When I started eating gluten free and dairy free one of the things I missed most was Grilled Cheese. It took me a while to figure out how to replicate a grilled cheese sandwich without gluten or dairy but I finally found a method that worked for me! The main hurdle was finding vegan cheese that tasted good and melted properly so I’ve used a combination of cheeses and melting methods here to get my grilled cheese sandwich to turn out perfectly. I’m sharing my secret for the perfect gluten free and vegan grilled cheese – test it out and let me know what you think!
You will need:
Vegan buttery spread of choice – I use Melt or Earth Balance
2 slices GF Bread of choice – I used Little Northern Bakehouse Seeds & Grains bread
2 slices Follow Your Heart American Style Slices
1/4 cup Miyoko’s Vegan Mozz (optional)
Line a cookie sheet or other small metal pan with foil
Spread buttery spread on one side of each piece of bread
Place bread on foil lined tray with buttered side down
Put 1 American Style slice on each piece of bread
Broil on high for 2-3 minutes until cheese begins to melt
Add crumbled Miyoko’s mozzarella if desired and broil another 1-2 minutes
Remove from oven, press 2 halves together to form sandwich
Place in pan on stovetop over medium heat
Cook for 2-3 minutes each side until desired level of browning is reached
If your bread is frozen let it thaw or toast it for a minute to bring it to room temperature.
The Miyoko’s mozzarella is not necessary(I usually just use the American slices) but if you want an extra cheesy grilled cheese it’s awesome to add. Other things you can add are salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc.
This is great on its own or served with a bowl of tomato soup 🙂
Thanksgiving sides can be filled with hidden gluten – including things that might seem safe like Green Bean Casserole. But with a few substitutions you can make this Thanksgiving favorite gluten free and dairy free! Depending on your choice of mushroom soup this can also be much lower in calories than the original.
GF DF Green Bean Casserole Recipe:
1 can green beans (large)
Aldi’s LiveGFree French Fried Onions(for topping)
1.5-2 cups mushroom soup – I used the Mushroom and Steel Cut Oats soup from Splendid Spoon but you could also use Imagine brand Portobello Mushroom soup(both are vegan) or if you’re fine with dairy you can use the Pacific brand Cream of Mushroom Soup
First heat up the soup in a saucepan over low heat.
Drain can of green beans and add to soup
Cook her low heat 5-10 minutes, stirring
Transfer to casserole dish and top with french fried onions
Bake 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes until onions are browned
The Mushroom and Steel Cut Oats soup only has 97 calories per serving (about half the calories of regular Cream of Mushroom soup once you add in the milk) which means you can be extra generous with the French Fried Onions 🙂
(The Aldi’s French Fried Onions are a seasonal item so stock up to use them in salads, meatloaf, casseroles and more!)
Check out my post on GF Thanksgiving Stuffing here
It’s just about time for Thanksgiving dinner preparations and I know this can be a challenging time of year for those on a gluten free diet. Thankfully there are tons of gluten free options you can substitute for your old gluten-filled holiday favorites. Thanksgiving dinner, in my opinion, requires stuffing so I tested out a few different gluten free stuffing mixes to find the best one.
Olivia’s Gluten Free Stuffing
I added celery, Earth Balance buttery spread, and turkey bone broth to this stuffing mix and seasoned with salt, pepper, and onion powder. This was pretty easy to assemble and bake, it took me about a hour overall. I covered the baking dish with foil for the first 30 minutes then let it bake uncovered for another 10-15 minutes. I thought this needed more salt and was a bit mushier than I like(I like soft stuffing but not mushy) but this would work in a pinch. One thing I appreciated about this stuffing was that it was easy to make dairy free, I just substituted Earth Balance in place of butter for sautéing the celery. I found this mix at my local grocery store, Standard Market. The box makes 9 servings and filled my standard glass pie plate nicely.
Aldi’s LiveGFree Stuffing
This stuffing is my favorite so far. I used the chicken flavor but Aldi also sells a turkey flavor. All you need to add is butter and water – I used Earth Balance instead of butter. This mix was not dairy free but milk is just listed as an ingredient in the bread so if you can tolerate a small amount of dairy you should be ok. I am pretty sensitive to dairy and I was fine eating a large portion of this stuffing. You could add other things like celery and onion if you prefer, but I think this stuffing tastes fine on its own. I did add a little celery salt, salt, and pepper.
I followed the directions for this stuffing and didn’t add anything except the broth(I used Pacific Bone Broth) and Earth Balance “butter”. This was very quick to make but I think it would have been better with some celery and I ended up adding celery salt, salt and pepper. This was also dairy free and soy free which is a bonus. I didn’t like it as much as the Aldi’s stuffing but if you can’t have dairy this is a good option, I would suggest adding some veggies, seasoning, and possibly baking in a casserole dish after making it on the stovetop.
Pacific Gluten Free Stuffing
The instructions for this stuffing were kind of confusing – first I sautéed celery and mushrooms(instead of onions) in Earth Balance “butter” while heating up broth(I used Pacific Chicken Bone Broth) in a separate pan. Then I added the stuffing mix to the veggies and combined that with the broth. Then the broth mixture was covered with a lid and left to simmer for 10-15 minutes. After 15 minutes the liquid still wasn’t totally incorporated but I continued following the directions to let it stand for 10 more minutes. It was still pretty liquid-y so I turned up the heat and stirred to get rid of the excess liquid. But then some of the croutons were still dry in the middle – I think this is because the crouton pieces were really big, much bigger than the other mixes I tried. I liked the flavor but this mix was more difficult to work with. However it is also dairy free and soy free so if you are willing to put in some extra effort to make it work this might be a good option for you.
Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Stuffing – I found this stuffing mix at Trader Joe’s, but it does contain dairy in the mix itself. I haven’t tried it yet but I will update this post once I do.
If you can’t find a gluten free stuffing mix in stores near you it’s also pretty easy to make your own – I recommend using Udi’s gluten free bread as it works well for soaking up the broth and spices.
Check out my recipe for GF DF Green Bean Casserole here
(Scroll down for links to Part 1: Sakara, Part 2: Freshly, and Part 3: Veestro)
*I was not compensated for these reviews, all opinions expressed are my own*
splendidspoon.com (Disclaimer: If you order through this link you will get $25 off and so will I)
Splendid Spoon offers 5 day per week breakfast and lunch programs as well as a special soup cleanse. The breakfast options are all smoothies and the lunch options are almost all soups with the occasional quinoa bowl. The weekly delivery arrives frozen and can be stored in the refrigerator for the week or frozen.
I started out with the 4 week breakfast and lunch(5 days per week) plan – this cost $9 per meal including shipping. You have the option to log on and select your soups, otherwise they select soups for you. I really liked the soups; they had a nice variety and in the fall/winter it’s nice to have a warm lunch that’s easy to prepare. I also appreciated that all of the soups are GF and vegan as that can be hard to find, and they are freshly prepared rather than canned. I find soups to be something where if you make it from scratch you have to make a lot of it, so I appreciate being able to get a single portion of many different homemade soups. The soups can be microwaved or you can heat them up on the stove(this is much better IMO). I also liked that they list the full nutritional information on each item. Because I purchased a 4 week package I was able to schedule my delivery weeks in advance rather than having to log in and “opt out” of the weeks that I knew I didn’t want a delivery – I liked this much better than other systems because I didn’t have to worry about remembering to log on to skip a week.
To be honest I thought the breakfast smoothies were terrible, and when I logged on to my account to see if I could select some different things for the following week I saw that there were only 6 options(5 of which I had already tried and could barely choke down). However the company was accommodating when I reached out to them and they refunded me so that I could just do the soup lunch option instead of breakfast. Soups travel well and are easy to reheat while smoothies are another story entirely due to separation, getting it to the right temperature etc. – so I must say I don’t have much hope for their smoothies improving in the future.
Pros: all GF and vegan, choose your own meals, variety of good soups, calorie info listed, lots of options(24 soups), option to avoid other ingredients(spicy, beets, mushrooms, soy, tree nuts, coconut, peanuts)
Cons: Breakfast options are limited and gross, limited options outside of soup,
If you decide to get the breakfast smoothies do not let them thaw completely
Check out the Splendid Spoon Facebook group for ideas of what to add/how to prepare meals differently
Heat the thicker soups(Congee, mushroom with oats) on the stove instead of the microwave so they can thicken properly
If you heat up the soup in a saucepan, pour it back into the original container to serve it – one less dish to wash
Favorite Meals: Kabocha Congee, Carrot Lentil Curry, Red Bell Pepper Bisque, Mushroom with Steel Cut Oats
Summary: I don’t think I would do this program in the summer and I wish their smoothies were better(supposedly they are working to improve them) but I enjoy getting the soups in the fall/winter months.
You can read my reviews of other meal delivery programs at the following links:
(Scroll down for links to Part 1: Sakara, and Part 2: Freshly)
*I was not compensated for these reviews, all opinions expressed are my own*
veestro.com (Disclaimer: If you order through this link you will get 15% off and I will get “reward points” to use towards future orders)
Veestro offers organic non-GMO plant-based meals which you can order a la carte or as a “meal pack”. Veestro’s meals include breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and juices. I ordered 13 items a la carte, including breakfast, dinner, and dessert items. A la carte breakfast and dinner entrees cost about $10-12 per meal. You get a slight discount with a subscription but I chose the a la carte option so I didn’t have to worry about skipping weeks or cancelling my account. The meals arrive frozen and can be kept in the freezer until you’re ready to eat them, so it is less structured than other programs but you can place one big order instead of getting weekly deliveries. I liked the meals from Veestro a lot, especially as another option to add variety to my groceries. The meals were really good as well as healthy and they had items that I would normally have to make from scratch to be gluten and dairy free. The meals have specific thawing and heating instructions listed on the packaging as well as calorie and nutrition information.
One drawback is that not all of their meals are GF so you have to be careful when ordering. I also felt like I needed to clear space in my freezer in preparation of receiving my order because I wanted to save money on shipping and get a lot at once. Because there doesn’t seem to be much seasonal variety I don’t think I could use Veestro for my meals exclusively without it becoming very repetitive. Although I like it as a supplement to my usual groceries, Veestro can’t provide 100% of my meals because I wouldn’t be getting enough variety or fresh vegetables.
Pros: all vegan non-GMO and organic, large variety of meals, meals can be kept in freezer, calories listed, less/no commitment
Cons: not all gluten free, not a lot of leafy greens, unstructured
Follow thawing instructions listed on packaging, since ovens vary you may need to microwave the meal to give it a boost
Watch out for some extremely high calorie items
If you’re looking for more structure check out the subscription and juicing programs
Freshly works a bit different from Sakara; you choose a 4, 6, 9, or 12 meal per week subscription and then pick out the specific meals you want on their website. Depending on the subscription you choose the cost ranges from $8.99-$12.50 per meal. All of the meals are gluten free and free from refined sugar, and their facility is gluten and peanut free. Freshly seems to focus more on Paleo customers and they stress that their meals are packed with protein. All of the meals list calorie information and specific heating instructions so that was a plus for me; the meals come in microwaveable packaging so they were much easier to prepare than the Sakara meals. Freshly’s meals are all hot meals and this was a welcome change after eating a lot of soggy, cold salads. The meals arrive refrigerated and can be frozen if you don’t want to eat them within a week of delivery. Freshly also seems to do a good job of offering foods that re-heat well in the microwave and travel well without getting soggy or wilted. You can skip a week or cancel your subscription at any time, but if you don’t actively go on the website to skip/cancel you automatically are “opted-in” each week so you have to remember if you want to skip a week.
Although there were some positives to this program, I was not a big fan. I am not used to eating a lot of meat and these meals were very meat-heavy in my opinion and just didn’t seem very healthy.When I was selecting meals I got frustrated because there weren’t very many dairy free options. This was an issue for me because the selections don’t change much from week to week and there were maybe 5 dairy free options, so I knew if I continued with this program I would be eating the same things nearly every week. If you can eat dairy you will have a lot more options than I did so you might like it better. The meals also seem to focus more on dinner rather than breakfast or lunch, although I believe they are adding more breakfast options.
Pros: easy microwave meals, heat up well, hot meals, calories listed
Cons: not a lot of fresh veggies, not a lot of dairy free options, meat heavy IMO
Favorite Meals: Chicken Livorno with white beans and kale, Ancho Chicken Quinoa Lentil Pilaf
I would recommend Freshly to people who eat a lot of meat and dairy
Set up your weekly order in advance because they do run out of certain meals
Summary: I cancelled this service during the second week and I think I still have one of the meals in my freezer months later – despite the convenience this was not a winner in my book.
You can read my reviews of other meal delivery programs at the following links:
Halloween can be a tough time for those of us on a gluten free diet – thankfully there are many candies that are safe to include in a gluten free diet. Some of my favorites are Swedish Fish, Sour Patch Kids, and YumEarth Candy Corn. Other candies like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups(original only) and Hershey kisses are gluten free but contain other allergens. A quick online search will tell you if a candy is gluten free – when in doubt, Google it. (There’s a great list on celiac.org)
Be sure to use caution as some candies have special holiday varieties that are not Celiac-safe(for example, Holiday shape Reese’s are subject to cross contamination) and some may change ingredients.
Don’t worry if some of your old favorites aren’t gluten free, many gluten free and allergen free copycats of popular candies have become available in recent years. GoMaxGo Foods makes gluten free and dairy free versions of many popular candy bars, and Enjoy Life Foods makes allergen free chocolate bars in a few different varieties.
When Trick-Or-Treating make sure to check everything carefully before consuming – and check out The Teal Pumpkin Project. The Teal Pumpkin Project promotes inclusion for trick-or-treaters with food allergies – look for teal pumpkins in your neighborhood to denote that a house has allergen free or non-food treats available. If you want to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project by providing allergy safe items to your Trick-or-Treaters be sure to add your home to the map on their website. You can get a Teal Pumpkin Project yard sign or inflatable teal pumpkin on Amazon, and Amazon also has some great options for non-food treats to give away. Glow sticks, Halloween themed party favors, crayons, bouncy balls, and stickers are treats that all kids can enjoy – you can find more ideas on the Teal Pumpkin Project website.
There are tons of meal delivery programs that have been gaining popularity recently – and many of them offer gluten free options. A meal delivery program can be great for someone who is transitioning to a gluten free lifestyle or anyone who wants the convenience of not having to grocery shop, plan, and cook all of their meals. These programs can help to take the guesswork out of going gluten free and can add more variety for anyone who is overwhelmed by gluten free cooking. But are they any good? I wanted to find out for myself so I tested out 4 different companies: Sakara, Freshly, Veestro, and Splendid Spoon.
I will post my thoughts on these in the order that I tried them, starting with Sakara –
*I was not compensated for these reviews, all opinions expressed are my own*
sakara.com (Disclaimer: If you purchase through this link you will get $50 off your order and so will I)
Sakara offers a 3 day per week program and a 5 day per week program of breakfast, lunch and dinner. I chose the 3 day per week program which was delivered by mail on Tuesday afternoons. They deliver throughout the US by mail(you get all 3 days of food in one delivery) but if you live in NYC or LA I believe they deliver your food daily. The total cost per meal with shipping comes out to about $46 per meal(the most expensive of the programs I tried). However, the food is all vegan, gluten free, and organic – so I know they are using high quality ingredients. You can skip a week or cancel your subscription at any time, otherwise you are “opted-in” automatically to receive the meals each week. Their website does have a calendar feature that allows you to schedule a skip week a few weeks in advance.
The big positive feature of this program for me was that there were a lot of unique flavor combinations and they utilized ingredients that I wouldn’t have thought to purchase. There were a lot of leafy greens and the menu changes weekly so I definitely got the variety I was looking for. I found most other meal services do not change their menus weekly so this set Sakara apart. Some meals are repeated within a season(especially if you do the 5 day program) but I did not have many repeat meals. Sakara also includes some products with your subscription in addition to the meals; for each day that you have meals ordered you also receive their detox tea(2 tea bags), beauty water, and detox water. The beauty water has rose and silica and is meant to start off your morning; the detox water has chlorella and is supposed to aid with sleep. The detox tea is caffeine free and intended to help with digestion after lunch. I enjoyed the bonus products although I found it difficult to get in the habit of drinking all 3 every day and often missed at least one(I now have a stockpile of their tea bags and water concentrates). I also ordered some of their other snack products including their trio of popcorns(sea salt, kettle corn, and cheezy) and beauty chocolates; the cheezy popcorn was my favorite but I felt it was overpriced so I have started making my own. Another bonus of this program is that they really cater to social media; their packaging is beautiful and they often include “swag” with your subscription delivery.
I felt Sakara started off strong but then I noticed a decline in the quality as time went on, particularly after they were featured on a large platform. This makes me think they might have grown too quickly and couldn’t keep up. One issue I had with this program was that the meals would get rather soggy by the 3rd day since they had been prepared 4-5 days in advance. Salads are not particularly suited to sit for days at a time especially with the components already assembled, so this made some of the meals unappetizing. This is a difficult problem to solve with meal delivery programs, particularly with so many leafy greens involved. However I felt they made some avoidable mistakes and I wasn’t fully satisfied with how they were handled. For example, one of my deliveries arrived with the interior covered in chili and upon further inspection I realized the lid of the soup container just hadn’t been screwed on properly. When I emailed Sakara about this they only offered to refund that one meal, even though the rest of my meals for the week had been soaked with chili. I also wasn’t a fan of how they prepared avocado – the avocado was covered in seeds to try to cover up the browning, I found this gross and would have preferred the avocado be left out. Another issue I had with this program was that they don’t allow you to choose any of your meals, you just get whatever is on the menu. If you don’t like the menu your only option is to skip that week entirely, so it’s a “take it or leave it” system. I also was disappointed that the best breakfast items(ie. Cinnamon rolls) seemed to always fall on the weekend so only the 5 day per week subscribers got to try them. Additionally, the ingredients are listed on the packaging but no calorie/nutritional information is provided for the meals. While at least 1 meal per day was a salad, often breakfast or dinner would need to be heated up(or vastly improved by heating) and Sakara does not provide specific instructions for the best way to do this so I was often left guessing about how long I should heat something and what temperature to set my oven/wok etc.
Pros: All GF vegan and organic, lots of variety and interesting combinations, leafy greens and fresh vegetables
Cons: dominated by salads, many meals were soggy, can’t choose your meals, calories not listed, confusing to heat up different meals
1. A wok is useful for heating up many of the meals
2. For nearly all of the dishes too much dressing is provided, to the point where your meal gets very soggy if you use all of it, so have some extra greens on hand in case you over-dress.
3. If you live in the NYC or LA delivery areas you will probably be happier with the freshness of these meals
Favorite Meals: Zen Zucchini Muffin, Sakara Bibimbap, margherita flatbread, and patatas mas bravas(a savory breakfast dish)
Summary: This program kept me motivated for the first few weeks but seemed to decline in quality after that. I would consider ordering again for a detox/reset but I don’t think I would do it long-term again.
My reviews of other meal delivery programs in this series will be available at the following links: