Following a recipe can be more challenging for some due to food allergies or intolerances. This doesn’t mean that food should be any less enjoyable or lack in taste. Knowing what substitutes to use for certain ingredients that cause issues is helpful in being able to alter recipes to suit your individual needs.



If you experience food allergies or intolerances you are not alone. In Project CHEF, we often see a number of cases in the classroom and to ensure the safety of all children, we work closely with parents to find replacement ingredients. In general, we have successfully been able to accommodate most allergies, intolerances and restrictions in our recipes and we would like to share our knowledge to help you do the same at home.

A food allergy is an immune response to a certain food and symptoms can range from mild to severe. It is important to take extra precautions when dealing with food allergies. Omitting the allergen ingredient from the recipe completely and avoiding cross-contamination is required for safety. A food intolerance is a digestive system response that includes a wide range of adverse reactions causing symptoms after eating certain foods.

Sometimes the solution is easy, for example, simply leaving strawberries out of a fruit salad if allergic to strawberries. Other times, it can be more challenging, for example, finding an egg replacement if allergic to eggs. Let’s look at some common food allergies/ intolerances and some easy substitutes for these ingredients you can use in our Project CHEF recipes. Keep in mind, it can take some trial and error when altering recipes to suit your needs.


Try using seed butters as a substitute to peanut butter:

  • Pumpkin seed butter
  • Sunflower seed butter

Depending on allergies, try replacing peanuts with other nuts such as cashews or almonds.

For recipes such as our Kung Pao Chicken, peanuts are optional so we would suggest simply omitting them from the recipe.



Some grains such as rice, corn and quinoa are naturally gluten-free.

When it comes to making pancakes, desserts, breads or baking, there are many wheat- free/ gluten-free flour options to choose from including:

  • Almond
  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Buckwheat
  • Chickpea
  • Coconut
  • Corn
  • Gluten-free flours
  • Lentil
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Tapioca

When choosing products, opt for ones derived from the ingredients listed above such as brown rice pasta, rice crackers or corn tortillas.

Most soy sauces contain gluten. A great gluten-free substitute is tamari.



Avoidance of all dairy products is required for those with a confirmed cow’s milk protein allergy.

Milk can be substituted with milk alternatives such as:

  • Soy milk
  • Nut milks such as Almond milk and Cashew milk
  • Oat milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Rice milk
  • Hemp milk

These milk alternatives have different tastes so give them a try to see which ones you like best and which ones are suited to your recipe.

Butter can be substituted with coconut oil in many recipes. It works really well as a substitute in our Apple Crumble recipe.


There are big differences in symptoms experienced after lactose consumption by those who are lactose intolerant. There is no need to cut out all dairy foods, but rather adjust lactose intake according to tolerance. Milk alternatives mentioned above can be used for those who experience a lactose intolerance or another great option is lactose-free milk.


Flaxseed is a great substitute for eggs in most baking recipes. Eggs help to bind ingredients together and flaxseed can replicate this.

This replacement has been tested and approved in the Project CHEF kitchen with many happy students enjoying egg-free Pancakes in the classroom.

1 egg = 1TB flaxseed meal + 3TB water

Combine and let sit for 5 minutes to thicken.


Avoid any ingredients or products containing soy if a soy allergy is present. These can simply be omitted from a recipe or swapped with another ingredient. For example, tofu could be replaced with chicken or chickpeas in a stir-fry.

Soy Sauce provides a salty flavour to dressings and sauces. Any substitute in a recipe should have a salty flavour such as olive brine or chickpea miso paste.


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