Help! I Just Went Gluten & Dairy Free!

My thoughts are with the people of Boston, including the thousands of Canadians who were expected to run the marathon. It it a terrible thing to have happen, anywhere, anytime.

Recently, two of my Facebook pals told me they were going to go gluten and dairy free.
The family of one pal was already dairy-free and this new issue was proving to be a challenge. She mentioned she had been eating quinoa. But just as my family has gotten sick of the ham leftovers from Easter, I got the impression she was getting a bit tired of it. “What else can I eat?” seemed to be the question. The other pal was jumping in with both feet based on the advice of her doctor.

So here’s some basic advice for anyone thinking about or newly transitioning to a gluten and dairy free lifestyle.

  1. Take a deep breath. You can do this.
  2. There are many cultures that don’t use a lot of gluten and dairy. For example, Chinese, Japanese and Thai foods don’t use dairy. In Indian food, swap a bit of coconut milk mixed with lemon or lime for  the yoghurt to marinate chicken. Find a place that sells corn tortillas and go Mexican. Try avocados! There is nothing like homemade guacamole and I use it when I’m craving something savory and creamy instead of cheese. This is a great opportunity to explore food from other cultures. Mix it up!
  3. Go simple. Buy more ingredients and fewer ready-made products. There will be fewer labels to read! Not every dinner needs a starch. Lunch boxes don’t have to have sandwiches, just think of all the amazing things you would find on a fruit and veggie tray or put in a wrap…then skip the wrap!

It’s really easy to focus on all the things one can’t have when one makes a drastic change to their eating habits. I remember getting caught up in “replacing” all the bread and cheeses and butter etc, etc.
I won’t tell you it’s an easy thing to do but it really isn’t the end of the world.

I’m an ex-smoker and when I quit cigarettes (nine years ago!), I used a patch until I was ready to go without. Going gluten and dairy free is much, much easier and even though I’ve never heard of a gluten or dairy “patch” there are  many great products out there to help you along.

Here’s a short list of safe products I try to keep on hand at all times.
Where there is no “brand” name, please read labels carefully!

San-J Brand Gluten Free Tamari Soy Sauce http://www.san-j.com
Mayonnaise
I use Helman’s
Diana’s Brand Marinades (several are dairy and gluten free)
Selection Brand Worcestershire sauce (found at Metro Grocery Stores)
Kozlick’s Brand MustardCheck them out at http://http://www.mustardmaker.com or take a trip to Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market in person, to sample all the flavours. They are blow-your-mind amazing and all but two are gluten and dairy free!
Tinkyada Brand Pastas, check them out here http://www.tinkyada.com
King Soba Products, they make yummy noodles and stuff! Check them out at http://www.kingsoba.com
Chex Brand Cerealscheck them out at http://www.chex.com  I mix ‘em up with stuff like nuts, chocolate chips and dried fruit. I snack on them like trail mix.
Rice Noodlesthink wide Pad Thai style noodles and skinny vermicelli noodles to make for an awesome stir fry!
Basmati and brown riceCook it and keep it on hand in the fridge, cold rice is the best for making fried rice!
Canned Coconut Milk– Marinate with it. Cook with it. I even mix it with rice milk and froth it for my morning cappuccino!
Fortified/Enriched Rice Milk-I like other kinds of “mylk” too but I find rice to have a neutral flavour, especially for baking. Buying fortified brands ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need.
Corn Tortilla Chips-check the labels to be sure they’re all corn!
Soft (Fresh) Corn Tortillas
These can sometimes be hard to find  , but they are sooooo good!
Salsa
Humus
Quinoa
(of course) – Treat it like rice and keep it ready in the fridge. I mix a scoop with coconut milk, brown sugar, dried fruit and nuts for a yummy hot cereal.
Ready Made Chicken BrothI like Kirkland Brand, in tetra packs from Costco.

And if you live in the Oshawa/Whitby area of Southern Ontario, Halenda’s Meats, see http://halendas.com has an impressive list of products that are gluten free.

With all these items in my kitchen, I can whip up a snack or full blown meal in no time and never miss what I can’t have.

Hmmm, I’m getting hungry.

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6 thoughts on “Help! I Just Went Gluten & Dairy Free!

  1. Thanks Denise that is great information!! I already had picked up the Tamari which is awesome love it on my bok choy and a little fish sauce.. Great idea for the morning Jo that sounds really good…I have both so looking forward to breakfast tomorrow..LOL

  2. My wife’s done the same thing a few years ago because of some serious health problems. She eliminated the gluten and lo-and-behold, she turned around and is now enjoying meals without pain or nausea. Thanks for the list of safe products. I’ve bookmarked it for future reference!

  3. Good luck with going gluten and dairy free! Just like with quitting smoking, if it makes you feel good then it gets easier. And thanks for the tips, I had never thought of GF Mexican, what a great idea!

    • Thanks for the comment, Ruth. I’ve been gluten and dairy free for more than 2 years now. Experimenting with food from different cultures is such a fabulous way to stay inspired in the kitchen.

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