Monday, February 8, 2021

Going Gluten Free & Dairy Free (Tips & Resources)

Hello again, friends! Long time no blog post! It's been a hot minute but I am finally sitting down to share some happenings. What a crazy year 2020 was - although, I have to admit that as a total homebody and introvert, I am mostly okay with all of this quarantine/work from home business. 

Recently, I was chatting with my friend, Jess (her blog is HERE) and she mentioned wanting to be more mindful of her gluten and dairy consumption. Later I sent her the longest text (novel?) ever with some of my favourite blogs, brands and products. In writing that text, I realized this should totally be a blog post. So today, I'm sharing links, cookbooks, brands, specific products, recipes and some overall tips for transitioning towards gluten free and dairy free eating. 

This post is coming to fruition with Jess in mind, but many people are making the transition towards gluten free and dairy free eating, so I'm hoping it reaches many of you!. I know that these lifestyle choices are not for everyone, and that is 100% ok. No judgement here! Just take what you need from this post and use it as it is best suited to your life.

A little disclaimer before I begin - I have been eating gluten free & dairy free since February 2018 (so about 3 years) but I am nowhere near an expert on the subject. I know way more than I did three years ago but I still have a lot to learn. This journey is daunting when you begin, but I promise it is so manageable. Give yourself oodles and oodles of grace and you will be just fine. I will share everything that works for me and feel free to ask me questions - I will help in any way that I can! 
Cold turkey or gradual? 
Ha! I am not the person to ask when it comes to this. I'm a little bit health nervous (ok maybe a lot) so as soon as I heard that I was intolerant to gluten and dairy, I felt terrified and cut it out cold turkey. Is this the best option? I don't know. My sister took a more gradual route to being gluten free & dairy free and we are both totally okay. I don't think one option is better than the other - I just think it depends on who you are. So reflect and make a decision based on your habits and needs. 

How will I hang out with my friends who still eat gluten and dairy? 
This is where I struggled most at first. This brought me to tears because my heart is in the kitchen. I love baking with friends, I love dinner parties, I love dropping treats off at friends' houses and I love bonding over good food. I thought I would lose all of this. But guess what? I didn't lose any of it. At first yes, I needed to avoid food with friends because watching my friends eat a pizza would crush me. But as I got more confident in my decision and as I regained my footing in our now gluten free and dairy free kitchen, everything was completely fine. I still bake with friends, I still have dinner parties and I still drop treats off at friends houses.

I met a fellow GF eater at a Christmas party last year and she said that she felt ditched when she was diagnosed with Celiac. She said friends would make dinner plans that were just not sensitive to her needs. Ugh. I was so lucky to not experience this but what she said to me that night really resonated with me - those are not your people. Food is a tough topic for a lot of people because we all have a different relationship with it. But, find people who support you. This is true in all areas of life. We all need a team around us and I highly recommend stocking your team with people who will support you no matter how much or how little gluten and dairy you are eating :)

Find a trusted professional!
I mentioned above that I am nowhere near an expert on this, but I highly recommend finding someone who is. Find a healthcare provider who you trust 110% and bounce all of your plans off them. Whether it be a naturopathic doctor, a medical doctor, a chiropractor, an osteopath, etc. Find someone who knows you well and can guide you in making decisions that work best for your body. 

Ok ready for the resource dump? Here we go!

Sarah Bakes Gluten Free 
adore Sarah Bakes Gluten Free. If there is one blog that has changed my gluten & dairy free existence, it's this one! I have tried so many of her recipes and they have all been phenomenal! Hands down the best GF & DF chocolate chip cookies. But she also has great pecan pie bars, lemon loaf, pumpkin cookies, blueberry muffins, double chocolate bundt cake, lemon loaf, oatmeal spice muffins, pumpkin donuts... Ok I'm going to stop there because this list could be never ending. But run, don't walk to her blog because she makes gluten & dairy free eating fun (and ridiculously easy). 

*Little side note - my least favourite thing about GF eating is that there are 100 different flour blends. They all claim to be the best and I believe them but I only own and use two. I use Cara Reed's all purpose blend and I use King Arthur all purpose blend. Cara's is one that you have to make but the King Arthur is pre-made when you buy. When I'm sharing specific recipes or blogs, I will also tell you which flour I use. For Sarah Bakes Gluten Free recipes I always use King Arthur all purpose GF flour. 

Cara Reed 
We own Cara's Decadent Gluten Free & Vegan cookbook. There are soo many great recipes in there. Namely her gingerbread men, her thin mint cookies, her scones & biscotti! Her book also features the recipe for her all purpose flour blend. This is my favourite GF all purpose blend. It's easy and it's consistent. Her flour blend does not include xanthan gum or psyllium husk, so if you are wanting to avoid that classic gluten free grainy texture, you'll need to add xanthan gum or psyllium husk to your recipes. 
You can find Cara's GF flour blend recipe HERE. I recommend pinning or bookmarking it because you'll be using it over and over again!

Minimalist Baker 
Another fabulous blog with so many great options. My two favourite recipes from the Minimalist Baker are her Vegan Alfredo (I use Barilla GF Linguine) and her Roasted Cauliflower Pasta (I use Barilla GF Spaghetti).

Cotter Crunch
The Cotter Crunch blog is authored by Lindsay and she is just wonderful. She has two recipes that I come back to over and over again - her homemade bread and her cinnamon roles. Use Cara's All Purpose Flour for both recipes. Both recipes are easy peasy and the end results are a dream!

Unconventional Baker
The Unconventional Baker is a fellow Canadian and she has such great recipes on her blog! My favourites are her butter tarts (a Canadian classic!) and her espresso cake. I made the espresso cake for my Dad's birthday a couple of years ago and it was a mega crowd pleaser. 

This blog has great gluten free recipes and she almost always includes the dairy free versions too. Her biscuits are fabulous (I recommend doubling the xanthan gum) and I've recently been making her bagels almost weekly :)

Meaningful Eats Pizza Crust
This blog has the very best pizza crust recipe. Yes, the way you dress your pizza will need to shift, but you cannot go wrong when you start with this crust! My favourite thing about this crust is it isn't finicky. Even if you have yet to find the perfect flour blend & the crust doesn't rise as much as it could, it still bakes well and tastes great. I find this crust works best with Cara Reed's all purpose GF flour blend (recipe below). My favourite way to top this pizza? Organic marinara from Costco, red pepper, onion, Italian sausage, a little chicken and a pesto drizzle. 

Chicken Burger Recipe
I don't remember when I discovered these burgers but they quickly became a staple in our house. We eat these burgers protein style in boston lettuce with a little vegan sriracha mayo and they are a hit every time. Sometimes I make a salad with them but usually I opt for sweet potato fries because they are my fave.

Ice Cream Recipe
Summer 2020 may be remembered by most as a summer of quarantining but it will be remembered at my house as the year we discovered dairy free ice cream (and quarantined, of course!). This is the base recipe that I found & continue to use. Even though it's mint, I switch it out for all kinds of different flavours. I recommend getting your bearings with something easy first then go wild! The base of 2 cans of full fat coconut milk, 2 Tbsp of cornstarch (I use arrowroot instead) and 1/2 cup of cane sugar can be used to create a whole variety of different flavours. A favourite in my house is what the Bean has coined "Blondes Have More Fun" - vanilla ice cream with a fudge swirl and blondie bits. 

Brownie Recipe 
My sister discovered this recipe and it was an instant hit. This recipe is easy and reliable. Sometimes I whip a batch of brownies and pop them right in the freezer to use as in ice cream. 

Allergy Free Alaska's GF Pie Crust  
Y'all we are a pie house. I would choose pie over almost any other dessert and I'm pretty sure my family members would say them same. I made a killer pie before before going gluten free & dairy free and that felt like a big loss when I made the transition. It took a while to find the right pie crust but this crust is perfect. I made this for a little get together this summer and one of our friends called it a superior pie. That is good feedback. 

Cooking Classy Beef Stew
This is actually from my pre-GF & DF days but it doesn't actually contain any gluten or dairy! This hearty beef stew is perfect for cold winter days!

Greek Chicken and Pasta Salad (just use GF noodles!) 
This is another recipe that I used to make before being gluten & dairy free. This recipe calls for regular pasta but it is so easy to switch out for GF pasta. I use Barilla's Penne and it makes the perfect salad. I recommend using an immersion blender to combine the dressing because it makes creamy perfection! 

Making Thyme for My Health's Quinoa Black Bean Burgers
Oh my word these are delightful. These burgers are easy to make (you can even make them ahead and freeze them!) and they taste best when topped with guacamole. What could go wrong? If it calls for guacamole, I'm in. 

Vegan chickpea curry 
My cousin Andrew sent me this recipe and it was instantly added to our regular meal rotation. It's quick to put together, it's easy to double (or triple!) and it makes great leftovers so it's always a win in my house!

Pancakes are well loved in my house but we had a hard time finding a recipe that was just right. We looked and looked until we found these about 6 months ago and haven't looked since. They are so good! You can throw in blueberries or chocolate chips to make them a little extra! I use Cara's flour blend for these pancakes. 

French toast OR French Toast Casserole - We were never big french toast people but have become big french toast people since discovering this recipe - so good! The casserole is great for fancier occasions (say, Christmas morning!). It's easy to put together and it tastes like a seriously decadent dessert!

Fudgsicles - I discovered this recipe during the summer and it is awesome! I had never made fudgesicles before but these taste just like classic fudgesicles. They are beyond easy to make and they are always a crowd pleaser. 

Dairy free hot chocolate 
This is my go to hot cocoa recipe. It comes together quickly on the stovetop and it is perfect for a chilly day. I use oat milk & sometimes I add in a little maca powder. 

Oh she glows - Turtle Cookies
Another fellow Canadian is Angela from Oh She Glows. Her turtle cookies (affectionately referred to in my house as breakfast cookies) are the best. 

Espresso Brownies 
These brownies are PHENOMENAL. Like, on another level good. They are the perfect blend of coffee and chocolate to make a delicious mocha tasting dessert. Funny story - I once brought a couple of these to my boss and she later texted me to say that she bit into one and swore because it was so good. So eater be warned that these might induce cursing :)

These were the first GF & DF cookie that worked for me and they are still a favourite. They work every time and they are a crowd pleaser. 

Brands & Products:
Violife Cheese
This is my favourite brand of dairy free cheese - it tastes like cheese and it melts! So grilled cheeses, nachos, lasagna... are all possible with Violife (ha! This is totally not a partnership, but it sure sounds like one. I love Violife cheese that much!).

Miyoko's butter
GAME. CHANGER. Miyoko's butter does everything you need butter to do - it brines, it melts, it bakes, it whips, it browns... It is by far the best dairy free butter I've used! It is a little on the expensive side so I try to use this when I need a really authentic butter flavour (Like in my croissants! Recipe below!). 

Melt butter
So I just sung Miyoko's praises and now I'm talking about Melt because it is a more economical option. Melt has a slight coconut flavour, so I don't love it as a spread but it works when baking or cooking because the coconut flavour bakes off! 

King Arthur GF Flour
They make a great pre-mixed GF flour blend. This is great as a thickener in stews or sauces. It already includes xanthan gum so you don't need to mess with gums or binders when using this flour. My family orders it in bulk from Vitacost so that we always have it on hand. 

Oat Milk 
All day every day. Ha that first little sentence is what I wrote when I was writing notes for this post and I decided to leave it in because it's true! I use oat milk to make hot chocolates, with cereal, as a base for chicken pot pie and just about everything else that calls for milk. It's my favourite non-dairy milk alternative.

Copper Branch 
I'm pretty sure Copper Branch is only available in Canada, so if you are Canadian hop on the Copper Branch bandwagon :) They make great bowls, burgers and have an awesome poutine! Everything is vegan, so no need to worry about dairy but if you are also gluten free, make sure to ask for their GF options - they have lots of them! 

Protein style burgers
This is something I learned when I went to California & tried In n Out but it also works at other fast food chains. I know, I know fast food is not great, but sometimes you just need a burger, right? So, order your burger protein style and you'll get all your regular toppings but wrapped in lettuce instead of a burger bun.

Xanthan Gum or Psyllium Husk 
Gluten free baking is notoriously grainy. Avoid the icky grainy texture by adding xanthan gum or psyllium husk powder to your baking. 

Coconut Sugar 
The purpose of this whole GF & DF journey that I am on is to reduce inflammation. And a big part of inflammation is sugar. In an attempt to choose more natural, less refined sugar, I use coconut sugar whenever possible. I don't love coconut flavour but there is hardly any coconut flavour here and if you bake with it, it completely cooks off. 

Barilla GF pasta 
I know there are other GF pasta brands but I found this brand early on and I love it so I have not strayed. It tastes like the pasta you know and love minus the gluten. 

This is an ice cream brand that is only available in the USA. Every time we are in the states, we grab a pint or two of NadaMoo because it seriously the best dairy free ice cream. 

Dandies vegan marshmallows & brown rice GF Rice Krispies 
I got my family these two things for Christmas and made them rice krispie squares. They're fun and a little frivolous but sometimes you just need a rice krispie square, right? 

This is a great resource for supplies that may be tough to find in your local stores. Vitacost has great options at great prices. We get coconut sugar, King Arthur GF flour, active dry yeast, baking powder, a variety of GF flours (brown rice, tapioca, arrowroot, sorghum...) all from Vitacost. 

Vans Crackers & Waffles
Again, these are only available in the states (and sometimes on Vitacost!) but theya re too good not to include! Every time I go to Maine, I grab Van GF waffles to have with blueberries and syrup and I grab Van's crackers to have with hummus!

Beet & Sweet Potato Crackers 
These are a great Costco find. They're just good. They're great for dips, on their own and could even look cute on a little charcuterie board. 

My sweet friend, Hannah texted me the recipe for these vegan croissants. I adapted the recipe to make them gluten free and they worked super well! You can find my adapted GF recipe HERE, but I recommend referencing both my recipe and the original to make sure you've got it all down. These are a bit tedious but they are soo worth it! 

Okay is that overwhelming or what? Gosh, I hope I don't scare you into the next century with all of this! Please come back and use this as a reference as you need it. I will make adjustments as I discover/learn more as a gluten free & dairy free eater! If you have any questions, please let me know! I will do my best to help!

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