For the millions of people around the world who suffer from food allergies, finding nutritionally-equivalent food substitutes can be a challenge. Many popular food substitutes, after all, contain vastly different ratios of protein to carbohydrates, for instance, or simply do not cut it when it comes to providing adequate, synergistic nutrition for your body. So, to help make this process a little simpler, we have come up with seven viable food substitutes that work quite well in place of many common food allergens.
1) Chia seeds. Popularly termed the superfood of the Incas, chia seeds make an excellent food substitute for tree nuts like walnuts, almonds, pecans, and cashews because they are high in both protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Though not a perfect match, adding a few tablespoons of chia seeds to your morning smoothie or afternoon beverage will help add many of the same nutritional components to your diet that you would otherwise get from eating a handful of nuts every day. (http://www.naturalnews.com/chia.html)
2) Flax seeds. Flax seeds are similar to chia in that they are high in both omega-3 fatty acids and protein, and help soothe the stomach. For people with egg allergies, flax seeds make a pretty good substitute because they are hearty, nutritious, and develop a similar texture to eggs when ground and mixed with water, which means they are useful for baking. (http://www.care2.com/greenliving/flaxseed-egg-substitute.html)
An added benefit is that flaxseeds are one of the highest known sources of plant-based lignans, which act as powerful antioxidants to scavenge free radicals from the body. However, since these lignans can also act as phytoestrogens, it is best to use flax seeds sparingly in conjunction with other nutrient-dense seeds like chia. (http://www.naturalnews.com/flax.html)
3) Grass-fed meats. Eggs, and particularly those that come from chickens raised on pasture, are naturally high in choline, a nutrient the body uses to synthesize fat for cell membranes, promote cell communication, and generate nerve impulse transmissions, among other functions (http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/choline/). For those with egg allergies; though, getting enough choline can be difficult. This is where grass-fed meats come in.
A half-pound chunk of grass-fed ground beef contains about 150 milligrams of choline, which is roughly comparable to the amount of choline in a single pastured egg. Grass-fed meats are also loaded with all sorts of other important nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and healthy saturated fats. (http://www.eatwild.com/healthbenefits.htm)
4) Sunflower, hemp, and pumpkin seeds. Getting back to tree nut allergies, there are a number of other “superfood” seeds such as sunflower, hemp, and pumpkin that provide nearly all the same nutritional benefits, if not more. Sunflower seeds, for instance, are packed with healthy protein, saturated fats, vitamins and minerals, but are also high in omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3s. (http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3079/2)
Hemp seeds, on the other hand, are exceptionally high in omega-3s, and are an excellent source of vitamin E tocopherols and tocotrienols and trace minerals (http://www.naturalnews.com/029729_hemp_seeds_health.html). And pumpkin seeds are loaded with protein, healthy fats, magnesium, and zinc, all of which are important for good health (http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3066/2). When eaten together, these three superfood seeds make a great substitute for both tree nuts and eggs.
5) Raw milk. If milk gives you trouble due to so-called “lactose intolerance,” you might want to give raw milk a try if it is available in your area. Because it has not been pasteurized, raw milk contains vital enzymes like lactase that naturally break down lactose in the body and make milk much more digestible. And if your raw milk comes from pastured Jersey cows, it will also have an extremely high ratio of healthy saturated fats, complete proteins, vitamins A and D, and what Dr. Weston A. Price historically referred to as “Activator X,” or vitamin K2, which helps promote optimal mineral absorption. (http://www.realmilk.com/what.html)
6) Leafy greens. If milk is completely off limits due to a casein intolerance, leafy greens are a great way to get healthy amounts of bioavailable calcium, as well as vitamins, minerals, and even protein. Organic kale, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, endives, mustard greens, Swiss chard, bok choy, beet greens, and watercress are all excellent substitutes for a wide range of food allergies; in fact, at least as far as overall nutrient content is concerned. Try wrapping a grass-fed burger in kale leaves, or gently pan-frying spinach and adding it to an omelet (if you can eat eggs), to boost your nutritional profile in the absence of your specific allergen.
7) Quinoa. For the millions of people that have wheat or gluten intolerance, which can include many common varieties of oats, there are already a variety of gluten-free products on the market that make pretty good substitutes. But if you really want to pack a little extra nutrition in your wheat substitute, quinoa is an excellent option. (http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/10352/2)
A single cup of cooked quinoa contains about eight grams of protein, as well as high amounts of folate, and the grain-like food can also be made into, or purchased as, flour for recipes. And if you like oatmeal but are unable to eat it, quinoa works quite well as a warm breakfast cereal, especially when covered in cinnamon, butter, and raisins.
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