OK In Health - Gluten Free Goodness

I Have to Be Gluten Free Dairy Free, Now What? - August 2022

What’s available for dairy free alternatives

By Cathy Lauer

Gluten free and dairy free nachos

Finding out you have to be on a gluten free diet can be a bit overwhelming at first but knowing you also have to avoid dairy can make you feel completely lost. How do I eliminate gluten and dairy from my diet and still have a normal life? What am I going to eat now? Fear not! With so many new products on the market it is really not that difficult to make the substitutions. Yes, you may need to get used to some new tastes, but trust me they will be pleasantly surprising.

As you know, being gluten free means no wheat, rye, barley or any of their ancient grain or new grain family members. As well, many on a gluten free diet cannot eat oats, even the wheat free kind. Since we know there are a multitude of gluten free grains out there that can be substituted for wheat that part of the equation is manageable. You can still make delicious meals, desserts, and baked goods that tantalize the taste buds and satisfy the cravings.

How do you do that when you have to also remove dairy? First find out if dairy means just cow’s milk products. Some people find that they can tolerate goat or sheep’s milk and cheeses without any trouble. This opens up a world of flavours that you may not have tried before.

Many European countries have been making goat and sheep’s milk products for hundred’s or thousands of years. Unlike cartoon goats that eat anything these animals are fed a natural diet and their milk has a fresh clean taste and the cheeses range from mild to robust.

We substitute Pecorino Romano for parmesan in all our Italian dishes. Be sure it is true Pecorino Romano and not just Romano, which is often made with cow’s milk. Like parmesan, Pecorino Romano is a very hard, sharp tasting cheese that adds great flavour to spaghetti, lasagna, and garlic bread. There is a really great sheep cheese from Spain called Manchego. It can be sliced or grated and has a similar flavour to parmesan but not quite as strong.

ManGluten free and Dairy free smoresy types of goat cheese are now available such as feta, mozzarella, soft unripened in many flavours and brie. You can even make ricotta cheese yourself with a carton of goat’s milk and some lemon juice. You can even make great cheesecake with goat cheese! And the only one that will know the difference is you because you made it. The mozzarella is great for pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches or just sliced and eaten with crackers. The brie is one of my younger daughter’s favourite. She heats the brie in the oven and then makes gluten free garlic toast sticks to dip into it when it is all warm and gooey. So delicious!

If you cannot have any animal milk at all do not fear! There are still lots of choices. Soy milk has been around for a very long time and with so many brands and varieties to choose from you are bound to find a brand and flavour that you like. There are even a number of soy cheeses that are great for melting in a sandwich, on nachos or on a pizza. I wasn’t crazy about the taste of it alone but as melted cheese substitute it was fine. There are also now some vegan cheeses that are great substitutes as well. One I have used a number of times and have had positive feedback from others about is a grated prepackaged vegan cheese product. It melts like regular cheese and the taste is quite acceptable. You might have to look at health food stores to find it as it is not available in the bigger chain grocery stores but I imagine over time that will change.

There are still more milks to explore like rice, coconut and almond. Rice milk has changed a lot over the years from thin, pale milky water to the richer looking organic varieties. Rice milk has a very mild pleasant flavour and can be used as a beverage and in baking and cooking. Coconut milk is really nice for baking as it adds a great flavour and it comes in regular or low fat varieties. Almond milk was not our favourite for drinking but it was great for baking.

With so many milk substitutes you will have a wide range of choices for baking. Because rice milk is thin it tends to make sauces and batters thinner than cow’s milk but you can just use a little less milk or add a little more gluten free flour to thicken up the batter or add a little cornstarch to your cooked sauce. We have made chocolate pudding using soy milk and an amazing tapioca pudding using coconut milk. Both are so delicious that you would never know there was no dairy in them.

If a recipe calls for cream I usually substitute full fat soy milk. It does not have all the properties of cream but it is a good substitute as far as rich texture goes. If you want whipped cream however you will have to use a non-dairy whipped topping as I sadly have not yet found a good substitute that will whip into whipped cream.

As far as ice creams go there are a number of soy, rice and coconut ice creams on the market that seem to be really popular. My personal favourite is So Nice Butterscotch. I am not much of an ice cream person anyway so I don’t miss it. There is also sorbet, which is a frozen fruit dessert that is dairy free and very tasty. If you have an ice cream machine you can even make your own with fresh seasonal fruit.

My daughter was given a recipe for “soft serve” banana ice cream that she absolutely loves. It is made with frozen bananas and whatever flavourings you choose. I cannot eat raw foods so I have not had any but she can eat a whole bowl herself so it must be good. If it is ice cream sandwiches that you crave, buy or make yourself some plain gluten free chocolate cookies. Soften your favourite non-dairy icecream and place a scoop between two cookies. Freeze until firm and enjoy! There are also a number of non-dairy ice cream treats but just be sure to read the label to make sure they are also gluten free.

Now you know that being gluten and dairy free doesn’t mean your life is over and cooking and baking can still be fantastic, head for the grocery store and start reading labels to find out which brands are safe for you. With an open mind try some things you have not tried before and you might surprise yourself.


Cathy LauerCathy's Bio: Cathy Lauer has been cooking/baking gluten/dairy free for 17 years. She has written 3 all baking cookbooks and has a gluten free baking blog/store. In her spare time she loves to garden in a big way with fruit, vegetable and flower gardens. She is a classically trained singer and loves to read and collect recipe books. She homeschools her youngest son (11) and has 3 grown children and is grandmother of 2. Cathy's Gluten Free Creations Ltd. Gourmet Gluten Free Baking. Cookbooks and Baking Mixes. 250-758-5232 - Cathy Lauer Website - Email

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