Bidding a sudden farewell to all mammalian products due to a tick-borne food allergy can be a snacktime showstopper. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of delicious alpha-gal friendly snacks available! Whether you’re searching for sweet or salty, healthy or not so much, this list has you covered.
The information provided on this site is based on my personal experience living with alpha-gal syndrome. I consistently cite and link to expert sources, but nothing published on this site should be perceived as medical advice.
Alpha-gal sensitivities vary by person. You should understand your dietary restrictions, making any adjustments needed, and directing any questions to your physician.
Also known as the alpha-gal allergy, red meat allergy, or tick bite meat allergy, alpha-gal syndrome is a tick-borne food allergy. After being bitten by the lone star tick, some unlucky people develop an allergy to mammalian meats, like beef, pork, bison, and lamb. Alpha gals can also be allergic to mammalian dairy products made from cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, and goat’s milk and by-products made from mammals, like tallow, gelatin, collagen, and glycerin.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), food allergies are most common in babies and children. However, they can appear at any age. And, because alpha-gal is a tick borne illness, I wasn’t surprised to learn it’s the number one cause of adult-onset food allergy in the Southern US, the lone star tick’s stomping grounds.
As you can imagine, being suddenly allergic to mammalian meat (and possibly more) can exclude a lot of former favorites from an omnivore’s diet, including snacks. So, based on my experience with living with alpha-gal, I’ve created this list of alpha-gal friendly snacks.
Important Notes About This List of Alpha-Gal Friendly Snacks
As you use this list to select alpha-gal friendly snacks, it’s important to note the following:
- The alpha-gal allergy is not a one-size-fits-all condition. That means alpha-gal safe foods can vary from person to person. This article provides more information on what’s safe, what’s off-limits, and what’s potentially risky when following an alpha-gal diet.
- Because the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology says that most people with alpha-gal can tolerate “moderate, lean dairy,” some of the snacks on this list include dairy. If you are an alpha gal who avoids dairy, please choose vegan alternatives or skip those recommendations.
- As a general rule, vegan snack foods are safe for alpha gals. However, if you are sensitive to carrageenan, be sure to read the ingredients list and avoid any vegan products that include this plant-based carrier of the alpha-gal epitope.
- Highly sensitive alpha gals should also know that because there is no federal legal definition of “vegan” in the United States, food manufacturers are free to use it as they like. To ensure that your vegan foods are completely free of animal and dairy ingredients, look for products that have been certified by Vegan.org, The Vegan Society, or VegeCert.
Related Article: What is Carrageenan (And Why Should Alpha Gals Avoid It)?
In This Article
Healthy Alpha-Gal Friendly Snacks
Every fruit and vegetable under the sun is alpha-gal friendly. So when you snack on a rainbow of options, from red cherry tomatoes to purple seedless grapes, you don’t have to worry about an alpha-gal allergic reaction.
Because there are thousands of varieties of fruits and vegetables around the world, I have not listed all of them. Rather, I’m sharing some of my favorites.
Whether you like red, yellow, or green, apples are an alpha-gal friendly snack. Just wash and eat, or quickly cut into neat pieces using an apple slicer. If you choose the latter, jazz up your snack by spreading peanut butter on each slice and then topping with shredded coconut, raisins, or granola.
Applesauce (and Other Fruity Squeeze Snacks)
Swap a Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apple for an alpha-gal friendly snack of applesauce. My favorite is this organic, unsweetened applesauce from Whole Foods. Beyond apples, manufacturers offer a wide variety of other fruit purees and squeeze snacks like pear puree (are we allowed to call it pearsauce?) and a delicious line of chia seed-filled snacks with flavors like blueberry acai and strawberry banana.
Whether you like them red or green, seedless or fully loaded, grapes are always a great option for a no-prep snack. If you want to go the extra step with your grape snack, try these five-minute orange glazed sauteéd grapes in yogurt.
From mini Mandarin to the juicy navel, oranges are another healthy alpha-gal friendly snack. Simply peel off the skin and separate the segments. Elevate your orange slices by adding a pinch of salt. It may sound weird, but it tastes fantastic!
Pitaya fruit, commonly known as the dragon fruit due to its bumpy rind, tastes like a pear and a kiwi had a baby. This alpha-gal friendly snack contains a good amount of iron, fiber, and magnesium and can be enjoyed two ways. Cut through the gnarly exterior and scoop the pulp directly into your mouth, or peel the skin and cut the fruit into cubes. I love to freeze chunks of dragonfruit and add them to a smoothie.
In addition to your favorite seasonal fresh fruit, dried fruit can also be a wonderful addition to your alpha-gal safe snack list. Unlike fruit chips, which are crispy and airy in texture, dried fruit is more chewy, making it seem more like candy. My favorite dried fruits are mangoes and apricots. And as a special treat, I love dark chocolate-covered figs.
Not only are celery sticks low in calories, but they are full of fiber, which helps you feel full. Enjoy them plain or stuffed with a little cream cheese or peanut butter for added flavor and protein.
These alpha-gal friendly snack sticks are full of vitamin A and beta-carotene. Make snack time a snap by buying baby carrots that are already peeled and cut into small pieces. Or, prep a bag of whole carrots by peeling and cutting them and storing them in cold water in a container in the fridge so they’re ready to grab and go during the week.
Sugar Snap Peas
Another alpha-gal friendly snack that can be enjoyed right out of the bag is sugar snap peas. Enjoy them pod and all for a healthy snack filled with vitamins A, B, C, and K.
Whether it’s during the heat of the summer or the cool of the winter, cucumbers make for a refreshing, filling snack. Cut them in thick slices to enjoy in crunchy bites, or dice them up, add a drizzle of your favorite salad dressing, and sprinkle on your favorite seeds for a quick cucumber salad.
Bell peppers contain up to 92% water, making them a hydrating snack that’s also sweet and crunchy. They are packed with vitamins A and C and can be enjoyed with little to no prep. When a snack attack hits, reach for a bag of sweet mini bell peppers, or cut the larger variety into strips, perfect for dipping into hummus.
Sage Advice: Here’s the best way to cut a bell pepper into strips!
Edamame are immature soybeans that are rich in protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Dry-roasted edamame is a great crunchy snack that can be enjoyed in different flavors, including wasabi if you want to bring the heat to snack time.
This movie classic is a great alpha-gal friendly snack. While you can certainly eat vegan microwave popcorn, like Orville Redenbacher’s simply salted popcorn, it’s just about as easy to whip up a batch using an air popper or Whirley-Pop.
Charge up your freshly popped corn with Kernel Season’s seasoning spices in flavors like caramel corn, white cheddar, and cheesy jalapeno. Just note that some flavors include dairy products like butter, buttermilk, and cheddar cheese. If you are an alpha gal who avoids dairy, top your popcorn with vegan butter and nutritional yeast to create a dairy-free cheese-flavored popcorn snack.
Pretzels are a versatile crunchy snack. Go basic with plain pretzels or pretzel chips for a low-fat crunchy treat, or get creative with fillings and dips. These peanut butter-filled pretzel nuggets are great for added protein. And for a salty-sweet option, you’re sure to love snacking on dark chocolate-covered and yogurt-covered pretzels (just be sure to check the ingredients panel for milk, as needed).
Sage Advice: While I’m a big fan of Dot’s deliciously seasoned pretzels (and love her Midwestern small business success story), some flavors – including original – contain buttermilk.
Basic potato chip ingredients are potatoes, oil (usually vegetable), and salt. That is why Lay’s original potato chips, original SunChips, and original Pringles are all safe snacks for alpha gals who crave chips.
If you are an alpha gal who can tolerate dairy, you are still likely to be able to enjoy many specialty flavors like sour cream and onion, cheddar cheese, and Cool Ranch. Just double check the ingredients panel before you pop open a bag, especially if the flavor mentions bacon, it’s a bag of pork rinds, or any other red flag jumps out at you.
If you are an alpha gal who cannot tolerate dairy, the good news is that you can still enjoy some specialty flavors. Kettle’s barbeque chips don’t contain dairy, and neither do Beanfields nacho bean chips.
This alpha-gal friendly snack can add crunch to yogurt or a banana covered in peanut butter. It can also stand alone in a cereal fashion by pouring it into a bowl and topping with your favorite milk.
Protein-Packed Alpha-Gal Friendly Snacks
Whether you prefer dry roasted, lightly salted, or dipped with chocolate or yogurt, nuts are a protein-packed alpha-gal friendly snack. And with so many options – almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, pistachios, and macadamias – you can enjoy a different nut each day of the week without getting bored.
Seeds are a great way to add texture to your meals, but did you know that you can also incorporate them into snack time? Sunflower seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are both delicious and add several grams of protein to your diet. Chia seeds also make a wonderful protein-powered alpha-gal friendly snack. Stir a tablespoon into a bowl of applesauce or fruit puree, add them to a smoothie, or sprinkle them on your favorite yogurt.
Seeds are typically roasted in oil (usually vegetable) and sprinkled with a little salt making them an alpha-gal friendly snack. But if you try a specialty flavor, like the ones available from Chinook Seedery, be sure to read the ingredient panel before you dig in, especially if you are an alpha gal who cannot tolerate dairy.
Relate Article: Craving Chocolate? Try This Easy Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
While I love all granola bars and snack bars equally (and deeply), they are not all the same. Many options, even those that include nuts, are full of sugar and do not contain much protein.
My current favorite is KIND’s crunchy peanut butter protein bar with 12 grams of plant protein. In fact, I love these granola bars so much that I travel with a box of them so I have a back-up plan in case there aren’t enough alpha-gal friendly food choices for me at mealtime. If you are an alpha gal who does not tolerate dairy, please note that these granola bars contain nonfat milk powder.
While you might associate eggs with breakfast, a boiled egg is still a great late morning or afternoon snack for alpha gals. I like to hard cook a half dozen eggs in my Instant Pot over the weekend so that I can easily grab, peel, and eat one of these high-protein snacks as desired throughout the week.
Dairy Products That Make Good Alpha-Gal Snacks
Please see the “Important Notes About This List of Alpha-Gal Friendly Snacks” section at the beginning of this article. If you are an alpha gal who cannot tolerate dairy products, either opt for a vegan option or skip this section.
For a cool, sweet snack, reach for a cup of yogurt. This versatile treat can be enjoyed as is, or you can jazz it up with granola and fruit for added crunch, flavor, and nutrition. For alpha gals who are sensitive to dairy – and for vegans and people with dairy allergies – look for dairy-free yogurts. These products are typically made from coconut milk, but you can easily find yogurts made from almonds, cashews, soy, and other plant-based ingredients.
Sage Suggests: Greek Yogurt Bowl: A Protein-Packed Way to Start Your Day
Keep individually wrapped string cheese or red-waxed rounds of mini Babybel in the fridge for a grab-and-go snack. You don’t need crackers to enjoy these cheeses, although it can’t hurt to have some on hand.
Related Article: Is Cheese Vegetarian? Slicing Into the Truth
Sweet Snacks for Alpha Gals
With “milk” as its first name, it’s no surprise that most milk chocolate products contain cow’s milk. That is unless they are specifically made with a dairy-free alternative. And while it can still contain milk, dark chocolate is typically safe for all alpha gals – including those who cannot tolerate dairy.
If you would rather stay away from dairy altogether, UNREAL offers three incredible vegan options, including quinoa gems (a great substitute for M&M’s), dark chocolate peanut butter cups (a replacement for Reese’s peanut butter cups), and coconut bars (an alternative to Almond Joys). Another one of my favorite dairy-free chocolate treats are these dark chocolate sunflower butter cups.
Related Article: The Truth About Alpha-Gal and Chocolate: Is It Safe to Eat?
Rice Krispies Treats
Unfortunately, I haven’t found a pre-made rice crispy treat option that doesn’t include either gelatin (commonly found in standard marshmallows) or carrageenan (commonly found in vegan marshmallows. However, you can whip up a batch of alpha-gal friendly crispy rice squares using Paskesz marshmallows, made with fish gelatin. Here is the rice crispy treat recipe I use.
While most of the snacks on this list are relatively healthy, others – like these Oreos – not so much. Still, Oreos are a sweet tooth-satisfying option for alpha-gals. Relive your childhood by dunking a few in your favorite milk. Coconut milk and almond milk are great options if you cannot tolerate dairy.
Sage Advice: Take your Oreo snack to the next level, with these air fryer Oreos. Your tastebuds will think they’re on a field trip to the state fair! Or usher in the holidays with these Grinch Oreo balls.
As an alpha gal who can occasionally tolerate small amounts of low-fat dairy, my approach has been to default to vegan products and then add in eggs, poultry, and fish. While this approach generally works well, candy can be a little dicey.
Vegan candy is generally safe for alpha gals, because it does not include animal products. However, alpha gals will still need to carefully read ingredient lists and watch for carrageenan. Although this seaweed extract is a plant-based ingredient, it carries the alpha-gal epitope.
Related Article: Is Candy Corn Vegan? What Alpha Gals Need to Know
In addition to a few of my favorite candies immediately below, here are 50+ alpha-gal friendly candy treats for your snacking pleasure.
Jelly Belly Jelly Beans
This alpha-gal safe candy is shaped like old-fashioned glass soda bottle caps. Delivering a slightly fizzy sensation as you suck on them, Bottle Caps come in a variety of soda-inspired flavors like rootbeer, cherry, grape, cola, and orange.
What are Your Favorite Alpha-Gal Friendly Snacks?
Do you tend to crave salty or sweet? Do you opt for healthy snacks, or not so much? Are any of your favorite alpha-gal friendly snacks missing from this list? Share your experiences in the comments section below.