Over the summer, I found out I have an intolerance for gluten. I was having a very hard time coping with an even stricter diet. I have already been dairy-free for about 2 years now, because of an allergy to milk/milk products. Finding dairy-free options was difficult at first, but soon became a much easier task. My family switched to vegan butter and dairy-free milks like almond or oat. We found out that there are a lot of easy swaps for non-dairy products. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Oat Milk
We started with almond milk first, but I had never been a fan of it because it is a bit too watery for me. I decided to try oat milk out, because I knew that it was a popular substitute. I have found that oat milk never seems to ruin a dish for me. It has a very similar consistency to regular milk and does not have any extra unsavory taste. I constantly use it as a substitute in any recipe that calls for milk, and I have never had an issue with it.
- Vegan Butter
This is one item that really works no matter what brand you use. Since butter is always cooked in something, you often cannot tell any difference if you use dairy or non-dairy butter. For cooking items in butter, I typically opt for oil instead for better flavoring.
- Vegan Cheese
Cheese is something that you just cannot replicate unfortunately. Vegan cheddar cheese is alright, but it is incredibly hard to find a good vegan mozzarella for pizzas. Trader Joe’s vegan mozzarella is not bad, but the best option that I have found is from the brand Follow Your Heart. Topper’s Pizza uses it on their plant-based pizzas, and it is to die for!
For Gluten-Free products, I have only recently started eating gluten-free, so I am still finding good options, but for now, here are some of my favorites:
- Gluten-Free Bread
Bread is another very hard thing to replicate without gluten, but I’ve found that there are some good options. Canyon Bakehouse bread at Dillons is a good option. I prefer eating breads that aren’t in the freezer section. With any gluten-free bread, I recommend toasting it in some capacity, whether it be in a toaster or in the oven or on the stove. The crispiness helps take away from the odd consistency of gluten-free bread.
- Gluten-Free Pasta
Target’s Good & Gather brand gluten-free pasta is a good alternative to regular pasta. When mixed in with toppings like marinara sauce or a good vegan alfredo sauce, you won’t be able to taste a difference. Another alternative that some people like is the Banza pasta made from chickpeas. I am personally not a fan of it, but if you like the taste of chickpeas it could be another good alternative.
- Gluten-Free Desserts
King Arthur is a great gluten-free brand, and they do provide some dessert mixes. There is a fudge brownie one that nobody can tell is gluten free, as well as muffin mixes and cookie mixes. They also have pancake mixes that are my all-time favorite. Even before I was gluten-free, I would always buy the King Arthur Classic Pancake mix. A quick dessert or snack if you do not want to make anything are Oreos’s gluten-free type. Be warned that they do taste different from regular Oreos, but they are still delicious. (Tip: I’ve found that a lot of gluten free items are in white and blue packaging, so look out for those when grocery shopping!)
Now for a few meal ideas that are gluten-free and dairy-free/vegan!
- Chicken Alfredo
As I mentioned before, it’s easy to whip up a quick dinner of alfredo pasta, but adding some chicken in there can help to give it some more flavor and protein. If you are vegan, consider substituting for tofu or a vegan meat imitation product.
Frontier Soups has some easy to make meals like chili. Many of the ingredients come in the package, and you just provide the broth, meat, and any other perishable items. I make it with ground beef, but you could switch it out for impossible meat or another substitute that you prefer. I loved this chili with Fritos. Frontier Soups can be found at World Market, Braum’s Grocery, or from the Anderson House website.
- Topper’s Pizza
If you’re not interested in cooking, a great restaurant in the Lawrence, KS area is Topper’s Pizza. The restaurant is originally from Wisconsin, but has since moved out to surrounding states and cities like Lawrence. Toppers has vegan options as well as gluten free. Any pizza can be made with a cauliflower crust to be gluten-free, and they have multiple delicious vegan options. My personal favorite is the pesto margherita pizza.
I thought I’d mention some of my favorite snacks as well. Larabars are a great granola bar. They only use four ingredients in their recipes, and my favorite is the peanut butter chocolate ones. Another snack I love is skinny pop popcorn. Their microwavable and already-made popcorn are both delicious. Hippeas are another recent snack that I have tried. They are a good alternative to cheese puffs. They can be found at Target.
Overall, once you get to know what products you prefer, becoming gluten-free and dairy-free is not difficult! It’s good to try different things and try not to get frustrated if you can’t find the perfect replacement for something you love. Sometimes you can’t, but you can learn to live without it. For me, it was mac & cheese. I’ve tried every brand under the sun, but nothing can quite imitate the taste of real cheddar cheese, so I’ve learned to live without it. It can be frustrating when you’re first trying this new diet, but it gets easier. Good luck on all your gluten-free/dairy-free endeavors!