Gluten-free and dairy-free living when you LOVE food....
Please note I was under medical supervision and this was the result of intolerances and allergies that were affecting my health.
I remember coming home one day and talking through my new dietary changes with my husband... no more gluten, dairy or refined sugars. GAH!
My husband and I almost had a breakdown... we LOVE our food, cooking and eating out. Whatever were we to do?!
Someone told me it would eventually become second nature and I thought... yerrrright.
We live in a time of the 'intolerance'... so dietary requirements are very easily catered for in our supermarkets and restaurants... but that doesn't necessarily make the transition easy.
Fast forward and I've never felt better, kept my weight stable, my skin clearer and my system more 'regular'... haha TMI? There are LOADS of naturally gluten and dairy free REAL foods. Fruit, vegetables, legumes, some grains, meat, poultry, seafood, nuts and seeds... the list goes on. Remembering this will make your transition so much easier. The more you turn to real food, the easier it is.
Today though, I'll be talking more about the things I had to change.
My first piece of advice, is don't try to make something it isn't.
The first time you try a cup of coffee or tea with almond, coconut or soy milk – like me - you'll probably spit it out. I remember being at work and a colleague said to me... "I think it's time you stopped making a 'cup of tea' something it isn't. Please just have something else".
I tried every milk-free and sugar-free combination going, and it was horrible. Turns out it wasn't just me going crazy, my work mates were going crazy too.
Light bulb moment... just have something else.
Trust me - this will come in handy, so I'll say it again... just have something else.
Enter herbal tea. At first I didn't really love it but in time I got used to it and I started to really enjoy green tea. It's healthier too so I was onto a winner.
But... then I went to Greece and green tea/herbal tea is not something you'll get in your average cafe.
Enter black tea out of sheer desperation. At this point I hadn't had black tea for months... and to my astonishment I actually quite liked it.Wait what?
Having space from my usual milky sweet tea, gave me the chance to rediscover tea... for its own flavour.Who knew?!
Haha gone was my herbal tea era... and my black tea era began... even better.... you can get it almost everywhere.
Then a few more months went by and I was staying at a friend's place. She's vegan so when I asked for a cup of tea, she made it for me and without thinking.... she added a splash of almond milk.
I sipped at this 'imposter' purely out of politeness... and before I knew it... I'd gulped down the whole mug-full and asked for another one.
I kid you not, the exact thing I'd once spat out, became my new favourite. Life changing in fact. I now no longer just drink tea because I'm bored with water, I actually really enjoy it.
I even go travelling with mini tetra packs of almond milk so I can never be deprived of my daily cuppa. Not even joking.
So – while I've gone against my own advice of forcing something to be something it isn't... it was a process.
Your tastes are not going to change overnight. If your favourite breakfast is gluten filled cereal with cows milk – you're not going to take too lightly to having a gluten-free cereal with almond milk straight up – just eat something else.
Have some eggs, some fruit, or gluten free toast (speaking of which, the best way to transition to gluten free bread is eating it as toast first). There are lots of butter alternatives out there like Nuttlex... it's processed but let's be realistic here. There's no way I was facing a future without the comfort of my toast!
Peanut butter is both gluten-free and dairy-free and comes in handy when you feel like there is nowhere else to turn. It's been my saviour.
Love your buttery, creamy scrambled eggs for brekkie...? Trust me on this one, try not adding ANYTHING... just scramble, cook and eat. If you want to make your eggs go further but still taste the same, simply add a splash of water. Serve with some fresh cherry tomatoes and sliced avocado for a yummy brunch good enough for a cafe!
When you're ready to substitute your milky breakfast with a non-dairy alternative.... I found coconut milk to be nice and sweet, I'm talking the tetra pack long-life kind. For me this was the best way to transition, and no, it doesn't taste like milk – it tastes like sweet and yummy coconut.
Now though, almond milk is my go-to dairy alternative for gluten-free cereals, granolas, smoothies and acai bowls. I genuinely love it. Haha just in case you didn't already get that message. If "ice-cream-cheese-and-chocolate-lover-Anne" can change, you can to.
If you like bananas or strawberries, add either of them to every bowl of cereal, smoothie or dessert, they lessen the blow because they're naturallly so yummy and sweet.
I still eat tasty curries, creamy soups and desserts – enter canned coconut milk or coconut cream, yummo!
Are you used to having pasta or creamy mashed potatoes with all your stews and casseroles?? Enter rice or quinoa. Yummo. Brown or white, I'll eat it. Both these alternatives take on the flavour of what they're served with - perfect.
Don't get me wrong, I have NOT given up potatoes, let's not be ridiculous!
Try smashing your potatoes with a fork and pouring your casserole over the top so the potato absorbs your yummy food flavours and you won't even miss the butter and cream.
If you can't live without comforting and smooth potato mash, try mashing your potatoes with stock and seasoning for a tasty way to enjoy!
I add a side of vegetables to EVERYTHING... naturally gf and df, and can be made delicious with a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper. Life saving, and good for you!
One of my favourite comfort foods is still spaghetti bolognese. All I've needed to do is buy the gluten free Barilla spaghetti and top it with my home made sauce. This is one exception for not substituting from the get-go... they've mastered gluten-free spaghetti and now I can still enjoy a comforting spag bol! And so can you. I tried four million discovering Barilla gluten-free spaghetti, the whole family can eat this one without you needing to cook a separate meal just for yourself... you're welcome.
Asian cuisine (particularly Vietnamese and Thai) is among the easiest to be dairy free. Coconut milk curries, soups, rice paper rolls and rice with lots of veggies. Watch out for some of the gluten in the sauces though. On the whole, Asia for me has been the easiest place to eat. They rarely even have milk or bread - it's naturally a great place for the dietary challenged.
Going to Greece? Organic meat, vegetables and salads are everywhere. Almost everything is cooked/flavoured with lemon, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Soon delicious, and again, naturally df and gf. The hardest thing is saying no to the complimentary bread that a lot of places offer.
I am writing this while I am in Hawaii and this place is dietary requirement heaven... acai bowls everywhere. Vegan friendly food, gluten-free food, you name it, it's here. Oh and so, of course, is the sun, sand and sea....
Speaking of travelling... not everywhere is going to cater for you. My favourite snacks to have on hand are... nuts, medjool dates, bananas, muesli bars, rice crackers, sesame snaps and so much more.
Not all these are perfect... again let's be realistic, having dietary requirements often means you'll find yourself somewhere that can't cater for you.
A bit of snack food in your handbag or suitcase can be a life saver! You'll never see me pack a suitcase without adding boxes of my favourite muesli bars!