What do you do when you've been diagnosed with a food allergy and your favourite foods are taken away? Fear not! Our allergen-friendly recipes will ensure you always have something delicious to eat. Today, Amanda Orlando, author of Everyone's Welcome, The Art of Living and Eating Allergen-Free, joins us with some tips on buying allergy friendly baking ingredients as well as a recipe for Nut-Free Sunflower Seed Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.
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So many favorite baked goods or confections are made with nuts. They add texture, flavor, and colour, and are decadent, so I can see where the hype comes from. But if you live with a nut allergy (like myself) they’re not an option. Fortunately for us, there are lots of ways to achieve a similar earthy depth of flavor, or all that crunch, using nut-free ingredients.
Substituting Seeds For Nuts
I really enjoy baking with seeds whenever I come upon a recipe or a classic baked good that calls for nuts. For example, sunflower seed butter is a fantastic 1-to-1 substitute for peanut butter. Chopped shelled pumpkin seeds make an easy sub in for pistachio or almonds. Sesame seeds can add toasty flavor. There are plenty of ways to achieve that flavor and texture, nut-free!
Where to Buy Allergy-Friendly Seeds and Seed Butters
Baking without nuts often requires the use of delicious seeds, seed butters, and coconut flakes, which can be tricky to find.
But I see them in my grocery store and bulk food stores all the time, you say!
Well, unfortunately, that doesn't mean they're safe for people with food allergies.
Beware of Cross-Contact With Nut Products
Cross-contact is very common and likely in bulk stores/bulk bins. Many brands of packaged seeds or coconut often have cross-contact or may-contain warnings for nuts and peanuts because they're processed or packaged in the same facilities.
At a bulk store, for example, scoopers can be switched to different bins without thought, or bins could be improperly washed between product swaps. It’s not worth the risk of a reaction. The moral of this story – stick to known safe brands to avoid the risk of accidental exposure to nuts.
I buy coconut products from the Edward & Sons umbrella of companies (Let’s Do Organic, and Native Forest brands). They have an allergen statement on their website and have allergen control protocols to ensure that products are safe, and that information can be readily accessed for transparency.
For seeds, I buy shelled pumpkin seeds from Super Seedz, which is a dedicated top 8 allergen free company. And for sunflower seed butter, I buy the many varieties of Sunbutter (crunchy, smooth, organic) as they are also dedicated top allergen free.
Where to Buy Allergy-Friendly Cocoa Powder
Cocoa can be tricky not just for cross-contact with nuts, but dairy too. Even if it does not have a "may-contain" on the label, it’s worth checking with the manufacturer when shopping for cocoa powder. I use Rodelle cocoa powder, as they are transparent about their ingredients and processing facilities, and have allergen control protocols and testing in place to ensure safety of their ingredients.
Although it may take a bit of extra effort and research to find allergy-safe brands of coconut, seeds, and cocoa, it is well worth the feeling of comfort and security if you have a nut or peanut allergy. No delicious baked good is worth the risk of a reaction!
I decided to do a spin on a very popular sweet; peanut butter cookies. Because of the thick consistency of seed butters (much like nut butters), when mixed with a starchy ingredient like powdered sugar, these Sunflower Seed Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies require no flour and are gluten-free.
- 1 cup sunflower seed butter, such as Sunbutter
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup allergen-free dark chocolate chips, such as Enjoy Life or MadeGood
- Preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the sunflower seed butter, powdered sugar, and egg to a bowl and mix, using a wooden spoon, until well combined. It should come together into a sticky dough. Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Use a cookie scoop or a spoon to measure out 9 equal portions of dough. Lightly wet your fingertips and roll each piece of dough into a ball, then gently press down on it to form a disc. Spread the cookies about an inch apart on the baking tray.
- Bake for 10 minutes. They will firm up more as they cool.
Bonus Nut Free Recipe!
You can get the recipe for a second nut-free sweet, my Top 8 Free, Vegan, Gluten-Free, No-Bake Fudgy Brownies (they certainly are a mouthful!).
- No Bake Sunbutter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
- How to Make Allergy Friendly, Creamy, Dairy Free Pasta Sauces
- Allergy Friendly Recipe Remake: Potato Salad
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FBC Member Amanda Orlando is a Toronto area writer and recipe developer who lives with food allergies and works to inspire confidence in others who find themselves in the same situation. She is the author of Everyone's Welcome and Allergen-Free Desserts. You can find more of her recipes on her website, Everyday Allergen-Free. You can also connect with her on Instagram.