Gluten and Other Food Allergies - How to Find Foods Ok to Eat

Updated on March 11, 2010
T.T. asks from White Salmon, WA
23 answers

My 18 yr old daughter Kaitlin has some issues that her doctor believes may be caused by a food allergy. She is doing lab work, which can take a few weeks to come back to determine this, but in the meantime, Kaitlin is to eat no dairy products or anything with gluten in it. Yikes! This means there is very little in the house right now that she can actually eat or wants to eat. I am a bit lost on this, although I did find some info online that helped. But I am wondering if anyone has advice on this topic to share with us? Recipe books, shopping lists, tips, etc... Thank you!

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answers from Portland on

I have Celiac Disease (cant eat gluten). I eat oatmeal, lots of Bob's Red Mill products and Fresh Fruits and Veggies. It's a good place to start and really cuts down on chemicals in the foods that are eaten. Stay away from bottled sauces, these can contain wheat. Also wheat is in commercial whipped cream, Soy Sauce, Beef and Chicken broth, and a large variety of soups. I make almost everything from scratch, and I eat very well. I am the healthiest I've been in over 20 years. Good Luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

You got already great advice!
Just wanted to add this link from Trader Joe's:

You can download different kind of lists by product, such as gluten free, vegetarian, fat free, etc.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Seattle on

Welcome to the food allergy community! Your daughter is definately not alone. There are many, many things she can eat that taste just as good (if not better) than the foods that make her sick. Fred Meyer has a good selection of gluten and dairy free foods in the health food section that you can try. Rice milk is a good substitute for milk for cooking and drinking, Quinoa pasta tastes as good as regular pasta (and is more filling), Imagine soups are dairy free and taste better than Campbells, Clif Bars are wheat and dairy free, corn chips and Fritos are on the junk food list of ok goodies, many margarines and cool whip are dairy free, and there are some good gluten-free cereals and breads. If you can find millet bread, it tastes just like white bread. A warning with some of the baking mixes and flours - anything with bean flour leaves a nasty aftertaste, so unless she likes this, buy a small package to begin with. However, The Cravings Place makes some awesome cookie and brownie mixes that are allergy friendly. You can find them at Top or Fred Meyer. If you like to cook, a combination of rice flour and potato starch or corn starch make good gravies in place of regular flour. Wrap your burgers in lettuce instead of a bun (but if eating out, make sure she gets only 100% beef burgers - most fast food places add wheat fillers to the meat or marinate chicken in buttermilk or ranch dressing.)
Start reading labels at the store and ask questions at restaurants. Your first few grocery trips will take longer than usual, but once you find things that she likes, it gets so much easier. Focus on what she can eat, not on what she can't. It does get easier!

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answers from Cincinnati on

Here are a number of great websites:

- (I love this site because people rate the recipes)
- (i think they have a sample package with a variety of products)
- - has a Safe Gluten-Free Food List
- (gluten free condiments)
- (where to shop for gluten free)
-- (lists major store brands that are gluten free)

Some great foods that I have found in my local super market:
- Chebe bread
- Enjoy life
- Notta Pasta

Couple of Snack foods that are gluten free:
Frito Lay products that are gluten free -
Mike Sells Puffcorn delights

Foods I hated:
Corn pastas
Rice pasta (looks like corn pasta)
Rice breads (they fall apart/crumble in your mouth)

Ask your local market. Many are now labeling gluten free products or have a “natural” section of the store that has a lot of health/gluten free products.

FYI – be aware some shaving cream, toiletries, toothpaste, makeup, glue, markers, have gluten

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Because of our culture, it seems that gluten is very hard to avoid. Bread is a staple in most families. But it's not that way in every culture. My husband is from the Caribbean, and only rich people eat wheat bread. They live on rice, beans, and roots, with whatever meat they can afford. In Mexico, the staples are rice, beans, and corn tortillas. That means they are basically gluten free.

What you need to do (and I'm speaking from the voice of experience) is to embrace gluten free meals, rather than trying to find substitutes for everything you would normally eat. Since it's just dairy and gluten, you should be able to function pretty well. I was off of not only those, but also eggs, soy, corn, and a number of other things. It was HARD!

Try to think of meals you can make. Baked potatoes (or any style). Try using soy milk in place of dairy milk (if you get cheese, check the ingredients--some soy cheese have casein, which is a milk protein). You can even blend cashews in water, 1:4 ratio, to make a nice milk, or 1:2 ratio to substitute for cream in recipes (gives you a richer, creamier milk than soy milk). Think cream of ______ soup, with the cashew milk. I love cream of potato that way!

Also, millet is pretty cheap. You can cook it like you would cook rice, with a 1:2 ratio of millet to water. Blend it while hot with pineapple juice and pour over fruit in a syrup base (think pie filling texture), and then chill. It will set and make a nice pudding of sorts, with fruit. Or a parfait.

Sweet potato is good too. The easiest way to cook them (other than baking, which takes a long time) is to slice them about 3/4" to 1" thick and cook them in a flat pan with a lid on (and water and salt). Then dish them up with fried eggs and onion rings. Hmm, good!

Go find a health food store and look in the gluten free aisle. You'll find pancake mixes and other things that you can use.

And don't worry about her getting calcium. I'm sure she'll be fine. Just make sure she eats a variety, and if you're worried, buy calcium fortified orange juice. Soymilk has calcium too.

Good luck!

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answers from Dallas on

Here is a shopping list that may help you still need to read labels because sometimes they change ingredients. I also use a recipe book called the Gluten free gourmet.
Shopping List of Gluten-Free Food

All fresh fruit, All fresh vegetables, Fresh herbs and spices

Vegetable, canola and olive oils, Shortenings, Mayonnaise, Salad dressings

Plain frozen fruits and vegetables, Ice creams, sherbets, ices, Gluten-free frozen waffles

Milk, half-and-half, cream, whipping cream, Aged cheeses, Butter, Margarine, Yogurts, Cottage cheese, Sour cream, Cream cheese, Eggs,Tofu, Jello, Rice pudding, Tapioca pudding, 100% fruit juices

Plain canned fruits and vegetables, Applesauce, Cranberry sauce, Canned beans and lentils, Spaghetti sauces, Canned fish (e.g., tuna, salmon, sardines), Organic packaged soups, Gluten-free pastas, Corn tortillas

Rice cakes, rice crackers, Soy crisps, Popcorn, Cheese puffs, Potato and corn chips, Jello, Candies, Chocolates, Dried fruits

All fresh beef and poultry, All fish and shellfish, Hot dogs and luncheon meats (For anything prepackaged or prewrapped, check labels for additives)

Quinoa, Rice, Buckwheat, Chickpeas, Flax, Sunflower seeds, Cornstarch, Potato starch

Vinegars (but not malt vinegar), Mustard, Ketchup, Horseradish, Jams and jellies, Honey, Maple syrup, Relish, pickles, olives

Cream of Rice cereal, Puffed rice, puffed corn, Gluten-free cereals, Gluten-free frozen waffles

Sugar, Salt and pepper, Herbs and spices, Evaporated or condensed milk, Corn meal, Tapioca, Baking soda, Baking powder, Gluten-free flours, Baking chocolate, Cocoa

Coffee and Tea (but check the gluten-free status of flavored coffees and teas), Soft drinks, Fruit juice

Dried beans and peas, Plain nuts, Peanut butter, Almond butter, Cashew butter

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answers from Eugene on

My daughter is 21 and is allergic to wheat and milk. The thing she misses most is real bread but most everything else has a good substitute.

I bake using rice flour in place of wheat flour. It's makes a thinner batter so I add a few spoonfuls of tapioca flour to thicken and some xanthan gum to hold things together. The xanthan gum is expensive but you use just a small amount and the package gives you guidelines on how much to add depending on what you are baking. They carry this at Whole Foods market. Some of my daughter's favorite desserts are banana bread, apple pie and raisin muffins.

For drinking, baked goods and in cereal, soy or rice milk seems to work just fine. In cakes and muffins, I substitute canola oil for butter. In cookies and piecrust you can use crisco.

Trader Joes has brown rice pasta that tastes so good that I cook it for the whole family. The TJ brand holds together better than most and is reasonably priced. The nucoa brand of margarine is milk free but don't use it for baking, when I do, my cookies melt into puddles.

For starch at home we eat alot of rice, rice pasta and potatoes. I use chicken broth to make mashed potatoes. When she goes out to eat, my daughter usually orders chicken or beef with boiled potatoes or rice and a big salad or vegies. She can have a bowl a fruit for dessert but we usually choose to skip dessert and have ice cream and sorbet at home.

I hope this helps. Send me a message and I'd be happy to share some recipes with you.

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answers from Seattle on

Hi T.,

Food allergies don't have to be the end of the world. You've received some great tips so far. I'll try not to double-up on things. A small word of warning, though, my daughter's allergy is to wheat, not gluten. Some things that work for us may not work for you. Double check some of my substutions.

First, make a list of everything Kaitlin eats. It shouldn't be too hard since you're probably still introducing new foods. Then figure out what she can't have. Some will just go away. Some you'll need substitutions for.

Learn how to read labels. Our allergy doctor gave us a list of ingredients that can point to our allergens. For example, "modified food starch" can contain wheat. You may have to avoid it. Also, double check your sensitivity level. Do you have to avoid "processed on the same equipment as...?" I'd guess not because there isn't a severe physical reaction. But you should be sure.

Look on the Asian aisle for rice-based items. We find rice noodles and rice crackers there for a fraction of the cost on the health food aisle.

Rice Chex are gluten free. I also buy Rice Rusks in the teething cookie section of the baby aisle. They make great little snacks to keep in the diaper bag. We also use them as bread. Dip chex in a little nut or seed butter to take the place of a sandwich. I did it for my daughter at Kaitlin's age, but now she does it herself.

Mashed potato flakes (and oatmeal, check your label, though) can take the place of bread crumbs in meatloaf/burger/meatball recipes.

Check out Ener-G foods. It's a Seattle-based company that sells allergen-friendly alternatives. You can for products, recipes and retailers. We use the Tapioca Bread and the Brown Rice Bread.(And the egg replacer, but you didn't mention egg.)

My dad avoids cow's milk. He prefers rice milk to soy milk. I've also seen almond milk at the store. I've never tried it, though.

Use your local library! I found a few reasonable gluten free cookbooks at ours. "Complete gluten-free cookbook : 150 gluten-free recipes, lactose-free recipes, many with egg-free variations / Donna Washburn & Heather Butt" has a lot of baking recipes that use alternative grains. "Gluten-free : more than 100 delicious recipes your family will love / Michael Cox" was less useful, but I did find some good recipes for making tomato soup and cheese sauce with corn starch (to use on veggies or rice noodles). You could also check out vegan cookbooks to work on the dairy angle. I would recommend that you try to find as many alternatives as possible that don't involve specialty ingredients, though. It will make things easier, especially until you know the extent of the limitations.

Eating out is the hardest thing to do. Every kids' meal seems to have bread or pasta as a main ingredient. Until recently, I would order something safe for myself from the adult menu and share with her. Don't be afraid to ask questions and order a la carte to get something she can eat (a plain chicken breast, mashed potatoes, etc.) and take a lot of leftovers home. Mexican restaurants are proving to be the easiest because they use so much corn.

If you do need to avoid things long term, find a good allergy doctor. Ours told us that my daughter may outgrow her sensitivities over time. Regular blood tests and food trials will show it.

Best wishes! I know it's overwhelming at first. It WILL get easier. I promise. And Kaitlin will be healthier in the long run without all of the processed foods that contain her allergens. :)

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Both my oldest and myself have gluten intolerance and my youngest has a milk protein allergy. So I know where your coming from. We are Gluten-Free/Casien much as we can be cause gluten is hidden in everything.

If she likes cereal Rice Krispies, Kix, and Rice/Corn Chex are good. Even Cocoa Puffs. We do Lactose Free milk and almond milk. We don't do soy. I know it seems overwhelming, and the truth is that gluten is everywhere!! But after awhile it gets easier. Here are some websites I turned to when I ran out of ideas and was desperate: fav and kids fav kids site for picky eaters place to go for basics! website has lots of links to other sites for recipes on all sorts of things

Once you get the hang of it you'll be able to do it with your eyes closed. If you have traderjoes, whole foods, akins, or a wild oats they have whole sections devoted to a GF diet and classes.

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answers from Seattle on

Go to a healthy food store, like Wholefoods.... Fred Meyer has a great section of organic/health foods.... there are gluten and dairy free things galore!



answers from Seattle on

Hi T.,

I recently went through this myself. If you visit the website it will give you a ton of food ideas (those with Celiac disease can't eat gluten either).




answers from Seattle on

I was just at Whole Foods last night that they had a whold section dedicated to the gluten free diet. And there was so much food!!! They did have cookbooks for the gluten free diet as well.

Lots of fruits and vegetables and sources of protein depending on whether or not she's vegetarian.

For those who have a gluten allergy and now know it and can control, I hear that life is 100% better. And the diet is easier to follow than most think. Here's to happier, healthier days!!!



answers from Seattle on

Hi T.,
I'm not sure what's in your area, but in Seattle there is a COOP called PCC with many gluten-free products (pasta, breads, snacks, pancake mix, etc.). If not in your area, maybe there's some other kind of natural food store where you can find these products. They are really good, and given the taste and texture of most, my little one hasn't noticed the difference when I've switched. Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on




answers from Portland on

You have a lot of information to sort through here. For us, I didn't use any books or websites really. I took a long afternoon to wander through New Seasons to find things that would work for us. I found lots of products rice or corn based that are great. We use almond and/or rice milk in the house. The biggest challenge was no more ice cream and I found coconut milk ice cream that my daughter loves, and also coconut yogurt. Another love is pancakes so we use a mix from Trader Joe's and also found 'Earth Balance' margarine there is dairy & gluten free. We use rice cakes in place of bread because most gluten-free breads are like bricks.



answers from Seattle on

We've been dairy and gluten free for a while now. There are a TON of gluten free products at places like Whole Foods (breads, crackers, etc). Our favorite "milk" substitutes are Almond Breeze and coconut milk.



answers from Portland on

New seasons has a whole sectino devoted to gluten free things.
There are also lots of good blogs devoted to this.
In portland...there's The Fish House on Hawthorne & Paps G's which bot hhave gluten-free options.
I would remove the gluten foods from your house, it's alot to do, but it's pretty hard to avoid when it's all around you.


New seasons has a whole sectino devoted to gluten free things.
There are also lots of good blogs devoted to this.
In portland...there's The Fish House on Hawthorne & Paps G's which bot have gluten-free options.
I would remove the gluten foods from your house, it's alot to do, but it's pretty hard to avoid when it's all around you.



answers from Seattle on

Rice milk is delicious as it is light and still has all the required vitamins.



answers from Los Angeles on

For the most part we don't eat gluten or dairy either (my daughter and I nearly 100%). Unlike your daughter, we don't have a health issue for becoming gluten free, I've just done a lot of research and know it's not good for us. That being said, for the most part we follow a Paleo diet - Now adays, you can find some much information on being gluten, dairy, wheat, sugar free and what I've learned is that I feel great when I eat this way. I'm very active in my workouts so having enough strength and energy is important too - thus far, this has not been sacrificed. I highly recommend for 30 days to try eating this way, you can find many recipes online and helpful resources. At my home, we try to keep it stocked with healthy items. Our meals consist of a lean meat, healthy carb (veggie/fruit) and healthy fat (avocado,olive oil, nuts/seeds). Email me if you need more information, I have a lot of websites that I follow for tips/advice that I'm happy to share. The above mentioned is a great place for you to start.
Best wishes,


answers from Eugene on

This sounds like Celiac so go get a book that has recipes for celiac disease.
All will be good. Meantime, fruits, vegetables and meat are okay. That should give you enough to choose from.

I raised a Celiac child and we did not have to do the gluten free once she "outgrew" it. However you can find many things in the health food store that are gluten free in the flour section including pancake mix and cakes and bread.
I raised my children on an organic diet and we had very few doctors bills and no cavities.



answers from Houston on

My son was on a gluten free/dairy free diet for a while last year and while it is tough, it can be done.

First buy as much in the produce section as you can. All fruits and vegetables are safe so she can fill up on those as much as she is willing to. The "health food" section of your grocery store will have a lot of gluten free options as far as snacks. If your daughter likes to eat cereal, many breakfast cereals are gluten free, just check the labels. My son preferred almond milk on the cereal over rice milk (he also had to avoid soy, so we couldn't do soy milk). There is rice pasta which my son ate all the time and I tasted once. With sauce, it tastes like regular pasta. Of course she can still have meat, chicken, turkey, tuna, etc.

Good luck,



answers from Portland on

It can be very hard at first, but there are a lot more products out these days that are gluten free. Look on the internet for recipes. I know there are a variety of stores that carry gluten free products, just look in the organic sections, usually are located there. I have a waffle recipe that I used before, not sure where it is at since we moved, but it was so yummy. I remember it did have coconut milk. I know that Fred Meyer carries several products and I did not peek to see where you live, but PC Market of Choice has several as well. Good look! I find that baking Gluten free is good and not too hard after you get used to it. We did it in our home for about 8 months and I found it much easier as I learned ( of course)



answers from Bellingham on

My 4 year old has the same. Its harder to switch like your almost adult daughter bur here are some tips. I bought the Idiots Guide to gluten free, Gluten free for dummies and the Gluten free Bible. I know these titles dont sound like Im taking you seriously but these books are great. My childrens teacher is going through what you are with her 9 year old and she is using my books to do this and they are doing great. I would maybe help if the family did this with her as much as possible, healthier diet after all! Enjoy life, millet bread is our favorite, Ener G products, Kinnikinnik is great, Joseph graham crackers, Schar products are great. I shop at and there is a great store in Mounlake Terrace called Manna Mills. They may have info for you if you are too far from them to visit. Call them, they are great. There is the Flyin Apron in Seattle, a bakery with a ton of goodies.
Great luck with it all. It is very hard in the beginning but as you start finding things is all seems to come together somehow. She will also get used to this, may not seem so in the beginning. Oh, here is one, Make pizza by crust from Kinnikinnik wiht any sause she can have and dairy free cheese, good to mix two flavors. It wont melt until at the end you can broil for a little bit. Yummy! Any questions, feel free! Hafdis

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