by Tara Davis

We no longer live in a world which limits our diets. No, my friends, the sky truly is the limit.  Whether allergy ridden, ingredient intolerant, health conscious or otherwise lifestyle dictated, our needs and desires regarding food are many, and less hindered all the time.

Local grocery stores and large chains alike have begun to recognize the importance of offering new and viable products in making high quality dishes a possibility for customers. Gone are the days of only finding seeds and powders in health food stores.  (Though they are still a great resource).

Today I offer you not only some of my favorite recipes using alternative ingredients, but several options for substitutions, and my hearty encouragement to give them a try.  Here’s to culinary progress, and a tasty food future for all diets!

For those who seek gluten free options, it can be tough to find good flours for baking.  Some suggestions for the equal of 1 cup all purpose flour:

*1/3 cup whole wheat flour + 2/3 cup soy flour

*3/4 cup cornmeal

*3/4 cup rice flour

* 1 cup rolled oats

*1.5 cups oat flour

A flourless recipe I enjoy – Carrot Apple muffins: Combine ¼ c oil, 1/3 c mashed banana, 1 egg, ¼ c honey, 2 small apples, grated, ½ sugar, 1.5 tsp baking soda, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ cup milk, 1 cup grated carrot, 2 c rolled oats. Place in muffin tins or loaf pans. Bake at 375 degrees 40 minutes.

If dairy has you down, new options appear on the daily. Cow milk can be cast aside for the likes of almond, rice, hemp, flax, or cashew varieties. Coconut milk makes excellent dairy free versions of ice cream and whipped cream. Natural amminos step in to provide a lot of the savory flavor of cheese.

A couple of ways to enjoy yourself sans lactose – Creamy pesto – Combine ½ tbsp oil, 2 tbsp chopped garlic, 1 bunch each fresh basil and parsley, generous pinch of salt, 1/3 cup almond milk, juice of half a lemon.  Use warm or cold as a spread, dip, or sauce.

Coconut milk ice cream – Stir together 2 c canned full fat coconut milk, ¼ c sweetener of choice (I like brown sugar), small pinch of salt, 1.5 tsp vanilla extract. Churn in an ice cream maker, or freeze in ice cube trays and blend to enjoy.

Fun fact:  If eggs leave you with eater’s remorse, soy is usually the real culprit. It’s true!  Chicken eggs absorb everything chickens eat, and most chicken feed contains significant amounts of soy. Often, people with egg issues can eat eggs laid by chickens on soy free diets.  It’s worth a whirl if you come across any. (*I do not, however, recommend doing so if your reaction to eggs is typically severe*)

Whether your egg free existence is due to allergies or a vegetarian or vegan diet, there are many good ways to substitute for them in recipes.  While a couple have distinct flavors, most are neutral in the finished product.  Food for thought – If a recipe calls for 1 egg, try one of the following:

·   1 Tbsp flax + 3 Tbsp water

·  1 Tbsp agar agar + 1 Tbsp water

·  3 Tbsp peanut butter

·  ½ mashed ripe banana

·  ¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce

An eggless go-to of mine- Apple cake: 1.75 cups whole wheat flour, ¼ cup almond flour, ½ cup raw sugar, or granulated sugar of your choice, 1.5 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 cup applesauce, 1/3 c vegetable oil, ½ cup milk, 1 tsp vanilla.  Bake mixture at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.