Food is amazing. It can lift your spirits, nourish your body and bring people together. Unfortunately it can also poison your body, drag you down and pull people apart. GF Pantry personally prefers the first lot! So whether you follow a specific diet for ideology reasons, religious reasons or good health, we are here to help find substitutes for products you can’t have; helping everyone to join in celebrations, eat cake together and eat well. So here are our favourite substitutions to use, whatever the reasons for your food choices.
What can I substitute for dairy products?
Dairy allergies are common these days and add to that an increasing number of people who choose not to consume animal products, and we have lots of people looking for dairy substitutes. Here’s a few ideas to help.
- Milk - Common drinking substitutes include a plethora of nut, soy, coconut and rice milks which can be used in baking or drinks. You might just need to try a few to find your favourite. Oat milks are not considered gluten free.
- Buttermilk - add a tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup of rice, almond, or coconut milk, stir and let stand for 30 minutes to thicken for a great buttermilk alternative.
- Butter - Shortening, coconut oil, olive oil and silken tofu are all suitable in baking depending on the dish. Using combinations often works best as you dilute any one flavour. Coconut oil provides saturated fats and can usually be substituted directly for butter. 2/3 of a cup of vegetable oil can usually do the same job as one cup of butter. Applesauce or prune puree are a fibre rich alternative in denser breads like zucchini or banana. Nut butter or mashed avocado can be used in sandwiches or on toast, and for recipes such as chocolate icing.
- Cream - Coconut milk is an excellent replacement for most cream in cooking both savoury and sweet dishes. Soy, coconut and rice whip are also available for whipping.
- Cheese - Crumbled tofu substitutes well for cottage or feta cheese in recipes, except where melting is required. Nutritional yeast gives a yellow cheesy flavour if you sprinkled it on vegetables or popcorn. It works well mixed with pasta sauce. Vegan cheeses are also available at most supermarkets.
- Icecream – Blended frozen fruit makes great icecream. Try combinations of bananas, berries, chocolate spreads and dark chocolate chips for great flavours. There are also plenty of frozen soy products commercially available.
What can I substitute for eggs?
Egg allergies are also extremely common. It may happen that the child is allergic to just the egg white or the egg yolk or to both. In baking, eggs provide moisture, flavour, texture, colour, emulsifying properties, binding properties or thickening properties. That’s’ a lot of functions!
Store bought egg replacer is a great option for substitution, but other alternatives also include milled seeds, pureed fruit or vegetable and even leftover liquid from canned beans.
- Fruit and vegetables – Substitute 1 egg with 1/3 cup of pureed apple, banana, pumpkin, sweet potato or avocado. The banana, sweet potato and pumpkin add significant flavour to anything you use them in. The apple sauce and avocado offer less of a distinct flavour. Fruit and vegetable alternatives work well in cakes and muffins that don’t need to rise significantly.
- Milled flax seeds or chia seeds – Simply mix 1 tablespoon of milled flaxseed or chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of hot water and let sit for 5 minutes. This works in most baking and is great for cookies.
- Aquafaba – This is the thick watery liquid from a can of beans. 3 tablespoons of aquafaba equals 1 egg or 2 tablespoons can be used for one egg white. Aquafaba is perfect for egg free meringues, macarons and marshmallows.
- Binding – Mashed potatoes, blended tofu, cooked rice, nutritional yeast, nut butter, corn starch, or soy flour can be used in place of eggs for binding and must be adjusted depending on the recipe.
What can I substitute for sugar?
- Cane sugar – There are a myriad of sugar replacements available on the market, each with varying levels of sweetness. Other more natural products are coconut sugar, honey or sweet spice mixes. Coconut sugar can be substituted on a 1 to 1 ratio. 3/4 cup honey can be used instead of 1 cup of brown sugar but the liquid in the recipe also needs to be reduced by about 1/4 cup. Vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg can add sweetness and flavour.
- Honey - Maple syrup, brown rice syrup, coconut syrup and agave also have similar properties if you don’t wish to use honey. They all have slightly different taste profiles.
- Fruit – Dates, monk fruit, bananas and berries are great healthy substitutes for cane sugar in recipes. Each of course adds their own flavour which needs to be considered depending on the recipe. Applesauce has about seven times less calories than your standard table sugar, but still adds sweetness. Monk fruit's sweetness comes from naturally occurring antioxidants and is 8 times sweeter than sugar. Just half a level teaspoon of monk fruit powder is the equivalent of 2 heaped teaspoons of sugar.
What can I substitute for salt?
- Salt flavour – Crumbled seaweed is a great alternative to salt in savoury dishes. It has the salty flavour, but not the sodium content. Sesame also has a taste similar to salt and can be used on bread, salads, meats and vegetables. This can be purchased as sesame oil or seeds.
- Other Flavours - Sometimes salt isn’t needed if you are just looking for more flavour. Flavour can come from most herbs and spices. Try turmeric, oregano, garlic, onions, paprika, thyme, cumin, basil, pepper or even citrus fruits instead of large amounts of salt. The spices add enough flavour so salt is not required.
What can I substitute for meat products?
- Meat – In today’s supermarkets there are many different meat substitutes including tofu, tempeh, textured soy protein, quinoa, beans and monk fruit.
- Gelatine – Gelatine is normally used as a thickening agent. Vegan thickening alternatives include corn starch, agar, carrageenan, arrowroot starch and most xanthan gums.
Substituting products takes time and experience. If your first efforts aren’t perfect, try again. Sometimes just a tiny bit more or a tiny bit less of your substitute makes all the difference.
All products sold at GF Pantry are gluten free and we also stock many of the substitute products mentioned. If you aren’t purchasing from our online store, please always check labels to make sure your substitute products are gluten free.
Good luck with your cooking and don’t forget to share!