Top Tips When Going Gluten &/or Dairy Free

Updated: Apr 29

You've been recommended to try a gluten and/or dairy-free diet but the thought is totally overwhelming. You're fearful of it impacting your social life because you don't want to be an inconvenience and what will you eat anyway? If this sounds familiar then the following tips will help. As you'll see there's no need to stress or feel like you're missing out!

NOTE: Before you read on, I'd recommend you first check out What You Need To Know When Going Gluten & Dairy Free.

Supermarket Shopping

It's important to be aware that many of the labelled gluten-free products are packed with sugar or other less desirable ingredients to add flavour. They are not necessarily any healthier. Some favourite gluten-free products found in many New Zealand supermarkets are listed below. Most are also dairy-free.

Alternative Bread Company - for freshly baked gluten-free bread, try their delicious bread mixes. (Online)

Asian Home Gourmet - for gluten-free spice pastes.

Ayam - for coconut cream/milk without added gums, additives or preservatives.

Ceres Organics - for tamari soy sauce, gluten-free

Gluten Freedom by Venerdi - for a range of products. Their sweet potato sourdough buns are good.

Home Street by Bakeworks - the sprouted good seed bread, buns and pizza are my favourites.

Molly Woppy - for a cookie treat or two.

Phoenix Gluten Free Bakery - their coconut bread, toasted, is oh so good!

Something to Crow About - for fabulous gluten-free, low sugar cereals.

Waitoa Free Range Chicken - they do gluten-free chicken tenders and nuggets for when you're needing something quick and easy.

Dinner out with friends?

Many restaurants now cater for a range of dietary requirements. With the increasing number of people with food sensitivities and allergies they just have to.

Obviously, some restaurants are better than others and high-end restaurants are usually more accomodating. But don't let that discourage you. If you're heading out with friends and you didn't get to choose the restaurant, check out the menu online and/or ring ahead. Have a chat and ask what they can do to cater for your dietary requirements.

Even Italian restaurants with pizza and pasta can have gluten-free pizza bases and pastas or gluten and dairy-free salads and meat dishes.

Obviously, if you are coeliac you will need to be more careful to avoid contamination as even the tiniest trace of gluten can be dangerous.

Feel like takeout?

Can't be bothered cooking? Then consider these...

  • Mexican with corn tacos and tortillas, meat and salsas. Burrito bowls with or without dairy can be tasty. The salsas and beans give loads of flavour. Even nachos with gluten-free corn tortilla chips can sometimes be an option. You just need to check if their tortillas are gluten-free. Burritos and Quesadillas using soft flour tortillas are obviously not gluten-free.

  • Turkish with Mezze platters and Shish Kebabs are great options if you leave out the bread, feta, cheese and tabouli. (Tabouli is made with bulgar wheat). Occasionally you can even get Lamb Shanks that haven't had any flour added to the tomato-based sauce.

  • Japanese with their rice dishes. A donburi using gluten-free soy sauce is lovely. Sashimi and sushi are more obvious options. But be wary of crumbed meats, soy and teriyaki sauce. Some also use flour to help stick the seaweed together and the rice vinegar in the sushi may not be free from gluten.

  • Indian options usually include Chana Saag, Vegetable Pakoras, Dal Makhani, Lamb Vindaloo, and Fish or Prawn Malabari. Papadums made with lentils are even gluten-free. Though anything deep-fried can be contaminated with gluten if they don't use a dedicated fryer.

  • Many Thai rice dishes can be made gluten-free and are naturally dairy-free. Meals like Chicken Cashew Nut, Laab Chicken, Tom Yum Fried Rice, Tom Yum Soup with rice noodles, Green/Red/Yellow Curry, and Massaman Curry are delicious options. Avoid satays, roti, spring rolls and curry puffs, and obviously check with them first.