milk cheese and goat’s milk cheese. However, miraculously, he could snarf sheep’s milk cheese with no ill effects, so we relied heavily on three cheeses for a while:

  1. Feta can be made from cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s milk. You have to read the list of ingredients to see which it is.
  2. Pecorino romano (i.e., Roman sheep) is a delicious hard cheese with very much the same texture as Parmesan, for which it is an excellent substitute.
  3. Manchego, which is made from sheep’s milk, has a texture similar to Swiss without the holes.
     Do note that “egg lysozome” is sometimes an ingredient in cheese, especially Manchego. If you are very allergic to eggs, watch for this on cheese labels. 
     Corn can turn up in cheese without showing up on the label. 
     Cheese is also generally fermented and thus can contain yeast and/or mold. Obviously some cheeses (e.g., blue cheese and brie) are a lot moldier than others (e.g., fresh feta and fresh mozzarella).

Citric Acid
     Citric acid is generally made by fermenting corn or soy. Thus, it may be problematic for anyone very allergic to corn, soy, mold or yeast.

     See Juice, citrus.


     Instant cocoa drinks generally contain dairy and a variety of corn products. Pure cocoa is likely to have less, but it may contain a small amount of cornstarch to prevent it from caking, or there may be corn products in the packaging.


     Coconuts do not grow on nut trees; they grow on palm trees. Neither the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology nor the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network considers them to be tree nuts. The European Union does not consider them to be nuts. They are not cross-reactive with nuts. Nevertheless, the FDA considers coconuts to be tree nuts and requires tree nut allergy labeling for foods containing coconut. (Is there a nut lobby that pushed for this?) 

   Coconut allergy, however, can be serious: by all means, talk with your allergist and/or have yourself tested if you have food allergies and aren't sure how you react to coconut.

Coconut milk
     See Milk. Also see Coconut and Whipped Cream.


     Not only do corn products show up in instant coffee as anti-caking agents; corn, soy and other impurities show up in ground coffee and whole beans as well.


     Corn is in most foods. For a listing of corn ingredients, I recommend this site.

Corn starch

     Corn starch is often used for thickening (pie fillings, puddings, gravies, etc.) In most recipes the corn starch can be replaced with the same amount of tapioca flour (sometimes labeled as tapioca starch).
Condensed milk, sweetened
     See Milk, sweetened condensed.


     Cream, besides being a dairy product, usually comes in a wax-coated carton and is therefore likely to be contaminated with some amount of corn, soy and/or dairy.

Cream, sour

     Sour cream often contains cornstarch, presumably as a thickener. Be sure to check the label if you are allergic to corn.  If you can’t find any corn-free sour cream, you can make your own by culturing whipping cream exactly as you would culture milk to make yogurt, assuming you aren’t allergic to dairy or the traces of yeast that might show up in a fermented product and that you can find some cream that doesn’t come in a carton coated with wax containing corn or soy. I don’t give a recipe here, but I will observe that fresh, homemade sour cream is easy to make and that it is delicious.

Cream, whipped
     See Whipped cream.

Crust, pizza
     See Pizza crust.

     See Produce.


     In many recipes (baked goods, meatloaf, etc.--not custard or angel food) you can replace an egg with:

          1 Tb. flaxseed meal
          3 Tb. water

     Just stir the flaxseed meal into the water in a small pan, bring it to a boil and set it aside to cool for a few minutes.
     Be aware that there is also something called "egg replacer" on the market. Besides containing cellulose which may have been derived from corn, this product has not performed well for me at holding together gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free cakes, even when I have tried to compensate by adding extra egg replacer. My worst baking disaster ever involved a Namaste brownie mix and egg replacer: I produced a flat, brown brick lying under a layer of oil.  


     I am aware of only one brand of eggnog which contains no eggs or dairy products and is not made of soy.  So Delicious Holiday Nog lists only organic coconut milk, cane sugar, natural flavor, guar gum, sea salt, nutmeg, xanthan gum and annatto as ingredients.  Because of the xanthan gum, flavoring and paperboard packaging it probably contains a small amount of corn (and possibly soy). The taste is excellent.

     See Cheese.

Flaxseed meal

     Like egg, flaxseed meal is a useful binder. It can help gluten-free baked goods hold together.  I use it, for example, in nonallergenic pie crust.  Also see Egg.

Flour, Wheat
     Wheat flour is likely to contain corn, especially if it has been bleached or enriched. 

     See Baby formula.

     It is common for thin-skinned, sweet fruit to have yeast on its outer surface: yeast likes sugar.  In some cases, such as grapes and blueberries, you can actually see the yeast. 
     Dried fruit, such as raisins and dates, is generally covered with yeast.

Fruit juice
     See Juice.

     See Butter.

     See Fruit.

     Most honey is adulterated with corn. Bees find their way to cornfields, and even if they don't some beekeepers routinely feed bees corn syrup when they confiscate their honey.


     Bottled fruit juices show up in lists of foods for people with yeast or mold allergies to avoid. I assume this means enough yeasty, moldy old produce ends up in such juice to be a problem. The canning process, of course, kills any yeast or mold, but it doesn't make it go away: it's still there, and it's still allergenic. Do your own juicing.

Juice, citrus

     In the process of avoiding vinegar, I frequently rely on lemon juice or another citrus juice.  I'm rather glad I'm not allergic to citrus fruit, but I do have recommendations for getting a bit of tartness into a salad using neither vinegar nor citrus juice.

     One of the best options is raw sorrel, a beautiful, tasty green leaf with a distinctly sour, citrus-like flavor.  With a handful of chopped sorrel in a green salad, you really don’t need any dressing other than oil and salt. Sorrel isn’t often available in the grocery store, but it is exceedingly prolific and easy to grow in a garden.  

     Another possibility is a spice with a lively, tart flavor: sumac, which is a variety of ground, dried berries. A veggie salad dressed with olive oil, salt, and a sprinkle of sumac is delicious. Sumac, being a dried fruit, probably does contain some tiny trace of yeast; I can’t detect any effect of that trace within a sprinkle of the stuff (which does not mean that no one can).

     Pomegranate juice can be put to good use in vinegar-free, citrus-free pomegranate vinaigrette.

     Still another option is vinegar-free, citrus-free cranberry salad dressing.


     Kamut is a variety of wheat and contains gluten.


     Kombucha is the yeastiest brew I know of. No one with a yeast allergy should mess with it.


     Lecithin is usually derived from soy; occasionally, from eggs. The amount of soy lecithin in, say, a candy bar, depending on one's level of sensitivity, may or may not set off an allergy attack. There is soy-free chocolate, such as Boom Choko Boom bars.

Lemon juice
     See Juice and Juice, citrus.


     Malt is a yeast product.

     See Cheese.

Marinades, acidic
     See Acidic marinades.


     Marmite is made from yeast.


     Some folks react to meat or dairy products from animals who ate their allergen. If you're allergic to corn, you may find that most meat is problematic. Grass-fed beef, of course, is fine. (Aside: Personally, I can't tell the difference, but then I am seriously allergic to grass, too. Wheatgrass juice makes me ill and, no, I'm not referring to its taste.)


     Parents whose children are allergic to cow’s milk are sometimes advised to put them on goat’s milk.  Be careful: about 80% of children who are allergic to cow’s milk are also allergic to goat’s milk. The same is true of sheep’s milk. 
     Similarly, you may hear that children who are allergic to milk can still eat cheese.  Indeed, some kids who are mildly allergic to milk are able to eat some amount of cheese.  Again, be careful.
      There are so many “milks” on the market now that most people should be able to find one they’re not allergic to, unless the waxy cartons (with corn, soy and/or dairy derivatives) they come in are a problem. They all work fine for baking. Some of these milks have surprising amounts of added sugar, so watch the label for that. In my opinion, Unsweetened SO Delicious Dairy Free COCONUT MILK beverage is the best-tasting nondairy milk.  (We have not tried the nut-based milks.) It also is less inclined than most milks to curdle when cooked into a pudding or poured into coffee. Note that "coconut milk" in cartons is meant to be used as a substitute for dairy milk. It contains quite a bit of added water. "Coconut milk" in cans is a straightforward extract from coconuts.  It is far too intense and rich to use as milk: this would be similar to drinking cream. To mix up your own coconut milk to drink, dilute 1 part canned coconut milk with 3 parts water and blend in a blender.  Add a bit more water, to taste, if you like, and chill.  

      My grandkid drank a lot of hemp milk when he was little and seemed to like it. It is higher in protein and omega 3’s than, say, rice milk. Hemp milk does have a bit of a strong flavor, which you may or may not like. 

      Rice milk is prepared using a barley enzyme, which you might want to keep in mind if you are very sensitive to gluten.  I did not catch this until I realized one day that my grandkid always coughed when he drank the stuff and I finally looked it up.

Milk, evaporated

     Evaporated milk is just milk that has had about half the water boiled off. A good nondairy substitute for evaporated milk is 1 part canned coconut milk blended with 1 part water. 

Evaporated milk substitute
made from coconut milk works very well
for making pumpkin pie.

Milk, sweetened condensed

     A good nondairy substitute for sweetened condensed milk can be made from coconut milk. Combine one can of coconut milk (~14 oz.) and one cup of sugar and bring to a boil. Decrease heat to medium and boil, stirring periodically, until the mixture is reduced to 1-1/4 cup. Use in place of one 14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk.


     Prepared mustard generally contains vinegar and thus traces of yeast (and corn, if it is white vinegar). There are a couple of solutions for this. One is to use dry mustard; just mix it up with a bit of water. Note that the dry mustard may contain a bit of corn starch to keep it from clumping (see Spices). The other solution is to prepare your own mustard.

Noodles, soba

     Soba noodles are available as either wheat or buckwheat.  Most of the buckwheat soba noodles also contain wheat, so read the list of ingredients to make sure they’re just buckwheat if wheat is a problem. Note that buckwheat is not related to wheat and contains no gluten.


     Oats don’t contain the same gluten as wheat, but they can be allergenic too. Furthermore, oats can become contaminated with wheat in the field, especially if the farmer has been rotating crops of oats and wheat, which is often done. However, if you can tolerate a trace of gluten in your oats or can find gluten-free oats in your area (I’m starting to see these in a couple of stores here), oat flour has a better texture and taste than any of the rice flour blends I have tried. You can generally substitute oat flour for sorghum flour in recipes.


     I advise avoiding oils made from plants you are allergic to unless you are really sure you’re o.k. with them. You sometimes hear the claim that the oils are nonallergenic, as only proteins cause allergies; however, it is common for actual allergy sufferers to report reacting to them. I’m guessing the processing does not remove the last tiny trace of the offending protein.  It wouldn’t seem as though the tiny trace of, say, soy protein left in soybean oil would actually make someone sick, but then allergies are, by definition, unreasonable reactions. Note that processed foods containing soybean oil are not required to list soy in their "allergy information," so if you do need to avoid soybean oil you need to watch for it on lists of ingredients.
      Note that certain corn products are used in the manufacture of canola and other oils. 
      Some corn-allergics report reacting to olive oil, with the notable exception of Jovial olive oil.
     Restaurant menus and food packaging often use such phrases as "contains pure olive oil" or "made with pure olive oil." This often means that they've mixed olive oil with another, cheaper oil. The olive oil was pure before they mixed it with a much larger amount of (cheaper) corn oil or soybean oil. Strangely, this is perfectly legal. Look at the list of ingredients, not the advertising.

Orange juice
     See Juice and Juice, citrus.

     See Cheese.


     Lately rice pasta is available in a variety of shapes. Note that rice pasta is somewhat blander by itself than wheat pasta; remember to salt its cooking water and to serve it with a sauce with a lively flavor or something. It is also more inclined to stick to itself while cooking and to become mushy and start breaking into pieces soon after it is fully cooked. This means it is even more urgent to get rice pasta off the stove and drained as soon as it’s cooked.

Pasta, small

     Rice pasta is generally not available in the profusion of shapes that wheat pasta comes in.  In particular, the smaller types (orzo, acini di pepe, etc.) seem to only exist for wheat.  To obtain small pieces of rice pasta, break some rice spaghetti up enough to get it into a food-processor and run the food-processor until the spaghetti is cut down to the desired size.  This is a shockingly noisy business, but it works quite well. If there is a bit of powder in the processed pasta, place the pasta in a large strainer and give it a shake: the powder will drop out the bottom.

Peanut butter


     The most straightforward substitute for peanut butter is sunflower seed butter. Its texture is much the same as that of peanut butter, so it works well both in recipes and as a spread. Try it mixed 50:50 with maple syrup.
     SunButter Sunflower Spread is one of the few food products on the market that actually says "Made in a peanut-free and tree nut-free facility" on the label. Apparently those folks are specifically targeting customers who can’t eat peanut butter and have gone the extra mile to guarantee their product is really safe for them. In my opinion it is worthwhile to take note of such products and encourage the manufacturers by buying their products. 
     Note that some people who are allergic to nuts and/or peanuts are also allergic to sunflower seeds.  Ask your allergist if you're not sure.
     Another tasty spread to put on bread (or plain rice crackers) is Nutiva Coconut Manna, which contains nothing but coconut.  This needs to be warmed up a bit before it can be spread, but it is truly delicious. Still another is Artisana Cacao Bliss, which consists entirely of coconut, chocolate and agave syrup. Like Coconut Manna, it needs to be warmed up before it can be spread but is delicious.


     Most commercial jams and jellies are made with large amounts of corn syrup.  If you're dealing with a corn allergy, homemade jams and jellies made with cane sugar or beet sugar are plainly an improvement, but be aware that most brands of "fruit pectin" are made with corn. If you need to really avoid corn, get Pomona's Universal Pectin. It's not made with corn, and it's designed to work with less sweetening. I tried it in a batch of raspberry jam (we have a prolific raspberry patch) and found the following:

  1. It was very slightly more nuisance than the brands of pectin I'm used to.  Mixing up "calcium water" which you keep in the fridge or freezer until the next time you make jam: one more more strange ingredient occupying kitchen space.  
  2. The jam came out somewhat tarter than most even though I used the maximum amount of sugar mentioned in the recipe in the package insert. It was still pleasantly sweet.
  3. The recipe allows for substituting honey for the sugar.  Most honey contains some corn syrup, though, so I'm sticking with sugar.
  4. Jams and jellies made with less sugar do not keep as long in the refrigerator after they've been opened.  This could be a good reason for switching to a smaller size of jelly jar.
     See Produce.

Pine nuts

     Although the trees pine nuts grow on are not closely related to other nut trees, pine nuts can cause allergies and reportedly are somewhat cross-reactive with tree nuts. Foods containing pine nuts are required to list “tree nuts” in their allergy information.  If you are not sure you are o.k. with pine nuts, please ask your allergist and/or get an allergy test before using them in recipes. My grandson, who was violently allergic to peanuts and every kind of tree nut, ate them with impunity; not everyone can, though, so be cautious.

Pizza crust    

     Here is a straightforward solution to making pizza without wheat, yeast, or those corn- or soy-based chemicals that show up in gluten-free doughs.  Flatten some pork sausage (consisting entirely of ground pork and spices) or some meatball mixture that you're not allergic to, to 1/4 inch or so thick in a circle on a cooky sheet. Build up the edge; pile on whatever toppings you aren't allergic to, and bake at 400 degrees until the meat is cooked and the cheese (or "cheese"), if any, is melted, probably 20-30 minutes. This "pizza" is, of course, quite rich: it's the onIy variety of pizza I would recommend serving with a side of rice pasta.

     For a different approach to pizza crust, go to this page.

Meatball crust, recipe here

Popcorn salt

     See Salt, popcorn.

Powdered sugar

     Most powdered sugar contains cornstarch to prevent clumping.  There is powdered sugar on the market that contains tapioca starch instead (e.g. Wholesome Sweeteners). You can also use a coffee grinder to turn small batches of granulated sugar into powdered sugar; it will not be quite as fine as the commercially ground stuff.  A food processor will reduce granulated sugar to superfine but will not powder it. 

Before                                             After

     Anything in the produce aisle at the grocery store is likely to have been sprayed with pesticides made from corn. This is true for organic produce as well, as there are pesticides approved for organic farming made from corn. If you're very sensitive to corn, you may want to start a garden, check out farmers' markets in your area, etc.
     Fruits and vegetables are often coated with wax containing corn, soy or dairy derivatives to slow down spoilage. You can peel cucumbers and apples to get rid of most of the wax. I occasionally see apples labelled as “coated with shellac to retard spoilage.”  Shellac, which is made from lac bugs, is supposed to be hypoallergenic. Actually, those are the apples I really feel like peeling. Note that peeling may not be 100% effective at removing all the wax. 
      Tomatoes, too, are generally coated with wax.  Dip them in boiling water for 10-15 seconds to loosen the peel and then in cold water to stop them from cooking. The peel should come right off after this.
      To peel a pepper, keep it a few inches under a hot broiler for a few minutes, until the peel chars and puffs up; repeat this on every side, allow to cool, and peel. 
      Prewashed salads are likely to have been washed with citric acid (corn or soy), so you may want to rinse them with plain water.
      Other vegetables and fruits may have been washed with a "produce wash," or you may consider trying one of these yourself. Note that they consist largely of corn, or possibly soy, products.
      Some folks who are allergic to corn react to the ethylene gas used to ripen fruit that was picked very green--tomatoes, for example. In reference to tomatoes, the term "vine-ripened" (not to be confused with "on the vine") does not mean that they ripened before being picked, or even that they are ripe. It means that they have not been ripened with ethylene gas. "Vine-ripened" tomatoes do not often show up in the grocery store, but the produce person may be able to help you order a box of them. Or, if you know someone who has a restaurant, they can easily order a box for you.
     Ethylene gas is also used to ripen bananas and avocados. You wouldn't think it would penetrate such thick peels, but apparently some of it does, because some very corn-sensitive individuals do report reactions to avocados and bananas. (Bananas and avocados are both allergens in their own right for some.) Whether gassed bananas and avocados can be considered organic depends on which authority is doing the certifying.
      Some thin-skinned, sweet fruit, especially grapes and blueberries, arrives covered with yeast. This does not rinse off well, partly because it is embedded in wax exuded by the fruit. 
   I found a variety of recommendations for washing grapes and tested them. The grapes shown below were washed by soaking for ten minutes in 4 cups of water and 2 Tb. of one of the recommended additives, a bit of swishing around in the water, and a rinse with more water. Once your grapes are waterlogged, of course, they won't keep very long: you need to either eat or freeze them immediately.

unwashed                                                                  rinsed with water


                       sugar                                                                           salt

  tapioca starch                                                                vinegar

     As you can see, all of the additives removed yeast. Starch and vinegar removed the most yeast, although not quite all of it. Maybe taking the grapes off the stems and swishing them more thoroughly would improve the results. Depending how sensitive you are, this approach may or may not work for you. 
     Note that vinegar is a fermented product; it too contains traces of yeast, though rinsing with water does remove vinegar.
     I wondered whether lemon juice might be useful for washing fruit. I squeezed some lemon juice onto rinsed blueberries, tossed the blueberries with the lemon juice, let them sit for 10 minutes and rinsed:

before                                                                                    after

      As you can see, lemon juice shows promise for washing off yeast, although the technique needs more work. These berries were still yeasty enough to set off my allergy. 

Pumpkin, roasted and pureed

      I sometimes see the advice that it's best to use canned pumpkin to make, say, pumpkin pie, as it is a much more consistent product than freshly cooked pumpkin. It is, but freshly cooked (or frozen) pumpkin has a good flavor.  Canned pumpkin has had that flavor cooked out of it and has picked up a metallic flavor from the can. 
     Meanwhile, cooking a pumpkin is really easy. Cut one in half and scoop out all the stringy stuff in the middle. Don't throw away the seeds: fresh roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious

     Put each pumpkin half face down on a cooky sheet and bake in a 350 F degree oven until it is quite soft. (The cooking time will depend on the size of the pumpkin.) Note that a microwave can do a perfectly good job of cooking a small pumpkin. 
     Thoroughly puree the pumpkin, in batches, in a food-processor.  Scoop all the pureed pumpkin into a colander and allow it to sit until all the excess moisture has dripped out of it: this will give your pumpkin pies a better, firmer texture. 
Now measure out the portions you will need for pies, soups, etc. and freeze them.    
     Note that butternut squash and acorn squash have less moisture than most pumpkins, which makes them superior choices for pies and other baked goods. Roast or microwave the same as for pumpkins.


     Quinoa is a grain which contains no gluten.  Quinoa needs to be rinsed and strained to remove bitterness before it is cooked.


     See Fruit.


     Enriched rice is coated with the cornstarch that was used to buffer the added vitamins. The simplest way to work around this is to use non-enriched rice. Failing that, a thorough rinse will remove a lot of corn from the surface, though probably not all of it. You can also use extra water to cook the rice: like, 7 or 8 cups of water for 1 cup of rice. Salt the water, bring it to a boil, add the rice, cook until done, drain, and allow to sit for a few minutes, until the rice absorbs any stray water.


     Rye contains gluten.


      Salt is likely to contain a small amount of cornstarch to prevent caking. If it's iodized, there is also salt that was added as part of the iodizing process. I mostly ignore this and can’t tell the difference, but if you really need to avoid the bit of cornstarch in table salt, there are some specialty salts that don’t contain corn. One is pickling salt: nobody wants to see clouds of cornstarch in their jar of pickles, so it is left out.

Salt, popcorn
Plain salt, ground

     (See Salt, above.) Popcorn salt (i.e. finely ground salt) is likely to contain more cornstarch than regular salt to prevent caking. You can make small amounts of popcorn salt by grinding salt in your coffee grinder. Add a tablespoonful or two of tapioca starch to prevent caking if you aren't going to use all of it immediately. Use for anything that requires finely ground salt except, of course, popcorn.

Small pasta 
     See Pasta, small.

Soba noodles
     See Noodles, soba.


     Sorghum is a grain which contains no gluten.  Sorghum flour can be useful for producing baked goods with good texture.

Sour cream
     See Cream, sour.


     I have heard the claim that sourdough bread is safe for people with a yeast allergy, because sourdough starter is added to the batter instead of yeast.  This is nonsense: sourdough starter is a vehicle for growing certain bacteria and yeast.


     Soy ingredients turn up in a wide range of foods. For a list of ingredients made from soy, check out this link.

Soy sauce
     If you are allergic to soy, you can replace soy sauce with Coconut Aminos, made by Coconut Secret. The only ingredients listed are coconut and salt.  It doesn’t taste exactly like soy sauce, though it does a good job of occupying the same niche. Note: the stuff is fermented, so it presumably contains some traces of yeast.


     If your issue with soy sauce is that it is fermented, you can try Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, which consists entirely of “vegetable protein from soybeans and purified water” and is not fermented. It doesn’t have as strong a flavor as most soy sauce; expect to use rather more of it.
     If you can't have either soy or fermented products, check these recipes for stir-fry sauce and sushi dipping sauce.


     Spelt is related to wheat and contains gluten.

Spice Rubs

     Commercial spice rubs can contain allergens such as corn, soy, and yeast as well as MSG and other chemicals.  Mix your own: it's easy.  Sprinkle some salt onto your steak and slap some black pepper onto it; salt your lamb chops and rub a mixture of rosemary, thyme and black pepper onto them; or mix up the following all-purpose spice rub and use it on any kind of meat. (I think it's especially good on chicken.)  Don't forget to season with salt (See Salt, above). Note that I do not use dehydrated onions or garlic in spice rubs.  I don't like them. I think they taste stale and nasty, and they may contain MSG.  

Boneless chicken thighs
coated with spice rub,
ready for frying, broiling or grilling
     All-purpose spice rub   (See Spices
          1 part ground black pepper
          1 part red pepper
          4 parts basil
          4 parts savory
          1 part oregano
          4 parts paprika

     Stir together.  Store in an airtight container.

Same thighs as above, fried


     Ground spices are likely to contain a small amount of cornstarch to prevent caking.  Frankly, I mostly ignore this fact and can’t tell the difference.  We’re talking about a minor ingredient in a minor ingredient here.  If you are severely allergic to corn, you can buy whole spices and grind them yourself in a coffee grinder.  You can also use less bottled spices and more fresh herbs.

Stock, beef or chicken
     See Broth, beef or chicken.

     Granulated sugar is normally made from sugar cane or sugar beets, but corn sugars such as dextrose and maltodextrin show up as ingredients in many processed foods.

Sugar, powdered
    See Powdered sugar.

Sweetened condensed milk
     See Milk, sweetened condensed.


     Tahini consists entirely of crushed sesame. I find that sunflower seed butter is a really good alternative to it in most recipes.  I use it, for example, in baba gannozh and tarator sauce. The flavor is not the same, but I think it is equally good. Sunflower seed butter is a bit more solid than tahini, so it may be necessary to add a bit more liquid when substituting with it.

         Note that some people who are allergic to nuts and/or peanuts are also allergic to sunflower seeds.  Ask your allergist if you're not sure.

     Besides possible exposure to mold or yeast during processing (see Yeast), tea--and tea bags--can contain gluten, corn, soy or other impurities.

     Teff is a grain native to Ethiopia that contains no gluten. Teff flour has a mild, pleasant flavor and produces a better texture in baked goods than most gluten-free flours. You can substitute teff flour for sorghum flour in most recipes.

Tomato products, canned

     Canned tomato products (e.g. tomato sauce and tomato paste) show up in lists of foods for people with yeast or mold allergies to avoid.  I assume this means enough yeasty, moldy old tomatoes end up in such products to be a problem. The canning process, of course, kills any yeast or mold, but it doesn't make it go away: it's still there, and it's still allergenic.
     Most canned tomato products also contain citric acid, which is often made from corn.

     See Produce.

Vanilla extract

     Commercial vanilla extract is about 35% corn alcohol. You can, however, make your own corn-free vanilla extract using potato vodka

     See Produce.


     Vegemite is made from yeast.


     Vinegar, of course, is a fermented product and thus may contain traces of yeast. IMO, apple cider vinegar is the yeastiest variety.

      Plain white vinegar is made from corn. 

Whipped cream


     Whipping cream, besides being a dairy product, comes in paperboard packages coated with wax that likely contains corn, soy and/or dairy products.  The best corn-free, soy-free, dairy-free substitute I have found is whipped coconut milk.  I refer not to the refrigerated paperboard packages of coconut-based stuff that has been adulterated to resemble milk but to the cans of straight coconut milk.  I highly recommend investing in a case of this stuff and leaving it in the back of a cupboard for a couple months. Over time the solid (high-fat) portion separates from the watery portion.  Alternatively, keep a can of it in the fridge overnight; this too will make it separate. If you can find cans of coconut cream in your grocery store, by all means use that.
     The solid portion can be whipped, with a handful of powdered sugar (see Powdered sugar), into an excellent whipped topping. Keep the watery portion of the coconut milk for soups or smoothies.

Xanthan gum

     Xanthan gum is a chemical made by a certain bacterium: the feedstock for this process can be corn, wheat, dairy or soy. It is widely used as a texturizer in gluten-free baking. 


     Some folks develop a reaction to the Candida in their own gut, which can be controlled by not feeding it enough sugar to encourage it to embark on a population explosion. This is a different problem, involving a different kind of special diet, than what I address here.
     There are a number of kinds of yeast—brewer’s yeast, wine yeast, bread yeast, etc., but they are closely related to each other.  The main things to avoid for yeast allergies are yeast breads and alcoholic drinks. A few folks can manage to eat very fresh yeast bread but not bread that’s a few days old: the yeast is not all killed by the baking, so bread gets yeastier as it sits.
      In my experience, gluten-free bread contains more yeast than regular bread. It generally tastes yeastier, and I find I need to avoid it even more stringently than regular bread.
      Depending on the severity of a yeast allergy, anything fermented can be an issue: tea, coffee, chocolate, cheese, sour cream, soy sauce, vinegar, citric acid, etc. Unintentional fermentation can also occur in, say, tomatoes waiting to be made into commercial tomato sauce or tomato paste or in fruit waiting to be made into bottled fruit juice. The canning process kills the yeast, of course, but it’s still there and it's still an allergen.
      Note that the white stuff that grows on the surface of grapes, dates, blueberries and other thin-skinned sweet fruit is yeast. Rinsing does not wash it off effectively (See Produce). Dried fruit, such as raisins or dates, can have quite a bit of yeast hanging on it.  

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