There’s nothing worse than eating bland tasteless food. Why sacrifice flavor when there are so many low nickel alternatives? Often only adding a little seasoning or sauce can entirely change an entrée! Condiments can range from garnishes, meat marinades, dipping sauces or seasonings used to add flavor to a meal. Eating a restricted diet doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t relish flavorful foods.
Before my nickel food allergy diagnosis, I was in college and I revealed in eating the same thing day after day. I used to tell others “I’m not a sauce person.” Once my diet became severely restricted and with the loving persistence of my wife, I’ve slowly developed an appetite for sauces, seasonings and marinades.
There are plenty of low nickel ingredients you can blend yourself to make your own homemade sauces, like a lime zest sour cream or a ginger honey vinegar glaze. You can also creatively create your own mayo, tzatziki, chimichurri, fruit ketchup, soy sauce alternative and the like. Using minimal ingredients very quickly in the kitchen, it’s easy to create various dips, relishes or homemade condiments.
When developing your own recipes or searching for ideas, consider how you want to use the condiment or dressing. Are you making a sandwich? Do you need a marinade when baking chicken breasts? Or maybe you’re grilling homemade sweet potato fries and you’d like a complementary dipping sauce. Identifying what you’re cooking and how the condiment, garnish or seasoning will improve your meal, is the first step to figuring out what ingredients you’ll need.
Universal ingredients that make every recipe better include butter, olive oil, fresh garlic or ginger. You can never go wrong using fresh herbs like basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley and sage. Some with systemic nickel allergies avoid onions or garlic, but I don’t because I only use a small portion of both in my dishes and they add so much flavor to every meal. I always have plain yogurt and various types of citruses in my refrigerator, zested and blended with honey makes a delightful dressing.
There’s no need to rely on a tomato based barbecue sauces. Instead why not combine balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, liquid smoke and worcester sauce? Or create a dry rub barbecue seasoning using brown sugar, paprika, black pepper, salt, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.
Many traditional condiments like mayonnaise can contain foods higher in nickel, like soy, pea protein, nuts or seeds. I also avoid sauces with teriyaki, as it typically contains soy sauce and tahini is made from sesame seeds. Some folks with systemic nickel allergies can tolerate avocado or coconut, but the results are very individual and vary widely.
Finding processed pre-made low nickel condiments can be a little trickier. Generally, I recommend finding condiments or spice blends with the fewest number of ingredients. Even though I’ve said it before, remember to always check the label when you’re buying anything processed, as food companies regularly update their recipes and ingredient lists without notice. Be mindful that vinegars and fermented foods can cause our bodies to release more histamines, which can mimic eczema symptoms. The methods used to cook high histamine foods can reduce their effects on our bodies. Also watch out for pre-mixed seasonings that can contain soy, like taco seasoning. Instead I use a small bowl to combine various individual seasonings together when I’m making my low nickel recipes.
Here is a list of foods that can be used alone or in combination to make your own condiments or sauces:
- Fresh ginger
- Fresh garlic
- Olive oil
- Rice vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Fresh and dried herbs
- Zested and juiced citrus flavors; such as lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit
- Brown sugar
- Pure maple syrup
- Brown sugar
- Black pepper
- White pepper
- Bay leaves
- Rice vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Yellow mustard
- Plain yogurt
- Sour cream
- Cream cheese
- Blended cottage cheese (I’ve heard it can be used to make a tasty mayo)
- Avocado (this is hit or miss for some of us)
- Coconut (this is hit or miss for some of us)
Processed Condiment Options
- Dill pickles
- Sweet pickles or relish
- Yellow peppers
- Red peppers
- Jelly or jam preserves (without soy, raspberries or pineapple)
- Fish sauce (without soy or shellfish)
- Sweet chili sauce
- Worcestershire (without soy)
- Liquid smoke
- Kikkoman Panko Bread Crumbs
- Spreadable Brie cheese
- Lighthouse ranch or caesar dressing
Avoid these common condiments that primarily contain foods higher in nickel:
- Mayonnaise typically contains soybean oil
- Tahini is made from sesame seed
- Teriyaki sauces typically contains soy sauce
- Pre-mixed seasoning packets typically contain soy
What spices, condiments or foods do you always have in your fridge to make low nickel meals more flavorful? I’d love to hear about your creative condiment recipe combinations in the comment section below!
Hey there! Love this site. I thought mustard was made from seeds? Is this an exception? Also I have ben told by my dermatologist that tomatoes are a no go so what about ketchup? You mentioned no need for tomato based bbq sauce but wasnt sure. Last question, I have seen a lot of back and forth about how citrus, oranges/orange juice, and apples can be helpful and some say it can make things worse. I cant find a definitive answer anywhere!
Thanks for your comment and appreciation for my website. Yes, mustard is technically derived from seeds which are known to be higher in nickel. Since so little of the condiment is used, generally mustard is known to be lower in nickel, however it is higher in histamines. Tomatoes are also higher in histamines, despite them being lower in nickel, some react more to them than others. Using a food journal is a best practice to identifying what your body can or cannot tolerate. I really only eat traditional ketchup when I eat a burger and iron is known to reduce your body’s absorption of nickel, so perhaps that’s why it doesn’t bother me.
Your blog and website are a life line for me right now. Just diagnosed and have no idea where to start. Your website is the cleanest source of info I have come across this far. Thank you!
Thanks for your comment and appreciation for my website. I’m glad it’s been useful to you as you navigate this new systemic nickel allergy journey.
Your website is awesome. How do you feel about fresh herbs – basil, mint, cilantro – any issue with adding them liberally to dishes?
Thanks for your comment and appreciation for my website. Fresh herbs can usually be tolerated and aren’t considered “leafy greens” which tend to contain more nickel than fresh herbs, like basil, mint, cilantro and parsley. I love to add all of these ingredients in my cooking.
I recently have an exacerbation of nickel reaction, SNAS. I was tested and it is very clear thru my reactions. Now the itch is fairly persistent. Any spices that you think is higher in nickel and should be avoided. I recently had to stop oatmeal, oatmeal milk, and bananas. Thank you