Surviving Holiday dinners gluten and dairy free



It’s almost that time again-time when holiday dinners strike fear into the hearts of the gluten, dairy and allergen intolerant, and those who cook for them.

With a couple of years of holiday dinners under my belt, I’d like to share my tips and tricks for surviving those holiday dinners with your sanity, and stomach, intact.

It’s best to be specific and include brand names.  Always check ingredients online if you can.  Most companies provide nutritional and ingredient information.  Don’t guess!

  • Turkey:  Turkeys can have gluten in them.  Yes, they can.  Here is a list of Turkeys that are gluten and dairy free:

All Norbest Turkey Products (fresh and frozen) are gluten free. They also say none have dairy proteins (casein). The Norbest Oven Roasted Fully Cooked turkeys are gluten and dairy free, but do contain soy protein. All the raw turkeys have no soy. You can choose between fresh or frozen, basted or natural.

Butterball turkeys (fresh or frozen) do not contain gluten, and their gravy packets have been reformulated so that they don’t contain gluten. However, some packets still may contain gluten. If so, it will be listed on the ingredient statement, along with other top allergens. If you choose this brand be sure to check the label.

Jennie O FRESH Turkeys are gluten free, but they recommend you read the label. Read the label for any gravy packet as well.

Honeysuckle White Turkeys, Fresh, Frozen, or Cooked are gluten free. They do recommend you read the label.

You’ll want to avoid the gravy packet.  I had a Butterball turkey last year with no problems.

  • Ham: Your safest bet is Boar’s Head.  Here is a more comprehensive list 
  • Turkey gravy:  It’s really easy and safer to make your own.  No doubt the host will be making the gravy with flour, but it’s easy to make it with cornstarch instead:

gluten and dairy free turkey gravy

Maxwell’s turkey gravy mix is gluten and dairy free, but it’ really hard to find.

Remember! When you google something+gluten free don’t assume the shop for results at the top of the page are gluten/dairy free.  Also:  Organic DOES NOT EQUAL gluten free!  Always read labels!!!!!

  • Stuffing:  I really like Three Bakers gluten free herb stuffing.  You can also make cornbread stuffing.
  • Mashed potatoes:  These will be ok with dairy free butter and milk.
  • Green bean casserole:  This one is complicated.  You can get gluten and dairy free mushroom soup but alas, not gluten-free fried onions.  I keep hoping for that.
  • It’s best to avoid deli salads, even potato salad.  There seems to be a trend in putting wheat in deli salads; I’m not sure why companies think this is necessary.  Oh well.  You can always bring your own.
  • It’s also best to avoid Scalloped potatoes.  These just do not work dairy free.


The best solution is, of course, to bring your own food.  Make up a delicious turkey dinner, put it in containers and bring it with you.  This is the stress-free way to have a nice family dinner.


Another dairy free milk hits the market



I recently came across an article on a new diary free milk that claims to taste just like the real thing.  It is not a nut, soy or coconut milk, but a synthetic milk made from yeast.

Perfect Day Milk, the company behind the claim, uses a strain of yeast they call Buttercup:

So they started brewing milk from a strain of yeast they call Buttercup. The process is similar to brewing beer. First, Perfect Day feeds sugars to yeast. Then it adds in non-lactose sugar, vitamins, minerals, and proteins (the same casein and whey proteins found in cow’s milk).

If you are lactose intolerant, this might be great news.  But if you are casein or why intolerant, as I am, then this is not going to be anything you can drink.  Sigh….. lactose is not my problem, which is why I can’t drink Lactaid, or eat cheddar cheese.  I had to give up all dairy for this reason.   I can eat small amounts of parmesan, which is weird, but no other cheese.

I do give the company credit for making a product for the lactose intolerant that doesn’t contain lactase-the enzyme that breaks down the lactose in Lactaid milk, and that also causes a sweet aftertaste.  Not necessarily bad, but it is there.

Being dairy free is much tougher than just being gluten free.  It’s a double whammy. People who are just gluten intolerant can eat ice cream,  cheesecake (with gluten free crust), cream cheese, cream sauces, etc.  But I can’t.  Most restaurants use butter and cheese in everything.  Add in a nut allergy, and there isn’t much left.

You might want to try this milk out if you are lactose intolerant.  They’re hoping to have it in stores by the end of 2017.


Pizza nirvana-review of Gluten free Jules Pizza dough mix



I have written many posts on the search for a decent gluten free pizza.  I have tried several dough mixes (Pamela’s, King Arthur, Betty Crocker) but they have come up short.  I have tried frozen doughs, frozen pizzas and local pizza place pizzas, and have always been disappointed.   They were either soggy, like a giant cracker, or just plain nasty.  And they are never crisp and chewy.

Never one to give up, I was reading an article that mentioned Gluten Free Jules pizza dough mix.  Skeptical yet hopeful, I placed an order.  The box arrived a few days later, and contained mix and yeast packets to make two crusts.  I took a quick look at the directions and realized I had to set aside about two hours to make this thing.  I also wondered, would all of this time and effort be worth it?


This is a case where you MUST read all of the instructions before you begin.  If you don’t, you won’t realize you have to proof your dough in a preheated 200 degree oven which has been turned off.

I followed the directions exactly.  Using my KitchenAid mixer, I combined the egg whites, oil, cider vinegar and 1/4 cup of warm water


Then I added the additional water and yeast packet.  As you can see, the dough really stuck to my paddle attachment.  Once I mixed for three minutes, I scraped the dough onto a foil lined, oiled pizza pan.  You could use a baking sheet as long as it is at least 12 inches wide.

This is where the real problems began.  I did oil my hands with cooking spray, but the dough kept sticking to them.  I then used a greased spatula, and that worked a bit better.  I also sprayed the dough directly which helped also.


I had a hard time spreading the dough out, but ended up with a rustic, 10 in round.  Papa John’s it ain’t, but who cares if it’s pretty, right?

I then covered the dough with a greased sheet of parchment, pricked it with a fork, and put it into the preheated, turned off oven for 30 minutes. I crossed my fingers, and waited.

Here is the dough after 30 minutes of proofing:


The problem I have run into in the past is that the dough never rose-I think because the room temperature was never warm enough.  The 200 degree oven once turned off gave off just enough heat to make the dough rise.  This step is key to a nice, chewy crust.

I then turned the oven to 375 degrees to preheat, then put the dough into the oven for 15 minutes to pre-bake.


You can see here that the crust is just starting to brown and the dough has risen, just as the instructions state.  Here I am adding my sauce.


I used Go Veggie mozzarella shreds and Simple Truth Mushroom sauce.  Both are delish!  I also cooked up some sausage.


Here is the pizza ready for its final baking.


And here is the finished pizza!  It looks pretty damn good for a gluten free pizza, don’t you think?  As I said, rustic, but look at that crust!  When have you even seen a gluten free pizza crust that even remotely looked like that?

But as they say, the proof is in the tasting.  The crust was chewy and crunchy, and tasted like yeasty pizza dough.  I couldn’t believe it.  The crust was evenly browned top and bottom.  I’m not sure how she pulled it off, but Jules should be crowed gluten free Queen. She must have thrown out a lot of pizza trying to perfect this recipe.

I have a few tips:

  • Give yourself at least two hours to make this pizza.  Don’t rush through it.  Following all of the steps will give a good result
  • Make sure to grease the foil well-my pizza stuck a bit to the foil.  Parchment might work here, but I am thinking foil is recommended to brown the bottom
  • Read all directions before you begin
  • Use a greased spatula to spread the dough
  • Don’t worry if the pizza is not 12 inches, do the best you can to spread the dough
  • Don’t skip the proofing step-it made all the difference
  • Allow the pizza to bake according to instructions.  Resist the temptation to remove it sooner

Was it worth the effort-absolutely.  I wouldn’t make this every week, but if I am jonesing for pizza, I would definitely make this again.

You can order gfJules pizza crust mix here.




Gluten and dairy free Chicken, spinach and bacon lasagna


As I mentioned in a previous post on gluten free ramen, I ordered a box of gluten free lasagna.  I have never tried Tinkayada pasta, but people have raved about it, so I decided to give it a try with a recipe for Gluten and dairy free chicken, spinach and bacon lasagna.


The original recipe is in metric measurements, so the first thing I did was convert it.  I don’t want to be asking frantic conversion questions of Siri while I’m cooking.  Been there, done that! These are not exact conversions-I used more or less of the ingredients according to my taste.  If you want to do your own conversions, you can see the original recipe here:  Be advised it took several websites to find all of the conversions.

See my tips below  the recipe!


9 Pre-cooked gluten free lasagna noodles (depending on the size of your casserole you might need more or less)

1 1/2 cups of cooked boneless chicken breast ( more or less to taste)

1 cup dairy free shredded mozzarella (more or less to taste)

1/2 cup dairy free parmesan (more or less to taste)

1 1/2 cups baby spinach

5 oz bacon, chopped

6 tbs earth balance spread

6 tbs flour

2 cups dairy free milk

1 small chopped onion


In a dutch oven or large sauce pan, place chicken breast with just enough water or broth to cover. Add spices to taste.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove one breast, cut in half and determine if cooked.  If not, return breast to poaching liquid for another five minutes.  Check each breast for doneness by cutting in half.  Repeat return to poaching liquid until done, but not dry.

Remove breasts from poaching liquid and let cool.  Shred meat and put aside- if not cooking lasagna right away, refrigerate until ready to use.

Cook your lasagna noodles.

The instructions on the Tinkayada box read:

Stovetop Cooking Instruction: Put one package of pasta into 4 qt (3.78 ltr) of boiling water and add a tbsp of salt. Stir occasionally and cook for 16-17 minutes until desired tenderness is reached. Rinse with cold water.

Assemble your filling:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large skillet, cook bacon until just getting crisp, add onion and saute until onion begins to get translucent.  Add spinach one handful at a time, and stir until wilted.  Repeat with remaining spinach.  Empty mixture into a bowl-set aside.

In the same pan on medium heat, melt earth balance spread, add gluten free flour, stir together until just combined.  Add milk, a bit at a time, whisking to remove lumps.  Milk should begin to thicken.  Keep adding milk until desired consistency of sauce is reached. Reduce heat to low. Season to taste. Add cooked chicken and bacon mixture back into the sauce-heat through.  Remove pan from burner, set aside.

Assemble lasagna:

Add a little of your sauce mixture to the bottom of your casserole. Add one layer of lasagna noodles over sauce to fit your pan.  Add a layer of sauce-sprinkle with dairy free parmesan and dairy free mozzarella.  Repeat until dish is filled ending with a layer of lasagna noodles.

Sprinkle top with dairy free parmesan and dairy free mozzarella to cover noodles.  Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes, until bubbling and cheese is beginning to brown.

Let cool five minutes and serve.


  • I did not use all of the noodles, but that will depend on the size of your serving dish.  Measure dry noodles across length of dish and multiply by three or four, again depending on your dish size.  I made three layers in a 2.5 qt serving dish.
  • When poaching the chicken, I added Mrs. Dash original, thyme and sage to water.
  • I cooked the noodles for 12 minutes, as I would be baking them in the oven.  Your taste may vary.  Be advised that overcooked gluten free noodles will disintegrate.
  • I find that using white rice flour is the best way to make a roux.  Bob’s Red Mill is great for this-not grainy at all.  I use it for baking also with good results.
  • I have found that coconut ( as apposed to almond) milk thickens best when using flour or cornstarch.
  • I used Go Veggie parmesan and mozzarella-these do now contain dairy (they are still lactose free) so beware of that.
  • I was afraid the top of the lasagna would be hard, but the noodles held up well.  They were not mushy or hard.

This lasagna turned out great-hubby had seconds which is always a good sign!  Not every new recipe is a gem, but this one was.

I am impressed with Tinkayada pasta and might be trying more.  I found that the usual gluten free pasta I use-Ronzoni and Barilla-get really hard when cold.  We will see if this is the case with Tinkayada when we reheat the lasagna.

You can certainly make this lasagna with regular pasta and regular mozzarella and parmesan.  That’s the great thing about gluten free recipes-most can be made with regular products.

If you try this out, let me know how it turned out for you in the comments!



Amazon vs Jet-which is better for gluten free?


We all know that we can’t always find all of our favorite gluten free products in our local store.  While I love, it takes about ten days to receive an order from them (depending on  your location).

I love and have been a customer since the time when they only sold books.  I have never had a problem returning anything to them, but when it comes to ordering gluten free products, I have one problem.  It is really difficult to get one of any product-they  usually sell in bulk.  If I am unfamiliar with a product, or need only one of it, I don’t want to order six at a time, at an increased cost.

I recently discovered  I ordered 3 individual boxes of snack bars from them.  I know they are competing with, and at first I thought-good luck with that!  But I find there are definite benefits to ordering from them.

So, how do they compare?

Here is a screenshot of Enjoy life Coco loco bars on Amazon:

As you can see, you  have to order a pack of six, at the cost of $20.41.  The other size available is one 96 count box.  So no single size, individual boxes.

coco loco bars jet  

On, you can order one box and they also offer 2 day delivery.  They also offer a discount if you use your debit card.  The 15% off is only for a $35 order, but it’s still a good deal.  You can also see that the price goes down the more you order.

This is just one example of how Amazon and Jet differ.  I was able to order one box of gluten free lasagna from yesterday.  I have never tried it before so I want to make sure I like it.  If you order from Amazon, you will be stuck with a lot of food you don’t like.

Amazon is great for most everything, but not necessarily great for ordering gluten free products.  The only exception here might be gluten free flour, if you use a lot of it.

It’s always wise to explore your options where gluten free is concerned.  It’s an expensive way of life, so it behooves you to try to save money wherever you can.

If you have any money saving tips for ordering gluten free foods, please share in the comments.




Why IBS should be managed with diet, not drugs

yoga poses

While my kids were visiting from the Northeast, we went out to dinner at our local steak house.  I ordered my salad without croutons and cheese, but forgot about the butter on the steak.  I did mention a dairy and gluten issue, but I guess the server didn’t relay this to the kitchen.

There are two things that are the bane of existence to those with IBS-fat and gluten. Gluten is the much worse of the two for me.  I also ate a grilled shrimp, and grilled onions and mushrooms.  I was in for a penny, in for a pound, and knew the consequences.

Since I started my gluten free diet, my IBS has all but disappeared.  The butter didn’t hit me til next day, and it wasn’t really that bad of a reaction.  I attribute this to eating dairy free yogurt, watching my diet, and doing yoga.

You have probably seen the commercials for IBS medications-Linzess® and Viberzi®           Linzess treats IBS-C or constipation. Viberzi treats IBS-D or Diarrhea.  The main problem with these two medications is that IBS usually fluctuates between the two symptoms.  So you would need to take both medications to treat both the constipation and diarrhea.  One glance at the side effects of these medications, and you will no doubt decide not to take them.

Here are the common side effects for Linzess:

LINZESS can cause serious side effects, including diarrhea, the most common side effect, which can sometimes be severe. Diarrhea often begins within the first 2 weeks of LINZESS treatment. Stop taking LINZESS and call your doctor right away if you get severe diarrhea during treatment with LINZESS.

Other common side effects of LINZESS include gas, stomach-area (abdominal) pain, swelling, or a feeling of fullness or pressure in your abdomen (distension). Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. These are not all the possible side effects of LINZESS. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

In addition, call your doctor or go to the nearest hospital emergency room right away if you develop unusual or severe stomach-area (abdominal) pain, especially if you also have bright red, bloody stools or black stools that look like tar.

So, this medication most likely will cause diarrhea-which you will probably already have if you have IBS.  And it can cause intestinal bleeding (black or bloody stools).  Yeah, I really want to take this medication.

Here are the side effects of Viberzi:

  • A spasm in a muscle of the digestive system (called the sphincter of Oddi), which may cause new or worsening abdominal pain. Your risk of having a spasm is increased if you do not have a gallbladder. This spasm usually happens within the first week of treatment and usually goes away when treatment is stopped.
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (called pancreatitis). Symptoms of pancreatitis usually go away when treatment with VIBERZI is stopped. Your risk of getting pancreatitis is increased if you drink more than 3 alcoholic drinks a day.
  • The most common side effects of VIBERZI include constipation, nausea, and abdominal pain. Stop taking VIBERZI and call your doctor if you have constipation that lasts more than 4 days. These are not all the possible side effects of VIBERZI. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

So basically, this medication my cause pancreatitis, abdominal pain, and wait for it….constipation.

My advice here is-stop eating gluten, watch your fat intake, eat dairy free yogurt,  and follow a FODMAP diet. Why would you want to take these medications if they not only cause serious side effects, but seem to exacerbate IBS symptoms?  Take one for constipation, one for diarrhea?  I think not.  Immodium® will do just fine for occasional diarrhea.  Eating a bit more fiber and drinking more water, along with these yoga moves, will ease constipation.  An occasional stool softener is ok too.

The problem with our society is that we have a pill for everything-even things that don’t necessarily require pills to cure.  Everything is a condition, disease or ailment, even if it is an every day issue.  The issue with pain killers in this country should be an indication of just how dependent and addicted to big pharma we are.

IBS can be controlled with diet-I am living proof.


New Book Giveaway!

gluten envy cover

I am pleased to announce that my new book Gluten Envy is now available for download at

In order to celebrate, I am running a giveaway to receive free copies of my book.

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Gluten Envy: How to stop the envy and start living (Kindle Edition). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of May 4, 2016 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules
Thank you to all who have followed, commented and read my blog over the past months.  You can also click here.

Good luck!