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How to make any recipe gluten free, dairy free or egg free

Niki Bezzant has a practical guide to substituting in recipes so the whole family can enjoy your favourites.

Being diagnosed with an allergy or intolerance can be quite disorienting and confusing to start with – it can feel like meals as you know them are over!

But it doesn’t have to be this way – living free from the foods that cause you problems can be really positive and delicious as well, and it is possible to keep making some of your favourite recipes with a few small changes once you know the tricks.

How to substitute in most recipes

INSTEAD OFUSE
Milk in saucesDairy-free stock
Soy milk
Lactose-free milk (if it's only lactose that upsets you)
Milk in bakingRice milk
Soy milk
Tofu – mashed or puréed
Lactose-free milk (if it's only lactose that upsets you)
Cheese as toppingBreadcrumbs mixed with herbs and spices
Puréed tofu flavoured with herbs and spices
Butter in most recipesDairy-free reduced-fat spread
Oil
Stock powderDairy-free soup mix
Homemade stock

Gluten

How to substitute in main meals

INSTEAD OFUSE
Breadcrumbs for coatingCrushed gluten-free rice crackers
LSA
Polenta
Flour for coating (eg. fish, schnitzel)Cornflour (check it’s made from maize)
Rice flour
Flour for thickening (eg. gravy, stew)Arrowroot (halve quantity)
Cornflour (halve quantity)
CouscousQuinoa
Stock powderGluten-free soup mix
Gluten-free stock powder
Homemade stock

How to substitute in baking

You can successfully substitute gluten-free varieties of flour or baking mixes for wheat flour in baking recipes. Some recipes adapt better than others.

Recipes which work well

  • recipes with only small amounts of flour
  • recipes with ground nuts, eg. almonds (but watch the fat)
  • recipes with high fruit content, eg. carrot or banana cake
  • recipes with coconut

These types of recipes tend to have a heavier, moister texture naturally, which compensates for the dryness of gluten-free flours and means substituting generally works well.

Recipes which are more difficult

  • recipes with high flour content
  • recipes that are traditionally light and fluffy, eg. sponge, scones
  • bread

Try baking and bread mixes

Ready-made gluten-free baking mixes are especially formulated to give good results in baking recipes. They’re great for convenience and consistency, and you know there is no risk of cross-contamination.

Mixes can be substituted in the same quantities as wheat flour. It is also possible to make your own mix of flours for baking. Try this one:

  • 1 part maize cornflour
  • 2 parts soy flour
  • 2 parts rice flour
  • 3 parts potato flour

How to substitute in main meals

INSTEAD OFUSE
Eggs in batter: for 1 eggButtermilk (approx 1/4 cup)
Egg replacer (eg. Orgran: 1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons water)
Yoghurt (approx 1/4 cup)
Eggs for binding (eg. mince mixtures): for 1 egg2-3 tablespoons:
– arrowroot
– cooked red lentils
– cornflour
– egg replacer (see above)
– finely-crushed breadcrumbs
– mashed potato or instant potato flakes
– rolled oats
– tomato paste
– wholemeal flour
1-2 tablespoons oil

How to substitute in baking

INSTEAD OFUSE
Eggs for binding (eg. biscuits, loaves, muffins, denser cakes): for 1 eggEgg replacer (eg. Orgran: 1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons water)
1 tablespoon cornflour/custard powder + 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup tofu blended with the liquid ingredients in the recipe
1/2 small banana, mashed
1/4 cup apple purée; mashed pumpkin; or puréed dates/prunes.
*For a lighter texture, add an extra 1/2 teaspoon baking powder to the mix
Eggs as raising agent (eg. sponge cakes)Above suggestions, plus extra 1/2 teaspoon baking powder for each egg

General rule: If a recipe calls for 3 or more eggs, consider using a different recipe.

Here are some recipe examples showing ways to adapt recipes.

  • dairy-free (DF)
  • gluten-free (GF)
  • egg-free (EF)

Beef schnitzel

4 (about 500g) beef schnitzels
2 tablespoons flour (GF: replace with cornflour or potato flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten (EF: use yoghurt or egg replacer)
1 cup dried breadcrumbs (GF: use gluten-free bread or fine polenta or LSA)
2 tablespoons oil

Date and walnut loaf

1 cup boiling water
1 cup (180g) dates, chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons reduced-fat spread (DF: check dairy-free)
1 egg, beaten (EF: use egg replacer or puréed fruit)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour (GF: replace with 3/4 cup soy flour, 1/3 cup rice flour and 1/3 cup potato flour OR 1 1/2 cups gluten-free baking mix)
3 teaspoons baking powder (GF: use gluten-free baking powder)

Chicken curry

1 tablespoon oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder (GF: use gluten-free version)
1 teaspoon chicken stock powder (GF: use gluten-free version, or homemade, or gluten-free chicken soup)
1 cup water
500g chicken breast
1 tablespoon plain flour (GF: replace with 2 teaspoons cornflour or potato flour)
2 cups green beans (fresh or frozen)

First published: Dec 2010



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