5 Ingredient substitution tips every allergy-conscious cook needs

This post is part of a monthly series by Zoë Desborough. Follow Zoë on PumpUp (@zoedesborough) and on her blog

Zoë’s blog features recipes that are all egg, nut and gluten free.

Before I get into my recipes, I wanted to take this chance to give you guys a few of my food tips when it comes to substituting ingredients in recipes and what you can do to make your life easier.

Gluten Free Flours: A comparison


If you need to find gluten free flour, check the ingredients out. I have been surprised too many times by additives and sweeteners that aren’t necessary

  • Personally, I avoid Robin Hood’s gluten free flour… It’s sweetened with beet sugar, and I swear I can taste the beets., regardless of what I add to the mix
  • Quinoa flour is great if you’ll be baking breads, or want something with a whole-wheat taste… Otherwise, I don’t suggest baking with it, since it is quite bitter and overpowering.  I do have a recipe for quinoa muffins on my blog (Pumpkin Chai Muffins) where it works well.
  • Rice flour is good, but you need to make sure that you have ingredients that will keep it from crumbling (especially if you’re not using eggs)… I only use it if I’m making carrot cake/muffins, zucchini chocolate cake, or my surprise recipe below…
  • Mixed flours are great. My two favourite are Bob’s Red Mill (THEY EVEN HAVE A PIZZA CRUST MIX…and it’s awesome) and Metro’s (brand of Canadian superstore) in-house brand, Irresistible, GF flour mix. Price wise, I go with the Irresistible since its 1kg for about 8$ instead of the pricy BRM for a small amount (I do treat myself from time to time when I can get my hands on it)  
  • Oat flour… make your own! Buy bulk old fashion oats (less processed) and blend them in your food processor or blender until you get a flour texture.

Storing Gluten-Free Flours

Make sure you store them in hermetic, preferably glass, containers (label them properly as well… you don’t want to go through the pain of mistaking chipotle chili power for paprika like I did last time I was in my mom’s unlabelled spice cupboard).

Making the most of your bananas


When you’ve got bananas you know you won’t use, just pop them in the freezer! They make super good post-workout treats cut up with a dollop of nutbutter/sunbutter (sunflower seed butter), super good “ice cream”, and great to add to any baked goods or smoothies!

  • Leave them in their peels, so when you take them out of the freezer, let them thaw out a bit and then just squeeze them out!
  • Chop them up and divide them in portions in little baggies so you don’t need to fuss around with frozen bananas (It won’t require an electric chainsaw to cut a piece off either)

Baking with oils


In general, it is not suggested to use olive oil when baking baked goods since olive oil has a distinctive and overpowering taste that can mask more subtle flavours in your recipe

  • Use Canola/vegetable oil, coconut oil, and even sometime nut oils (walnut preferably)

Butter vs. Margarine: The Great Debate

  • I never, ever, ever, use margarine (WE ARE NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, GETTING BACK TOGETHER….sorry….doesn’t that ever happen to you? You start a sentence and it reminds you of a really popular, or in this case annoying, song?)
  • There is a lot of debate about the two; I usually opt for unsalted organic butter. It is more expensive, but I rarely use it, other for cooking or for when I make popcorn.

Eggcellent substitutes for eggs

If you need to substitute eggs (1 to 2 eggs) you can

  • Use apple sauce
  • Greek yogurt / plain yogurt
  • Chia seed “egg” (1 tbsp. chia seeds + 3 tbsp. water)
  • Flax seed “egg” (1 tbsp. flax seeds + 3 tbsp. water)
  • Milk (if it’s a runny recipe)

My Story


I have the great honor to be featured for this Foodie Friday! I first starting blogging about the recipes I made because my best friend was tired of eating frozen pizzas and take out sushi and needed some inspiration. I’ve always had a great passion for food and fitness, and even more so since I moved out and had to really start looking out for myself.

When I was a few months old, my parents discovered I had a life-threatening allergy to eggs. When I was 20, I discovered I was allergic to many different nuts/tree nuts, as well as certain fruits that have a similar protein buildup, such as cherries and stone fruit (plums, peaches, and nectarines). Last fall, I suspected I had a gluten intolerance, so I cut out gluten from my diet while being followed by a dietician. It is important to note that being intolerant to gluten and coeliac are two different things, and it is suggested to not stop consuming gluten if not necessary. Many studies have been written about this, and I am no expert, but it’s important that we all do our homework when it comes to our health!

If you’ve ever stumbled onto my blog page, you’ll know that I post recipes that are all egg, nut and gluten free. However, not all of these are originally free of these allergens, and I usually indicate it so everyone can make these yummy recipes!

This week, I will be giving you recipes that are all gluten free, but if you’re one of the lucky ones that don’t need to avoid gluten, I have included options for you!

  • First up, a healthy alternative for breakfast, or as quick snack in the middle of the day, this Oat Flour Banana Coconut Date and Cranberry loaf will become your best friend.
  • Second, tired of that old Chicken Noodle Soup? Well I’ve got a spin on a traditional Pho soup, which is just as comforting as it is delicious.
  • Third, you’ll know (if you’ve read my blog, or peeked in my freezer) that I have probably around 3 to 4 different frozen meals in my freezer for the sake of practicality and laziness. As I am writing this, I realized that both my lunch (frozen portion of Chickpea and Spinach Masala) and my supper (Sicilian Chickpea and Squash Stew) will have been out of my freezer. So, I am offering you a version of my all-time favourite Jamie Oliver recipe, his Vindaloo (you can make it vegan or full o’ meat), which is an excellent recipe to freeze off some portions for quick lunches and dinners.
  • Finally, I have a fall treat for y’all with a sweet tooth but that can never find a recipe that caters to your allergies… You’ll have to scroll down to see what it is!

Read Zoe’s blog for more healthy, allergy-conscious recipes and keep clicking through the PumpUp Daily for Zoe’s September Recipe Round-Up!