Tips For Living Gluten and Dairy Free

The following is a guest post from my friend Devan at Accustomed Chaos.

I still remember vividly just over 5 years ago when I first learned I had to eat gluten free. Whoo, celiac disease was going to strip me off all the food I loved to eat -- or at least that's what I thought.

I was not new to eating a restricted diet. I grew up vegetarian and lactose intolerant so I was already 'comfortable' with not eating the norm and making modifications to my diet. It was nothing as strict as this new diet had to be though, but happily things sailed along pretty well. Learning the ins and outs of the gluten-free diet, the products that taste good and are worth the money was a challenge, but didn't take too long to get into a great groove.

After a year of eating gluten-free it was thought that I may be able to tolerate lactose again so I gave it a try, starting slowly. What was quickly realized was it was not just a lactose issue with me, but I was also intolerant to casein and whey -- so I basically had to go totally dairy free on top of gluten free.
Devan's Gluten Free Honey Barbecue Chicken Wings
It was not something I was terribly pleased with -- running a family -- planning meals for 2 adults & three young children on this strict diet (I should mention I was/am no longer vegetarian at this time) but was confident that we could make it work and still have an amazing connection with food.
Sure enough, things started to fall into place. Lunches and dinners did not become any more stressful and I didn't feel like we were missing out on anything. Sure, going out at restaurants is not the easiest, but we make nearly all our meals at home so it doesn't affect us in that way. There are little modifications for cooking that are simple and since there is no cross contamination issue for the dairy in our house -- I am still able to give the kids whole milk, but our meals are always dairy free as well as gluten free.

Quick tips for dairy free:
  • we use almond milk for everything. I've found that it translates measurement for measurement in baking and cooking
  • we use vegan margarine in place of butter and again translates (from my experience) measurement for measurement
  • eat naturally gluten & dairy free as much as you can. this will cut down on possible contaminations, expenses and is much healthier
  • read those labels! There are some people who can tolerate all but lactose, but others like me can't tolerate lactose, casein or whey & that stuff -- like gluten, is in a lot more products then you may think
Gluten Free Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Marshmallow Cookies
I swear, when you first find out you need to eat gluten and dairy free it sounds like it's a total nightmare. Once you get yourself lined with the right knowledge and have it down to a science (doesn't take long) -- it's not any different then regular cooking.

I'm a busy mom so I don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen doing weird concoctions of flours and complicated substitutions. Most of my meals are done in 30 minutes or less and are relatively healthy, kid friendly and delicious. Some of my favourite, everyday meals can be found here: Amazing Gluten & Casein Free Meals

The biggest tip to eating gluten and dairy free is to not be afraid to try new things. Meals do not have to be complicated and finding naturally gluten and dairy free meals may sound like a challenge, but remember, all fruits, veggies and meat are naturally gfdf!

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