Cooking without Wheat and Dairy by Louise Marchionne MRAT Dip AT (Dist) PGCE BA Hons
(Written June 2009 for The Redland Directory and upon request to support a book written by a
colleague, Dr Alison Adams.)
When I was told that I and my son were intolerant to gluten grains, cow dairy and sugar I panicked
and thought the world that I knew had just ended.
It had, but I am very pleased to say that I rose to the challenge. Shopping and cooking became a
whole new and much more rewarding task.
Rewarding because I have learned so much more about food and cooking, because I have gained
more respect for food production, how it is grown, how it is sourced and how it is prepared and then
shared. But without doubt, the physical and mental benefits of not eating wheat and dairy are the
greatest rewards of all.
Advice to anyone starting to cook without gluten and dairy is to invest in one or two decent gluten
and dairy free recipe books. Read them like you would any book. They will hopefully inspire you,
perhaps even ignite a renewed enthusiasm for a new approach to cooking.
It will take you a little longer than usual to begin with, but then go shopping, learn to label read
everything and stock up on some useful basics:
Gluten-free unprocessed wholegrains – quinoa, millet, buckwheat, polenta, and two or three types
of rice, basmati, wild, risotto for example. Please see my website for top tips on cooking alternative
Gluten-free flours – Rice flour, Gram(chickpea), Maize(finer than polenta),potato, millet, buckwheat,
cornflour and arrowroot, to help thicken. Xanthan gum is also an excellent ingredient to help replace
the gelatinous quality of gluten in baking.
You can buy gluten free bread until you are feeling brave enough to try a few gluten free recipes for
bread. I have recently discovered a gluten-free bread that is SO good it can sometimes be found
alongside the regular breads in the supermarket.
After we have been weaned and only if we are eating a healthy and balanced diet, our need to rely
on dairy produce as a nutritional source is decreased. Try to keep dairy to a minimum and only use
goat or sheep dairy where you need to. Use live yoghurts instead of cream or ice cream, flavour
them yourself with fruits and natural sugar syrups or fructose, they have a more gentle affect on our
system than processed cane sugar.
Discover almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk and you could even try quinoa milk! Desserts made
from almond milk are delicious in my opinion. Custard for example, I use a combination of almond
and rice milk and flavour with a couple of drops of vanilla extract. Coconut milk is an excellent
substitute for puddings and so good for us as well!
When substituting dairy try to avoid modern processed soya products e.g the milk, the yoghurt, the
ice cream. They are produced differently to the traditional soya products and are harder to digest.
Always aim to include a variety of beans, pulses, nuts and seeds in your daily diet, they are a great
source of so many nutrients that will help to replace all the nutrients you may be concerned that
your diet will lack by the changes.
Once you have stocked up on a few of the basics, and have tried a few recipes and have made a few
mistakes.. (Children are and should be your best and worst critics when trying out new recipes,
always listen to them, and get them to help prepare the food). It really doesn’t take that long for
your knowledge, skills and confidence to soon grow. The other most important attribute that begins
to grow is your enthusiasm; to shop wisely, to prepare lovingly and to eat appreciatively.
One of my more apparent frustrations about the culinary world of ‘restrictive diets’ is the label they
have been given. They are, in fact, NOT at all restrictive. A healthy diet should be about expanding a
culinary repertoire, discovering and remembering all the foods that are now available to us to eat in
this very global world in which we live. The secret to any healthy diet lies in moderation. How many
times in any one day you knowingly eat wheat... Do you start your day with cereal or toast?
A sandwich for lunch? Pasta for supper? Wheat is also one of the most hidden ingredients in
processed foods e.g stock cubes, soya sauce, soups, sausages, burgers and sauces.
Aim to reprioritise how you eat, let seasonal vegetables become your largest ingredient as opposed
to starches, vary your sources of protein, perhaps spend a little more on protein and eat a little less.
This will automatically become easier when you find yourself sitting down to eat where the food
group that takes up the most space on your plate is bright, different coloured vegetables. By eating
seasonally, we also eat in moderation.
I have attempted to outline a few basic ideas about cooking without gluten and dairy in this article.
Food is always something I have been passionate about, I have Italian heritage, have worked as a
chef in an organic restaurant which educated me and matched my own commitment to eating
seasonal, locally sourced food.
I believe wholeheartedly that our bodies require as much support as possible in the quest for health
in our present environment, and believe that a few adjustments to our cupboards and expanding
our culinary knowledge can have far reaching benefits for ourselves and our children.
I am a therapist and a member of the Register of Allergy Therapists, I am now studying nutrition to
expand on the advice I offer my clients. By using kinesiology and based on the principles of good
nutrition I devise a personalised diet and health plan to achieve a better sense of well being. I aim to
enlighten, inspire and support my clients through the changes that they make.
For recipes and further information or for details about having a consultation please see my website: