Basic Substitutions

It is possible to follow a large number of regular recipes using the following substitutions. If you are only excluding dairy and soya for example, you can literally switch the ingredients. Egg replacer can replace eggs but wheat and gluten free cooking are a little different.

Egg Free

Egg substitutes have always been the hardest to find. Cakes rarely rise well without egg but you can substitute with a variety of alternatives. I have more recently made greater efforts to bake egg free since my daughter can no longer tolerate egg. Check out this blog post for some novel substitutions.

There is also now something new on the market - the VEGG!! More on the Vegg here with the new Vegg Cookbook. More info here.

The is also a Vegg yolk now available too.

Dairy Free 
NB There is also a separate post on Going Dairy Free here.

Pure Sunflower Margarine has to be THE best spread available. It is soya free and dairy free and is great in cakes, biscuits and savoury cooking.
Product Details here 

Pure make a new spread, "Pure Olive" using olive oil as an alternative and I also really like Flora's free from offering, although it isn't great for baking.

The last time I checked Stork  HARD BLOCKS of margarine were dairy free also, (NOT the spread) and this worked well in pastry.

Sainsbury's are also making their own free from spread, and I believe the palm oil it initially contained (for those concerned about sustainability) is no longer on the ingredients list.

Milk Substitutes - MUCH more info on a new post here.

There has recently been a scare about giving Rice Milk to young children because of Arsenic levels. I don't know anything about the research but I DO know that there are MUCH more nutritious and user friendly milks out there for use on a day to day basis and in cooking.

Infants should of course be either breastfed (maybe on a maternal exclusion diet) or on a prescription formula designed to meet their needs. Neocate is a hypoallergenic amino acid based milk and is excellent. It is also good for cooking with! I have made custard, quiche, sauces, rice puddings etc with it very successfully. Most infants already used to its flavour will happily tolerate and enjoy food cooked with it.

I have used Oatly Milk and Oatly Cream, until one of my twins also had to go gluten free. Rice milk (chocolate flavour!) is still a popular drink with my son but rice milk (like soya milk) is not as heat stable as oat milk. I would also never use soya milk even if my children tolerated it because it is high in oestrogens and (more importantly) is highly allergenic. (It is all too easy to over substitute and trigger an intolerance with Soya. I've done it myself.) You can get oatly in red or orange cartons. I always buy the red, it has calcium and vitamins added. YOU DO HAVE TO OPEN IT, THEN CLOSE AND SHAKE HARD to mix the contents of a new carton. The cream is particularly tasty and also makes great quiche!

As far as I know the only gluten free milk substitutes are the Provamel rice milk and Kara coconut milk, Almond or Hemp milk.

Kara Coconut milk

My latest discovery! I LOVE this milk, it is perfect in tea - you would be forgiven for thinking you were not drinking dairy free since it is not dissimilar to skimmed milk. Unlike Oatly (which I also love) it is less thick and mixes better in hot drinks. Rice milk is too thin in my opinion, and soya is not heat stable even if you are allowed it.

New Dairy and Soya free desserts from the Redwood Company.

The Redwood Food Company has brought out some new desserts. The "Wot No Dairy" desserts are free from dairy, soya and other allergens and come in four flavours - plain, raspberry, black cherry and peach & apricot. RRP 59p for 145g

"Free From" Cheese

Redwood also make a dairy free cheese and have added a soya free variety too. It is quite an acquired taste if you have eaten real cheese, grates best from frozen but spreads well when room temperature!
TIP - cut in wedges, wrap and freeze as it goes off very quickly!

Our favourite "cheese" is Violife - which Tesco are stocking now in blocks, a spread and slices, and some Asda stores too. There is a good "Cheese Straw" recipe here using Violife block cheese.

I love the "No Moo" Cheese from Vegusto, it's better than Violife for adding protein but it contains nuts.

Gluten Free 

NEW! Updated page on Gluten substitutes and Gluten Free baking

If you are gluten free, there is an extremely useful conversion chart here for substituting regular (plain) flour for gluten free alternatives.

Gluten Free WILL be wheat free but wheat free is NOT necessarily gluten free, and probably isn't. Because of the milling process oats are not gluten free unless specified.

Bread Substitutes

Without a doubt, BFree have totally revolutionised MEWS free bread. There rolls are delicious, and taste great, their wraps don't fall apart and pack a number of interesting ingredients such as sweet potto, chia seeds etc as valuable, nutritious additions. They also make pittas and proper bread which toasts beautiful, and is equally good in sandwiches.

There are many loaves which are gluten, dairy and soya free, but most others like Newburn Bakehouse (Warburton's GF offering) and Genius have egg protein in. Warburton's add less sugar to their bread which is a big plus, and Genius have a reputation for loaves riddled with holes but this has improved slightly. Genius are becoming more adventurous, with rolls, fruit bread, and even deli products and sandwiches available in some supermarkets. These are gluten free mainly but a great initiative!

Supermarket own brands are not great, they tend to be very springy white/brown loaves but are cheaper. Do check weights though, you are often paying the same per unit weight, their loaves are just smaller! 

Juvela Harvest White Mix is the most versatile MEWS free mix I have tried and tested. You might be able to get it on prescription.
Details of roll making here

Do check ingredients every time though, I've been caught out with some of the egg free packet mixes - they contain milk powder!

Another recent discovery is the chia and hemp seed mix from Sukrin. A bit different  more adult in flavour but my daughter loves it. Very easy to make too with several recipes on the back.

Wheat Free

Dove's Farm have by FAR the best range of flours for all purposes. Their website is very user friendly, has recipe ideas on too and plenty of advice on wheat and gluten free living (the two are not the same!). I use the plain and self raising blended flours.

Rice flour on its own doesn't work as well and can be very crumbly. Add Dove's Farm Xantham Gum for stickiness, this replaces the gluten and binds the ingredients better. I have also found adding an additional teaspoon of baking powder helps. 

Be sure to CHECK it is gluten free baking powder if you are gluten free as well as wheat free.

I cannot recommend Dove's Farm enough and you can buy direct from their website too.

Other Wheat flour substitutes

I came across Tiana Coconut Flour in our local Holland and Barrett store.
It is high in fibre so might not suit all, but it is filling and easy to cook with (apparently!) You do need a wetter mixture if partially substituting in regular recipes, do read the Tiana site first. My own attempt at baking with it is documented here


Mrs Crimbles

Mrs Crimbles make a great selection of foods, from rice cakes to macaroons - all are gluten (and therefore wheat) free and many are dairy, soya, corn and sometimes egg free too. CHECK carefully but we love their products!

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