For Mom

My mother has been suffering from migraines for decades - much longer than me - and has tried everything from massage to medications, and undergone countless tests (both Western and Eastern) to get some relief. One of the most recent tests was aimed at identifying any food allergies that could be triggering her headaches - and the result was a surprisingly long list: all dairy (including goat milk), eggs, all nuts (except filberts), cane sugar, soy, garlic, and oysters.

She received this news just days before a long-planned trip to one of the worlds great food meccas - China. But with the possibility of a pain free day or week or (dare I dream of it) a pain free life, she's willing to give it a try.

But dealing with so many allergies poses a lot of challenges for planning meals. I'm creating this special page on my blog to try to help with recipes and ideas of ingredients and meals that might make it a little easier for her. I've been vegetarian, cooked & baked for vegans, and studied enough about food to hopefully provide some tasty alternatives to these forbidden items and flavorful foods that will keep her from missing garlic and sugar too much.

This will start as a pretty stream of consciousness page, with some basic structure.


Dairy - Milk, Cheese, Ice Cream, Butter, Cream Cheese, Whipped Cream
Since soy and nut products are out, that eliminates many, but not all the alternatives to traditional dairy, such as soy milk and almond milk. Rice milk and vegan varieties of rice cheese should still be okay. In addition, hemp, oat, tapioca and arrowroot milks should be okay. For certain applications, coconut milk or coconut cream could also be a rich, creamy alternative. In baking, butter can often be easily swapped out with margarine or even applesauce (like when making muffins). Vegan resources, such as, should be helpful.

From my punk days in college, I learned another cheese alternative trick - mustard and nutritional yeast. We used to mix the two and spread it on bread to make vegan grilled cheese sandwiches. I even found a recipe for a cheese sauce using these two ingredients, that can be used to top veggies or to make a dairy-free mac & cheese. I'll have to give it a try and see if it's as good as I remember.


Options to provide the binding action necessary in baking provided by eggs can be provided by Flax seed powder, Ener-G Egg Replacer or even dates. I made a great vegan banana bread once that used dates and was incredibly moist and delicious. Dates have the added bonus of sweetness, too.

So far, all the alternatives I've found so far for scrambled and fried eggs rely on soy, so I'll need to keep looking.

All nuts except filberts may be out (does that include the filbert-cousin, hazelnuts), but they didn't say anything about seeds. Pepitas (pumpkin Seeds) are becoming increasingly popular and easy to find, sometimes hiding in the Latino/Mexican foods aisle. Sunflower seeds are great in salads, and sesame seeds could offer good texture to dishes. Sesame oil could be used when peanut oil is called for, and tahini may work in place of nut butters in some recipes.

Cane Sugar
Sweetener Replace 1 cup sugar w/ Reduce liquids by Comments
Agave Nectar 3/4 cup 1/3 low glycemic index; made from cactus;
Barley Malt Syrup 3/4 cup 1/4 half as sweet as honey or sugar; made from barley; nutty, caramel flavor;
Brown Rice Syrup 1 cup 1/4 half as sweet as honey or sugar; made from brown rice; neutral flavor;
Date Sugar 2/3 cup 0 granulated sugar; made from dates;
Fruit Syrup 1 cup 1/4 made by soaking then blending raisins and dates with filtered water (try 1/2 cup raisins w/ 1 cup water)
Honey 3/4 cup 1/8 extremely sweet;
Maple Syrup 3/4 cup 1/8 mineral rich; grade A is mild, grade C is rich; good for baking;
Powdered Stevia 1 tspn 0 200-400% sweeter than sugar; noncaloric; made from leaves of stevia plant; when baking, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of applesauce for each cup of sugar replaced, to replace the bulk.

(Thanks to my copy of Vegan World Fusion Cuisine, sugar alternatives and ways to use them)

Thanks to government subsidies, soybean derived products are everywhere. My mom mentioned she may have to bake her own bread, as she hasn't found sandwich bread in the store that doesn't have soy flour in it.

Since the first place my mind goes when thinking of dairy free recipes is Asian food, the soy restriction poses a challenge. I thought Thai food, which uses fish sauce rather than soy, might be a great alternative - but I've not yet found a fish sauce that doesn't include cane sugar. But I'll keep looking.

In terms of bread without soy flour, I did some searching on AmazonFresh (which does a great job of flagging items that are soy free, dairy free, etc) and quickly found Bread Garden Bakery and Essential Baking Company have sugar/soy/dairy free breads that could keep my Mom in sandwiches.

Perhaps surprisingly to some, my Mom indicates garlic is going to be the hardest thing to give up - but she loves it. The only alternatives that jump to mind are similar tasting alliums, like chives and shallots. I'm guessing elephant garlic is too close to the forbidden garlic, and perhaps all alliums are, but since onions weren't specified in her list, I'm hopeful she can get that familiar bite.

Thankfully, this is the one item on the list that shouldn't create any issues, as my Mom's never been a fan of oysters anyway. Now she has an excuse to pass on the family favorite, corn & oysters.

Building Meals - Starch, Protein, Veggies

Couscous - quick & easy, ready in 5 minutes and a great alternative to rice
Potatoes - cubed and roasted at 425 until golden brown and cooked through, takes no time to prep and fairly quick to cook
Sweet Potatoes



Planning Ahead - Making Dinner & Lunch at Once


Homemade Eggless Noodles & Vegan Parmesan Cheese