Even if you avoid gluten and dairy products, sometimes you still want a bagel and cream cheese. Obviously, gluten free/dairy free substitute treats are still usually sugary and high in refined carbs, but sometimes that’s exactly what you want.
Here’s my personal list of the best gluten free and dairy free stuff.
Everything on the list is BOTH gluten-free AND dairy-free.
some people wonder about eggs – eggs are not dairy, though in some contexts they are considered dairy because when grocery stores got refrigeration, it was costly, and eggs and dairy products were kept together. now many things are refrigerated at the grocery store, but sometimes people still consider eggs to be dairy. for the purposes of food sensitivities, “dairy” refers to things made from animal milk.
Udi’s and Canyon Bakehouse are my two favorite brands. In particular, Canyon Bakehouse’s Rosemary and Thyme Foccacia is fantastic – great for paninis, bruschetta, and garlic bread. Lately my favorite thing to do is to use it as a pizza crust! (blog post on that coming soon!)
Both brands also make good sandwich bread (though in general, gluten-free bread is better toasted), and Udi’s makes bagels, hot dog buns, and hamburger buns as well. I particularly like the Mighty bagels (cranberry!) and the Everything bagels, which are even better than hamburger buns if you want a hamburger bun!
My new favorite is Canyon Bakehouse’s Heritage Style Whole Grain bread – it has sunflower seeds in it!
Udi’s has started to branch out into prepared products such as burritos – the ones I’ve seen have dairy in them.
Tinkyada is my favorite brand of dry pasta, and it comes in all the standard shapes.
For fresh pasta, Taste Republic (formerly RP’s) is just absolutely outstanding, in particular the spinach fettuccine.
By far, Namaste brand is my absolute favorite cake, brownie, waffle, pancake, and anything else kind of mix. Reliable, delicious, and free of way more than just gluten and dairy, this is a mix that won’t let you down!
If you’re looking for cheesecake, you’re in luck! Daiya makes one that’s really pretty believable! In fact, I like it better than the various cashew varieties on the market. My favorite is the strawberry variety…
Though, I also have a homemade easy cheesecake using Kite Hill cream cheese that is quite good – I’ll be posting that soon!
if you’re local, FoMu makes the absolute best gluten free dairy free cakes, and ice cream cakes. They definitely have ALL the sugar, but holy-cow, they’re tasty!
Canyon Bakehouse makes excellent Brownie Bites
White Lion Bakery makes a very tasty cranberry cookie.
Glutino’s Lemon Wafer Cookies are just like I remember lemon wafers when I was a kid.
Kinnikinnick Vanilla Wafers are pretty much vanilla wafers, which were my go-to college study food. Yay, nostalgia in a cookie!
Immaculate Baking Co. break and bake chocolate chip and double chocolate chunk are delicious! Definitely super high in sugar, but sometimes that’s what you’re looking for. Especially if there’s a gaggle of 13-year-olds sleeping over. (Not all of their products are gluten free, so read the labels carefully.)
if you’re local, FoMu also makes the fantastic gluten free dairy free cookies!
Simple Mills is one of my new favorites. Their crackers are the best I’ve had yet (though the cheese flavor one has actual cheese in it so that’s not dairy free).
Mary’s Gone Crackers is also very good; I particularly like the Everything variety.
Glutino ritz-like crackers are alright, but Simple Mills has completely eclipsed them – so much better.
One of the most common questions people ask going gluten free is “what will I eat for breakfast!?” When eggs and bacon, sausage and avocado, and even gluten free bagels and pancakes just aren’t what you want, cereal!
Nature’s Path Sunrise Crunchy Maple and Crunchy Vanilla are two of my favorites. If you miss Raisin Bran, try the Mesa Sunrise and add raisins.
If you’re looking for a sugary treat, Mom’s Best makes a much healthier version of Cocoa Pebbles. Definitely not health food, but way less bad for you!
You can have cereal without the carbs, too! Commercially, we like Paleonola and Back Roads Paleo Granola
Paleo-style granola is expensive, but there’s another option: make your own! You can use my recipe here! When I’m in a hurry, I just use a couple of bags of sliced and slivered almonds, and chopped pecans or walnuts, toss it in the oven with the honey, maple syrup, and some cinnamon, and stir in thick-shredded coconut and raisins when it’s done in the oven: fast, easy, and totally delicious!
I have a new favorite: Violife makes the most convincing cheese slices ever. Srsly, I can’t get enough of them. So far I’ve tried the “mature” cheddar slices, which are good enough to literally just eat by themselves, and the parmesan style, which is also amazing. This literally brings a whole new world of possibilities – not to mention, you never have to miss grilled cheese again. It’s really so. good.
The Daiya Monterrey Jack block is another really convincing option. I don’t like any of their other varieties, and the pre-shredded is nowhere near as good as the block. But if you want some cheezey satisfaction, the Monterrey Jack definitely will give you that. You’ll know it’s not exactly cheeze, but it’s close enough that you don’t mind too much. It doesn’t melt like cheese does, but it does get warm and soft and that’s also sufficiently satsifying.
Kite Hill, on the other hand, is pretty much indistinguishable from the real thing. They make cream cheese, ricotta, goat-style, and soft-ripened (brie!) cheeses, all from almond milk. They’re out of this world, you really must go get some now!
Kite Hill takes the cake again in the yogurt competition – in fact, it’s not even a competition. Kite Hill has it hands down.
And if you’re looking for a sour cream replacement, it’s Kite Hill again! They make a chive cream cheese that I love in place of sour cream, and their plain yogurt works well also.
There are some whipped cream replacements out there, but I don’t really like any of them. Instead, I put a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for a couple hours, and then drain off all the coconut water, retaining the now-solid creamy part. I add in some vanilla and a bit of honey, and whip it up by hand – it makes a fantastic whipped cream! Thai Kitchen has the best consistency, and 365 brand sometimes won’t whip up at all. Native Forest is generally reliable.
If you’re in Boston, you’re lucky, because the absolute best dairy free ice cream comes from FoMu. If you’re not from Boston, do consider a vacation here – it’s that good.
There are a lot of dairy free ice creams on the market now. Even Ben & Jerry’s has one, though I haven’t tried them yet and I’m not impressed with the ingredient lists (and, some aren’t gluten free). Coconut Bliss is by far the best, and NadaMoo is pretty good too. So Delicious used to make one called Turtle Trails, which we loved, but they don’t make it anymore. They have a new flavor with cashew milk that is chocolate with gluten-free oreo bits in it: that’s pretty amazing. Their Cherry Ameretto is good, but overall Coconut Bliss is better.
Of all of the not-milks out there, Califia Farms is by far my favorite, the Toasted Coconut/Almond milk to be specific, but all of the varieties are good. In particular, they are carageenan free, and since some people are sensitive to that, bonus!
If I can’t get that, I generally just go with Whole Foods’ 365brand unsweetened almond milk.
I don’t really bother with other fake milks – almond really is the tastiest and it foams up nicely for hot chocolate and lattes, bonus!
Our very favorite gluten-free beers are from Green’s; they make Belgian-style amber, dubbel, and tripel ales, so if you’re missing Chimay or Ommegang, start with Green’s! Beer Advocate tasting notes: Amber, Endeavor (dubbel), Quest (tripel).
Celia Saison is very good, we prefer it over most of the rest of these. It’s a little citrusy, light and of course, hoppy.
Redbridge is made by Anheuser-Busch, so no hipster credits there. But it’s a good standard for a backyard barbecue or when you want something simple and direct. Flavorwise, it’s maybe somewhere between Bud and Killian’s.
Estrella Damm’s Daura is an interesting case. It’s made from barley, but claims to have less than 3 ppm (parts per million) of gluten, due to a proprietary post-brewing de-glutenification process. It’s a lager or pilsener style and quite good, definitely a different flavor than other GF beers. Ryn has tried it a couple of times and didn’t notice any bad reaction, but wouldn’t want to give it to someone very sensitive, just in case. Probably this is on the same sensitivity level as distilled spirits.
(Let me interject here that it’s kind of hilarious how every one of these beers’ websites says they’re the first of their kind in being GF. Every one!)
New Grist from Lakefront and New Planet, are everywhere, and they’re not bad, just kind of boring. They’re beer, just nothing special. Again, if you’re looking for a summer backyard party beer, this will do fine.
The number of gluten free beers is growing super fast these days, so use this as a starting guide and then have fun trying something new!
Also, consider cider! Cider these days has become a really fun and varied experience with lots of micro-brew and artisanal ciders to choose from. Here are some of our favorites:
Downeast is great and local! And it’s my current favorite, in particular the Cranberry. Always get the sampler pack – you won’t be sorry!
Citizen Cider is Ryn’s current favorite, especially Wit’s Up (no sulfites, no sugar added at all! Paleo friendly!) and the Lake Hopper. I love the Dirty Mayor – lemon and ginger hard cider!
Smith and Forge promises to not be sweet or cloying, which we appreciate.
ACE makes a really good pear cider.
Crispin is a very reliable British cider, we love the Honeycrisp and Brown’s Lane.
And of course, if you’re in Boston, any pub anywhere will serve you a Magner’s – a traditional Irish cider!
Check your craft brew stores, because it seems every region is starting to pop up new artisanal ciders and a lot of them are really fun!
What are your favorite gluten-free and dairy-free substitutes? Share them in the comments!
Join our newsletter for more herby goodness!
Get our newsletter delivered right to your inbox. You'll be first to hear about free mini-courses, podcast episodes, and other goodies about holistic herbalism.