There are many reasons your family might choose an eggless and dairy-free diet, including health and ethics considerations and food allergies. Johns Hopkins Children's Center reports that egg and milk allergies in children appear to be increasing and that fewer children are outgrowing them. Whether you choose to avoid dairy and eggs out of conviction or necessity, you need some strategies for replacing them in a nutritious diet for kids.
You can avoid eggs by serving oatmeal -- the cook-from-scratch kind -- and other unadulterated grains, such as rice or quinoa. Butter, vegetable oil and many salad dressings are made without eggs -- check the labels to be sure. Sourdough bread and baguettes are usually made egg-free, but avoid challah, which is an egg-based bread. Fruits and vegetables that are dried, frozen or fresh should be fine, as long as they aren't cooked with or coated with anything that might include egg. Lean meats and fish, beans and lentils and dairy foods don't contain eggs unless egg has been added to a flavoring, garnish or sauce. You can find puddings and ice creams made without eggs, if you scrutinize labels. Popsicles and sherbets should be egg-free.
Milk allergies affect about 3 percent of American children, according to Allergic Child, an online information clearinghouse for families dealing with allergies. Milk allergies are more severe than lactose intolerance and may or may not persist into adulthood. When your child can't handle dairy foods or your family doesn't eat any animal foods, get calcium and other essential nutrients from substitutes like soy and fortified rice milk. Green leafy vegetables like kale are an excellent source of calcium. Baked tofu is a good cheese substitute in salads, and silken tofu blends smoothly into puddings, pie fillings and creamy dressings. Nutritional yeast is a tasty replacement for Parmesan on pasta or popcorn. And a raft of plant-derived milks like almond, cashew and hemp milk are widely available in health food stores and some conventional groceries.
Bake that yummy birthday cake for the perfect party, but leave out the eggs. Just be careful about which egg substitute you use. Several well-known egg substitutes are low-cholesterol products that do contain eggs, just not the yolks. Replace eggs in a recipe with a few extra tbsps. of water for moisture. A tbsp. of soy flour or cornstarch plus 2 tbsp. of water, or powdered egg-free egg substitute plus water, can be swapped for an egg in a cake or cupcake mix. If you like the taste of banana, mash one into a recipe in place of an egg. Use mashed potato, tomato paste or wet bread crumbs in place of eggs to keep a meatloaf from falling apart.
Make sure your plant-based diet provides adequate nutrition for a growing child. Vegans need lentils, peas, beans, whole grains and nuts and may need supplements for vitamins B12 and D. Some exposure to sun everyday will help with vitamin D requirements. B12 is only obtained from animal products so look for fortified foods or add a daily vitamin. Peanut butter, avocado, fruit juice and dried fruit are nutrient-dense and low in fiber, which may help vegan children to assimilate sufficient calories for healthy growth. Soy milks and soy products like tofu are fortified; if soy isn't an option due to allergies, try fortified rice milk, almond milk or other plant-milk products. Commercial orange juice now comes with added vitamins and calcium, so choose those brands for extra nutrition.
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- Mount Nittany Medical Center: When Your Child Has a Food Allergy: Egg
- Veg Mondays: Can I Have Healthful Meals Without Dairy and Eggs?
- "The Vegetarian Times"; Tips for Beginning a Vegetarian Diet: Egg Free!
- Allergic Child: Dairy Allergy
- Penn State University Extension; Raising Vegetarian Children; Katherine Cason
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images