You Can Do It!

Over the past month my inbox has filled up with comments just like this one: “Ah! My doctor just told me that I need to be gluten and dairy free, this is a big change for me, I don’t even know where to start! HELP!” So after the 50th message since the New Year, I thought… should I write a blog post on this??

I have been gluten and dairy free for many years and can TRULY say that I don’t miss either. The only thing I do miss is a (real) bagel sandwich which I will have once in a blue moon, because life is short… but never with cheese, it’s just not worth it.

If I eat dairy I can barely function, I’m so violently ill, and when I eat gluten or wheat (I have a sensitivity to wheat!) I get cystic acne…. so you know, it’s not really worth it to me to be to be quite honest and I really never feel like I’m missing out. I’ve been navigating this lifestyle for so long that it just really isn’t all that big of a deal to me now, but at the beginning, it is HARD. So if you are just starting out for dietary reasons or just to give it a whirl for a better lifestyle, know that you are not alone in thinking it’s difficult. But you WILL figure it out. I promise.

Also, as side note, if you are looking dive deeper into your health (and gut health!) I can’t recommend Parsley Health enough. I’ve written a few posts about my experience (here & here), it’s changed my life!

Tips to Navigating a Gluten & Dairy Free Lifestyle:

Finding Your Key Search Terms: Finding recipes that fit your new lifestyle will be the key to your success and also make this change a little more fun. I often search for vegan recipes since dairy is my main pain point. When I find a vegan recipe I like I can easily swap out any gluten (flour or pasta) for a gluten free version. Also, we aren’t vegan, so I will find a vegan recipe and add a protein. This works easily the other way around – searching for Gluten free recipes and swapping any of the dairy ingredients (butter, milk, or yogurt) to dairy free. You just have to get creative!

Knowing Where to Look: I find that searching recipes on Pinterest is good, but finding your people is even better. I have a handful of food bloggers I trust and that I return to over and over again. Once you find your people with your style of food, lean in! I tend to like the vegan bloggers best because I’m not massively into meat, but you might find a whole 30 food blogger that may fit your lifestyle better. (My favorites are listed below!)

Stock The Pantry! : Knowing the substitutes is genuinely the key to your success here. And thank goodness you are doing this now – there are SO MANY more options. In high school I was gluten free for a year and guys, there was NOTHING!!!!!! So count your many blessings here. Keep a cheat sheet in the kitchen of subsatute options until they become second nature. This will help take the guess work out of it! (More favorites listed below)

My Favorite Gluten & Dairy Free Food Bloggers and Recipe Books:

Minimalist Baker: Dana is hands down my favorite and you might notice that on the blog. I have made SO many of her recipes. They are simple, SO GOOD, and truly I just love her blog. So easy to navigate. Also I’d highly recommend her cookbook.

Cookie & Kate: I have been making Kate’s recipes for YEARS. They are always so hearty and flavorful. I can not recommend her enough! You must get her cookbook.

Oh She Glows: Angela’s recipes are amazing and I just adore her cookbook. If you are looking for bright colorful flavors, she is your girl.

Eating Bird Food: I found Brittany this year and have made so many of her recipes. You will love how easy her site is to navigate, plus her recipes are just plain GOOD.

Meghan Telpner: My mom introduced me to Meghan over the holidays! Both my sister and I found her cookbook in our stockings and I have made quite a few recipes from it and they have all been 5 stars! Consider me her newest fan.

Cookbooks & Substitutes:

Here is a full list of my favorite cookbooks to add to your collection! You can’t go wrong with any of these!

My Favorite Gluten & Dairy Free Substitutes!

FlourBob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour (I also use Oat Flour, Almond Flour, and Coconut Flour)

PastaChickpea Pasta ( I also use Lintel Pasta or Brown Rice Pasta)

CrackersHu Grain-Free Crackers are our current Favorite

Milk – Unsweetened Almond Milk (Also, Coconut Milk, Cashew Milk, and Macadamia Milk are also very good!). Silk and Almond Breeze are also ones I buy in-store.

YogurtForager is my favorite brand!

ButterEarth Balance Soy Free Butter is my favorite!

Daiya – To be honest I don’t love cheese substitutes, I’d just rather go without, but in my opinion the Daiya brand is the best.

Protein Powder – We use Garden of Life Organic Plant Base Protein every morning.

Here’s a list of my favorites all in one place, I’ll keep adding to it!

5 – Day Gluten & Dairy Free Meal Plan

We typically eat a lot of leftovers, but for the sake of a meal plan I added in each meal! 😉 Also, if you need any meal planning tips and tricks, I wrote all about it here!

Monday:

Breakfast: Fab 4 Smoothie (options here)

Lunch: Roasted Rainbow Vegetable Bowl

Dinner: Thai Green Curry with Spring Vegetables (we add chicken)

Tuesday:

Breakfast: Fab 4 Smoothie (options here!)

Lunch: Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad (we omit cheese and add salmon)

Dinner: Veggie Burgers

Wednesday:

Breakfast: Fab 4 Smoothie (options here!)

Lunch: Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl

Dinner: Mexican Quinoa Stew (we add chicken)

Thursday:

Breakfast: Fab 4 Smoothie (options here!)

Lunch: Wild Rice + Quinoa Power Party In a Bowl

Dinner: Fast Food Fettuccini (we add chicken)

Friday:

Breakfast: Fab 4 Smoothie (options here!)

Lunch: White Bean Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing

Dinner: Easy Vegan Lasagna (we add spinach and ground beef)

I realize this post is a thousand pages long, but I really wanted to set you up for success. You can totally do this, and please let me know if you have any questions. I’m always happy to help!

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20 comments
  1. Thank you for this post Ashley. I appreciate it.
    As I continue to age, my body tells me what it no longer can handle.
    No more spicy food, no more sandwiches unless I want to nap afterwards, no more milk with cereal so I use Almond milk and feel so much better. Now I didn’t click all the links, by chance are any recipes from or for the Brava appliance you own? I’m still on the fence about getting that.

  2. Thank you SO much for posting this, this is suuuuuper helpful! Feels like a manageable jumping off point for those of us who feel a bit overwhelmed!

  3. Thanks for this post! Our family has realized that many of us just feel better when we steer away from gluten; my eight year old especially. I’m having fun trying new foods but it can be exhausting sometimes.

  4. I think it’s really important that your readers understand a few things. The most common GI mis-diagnosis is “gluten sensitivity” or “gluten allergy”. You cannot be “allergic” to gluten. When you have an allergy, it means you have an anaphylactic response to something. Gluten is a protein found in wheat. You can have an Anaphylactic response to wheat but not to a protein (Gluten). There is also overwhelming scientific evidence that only people with celiac disease have an issue with gluten. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an issue – you might actually have celiac, or be allergic to wheat, or sensitive to one of the many other components of wheat, possibly a different protein, or a carbohydrate. One such component of wheat that can cause digestive symptoms is part of a family of fermentable carbohydrates that researchers consider a possible trigger of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Collectively referred to as FODMAPs, these include fermentable oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, mono-saccharides, and polyols. In certain individuals, these compounds cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating and diarrhea. A major source of oligo-saccharides is wheat, but onions and garlic also contain this type of carbohydrate. Again, the culprit here is wheat, not gluten. You can have a wheat-sensitivity, which is not a gluten-sensitivity. It’s really important for people to work with a dietician/nutritionist and do a proper food-elimination diet to identify food triggers (never self diagnose “gluten sensitivity”). Furthermore, a true wheat allergy and celiac is something your doctor can test you for!

    • YES! These are all things I have learned, I will add a note in the post to clarify but, yes to all of this! I actually found out that I had SIBO last year, which was causing a lot of my stomach issues. My hope for this post is that those who would like to eliminate gluten are able to find resources!

      • Ooh I’m going through all kinds of allergy and intolerance testing right now, and my specialist suspects SIBO. I’ve had rhinitis, IBS, rosacea and dermatitis on and off for years and no lotions or pills have helped so this time I’m determined to get to the bottom of it. I also get acne but thought it might be dairy, I never imagined it could be wheat. How did you cure your SIBO in the end, and what benefits did you see? Have you done a post about it?

  5. This is so helpful Ashley!! I’m sensitive to both gluten and some dairy, and since cutting them out a year ago my life has changed and I feel so much better! These are such great resources – thanks for sharing!!

  6. The recipes you find and enjoy are always some of my favorites! I love your philosophy with food too – that is what I strive for being gluten free, dairy free, and soy free. I love these types of posts, and your honesty too!

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