Editor: It’s not unusual for a gem of a book to go unnoticed. After all, the Internet is flooded with stuff, good and bad. Well, Sherri Svrcek’s book Welcome to the World of Food Allergies and Intolerances: A Parent’s Handbook deserves attention by anyone dealing with food restrictions.
Sherri wrote the guide she wished she’d had after her son was newly diagnosed. She included a bonus chapter discussing her son’s Tourette syndrome and how dietary changes and other adjustments helped him. We hope families discover her book and save themselves a lot of effort and frustration.
This article on eggs is one of 22 chapters in the book. You’ll find suggestions for traveling, dealing with restaurants, getting the family and school staff on board, and a lot of other hard-learned lessons in her book.
Does egg sensitivity mean chicken sensitivity?
Eggs are an animal byproduct (not dairy as is sometimes thought) and the second most common allergen. Some people may wonder: why can I eat chicken but not chicken eggs? The fact is that the part of the egg that contains chicken actually makes up a very miniscule part of the chicken eggs we eat, fertilized or not. The egg yolk itself is a protein that exists to feed the developing baby chicken and is very different from chicken protein. The egg white is a protein which serves as a protectant of the egg yolk area, helping to cushion the developing chicken as it grows.
Because we eat eggs well before the chicken itself starts to grow, we are eating mainly egg yolk and egg white proteins, and many people are allergic to one or both of these. Labeling is important to mention when it comes to eggs as well. “Vegan” means that a product does not contain any animal products (including eggs, dairy, meat, animal parts, etc.). Products labeled “vegan” should be safe, but you should still read the labels, especially for cross-contamination issues. Products labeled “vegetarian” may or may not indicate the inclusion of eggs, as some vegetarians do eat eggs.
The quest for alternative types of eggs
Some people who are allergic to chicken eggs may find they can tolerate duck eggs or other poultry eggs. The protein in duck eggs is somewhat different than chicken eggs, but make sure to ask your doctor about this option for you before trying it. If this is a possibility for you, here are some tips on where to find these alternative eggs. I could write an entire book of stories about my quests for duck eggs alone. I have driven all over our state and met many unique individuals and locations on my hunts for these elusive gems. You can start by checking the following websites for duck egg farms in your area:
Consult your local farmers market, county fair offices, and high school agriculture programs to find duck farmers. Spread the word through all of your family and friends that you are in need of duck eggs, and request that they ask around as well. This will quickly multiply the number of eyes and ears on the lookout.
We found a duck farmer right around the corner from us using this method, and I still receive calls from friends of mine who have seen duck eggs for sale during their travels. Something to keep in mind if you live in a temperate climate with well-defined seasons like Michigan is that egg production is heavily affected by the weather. It slows to almost a halt December through February in Michigan, so it is important to do two things to prepare for this duck egg drought. Duck eggs can be kept refrigerated for about six weeks, so stock up in November prior to the slow-down.
Also make sure that you have contacted all of your suppliers well before winter to let them know you are still interested in buying duck eggs from them. Some suppliers are able to keep their ducks laying eggs through the winter by providing artificial light and heat, tricking the ducks into thinking it is spring. Without this method, ducks don’t usually lay eggs in the winter (at least Michigan winters). During these few months you will probably be lucky to find one dozen eggs a month, if any, so plan ahead.During the spring and summer, duck eggs will be much easier to come by.
Ducks usually lay one egg per day during this prime time, so depending on the number of ducks your supplier has they will probably be calling you to take some off of their hands. I buy first from my winter suppliers during the summer so that I can stay on their winter list when these green beauties are at a premium.
Duck eggs are up to twice as large as chicken eggs (depending on the age of the duck: the older the duck, the larger the egg), so when you are substituting duck eggs for chicken eggs, you may have to adjust the number of eggs per recipe. Duck eggs also have proportionately larger yolks, so keep this in mind as well.
Duck eggs are fabulous for baking, adding rise and richness to all of your baked goods. Cooked alone as scrambled or “dipper eggs” (as my son calls them), duck eggs have a slightly different texture than chicken eggs. Some people find them to be a little on the rubbery side, especially the whites, but you’ll have to see what your child thinks. My son loves the large yolks and has told me that, because of this he would continue to eat duck eggs even if he could have chicken eggs again.
Avoiding all products with eggs
If your child cannot tolerate any eggs though, below you will find ingredients to avoid, a chart of other alternative ingredients to use, and some of my favorite brands. One thing to keep in mind is that the only egg substitution that would work for dishes made mainly out of eggs (i.e. quiche, breakfast casseroles, scrambled eggs, etc.) is other poultry eggs (if your child can have them). The other substitutions listed below will only replace small amounts of eggs in baked goods, sauces, condiments, soups, etc.
Also know that products advertised as “egg substitutes” (like Egg Beaters) still contain actual eggs (mostly eggs whites), as do frozen and powdered egg substitutes, and are therefore not safe for the egg-allergic person.
Avoid any foods containing the following ingredients
- Egg (white, yolk, dried, powdered, solids)
- Egg substitutes such as Egg Beaters
- Mayonnaise (made of eggs and oil)
|Baked goods, as a binder||Flax seeds or chia seeds (search internet for recipes)|
|Baked goods, as a leavener||Use Ener-G egg replacer or egg replacer recipe|
|Breaded items (often dipped in egg)||Use a milk product or water instead of egg|
|Egg dishes||Other poultry eggs only|
|Mayonnaise, tartar sauce||Vegenaise brand mayonnaise or make your own blender mayonnaise with duck eggs or search the internet for vegan mayonnaise recipes|
|Meatballs and meatloaf, as a binder||Breadcrumbs, ketchup, barbeque sauce, pureed carrots, chopped mushrooms & onions, or mashed potatoes|
|Vaccinations and anesthesia||Ask for EF, if available|
Ener-G Egg Replacer (www.ener-g.com)
Vegenaise mayonnaise (www.followyourheart.com)
NEW: Beyond Eggs: Eggless mayonnaise and natural cookies, with other products in development (www.hamptoncreek.com)
Sherri A. Svrcek, MA: For the past twenty-four years she has worked in the counseling field, as a mental health therapist and a high school guidance counselor. She has a teenage son who was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome at age nine and food allergies at age ten. Her transition to avoiding allergens in her family’s diet was the inspiration for writing Welcome to the World of Food Allergies and Intolerances: A Parent’s Handbook. Sherri is married and lives with her family n Michigan.