You don't realize how much processed and/or packaged food we purchase, prep with, and eat until you have to go "clean." It's not all bad, and I still buy many of these things for the rest of my family. Things like cereal, cheese, tortillas, bread, snack bars, crackers, etc. These are all an integral part of our lives! And cutting them out can make you feel left without snack or meal options.
When people ask me "What can you eat??" I laugh and say, "LOTS of things!" I suggest getting back to basics and eating protein, veggies, fruits, and nuts (if able). You need to embrace whatever resources you can find by way of Facebook groups, websites, and cookbooks. Think WHOLE FOODS, and seek out those recipes! You will find a wealth of information on Pinterest and simply by Googling. I do NOT recommend heading straight to the processed gluten free aisle if you are cutting out gluten or wheat. These imitation foods have zero taste and low nutrition value. There are a few exceptions (Betty Crocker cake and brownie mixes are fantastic). Instead, do research on which whole foods you can combine to create your own flour blends or muffin mixes.
Here is a great list of substitutes if you have to cut out certain ingredients:
Yogurt: I love to eat Silk Dairy Free yogurt (I get mine at Walmart).
Butter: Earth Balance (comes in lots of varieties and is amazing).
Mayo: Earth Balance makes a mayo substitute, as well as Veganaise (my fave). I make dressings (RANCH!) and chicken salad with these.
Milk: My personal favorite is Almond Milk. But there are so many options now! Cashew, Soy, Coconut, even Lactaid. Coconut milk in the can is great in cakes and rich desserts and things like curry dishes and caramel sauces.
• Flax Meal (1 T ground flax + 2.5 T warm water = 1 egg) — I grind flax seeds in my Vitamix and they work better than any pre-ground brand I've found. But Bob's Redmill works great, too.
• "Egg Replacer" when baking.
• Apple sauce or pumpkin in certain recipes.
Try substituting with these grains—
• Brown Rice and GF pasta blends
• Rice Flour blends to create an imitation of wheat flour (find my recipe HERE). I use this in baking and coating chicken or veggies when browning or frying.
• Coconut flour is a great flour substitute in many recipes.
• Rice (white, wild, brown)
• Oats (just make sure they are certified gluten free oats, otherwise they will always have cross contamination)
• If you have a nut allergy, try to find a substitute (like Sunflower or Almond butter instead of Peanut Butter).
• Nuts are also a great thing to have on hand when you feel snack-ish. They are crunchy, salty, and satisfying!
How to eat meals:
• Try dairy-free yogurt, bacon, fruit, smoothies, GF cereals (Chex!), potato hash, eggs (if able), etc.
• Plan a grain, protein, and veggie (quinoa, chicken, and zucchini, for example).
• Make a "Chipotle" bowl with rice, slow cooked pork, salsa, guacamole, and chips. I've found that most Mexican food is gluten free.
• Have a sampling of olives, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, and maybe even pepperoni like an appetizer plate. Dip it in homemade dairy-free ranch for an indulgence.
• Salads galore!
• Again, think protein, grain, veggies. I have also been able to adapt sweet and sour chicken, BBQ chicken, Asian recipes, and SO many more. Often I am just excluding the roll on the side, or making rice pasta for everyone instead (they never notice). I've learned to make sauces from scratch (they aren't that time consuming, and taste great). Get creative and abandon the idea of baked casseroles or one pot meals in the beginning, until you get more ambitious. There are many slow cooker recipes out there, and with a few tweaks they will work beautifully!
• I love to eat Pop Chips, tortilla chips and salsa, dairy free sorbet (read the ingredients first, but Haagen Dazs is great), nuts, fruit leather (and fruit of any kind), dry cereal, baby carrots, dairy free yogurt, gluten free homemade cookies and muffins on occasion.
Lastly, remember that there are still so many foods that you can enjoy! If I can do it, you definitely can. It takes time. Go easy on yourself. Be forgiving and patient. But I promise along the way you will have more and more epiphanies! It will get easier—and more yummy—as you go. :)
Here are my favorite cookbooks right now:
(you'll need to make substitutes here)
(you'll need to make substitutes here)
(you'll have to make some substitutions here)
What suggestions do you have that have worked well for YOU? :)
** For more info on how to handle a new food lifestyle (and more cookbook recommendations), read my first post in this series HERE.