A couple years ago, our family of four transitioned to a gluten free, dairy free diet. (Why? Click here.) Every so often someone will ask me how to start that transition. This Creative Solution is focused on strategies for living gluten and dairy free.
Three overall tips:
- It is a heck of a lot easier to make this lifestyle change as a whole family.
- Instead of finding gluten free “replacements,” we have mostly shifted our eating habits to consist of fruits, veggies, and proteins.
- Have quality “kitchen gadgets” that can make a big difference in ease of prep, such as:
A really good veggie peeler. Not to sound infomercial, but I love my Titan.
Large glass Pyrex platters (at least two) for easier access to “grab and go” fruits and veggies.
These basically live in my refrigerator… I’ll clean the produce and then slice as needed. I tend not to prepare them in a pretty “party platter style” immediately… the produce stays fresher longer this way. This way I don’t have to start from square one every time I make a meal or snack… at least something is cleaned and easy to cut. I call them “platters,” Amazon calls them Baking Dishes… wherever you get them, lids are a must, and I find the 4qt size most useful.
A Food Processor… I’ve had my Cuisinart since the late 90’s and it’s awesome. Here’s a newer version.
A really good blender. I love my Vitamix. But it’s expensive. But I love it like you’re-not-supposed-to-love-small-appliances-but-I-do. We used to burn through blenders once every year or two. I got mine in 2010 and it’s still strong like bull. And these are super-easy to clean!
Breakfasts are either eggs with meat (bacon, sausage, or veggie packed omelets!) or a protein shake. After a fair amount of trial and error, we have found a tasty shake combo: Arbonne’s Chocolate Protein Shake mix along with Delicious Greens 8000 Chocolate (which adds a ton of veggie nutrients to the protein shake). We make two shakes for my husband and I (one for breakfast, one for a mid-afternoon snack), and one shake for the boys as their “drink” with breakfast.
The boys really like to also have gf waffles or rice Chex on protein shake days.
I pack lunches for everyone in a tiffin filled with fruits and veggies.
I like using tiffins for a ton of reasons I wrote about in this post, not the least of which is because they are perfect portion sizes; the bottom is a mix of seasonal fruit, the top a variety of cut veggies. I also like to dip my veggies in guacamole or hummus. My husband will also pack himself a salad. I prefer to have some soup.
While some kids would be happy with “lunchmeat rolls,” my boys really like pbj (or pb and honey) sandwiches in their lunch. After a lot of trial and error, we like Rudi’s frozen gf bread–particularly the cinnamon and raisin.
Another lunch staple for my boys is “ants on a log” (celery, peanut butter, and raisins), so we go through quite a bit of celery each week. A great tip (credited to Alton Brown): preserve celery by wrapping the stalk in aluminum foil.
Some of the meals in our regular rotation:
- Alice Springs Chicken
- Grilled chicken breast (tamped, brined, and marinated in some salad dressing like Ken’s Caesar)
- Hamburgers (in a lettuce leaf “bun” or simply bun-less) and Hot-dogs (bun-less)
- Spaghetti Squash w/ meatballs or a veggie medley with sun dried tomatoes
- Pork stir-fry
- Frittata (an Italian style omelette that is super easy to make)
- Italian Sausage and Kale sauteed with garlic
- Taco salad
- Split pea and ham
- a hearty minestrone (I make a minestrone like vegetable soup without the beans and pasta)
For the most part, we avoid “fake” flour… it’s often expensive and rarely tastes as good as you’d like it to be. However, if you want to make something and really want to keep it gf, try the Cup for Cup flour (which we get at Williams Sonoma).
Snacks, Aps, and Treats
Even though we’re gf/df, my kids still won’t eat it if it tastes like crap. I’m also not willing to buy/make a thousand different kinds of fake flours. So here’s some of the snacks and treats that have passed the taste test AND aren’t crazy difficult to prepare:
- Banana pops (see my post on this here)
- Chocolate cupcakes/cake recipe that uses NO fake flour (originally from Hip2Save, but I’ve noted my own changes here) No one will know this is gf/df (and egg free, and sugar free) unless you tell them.
- Chocolate Pie (I double this recipe from Lexi’s Kitchen. I make it in an 8″ spring-form pan, and noted my changes here) and I swear it tastes amazing! Unsuspecting party guests have asked for seconds!
- Glazed Almond Cookies (think sugar cookies) from Chocolate Covered Katie… another recipe I usually double. These are actually better tasting than many sugar cookies!
- Chocolate Banana Ice Cream (my “recipe” is here)
- Chocolate Berry Truffles
- Make your own individual portion snack containers using gf/df foods like
- Glutino pretzels
- Chex cereal
- Raisins (or Craisins or any other dried fruit)
- Almonds / Peanuts / Cashews
- Beef Jerky (we like this recipe from Alton Brown, and we use a dehydrator similar to this one.)
Sometimes you need an appetizer for a party; sometimes your appetizer is your dinner.
- Deviled Eggs (my husband’s recipe for these is THE BEST!)
- Shrimp Cocktail
- Bacon wrapped dates (from Great Bar Food at Home … a pitted date, stuffed with an olive, wrapped in bacon, baked for 20 min at 350)