Allergies. If you have them, your shoulders likely dropped and you let out an audible sigh while reading that. Whether it’s a seasonal or a food allergy that you have, neither are pleasant to live with. You’re always having to adapt your activities or what you eat to cater to them and on the inside you feel like you are missing out on some of the best moments and foods in life! Thankfully, there are companies like Ohh! Foods that have been created to eliminate the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when it comes to cookie dough and all things snacks related. Say hello to three allergen-friendly cookie doughs, coconut brownie and apple pie bites! Made with whole foods, real ingredients and not a single top ten allergen food, you’ll likely be going back for seconds and you might even share them with your non-allergy friends. Maybe! If they’re lucky!
In today’s blog post, we are going to be talking about the top ten allergens in food products on the market today. What are they, why do you react and what foods you can substitute into your diet as an alternative.
Gone are the days of missing out on eating yummy snacks and desserts - welcome to the land that we like “Flavourtown!”
What Causes An Allergic Reaction?
The allergic sequence of events begins when you inhale, ingest, swallow or come into contact with the allergen. Our proteins take a defensive strategy to combat the allergen and naturally create a protein called Immunoglobulin E or (IgE). This compound binds to the food molecule and triggers a cascade of events that cause the release of histamine, a chemical that is released by the white blood cells into the bloodstream when the immune system is being attacked by a potential allergen. In other words, it's basically a superhero coming to the rescue!
The Top 10 Food Allergens
Dairy, as sad as it is to say farewell to ice cream, milk, butter and cream, is one of the most allergy inducing foods. There are two main protein types in milk; casein and whey. Casein is found in the solid part of the milk that curdles, think of cottage cheese and cheese curds. Whey on the other hand, is the easier to digest protein that is found in the liquid part of milk and remains after it curdles. This is one of the most popular protein and muscle building supplements on the market, and for good reason - one scoop of whey protein powder contains 20-40 grams of protein. That’s a whole lot of muscle! On the other hand, it might be protein dense and taste delicious, but those who are allergic dairy or lactose intolerant may experience bloating, gas, indigestion, hives, nausea, vomiting and sometimes wheezing. Before you get all sad about not being able to enjoy ice cream or sour cream ever again, let us introduce you to dairy free options! Almond and cashew milks are two of the most popular nut milks on the market. Allergic to nuts? Try hemp, oat or even rice milk! The options are endless and there are more and more companies coming up with vegan alternatives for sour cream, yogurt, ice cream and even coffee creamers.
Who doesn’t love a classic bacon or tempeh, eggs and toast breakfast? Those with allergies. That’s who! Eggs, although they are extremely rich in protein, healthy fats and Vitamin A, cause an allergic response in a number of children and adults. The most common symptom of an egg intolerance is found on their skin - rashes, hives and itchy skin are all symptoms of an allergy. Other symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, digestive issues, nausea, vomiting, wheezing or shortness of breath. Finding a substitute for eggs is a little trickier than replacing milk with coconut milk. Eggs are commonly used in baking and can be replaced with chia seeds that have been soaked in water. Tofu or tempeh, both made from soy, can be used as a replacement for eggs by scrambling them, however the taste will not be quite the same.
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise. Peanuts are the most common food allergy in children and the second most common in adults. Schools have banned peanut butter from entering the building and sunflower seed butter has quickly stepped in to replace it! Those who suffer from a peanut allergy, will likely experience an anaphylactic like response and struggle to breathe, break out in hives, experience swelling in their throat, a sudden drop in blood pressure and faintness and/or dizziness. Thankfully, there are numerous nut/seed butters that are allergy friendly and taste equally as delicious! Tahini, made from sesame seeds, pumpkin seed butter and sunflower seed butter are all natural substitutes for peanut butter!
Soy is one of the most common food allergies because it is in nearly everything! Soybeans are commonly fed to cattle as part of their feed, along with grains and some grass. They are also used to make soy sauce, tempeh, tofu, soy milk, miso and a variety of vegan meat alternatives. It is common for someone to experience and eczema like reaction when they react to soy along with swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, wheezing, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing and a host of digestive issues. Thankfully, soy can be replaced with other legumes such as black beans, chickpeas, navy beans or lentils to add heartiness to a meal or texture to a stew or vegetable burger.
How many times have you heard the words gluten-free and celiac this year? They are becoming more commonly used and recognized as more and more of the population begins to experience reactions to wheat and gluten containing foods. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which antibodies are produced in response to the gluten which results in inflammation and damage to the lining of the small intestine. Symptoms of a gluten allergy include constipation, weight loss, abdominal pain, gas, bloating, indigestion and lethargy. Gluten took a little long to recognize as an allergy promoting food, but nowadays, it is extremely common to find gluten free options or alternatives at every restaurant and supermarket. For those who struggle with wheat specifically, try rye or sourdough products as those are easier to digest!
Tree nut allergies are among the most common food allergies in both children and adults. These include; walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews and pistachios. But, it still leaves us with sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, sesame seeds and hemp seeds to work with instead!
Shellfish can be broken down into two different categories, crustaceans and mollusks/bivalves. Crustaceans include shrimp, prawns, crab and lobster, while mollusks/bivalves include clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, octopus, squid, abalone, snail. Of all of the shellfish, shrimp is the most common shellfish allergen for both children and adults. Fish on the other hand such as salmon, tuna, catfish and cod are the most commonly reported fish allergies. While there is no true vegan substitute for shellfish, chickpeas can be used to replace tuna in a tuna salad or sandwich!
Sesame, there goes another peanut-free alternative! Have no fear, there is still coconut, hemp, sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds to use! Sesame, also known as tahini in the seed butter form, is becoming a more common food allergy as more and more people react with rashes, swelling, itchy throats, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. When eating out, ensure to ask your server which types of oils they use in cooking any dishes that have an Asian flare or could be sprinkled on top of a dish as a garnish to topper! Sesame is more commonly used in the kitchen than you would think!
Mustard allergies are among the most severe food allergies and result in individuals experiencing itchy skin, hives, or a skin rash. As delicious as it is on hotdogs and burgers, mustard can be substituted for well, any other condiment really. If you like bold mustard like dijon, try using horseradish instead for the same throat-like punching feel. Be sure to read your labels when shopping for spices or condiments, mustard seed is commonly used in most spice blends and sauces.
Sulfites can cause allergy like reactions with symptoms such as wheezing, hives, itchy skin, trouble swallowing, dizziness, digestive issues and trouble breathing. Thankfully, sulphites are easy to avoid if you know where they hide! Sulphites are commonly used as a food additive to maintain food colour, elongate the products shelf-life and prevent the growth of bacteria. It is also used in food packaging like cellophane! The most common sulphite containing foods include baked goods, jams, canned vegetables, pickled foods, dried fruit, wine, potato chips canned soups.
There you have it! The ten most common food allergies and a few alternatives to keep your kitchen fully stocked and to keep your belly feeling happy! Whenever you need a snack in a pinch, turn to your Ohh! Foods Cookie Dough or Bites - they’re free of all top 10 allergens and packed with real ingredients and a whole lot of flavour!
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