Updated: Feb 23
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.
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.
For Italian, you really need to check if they have gluten-free pizza and pasta options. Otherwise, you are looking at meats and salad. Tomato-based sauces could be dairy free also.
Chinese is less safe with many of their sauces containing gluten, like soy sauce, fish sauce, duck sauce, and oyster sauce. Cross-contamination is also very likely. Rice and rice noodle dishes may be possible but use your own gluten-free soy sauce.
Burgers can even be made gluten and dairy-free. Choose a gluten-free burger or go healthier with lettuce. Even Wendys have a Low Carb Burger wrapped in lettuce that is surprisingly good. Skip on the cheese and choose grilled chicken. Mention you are coeliac if you want extra attention to avoid cross-contamination.
Pita Pit - has gluten-free options and will be extra careful to avoid cross-contamination if you state you're Coeliac.
Subway - they've got salads and gluten-free wraps, but I don't find they're the best option when needing to be strictly free from gluten.
For Fish n' Chips you really need to check with them first. Some do offer grilled fish and even chips that have been fried in a dedicated gluten-free fryer!
Going to a BBQ?
I'd suggest packing your own protein (fish, meat, tofu etc) and bring a salad. It pays to be mindful of marinated meats and gluten-filled sausages so bringing your own saves that hassle.
There is plenty of amazing gluten and dairy-free salad options. You just need to think outside the box to jazz it up a bit. Pomegranate seeds, orange pieces, bacon, fresh herbs, nuts and seeds are just some ways to add flavour without adding parmesan, halloumi or feta.
Of course, if you're vegan, you'll need to make sure there is added protein in the form of quinoa, chickpeas, nuts, kidney beans, lentils, edamame and tofu, for example.
What about dessert and treats?
You may be devastated thinking there is no more ice cream when going dairy free, but that's not the case.
Sorbets are also naturally dairy and gluten-free, though usually very high in sugar.
Brownies can also be made gluten and dairy free, like this healthier Chocolate and Berry Brownie.
There is also always a dairy-free yoghurt parfait or fruit salad.
Home baking is a great way to get healthier lunch box or afternoon tea treats.
Use dairy-free dark chocolate chips and coconut oil or a light flavoured olive oil when needing to avoid milk chocolate or butter in baking.
It's also easy to replace regular wheat flour with gluten-free buckwheat, almond, tapioca, arrowroot, rice or oat flours. You may just need to add some xanthan gum for a softer texture.
If using coconut flour as a replacement to wheat flour please be aware that it absorbs a lot of moisture. The rule of thumb is to substitute only 20 percent of coconut for wheat flour.
Check out some of my favourite gluten and dairy-free baking ideas here.
Hopefully, you're feeling more positive about your gluten and/or dairy free journey. You really don't need to feel like you're missing out. Change can be challenging for some but going gluten and/or dairy free, even if only for a few months, may be just what is required to get your health back on track.
Need help to heal your gut? Got issues with reflux, bloating, constipation or diarrhea? Been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and been told there is no cure?