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Help replacing miso and tamari for health reasons


I am a non-junk-food-vegan for health reasons. Technically I'm "whole foods plant based" (WFPB). It basically means I stay away from animal products and processed foods (like oils and sugars). When our family made this change, some of us experienced remission of serious conditions (like: hypothyroidism, anemia, angina with cardiovascular disease, and one is just beginning to fight diabetes and obesity with the lifestyle. So far so good.--You go Sis!)

But one health problem I had remained: headaches. Then I discovered I had a sensitivity to tyramine. Poof! Headaches and brain fog gone! But, avoiding tyramine has pushed me to avoid nuts, seeds and anything aged. Aged ingredients, like many cheeses, vinegar, tofu, dried fruit, are very high tyramine.


I've been able to substitute for some high tyramine items:

allspice for nutmeg

lemon juice for vinegar (ok in small amounts)

butternut squash for sweet potatoes

very fresh bananas for fully ripe bananas

blended cannellini beans for tofu (in sauces)


BUT... many of the recipes I have call for aged ingredients to provide that awesome savory/umami taste. (Tamari and miso for example.)

I have considered substituting Redmond's Real Sea Salt and liquid smoke for tamari.

Is there another (non-nut-based) seasoning that would help?


NOTA BENE: I know I haven't said what I am using the tamari for. I'm just looking for some ideas to keep on hand. Tamari and miso would usually be added to bean soups, mushroom gravies, dry-sautéed onions, hummus, or even a savory oatmeal with spinach. (Scrumptious--who knew!)

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    I know you are avoiding processed foods, but one suggestion I would have as a savory additive is - believe it or not - msg. Most people recoil in horror at the mention of it but it shouldn't touch off a tyramine reaction, and it's basically concentrated umami. It's naturally occurring, and as long as it's used in moderation it may be what you are looking for, generally where people have reactions it's been way overused. – GdD Feb 27 '17 at 10:31
  • I don't know what the tyramine content of tamarind is, and cursory googling yielded no info. But tamarind provides umami to a lot of Indian dishes. You might look into it. – verbose Feb 28 '17 at 8:52
  • Tamarind (a sour fruit used as an acid, not umami, flavourant in indian cuisine) has nothing at all to do with tamari (a style of japanese soy sauce). – rackandboneman Mar 1 '17 at 14:26
  • GdD, you are right... MSG is frightening. According to the FDA, it is made through fermentation (which increases tyramines). MSG is on the "use with caution" list for people with tyramine sensitivities, and we are to definitely avoid large quantities. As my daughter is even more sensitive than I—with psychiatric reactions that last a week—I think it best we leave it alone. – C Baker Mar 5 '17 at 10:00
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As unpalatable as it might sound: Pure MSG would be umami with the least added compounds :) A very glutamate-rich (but natural) broth can be made from kombu seaweed (but keep in mind it can have an obscene amount of iodine, which could be relevant in your case.)

Distilled vinegars (or non-brewed condiment) will likely contain less amines or amino acids.

  • Thanks rackandboneman for the whole food option of kombu. Unfortunately it looks like kombu is on the no-no list because of the MSG. (Just like nuts and seeds and avocados are natural but no-no's.) I wish everything had a quantity of tyramine listed so we could learn "how much is too much," but until then, I just stay away from anything I know that has it—though allow limited lemon/lime juice as seasoning. (Which apparently was the wrong choice for dinner last night—a headache is dawning—ascorbic acid, here I come!) – C Baker Mar 5 '17 at 10:16
  • Uh... so you are also glutamine/glutamate, not just tyramine, intolerant? – rackandboneman Mar 6 '17 at 8:41
  • Umm... I don't know how it biologically all fits together, but all the medical literature says that if you react to tyramine, stay away from MSG. – C Baker Mar 6 '17 at 23:47
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I don't have anything for miso, but I understand that tamari is similar in flavor to (if stronger than) soy sauce. If so, you might try mushroom catsup for a similar flavor profile, I find it very savory and versatile for the kinds of dishes you mention.

The recipe I've used (and linked) does contain apple cider vinegar, which might be problematic - I'm not that familiar with tyramine - but I found a list of vinegar substitutes which are, apparently, amine-allergy friendly.

I think the cider vinegar in mushroom catsup is just needed for acid and a bit of sweet flavor, so I think the substitute from the list (apple juice plus ascorbic acid) should be similar enough to work. Even if that doens't work for you, substituting some of the liquid for lemon juice might help (and maybe apple for the rest, for flavor), as the catsup has lemon flavor from zest already so it should not be an impossible change.

  • By the way Megha THANK YOU for the vinegar substitute list!!! I was looking for something like that the other day and couldn't find anything! While ascorbic acid isn't "whole food," I'm gonna go for it. I can experiment and see if we do okay with the whole food (lemon juice) instead of the ascorbic acid, but if not ascorbic acid I think is a tiny health risk--especially in comparison with other things. – C Baker Mar 5 '17 at 9:53
  • @CBaker - I'm glad you found it useful :) – Megha Mar 5 '17 at 20:08
  • One more thing... it looks like my post about the mushroom catsup didn't load. I had never heard of mushroom catsup. That is a very good idea and worth a try. I like how the dried seasoned mushrooms can be used later. Also, the low amine recipes site (with the vinegar substitutes) has a low amine recipe to replace soy sauce. While a bit more involved than I was hoping for, it looks like I may be able to tweak it to mellow it out for a tamari substitute. I hadn't considered doing a blueberry or pomegranate juice reduction as the base. Thanks again for taking the time to answer. – C Baker Mar 6 '17 at 5:29
  • @CBaker - I've had posts go astray myself - possibly gremlins :) And mushroom catsup is lovely stuff, but not very common, which is a bit of a shame - but it does make it a good suggestion to offer, sometimes. And I've had my own troubles adapting recipes around my own dietary restrictions and intolerance, so I am really glad my suggestions have helped you. – Megha Mar 6 '17 at 12:06

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