Party-Time Cooking: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Substitutes

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Holidays can be difficult for those who have food sensitivities to gluten or dairy. Imagine being on a Mediterranean diet and needing to follow a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. It almost seems impossible! Considering this week is a holiday week for many of us, I have compiled a small list of great substitutes to make it easier to cook for the masses while accommodating your gluten-free, dairy-free diet.

Substitutes for bulgur:

  • Short grain brown rice: There are so many ways that you can use short grain brown rice.  You can cook and cool it to put in cold salads like couscous or tabouleh.  It also makes a flavorful rice, especially if you add spices to make it as tangy or hot as you like it to be.  This is a healthy alternative to any enriched or bleached rice and is a great source of fiber.


  • Quinoa: When cooked and cooled, quinoa is another alternative to making couscous or tabouleh.  Some people may find it to be too overwhelming to eat in great quantities. 

Substitute for bread crumbs:                                                                                                                                                     

  • Rice cakes:   There are so many gluten free bread crumbs on the market nowadays.  However, some of these have dairy added to them or too many ingredients.  The easiest way to make gluten-free bread crumbs is to pound rice cakes into small pieces.  You can also make them really refined in the food processor.  After the rice cake has turned into bread crumbs, adding any spices you want will enhance the flavor of your favorite recipe.

Substitute for cheese:

  • Vegan Cheese: People consume so much cheese, that it’s hard to exclude it from your diet.  However, if you make a choice and are forced to let go of the cheese, it’s always nice to have a substitute.  My favorite cheese is “Daiya” cheese.  This brand does not contain any soy, however, it does contain coconut.  In all of the vegan cheeses that I have tried, “Daiya” is hands down the best (and I’m not getting paid to say it or have any affiliation with the company).  Daiya’s regular cheese tastes like feta and the cheddar is as close to cheddar as you will get for a vegan cheese. 


Substitute for milk:

  • Coconut, Almond, Rice and Soy Milk: Coconut milk is one of the best alternatives in cooking meals that require milk.  It does not have the nuttiness of almond milk and blends in well with the flavor of other foods.  The only downfall is that it needs to be thickened a little to match the consistency of milk.  Almond milk is great too, but you need to make sure that you are fine with a nutty flavor.  For those with nut allergies, the best alternative besides soy is rice milk.  I am not a big fan of soy milk, probably because it does not seem to complement the flavors of the Mediterranean foods that I enjoy cooking.  Rice milk, on the other hand, is subtle in its taste.


Enjoy the holidays!

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