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Do you love desserts? Gooey brownies, warm cookies, morning muffins… am I making you hungry? Even if you are cooking with food allergies you can still satisfy your sweet cravings. It’s just a matter of knowing some handy, safe substitutions.

There were times when I was first diagnosed when I’d eat something even though I knew it wouldn’t serve me. After a while, I decided that the side effects just weren’t worth the setbacks. A piece of birthday cake didn’t fill me enough to warrant a massive stomachache or a weeklong sinus infection. I’ll pass, thank you very much!

I loved conversion class in culinary school because I learned that I could bake an allergy-free cake, eat it and avoid a host of symptoms with a few simple swaps. So yes, you can prepare indulgent, too-good-to-be-free-from desserts without all the refined sugar, flour and dairy.

As promised, I’m sharing my top sweet swaps and favorite recipes. Pour yourself a cup of tea, kick back and enjoy a much-deserved (healthy) indulgence!

Sweet Ingredient Substitutions for Cooking With Food Allergies



The best gluten-free flour substitution is made from a combination of flours. To yield 2 cups, I combine:
½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup sorghum flour
½ cup tapioca starch
¼ cup potato flour
¼ cup millet flour

You can make tons of dessert recipes that call for wheat flour by just swapping in a gluten-free flour blend instead. King Arthur Flour makes an all-purpose blend that is pretty good. Here is their brownie recipe using their premade all-purpose flour.

Make something sweet that doesn’t need any flour at all like my Healthy Chocolate Truffles or a refreshing Chocolate Smoothie.

I also look for recipes prepared with almond flour and coconut flour, like these Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies from Detoxinista, or these Lemon Rosemary Mini Muffins from Elana’s Pantry:

Cooking with food allergies, Sweet Substitutions: lemon rosemary mini muffins

Picture by Elana’s Pantry


MILK:   You can use any nut, soy or hemp milk to replace regular milk in a recipe.  I’d recommend using homemade almond milk if you have the time to make it. Check out this Basic Nut/Seed Milk recipe from Kris Carr. Just make sure to drain the nuts from the soaking liquid (She didn’t mention that part.) Or my own recipe for Fresh Almond Milk.  Or purchase already made nut milks like macadamia or hemp milk.

BUTTER:  You can use melted coconut oil in dessert recipes that call for butter or to grease baking/muffin pans.  Coconut Oil might not always be the best replacement in savory dishes, you be the judge. Sometimes Olive Oil would be a better flavor or some bacon fat.

CREAM:  For cream in a soup or sauce, try the thick part of the coconut milk out of a can. Place the can in the fridge overnight just to make sure the thicker cream rises to the top and solidifies.

To replace whipped cream, try this fluffy Coconut Whipped Cream recipe from Oh She Glows:

Sweet Substitutions: Coconut Whipped Cream

Picture from Oh She Glows


MAPLE CRYSTALS: Substitute white or brown sugar with maple crystals in a 1:1 ratio (this type of sugar can get expensive, so buy in bulk or shop online to find good deals). Your baked goods will come out slightly darker as a result, and they also will be slightly less sweet.

COCONUT SUGAR: You can also opt for coconut sugar in a 1:1 ratio. The granules are a bit more course, but the result will be just as delicious. The resulting product will be less sweet than with white sugar and little darker since this sugar is a dark brown color.

DATES: Medjool dates are the perfect way to add a touch of sweetness to smoothies and all-natural snack bars. These “Five Ingredient” cookies from Minimalist Baker look delicious and so easy to make.  The sweeteners are dates and banana.

MAPLE SYRUP: And my recipe for Mayan Wonder Bars uses maple syrup and brown rice syrup as the sweeteners.

plate of mayan wonder bars

Mayan Wonder Bars

Cooking with food allergies has become so much easier. There are many great recipes out there now that you can find great ideas for a snack or dessert without the ingredients you are avoiding. You don’t have to go through the work of converting your own recipes.  If not, then I hope these suggestions have been helpful!

Hit reply below and let me know your favorite substitutions and gluten free flours!

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