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Ingredients and Substitutions

For those of you not well-acquainted with the NAG diet and the various alternative ingredients used in these recipes, here’s a list of rough equivalents and substitutions you can use if you don’t have, or don’t want to include, some the ingredients. 

NOTE:  If you come across an ingredient on this blog and would like more information about it or how to substitute for it, please feel free to leave a comment here or email me directly at dietdessertdogs AT gmail DOT com. Thanks!

I’ve arrived at most of these through my own trial and error, so the exact measures may be slightly different for you. These substitutions will, however, allow you to arrive at a fine approximation of each recipe.

Binders and Egg Substitutes:

For one egg, you may substitute with any of the following:

  • 1 tsp (5 ml) ground chia seeds plus 3 Tbsp (45 ml) water
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) ground flax seeds plus 3 Tbsp (45 ml) water
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) silken tofu
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) potato starch mixed with 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cornstarch plus 2 Tbsp (30 ml) water (I’ve never tried this one, but have been told it works much like Ener-G egg replacer)
  • Fruit purées:  some people use about 1/4-1/3 cup fruit purée per egg (think: banana, applesauce, prune purée, etc.). 


I mostly use spelt flour, which is an ancient relative of wheat with less gluten (but NOT gluten-free).  As a result, baked goods made with spelt will be a bit denser and heavier than baked goods made with standard all-purpose flour.  You can compensate by adding more leavening or, if you use eggs, an extra egg.  I’m not including gluten-free flour in this list yet, as I haven’t had enough experience using it at this point to feel confident writing about it (but I’m still practicing. . . I’ll update as soon as I’ve got it down!).

[Update, 2011: Now that I’ve been exclusively gluten-free for over 2 years, I’ve finally created my own gluten-free flour mix.  You can find the recipe here.]

1 cup light spelt flour roughly equals:  

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. whole spelt flour

1-1/4 cups barley flour

1-1/2 cups whole oat flour

7/8 cup all-purpose (wheat) flour

2/3 cup kamut flour plus 1/2 cup oat flour


For each 1 cup soymilk, you can substitute: 

1 cup almond, hemp, oat, or dairy milk

7/8 cup rice milk 

In some cases, apple juice (or even water) can be substituted if 1 tsp. cornstarch is added to the liquid


As of 2009, I generally use either extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil in my baking. However, many of my earlier recipes use a light oil like sunflower.   For recipes in which a solid fat is necessary, I always use coconut oil.

For each 1/2 cup coconut oil, you can substitute 1/3 cup liquid oil, such as sunflower or olive.


13 comments to Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Linda Lamel

    What is Sucanat?


  • Elisabeth

    I’m also wondering what Sucanat is. There are many of your recipes I would like to try but they call for sucanat and I have never seen or heard of it before!


  • Misao Kiley

    Sucanat is SUgar CAne NATural. It’s an unrefined sugar. Get it at health food stores.


  • Hi Ricki,

    Just wondering do you have any tips for replacing maple syrup with sucanat or rapadura?


  • Kerstin

    I recently found out I have an intolerance to sugar, specifically anything derived from sugar cane or sugar beet. I am so happy to have found you!!! I have your book, but am wondering if there is something I can substitute Sucanat with since it comes from sugar cane?


  • lorie rowan

    You totally rock. Am into coconut and made your muffins. Totally great
    What is coconut sugar?
    I am a bone marrow transplant person, vegan and very athletic-
    I ride(bicycle) over 125 miles per week.
    Your receipes give me good protein additions to my diet-I cannot sing your praises enough.
    Joy and passion are my mantras.


  • Daniela

    Hi Ricky,

    I don’t have a home grinder. Can I use whole flax seeds? or what else can I use as egg-substitute for cakes and muffins?

    I use maple or rice syrup to sweeten, and non solid fats… I guess that’s too much heavy liquid so I only get flat, dense and sticky bakes =(



    Ricki Reply:

    Hi Daniela,
    Thanks so much for your comment, and for reading my blog! Unfortunately, the seeds have to be ground as an egg substitute or they won’t bind (and then you’ll have individual seeds scattered throughout your baking. . . not too peasant). However, if you have a blender you might be able to grind them in there, a little at a time. Otherwise, you can often find flax meal in stores, which is pre-ground flax seeds–take a look for some next time you’re in the supermarket or health food store. Liquid sweeteners require some adjustment if you’re subbing for dry; try decreasing the sweetener and increasing the dry ingredients (there’s an entire chapter about ingredients and subs in my cookbook, Sweet Freedom, but you should be able to find some information on the internet as well).


  • Daniela

    Thanks! I’ll try the blender (I have a hand blender)… if it doesn’t work I’ll start looking for flax meal.

    I’m kind of new in trying to be a sugar-free gluten-free girl, and I live in Spain, so sometimes I have to “translate” ingredients or substitute, my own trial and error 😉


  • Carolyn

    Thank you for the wonderful resources and recipes on your website. I am trying to maintain an anti-candida diet right now and these recipes are so helpful. I am wondering if you can recommend a substitute for agave nectar that would be candida friendly. I use xylitol a lot, but don’t think it’s sold in liquid form.


    Ricki Reply:

    Hi Carolyn,
    Thanks so much for your comment, and for reading my blog! When I first started the ACD, I used a lot of stevia. 😉 You can use it in most cases in the early stages, as too much agave wouldn’t be recommended anyway for the early diet. Check out my “Anti-candida desserts: what do yo eat?” post for a collection of recipes for all stages to see what kinds of sweeteners I use. I also like yacon syrup, but it has a distinct flavor. And a little bit of vegetable glycerin (food grade only!) can substitute for up to 2 Tbsp (30 ml) of agave. Hope that helps! 🙂


  • I have made a nut bar using brown rice syrup to bind the nuts and make it stay in a bar. I would like to find an alternative. I have tried barley syrup but don’t care for the strong flavor.

    Can I use chia gel or something else that might add more nutrition and less sugar?


    Ricki Reply:

    James, have you tried coconut nectar? It’s the sap from the coconut tree–the liquid they use to make coconut sugar. It’s low glycemic (about 35 on the glycemic index) so much less sugar than, well, sugar. 🙂 I love it and use it all the time in place of brown rice syrup.


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