TIPS FOR SENSITIVE FOODIES



So you can’t eat that? Well, what about this?
What are the alternatives to everyday food and drink?

Check out our A-Z below:
 
 
Alcohol
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Drink mixers such as tonic water, bitter lemon or chilled ginger ale with ice and a slice; fruit juice mixes such as orange and passion fruit or cranberry juice with lots of ice; chilled sparkling water at meal times or grape juice if you want something more wine-like. Try some of our alcohol-free cocktails in the Drinks category on our Eating-in Recipes page. Here are some gluten-free tipples: Bourbon, Brandy, Cider (check ingredients, may contain barley), Cognac, Gin, Rum, Schnapps, Tequila, Vodka, some Whiskies, Wine (including sparkling wine and Champagne... so it's not all bad! For more info, click here.
 
Aspartame
A horrible artificial sweetener associated with a variety of problems from insomnia to blindness, and it seems to be averywhere, from chewing gum to sugar-free fruit squashes. Read more about the side effects here. And about its recent attempt to rebrand as a natural sweetener called 'AminoSweet'. 
A more natural sugar-free, low-GI alternative is Agave (pronounced ‘argarvey’) syrup or nectar. It’s made from a cactus sap so it’s naturally rich in fructose rather than sucrose; it’s also 25% sweeter than sugar, so go easy. It's fine for baking and sweetening drinks. Pure fructose is another good alternative: it looks just like sugar but is low-GI and tastes sweeter than sugar so you will only need to use a third as much. Another popular alternative is 100% natural Xylitol.



Barley
All types of barley, including fruit squashes like ‘lemon barley water’, contain gluten. In soups, replace barley with rice or quinoa. For fruit drinks, other types of squashes are generally gluten-free, or drink unsweetened fresh fruit juice (diluted with water if desired).

Beer
Gluten-free alternatives to beer include cider (check ingredients - may contain barley), wine and spritzer; they are a bit stronger though, so go easy! (Virtually) yeast-free alcoholic options are: champagne, tequila, gin and vodka.

Biscuits
Keep packets of dried fruit and nuts to nibble on. Or ‘Sesame Snaps’ and ‘Eat Natural’ bars (they now come in boxes of mini ones) which is handy when you're out and about. Fresh fruit is an even better snack, so keep that fruit bowl stocked!

Bread
Apart from all the wheat-free and gluten-free breads available these days, other options are rice cakes, corn cakes, gluten-free pitta breads which can all be used for sandwich type snacks, picnics and packed lunches. 

 

Breadcrumbs
Gluten-free alternatives are: crushed gluten-free cornflakes, sesame seeds, shelled hemp seeds or shop-bought gluten-free breadcrumbs (they’re a bit expensive but go a long way).

Breakfast cereals
 
 
Instead of over-sweet, wheaty cereals, try making your own muesli with millet flakes or quinoa flakes and dried or fresh fruit - see our muesli-style recipe. Or try Nature's Path's gluten-free 'Mesa Sunrise'. They're cereal flakes made with organic corn, flax, quinoa and amaranth, available at some Sainsburys and health food shops.
 
 
 
 
Bulgar wheat
This is made from whole wheat, and contains gluten; replace with millet, rice or quinoa.

Cheese
Gomasio or pesto are tasty alternatives to cheese toppings. Gluten-free, dairy-free parmesan exists but it is made with soya so not suitable if you are legume-free or following the Best Bet Diet. They're are also great recipes for cheese-like alternatives  made from nuts in Raw Food books. Please let us know if you find a good one!

altChocolate
If you can’t find dairy-free, gluten-free chocolate, try ‘Halva’ or dates for a sweet treat, or a handful of sultanas and dried cranberries. If you have time, and want a real grown-up chocolate treat, try our raw chocolate brownies.

Coffee
There are so many caffeine-free and legume-free alternatives to coffee. Try green tea, white tea, rooibos (redbush), pau d'arco, warming chai, energising ginseng, enlivening ginko biloba, or kukicha (a Japanese roasted twig tea). These are all clean and healthy, and can be drunk black or with a little rice milk. Add agave syrup or fructose to sweeten, but remember that they are sweeter than sugar so you'll need less.

Couscous
 
You can buy maize couscous which is gluten-free, but most couscous contains wheat and gluten. Replace with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) if you are on a wheat-free or gluten-free diet, it makes a good alternative in Moroccan meals and salads. It is also a so-called superfood as it contains essential amino acids, dietary fibre and phosphorus, and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is available from health food shops and some supermarkets.

 
Cow's milk
Some people with an intolerance to cow's milk are fine with goat's or sheep's milk - however they may develop an intolerance to these too in time. Other options are soya milk (if you are not on the Best Bet Diet or avoiding legumes), almond milk (if you are not nut intolerant), sesame milk (if you are fine with sesame seeds) or rice milk... probably the safest bet!
 
Cream
Rice milk is a good alternative to cream for pouring over a hot dessert. If you want something thicker and are not avoiding legumes, soya cream or soft tofu are good, and nut creams are available if you are not avoiding nuts. For main meals, use coconut milk, or just to thicken sauces add potato flour, cornflour or amaranth (all wheat-free, gluten-free and legume-free).
 
Crudités
altInstead of crackers, crisps or breadsticks, try these crunchy alternatives with dips: broccoli or cauliflower florets, baby sweetcorn, radishes; or cut carrots, celery, courgettes or cucumbers into sticks; another fresh and colourful option is to cut red, green, orange and yellow peppers into strips... all much fresher, healthier and more visually appealing than crackers. (Avoid the peppers if on a nightshade-free diet.)


Eggs
In baking, an 'egg replacer' can be used. Check the ingredients as they tend to include soy and would therefore be unsuitable for anyone following the Best Bet Diet or a legume-free diet. There are a couple of other alternatives: you can either use the same volume of vegetable oil, or make some 'flax gel' like this: in place of one egg, combine 1 teaspoon of ground linseed / flaxseed with 3 teaspoons warm water. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes, until it thickens.

Gram flour
Made from chickpeas, gram flour is wheat-free and gluten-free, however it is not legume-free. Replace with gluten-free flour, rice flour, maize flour or buckwheat flour if you are on the Best Bet Diet or a legume-free diet.

Mayonnaise
You can buy egg-free, gluten-free mayonnaise. Alternatively, use soya cream (contains legumes) and/or horseradish sauce if you like a bit of a kick (check ingredients).

Milk
As a substitute to cow's, goat's or sheep's milk, try soya milk (if you are not on the Best Bet Diet or avoiding legumes), almond milk (if you are not nut intolerant), sesame milk (if you are fine with sesame seeds) or rice milk... probably the safest bet!

Muesli

 

You can buy good gluten-free muesli, but try making your own with millet flakes or quinoa flakes and dried or fresh fruit - see our great muesli-style recipe, I love it with rice milk. 

 

 

 

 

Noodlesalt
Substitute wheat or egg noodles with pure rice noodles or soba (buckwheat) noodles. They may need less cooking time than regular noodles, so be careful to check the instructions on the packet, but they are a perfect alternative for soups and Asian-style meals.


Oats
Wheat-free but not gluten-free, so replace with buckwheat flakes or millet flakes if you are on a gluten-free diet.

Pasta
You can find gluten-free pasta in most supermarkets these days, made from millet, buckwheat, corn and rice, among other substitutes. Alternatively, use rice or quinoa.

Peanut butter
For making dishes like ‘satay’, replace peanut butter with cashew nut butter – it’s delicious. Spread it thinly as a replacement on (gluten-free) toast.

Plain flour
Rice flour, maize flour and buckwheat flour are all wheat-free and gluten-free and fine for most recipes. As a thickener, use potato flour, cornflour or amaranth (all wheat-free and gluten-free).

Rye
Although rye is wheat-free, it is not gluten-free. Replace with rice flour, maize flour or buckwheat flour if you are on a gluten-free diet. Buckwheat flour is probably the nearest likeness in terms of colour and texture.

Salt
Use gomasio sprinkled on your food instead of salt to reduce your intake. It contains 20% salt and 80% toasted sesame seeds which make it really yummy.
Also, if you use a steamer instead of boiling your veg; you won’t need to add salt, and the flavour will be much better.

Self-raising flour
Add gluten-free baking powder to rice flour, maize flour or buckwheat flour.
 
Soya sauce
Soya sauce contains wheat, whereas tamari sauce tastes the same but is wheat-free and gluten-free. As soya beans are legumes though, neither of these is legume-free. Try toasted sesame oil - it's wheat-free, gluten-free and legume-free and complements any dish which usually uses soya sauce.

Spelt
Although spelt is wheat-free, it is not gluten-free. Replace with rice flour, maize flour or buckwheat flour if you are on a gluten-free diet.

Sugar
If you’re trying to cut down on sugar, or follow a sugar-free diet, agave (pronounced ‘argarvay’) syrup is a great alternative. It’s made from a cactus sap so it’s naturally rich in fructose rather than sucrose; it’s also 25% sweeter than sugar, so go easy. I’ve used it in cakes, desserts and drinks and think it’s fab. You can buy agave syrup in most health food and wholefood shops.
The other alternative is fructose (fruit sugar). It's available in supermarkets, usually on the general sugar shelf, and is another natural, low-GI alternative to ordinary sugar. Fructose is sweeter than regular sugar though, so you will need one third less.

Sweeteners
A more natural alternative to sugar or sweeteners is Agave (pronounced ‘agarvey’) syrup. It’s made from a cactus sap so it’s naturally rich in fructose rather than sucrose; it’s also 25% sweeter than sugar, so go easy. It's fine for baking and sweetening drinks. Pure fructose is another good alternative: it looks just like sugar but is low-GI and tastes sweeter than sugar so you will only need to use a third as much. Xylitol is another popular natural alternative.

Vinegar

 
Use lemon, lime or orange juice instead of vinegar in dressings if you are avoiding yeast.
 

 

 
Wheat flour
Rice flour, maize flour and buckwheat flour are all wheat-free and gluten-free and fine for most recipes. As a thickener, use potato flour, cornflour or amaranth (all wheat-free and gluten-free).