Seasoning Substitutes for Food Allergies

Are there ANY seasonings out there I can use or substitute in recipes?

No Spicy Food

I have a lot of a lot of allergies.

However, since my husband is a diabetic and needs to watch his weight I want to change to a vegetarian diet.

The biggest problem I am encountering concern my allergies to HOT & SPICY foods. I am allergic to the following: garlic, horseradish, cayanne, hot (white) onions and any hot peppers or seasonings with garlic or hot pepper.

My question is, are there ANY seasonings out there I can use or substitute in recipes (like hummus or pesto) so I can still enjoy vegan cooking with some flavor??? So many recipes like soups, etc call for GARLIC! I LOVE spicy foods, but they HATE me & tear up my GI system BIG time.

Thanks for any suggestions or help you can give me – Kathy D.

Savvy Vegetarian Advice

Hi Kathy,

There’s no law which states that any recipe requires onions, garlic, peppers, etc. It’s just a cultural habit. I include those foods in our vegetarian recipes because most people like them, cook with them, and would feel lost without them. And they are tasty!

However, my husband and I can’t eat much of the nightshade or onion families. So I cook without them. My strategy is to just leave them out, and add a little more of other flavorings instead.

E.G. for hummus I double the lemon juice, and add a pinch more cumin and coriander. I use mild herbs and spices liberally for flavoring, plus lemon or lime juice, a bit of coconut milk, etc.

Seasonings I use regularly or occasionally:

Ginger in moderation – usually a slice of fresh ginger, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, fennel, asefetida (hing), cinnamon, cardamom, basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, bay leaf, fresh herbs whenever possible (I grow parsley, thyme, basil, mint), a little black pepper, rock salt, Braggs liquid aminos (unfermented), nutritional yeast, white miso, veggie bouillon cubes or vegetable stock.

For a little red color I sometimes cheat and add a bit of paprika. The seasoning mix Mrs. Dash I’ve found to be O.K. I use curry powder if it’s very mild. I sometimes add nuts & seeds or nut butters to casseroles, or sauces. Shredded or juiced beets or carrots will also add color and flavor.


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There are many other possibilities but that’s what I mostly do for seasonings.

I also use organic vegetables, which in my opinion have a lot more flavor, color and nutrition than non-organic. Especially things like carrots and celery and greens.

For vegetables, instead of nightshades, I use winter & summer squashes, yams & sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, chinese cabbage, kale, carrots, beets, celery, fennel, fresh parsley, basil, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, lettuce, avocado, sprouts, cucumber, etc.


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I often saute veggies in a little oil, adding spices & dried herbs at the end. That boosts flavor too. Sometimes I add a squeeze of lemon or lime before serving or a dash of Braggs liquid aminos. Steamed veg can be made more flavorful with a little fresh or dried herb, a pinch of salt & pepper, and a dash of oil & lemon.

I tend to favor dishes like stews served over grains, sauteed veggies cooked in a sauce, soups with breads or muffins or scones, stove top casseroles, mild curries, grain salads. Those all have a lot of different ingredients, colors, seasonings & flavors compared to a meal of plain grain, plain beans, plain steamed veggies for example.

Most Savvy Vegetarian recipes reflect this way of cooking. If you leave out the ingredients you can’t eat, there’s still plenty of seasonings to flavor your dish. I never feel deprived!

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