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Cauliflower and cashews substitutes in vegan recipes?
July 22, 2014 4:22 PM   Subscribe

A member of my gaming group has developed a ton of food intolerances/allergies, so I need substitutes for cauliflower and cashews in vegan recipes. And can anyone spot a pattern to her allergies?

So one of the folks in my monthly gaming/supper club has food intolerances/allergies that keep getting worse and more random as she gets older. When she joined us years ago, it was just onion family/derivatives, soy (as in soy sauce), and brewer's yeast.

She began experiencing more problems a few months ago, and the list was revised, effectively putting her on a soy-free vegan diet--a challenge, but nothing insurmountable.

Then a wrench got thrown into the works. After the latest round of tests, she now has to exclude the following from her diet:

FRUITS
Bananas
Cantaloupe
Watermelon
Oranges (this includes any citric acid product made using citric acid derived from oranges)
Strawberries
Apricot
Peaches
Pineapple

VEGETABLES
Cauliflower
Peas
Cabbage
All onion, onion family, and onion derivatives (leeks, scallions, chives, onion powder, onion juice, you name it)

NUTS
Cashews

OTHER
Chocolate
Wine
Beer
Cinnamon
Black Pepper

...and the previously-mentioned soy (including soy derivatives like soybean oil). She can have all of the red and white meat she can stand, however.

Everyone in our gaming club cooks for our monthly get-togethers. We already have a vegan, a diabetic, and someone with food intolerance for fish and seafood, so we're all used to adjusting around people's dietary needs. But this last update has left us a little flummoxed, because many vegan recipes--especially desserts--call for cashews or cauliflower in one form or another if you're trying to recreate the creaminess of certain dairy-based dishes (example, more examples).

I'm looking for two things:

1) Can anyone suggest substitutes for cashews and/or cauliflower in the sorts of recipes that I'm talking about? Whenever I find a good soy-free vegan recipe for a creamy dish or dessert, it invariably calls for cashews or cauliflower, which she can't have.

2) Can anyone spot a pattern to her food intolerances/allergies? She jokes that her food intolerances are like rolling a d20 on a Random Allergies Table from an early edition of Dungeons and Dragons--they seem to have no rhyme or reason.

Thanks in advance!
posted by magstheaxe to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I definitely have not tried this, but maybe coconut milk/cream, almonds, or macademia nuts would work in certain recipes? I've also had soups thickened with potato, which might work for some savory recipes using creamed cauliflower.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:30 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Here's a list of things that don't seem to be on her list:

corn
avocados
bell peppers
hot peppers
tomatos
cheese?

And out of those I see a modified version of Nachos, with onion-free salsa and onion-free guacamole, maybe with cheese.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:35 PM on July 22


I think that you could substitute roasted, unsalted peanuts in any recipe that called for cashews -- but since peanuts are legendary these days for causing allergies, maybe that's off limits too?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:36 PM on July 22


Coconut Cream is the gill! It's great in coffee, and in curries it's to die for. So rich and creamy!

This stuff substitutes for Soy Sauce pretty well.

At this point, I think she's reached the level where her food issues are so restrictive that she should probably just bring her own food. There are accommodations that we can make here and there, but when the whole menu is trimmed down to watercress and weak broth, it's time to draw the line.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:37 PM on July 22 [5 favorites]


Oh, Chocolate Pickle reminded me that there are a lot of variants for Avocado Pasta, most of which seem really adaptable! There are also quite a few avocado-based desserts (I know I've seen it as a smoothie option in LA) though many of the ones in that link do involve chocolate.

Unfortunately I think Bragg's is still made of soybeans, so I think that's still out.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:41 PM on July 22


I seriously hope she carries an Epipen, and I think it would be wise for you to ask her where she keeps it, so that you can get to it in case it's needed.

Also, if she does hit the jackpot at your place and you need to call 911, tell them "Anaphylaxis".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:54 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Is it just cashews or all tree nuts? You could experiment with almonds in place of cashews. They'll have a stronger flavor than the cashews do, but most recipes shouldn't clash too badly with a stronger almond flavor.

Roasted eggplant can be used as a vegan thickener, so I'd experiment with that in place of cauliflower. Other squashes could be used, too. I like the texture that sauteed okra gives to various dishes, but some people find it slimy, so YMMV.
posted by kagredon at 5:09 PM on July 22


If both cauliflower and cabbage are on the list I think it would be best to avoid all other brassicas just in case. So no kale or broccoli or brussel sprouts, etc.
posted by elizardbits at 5:16 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


(eggplants aren't squashes, but roasted squash could also be used. That's definitely what I said.)
posted by kagredon at 5:30 PM on July 22


Yeah, if it's just specifically cashews, almonds are a good sub (slightly sweeter, though). Maybe pine nuts or macadamia nuts would also work, but those start getting pricey as subs.

Eggplant may or may not be a good choice -- I am not really allergic to too many things, but I sometimes have a reaction to poorly cooked eggplant (mostly just a contact one, on the roof of my mouth). It might be best to avoid that until you know for certain.

And ... I don't mean to be a jerk about this because I get it. I'm mostly vegan and happy to eat before for bring my own food to share ... but depending on how big your group is, it may be more wise that she brings something she knows she can eat and the rest of you do what you can.

I love that you're trying here, though, but she may know what she can eat more than you do. Even with best intentions, it still may not be good enough.
posted by darksong at 5:57 PM on July 22


An impossibly expanding list of food allergies/intolerance makes me think orthorexia. I wonder what her symptoms are--digestive or hives, etc., and whether they've been confirmed with an elimination diet, blood testing (and blood testing gives a fair number of false positives), or something far more spurious such as muscle testing.

Just something to consider--my husband had reactivity to many foods on blood testing, but is "only" allergic to eggs, nuts, shrimp, and gluten. Of course, as her friends, I'd just ask that perhaps she should bring a dish to share.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:04 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Someone recommended Braggs Liquid Aminos - that stuff is made with soy so it's probably not an acceptable soy sauce substitute. If she can have coconut, however, you can get coconut aminos at Whole Foods that is passable as soy sauce when used as a seasoning.
posted by joan_holloway at 6:48 PM on July 22


Atopy may be related.
posted by amtho at 7:18 PM on July 22


I try to be compassionate where I can, but this massive list of alleged allergies seems, generously, exhaustive to the point of sheer neurosis. Has your gaming friend had any big events in her life lately that may be causing her to focus her mental energy in non-optimal directions?

That said, if she is "allergic" to peas but not to other legumes, certain white beans, such as navy and borlotti, could potentially be useful, as they are similar in shape and consistency to both cashews and cauliflower.

You can't be expected to cater to every single microscopic requirement of every single person in your gaming group. Just get a massive bag of corn chips and some mashed up avocado and if anybody wants something different they bring it their own self.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:37 PM on July 22


Just wanted to note that garlic and chives are also part of the onion genus...
posted by XMLicious at 12:05 AM on July 23


I seriously hope she carries an Epipen, and I think it would be wise for you to ask her where she keeps it, so that you can get to it in case it's needed.

Also, if she does hit the jackpot at your place and you need to call 911, tell them "Anaphylaxis".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:54 PM on July 22


She does, and we do know all of the above. We have a couple of people in our group who live with more mundane allergies who also have epipens, so it's all well covered.


An impossibly expanding list of food allergies/intolerance makes me think orthorexia. I wonder what her symptoms are--digestive or hives, etc., and whether they've been confirmed with an elimination diet, blood testing (and blood testing gives a fair number of false positives), or something far more spurious such as muscle testing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:04 PM on July 22


These intolerances and allergies have been medically confirmed with doctors (allergists) via elimination diet, yes. Her mom, her mom's dad, his mom, and some other relatives on her mom's side of the family have all had similar issues over the decades. Some sort of genetic tendency is suspected. Symptoms have included nausea/vomiting, stomach and intestinal cramps, and body aches (esp. joints). Beer actually once put her in an anaphylactic coma twenty-odd years ago when she was a teenager.

Since she's started eliminating the foods on her recently updated list, her overall health has improved dramatically--she's practically a different person.

I try to be compassionate where I can, but this massive list of alleged allergies seems, generously, exhaustive to the point of sheer neurosis. Has your gaming friend had any big events in her life lately that may be causing her to focus her mental energy in non-optimal directions?
posted by turbid dahlia at 10:37 PM on July 22


One of the frustrations for our friend is the number of people in her life who suggest that these food intolerances are all in her head. It's not. She's been dealing with food intolerances and food allergies in one form or another since she was a kid. The issue is that as she gets older, the list is expanding.

I don't mean to be a jerk about this because I get it. I'm mostly vegan and happy to eat before for bring my own food to share ... but depending on how big your group is, it may be more wise that she brings something she knows she can eat and the rest of you do what you can.

I love that you're trying here, though, but she may know what she can eat more than you do. Even with best intentions, it still may not be good enough.
posted by darksong at 8:57 PM on July 22


Oh, she's already doing this. Please don't think she's insisting that we accommodate her. We're just trying to be supportive where we can (we asked her to give us copies of the above list). It's been tough on her dealing with this, and we feel like anything we can do to make it a little easier for her will help. For example, we know she can have mango or raspberry or blueberry sorbet, so that's gone into the dessert rotation.

Regardless, thank you guys for the suggestions! I know she can do coconut-based products, almonds, and peanuts (peanut butter has become a real comfort food for her). I will check with her on eggplant, macadamia nuts, okra and avocado.
posted by magstheaxe at 4:53 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


An additional option may be to ask her if there are specialty prepared foods she can eat that can be purchased, which she might not do regularly on her own because of expense/ hassle/ whatever.

Also, Almond butter is magically delicious.
posted by metasarah at 6:56 AM on July 23


I was also wondering about chickpeas to replace cauliflower/cashews. If you peel them (they have a thin, transparent outer shell that can make hummus etc. slightly grainy) they'll blend super smooth and can go either way, savory or sweet.

For dessert rice pudding and panna cotta (with almond/rice or coconut milk and Agar Agar instead of gelatine) are good non-chocolate and non-fruit based desserts (you can always add some fruit that she tolerates).
posted by travelwithcats at 9:18 AM on July 23


You can get besan / chickpea flour at Indian and Middle Eastern markets.
posted by XMLicious at 1:46 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


For the second question, man does it sound like Oral Allergy syndrome to me, PLUS possibly a latex allergy with cross-reactions?

I am not a doctor, just a person with a lot of experience with allergies.

I feel you on the cashew thing, for sure. My favorite vegan cook is Isa Chandra, and boy does she love the cashews, which we can't have at my house.

Has your friend been to more than one allergist to see about possible options? They all seem to have really different opinions, which is frustrating, but it might be nice to get different ideas.
posted by freezer cake at 3:17 PM on July 24


For the second question, man does it sound like Oral Allergy syndrome to me, PLUS possibly a latex allergy with cross-reactions?...

Has your friend been to more than one allergist to see about possible options? They all seem to have really different opinions, which is frustrating, but it might be nice to get different ideas.
posted by freezer cake at 6:17 PM on July 24


I had come across the oral allergy syndrome in some of the other AskMetafilter questions on allergies. My friend hasn't mentioned that as a diasgnosis, but I'm going to send her that Wikipedia link, just in case. I don't know for sure how many allergists she's seen.

Her mom lives near an Indian grocery, so I will look there for chickpea flour!
posted by magstheaxe at 8:23 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Socca / farinata is a Mediterranean thing made with chickpea flour that I first heard of here on MetaFilter. I have no idea if I'm making it correctly, but it's pretty good.
posted by XMLicious at 1:31 PM on July 25


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