A gluten- and dairy-free menu plan doesn't have to be complicated, expensive or time-consuming to prepare. It will, however, require some advance planning for you to make simple, nutritionally balanced meals that will provide you with adequate vitamins and minerals while adhering to your dietary restrictions. Ask your doctor, dietitian or nutritionist for help in designing healthy menus free of gluten or dairy products.
Gluten-Free Grains at Breakfast
Breakfast on a gluten- and dairy-free diet could consist of eggs scrambled with water or plant milk such as almond or soy milk, a slice of gluten-free toast spread with sugar-free fruit preserves and a piece of whole fresh fruit. Wheat, spelt, rye, kamut, bran and barley all contain gluten, so you'll need to opt for bread made with flour from a gluten-free grain, such as rice, flax, amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet or ground nuts, seeds or soy. Choose a calcium-fortified plant milk to ensure you consume enough calcium without eating dairy products.
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Vegetables at Lunch
For an easy-to-fix lunch, try a plate of dark, leafy salad greens topped with canned salmon, cooked white beans and plenty of vegetables such as chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, grated carrots, diced onions and steamed broccoli or asparagus. For maximum calcium, mash any bones into the salmon with a fork and incorporate greens like kale into your salad mix. Steer clear of croutons, imitation bacon bits and commercial salad dressings, all of which may contain gluten. Instead, prepare your own heart-healthy dressing using distilled vinegar, spices or herbs and a monounsaturated oil like olive oil.
Pick Lean Protein at Dinner
A simple but nutritious gluten- and dairy-free dinner might include grilled London broil paired with cooked quinoa or brown rice, steamed vegetables and a dessert of fresh fruit. Avoid excess saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium by choosing lean cuts of beef or pork, skinless poultry and seafood over fattier cuts or processed meats. Cook grains like quinoa or rice in water instead of commercial stock or broth that may be prepared with ingredients containing gluten. By including leafy greens like bok choy or collard or turnip greens in your vegetable rotation, you'll ensure you get plenty of calcium.
Make Your Snacks Count
Raw or plain, dry-toasted nuts and seeds can add nutrients to your diet without the addition of gluten or dairy. For example, eat a mid-morning, afternoon or evening snack of almonds with fresh whole or sliced fruit. Other acceptable but healthy snack choices include plain popcorn tossed with olive oil and your choice of spices or herbs, rice cakes spread with nut butter or a bean-dip like hummus served with a gluten-free option like rice crackers or raw vegetable sticks.
Gluten and dairy sensitivities can wreak havoc on your digestive tract, with symptoms like diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal bloating and flatulence. Avoiding these foods is extremely difficult because dairy products and the grains that contain gluten, including rye, barley and all forms of wheat, are extremely common in the American diet. However, if you're willing to try something different, there are plenty of gluten- and dairy-free foods you can eat for breakfast.
According to HealthNOW, oat fields often have a bit of wheat and rye mixed in, both of which contain gluten. So even if the oats themselves are free of gluten, they're often still contaminated with it. However, some companies offer certified gluten-free oats; look for this to be marked clearly on the packaging. Use these oats for oatmeal, and instead of dairy milk, top off the hot cereal with hemp milk, soy milk or nut milk instead. Add fruit or berries for additional flavor.
Wheat, barley and rye are very common in prepared breakfast cereals. Even if the product is labeled as "rice" or "corn" on the front of the box, wheat might be lurking further down the list in such ingredients as malt flavoring. Eat only breakfast cereals that are labeled as gluten-free. For hot cereals, look for products that contain corn, flax, rice, hominy, sesame, quinoa or amaranth. As with the oatmeal, use hemp, soy or nut milk for a dairy-free topping.
Finding bread and bagels that are both gluten- and dairy-free is a challenge, but they do exist. Toast them in a toaster reserved for gluten-free products, as the gluten-containing crumbs in a communal toaster may contaminate your supposedly gluten-free products. Instead of using butter on your toast, enjoy jam, jelly, honey or almond butter; consider avoiding peanut butter, as peanuts are a very common food sensitivity. You also can purchase vegetable-oil based margarine or butter to use as a spread.
A platter of fresh fruit is certain to be gluten- and dairy-free. Instead of serving the fruit with cream, which is a dairy product, consider topping it off with a delicate drizzle of honey, or use no topping at all.
Hash browns or fried potatoes are another common breakfast food that is gluten free. For a change, try making them sweet potatoes or plantains, a starchy relative to the banana.
Eggs and meats, including bacon, fish and sausage, are all gluten-free protein sources you can have with breakfast. Some processed meats may contain casein, however, which is a milk protein. Read the labels carefully for this and any mention of hydrolyzed vegetable proteins, which might mean the product contains wheat or gluten.