You may not have realized until your child was diagnosed with wheat and dairy allergies -- or lactose and gluten intolerance -- how many of your go-to dinners include dairy or wheat. To make your change in meal planning more difficult, the rest of your family insists on "normal" meals, with none of those strange substitute ingredients. With a little tweaking, many dinner recipes you already use can provide a tasty, healthy meal for everyone in the family.
Many main dish options naturally contain no dairy or wheat. Make a simple baked chicken, stews, broth-based soups or an easy stir-fry with rice. Tweak other meals to provide a dairy- and wheat-free option. For example, serve tacos with corn shells and provide dairy-free cheese and sour cream substitutes for family members with food allergies. Unaffected family members can top their tacos with regular cheese and sour cream. If your family loves pasta, try gluten-free noodles, such as those made with rice or buckwheat flour, and avoid cream sauces so everyone can partake of the same dish.
Green salads and roasted or steamed vegetables are simple, healthy, allergy-free sides. Include dark leafy greens and broccoli on a regular basis, as they provide some of the calcium your child can't get from dairy. Keep at least one dairy-free salad dressing option on hand for dressing salads and dipping veggies. Eat potatoes or white or brown rice with your meal in place of bread, or branch out and try grains that your family may not be familiar with, such as quinoa, millet, amaranth or teff. Look for gluten-free bread and wrap options in the specialty section of your local grocery store if your meal includes burgers or sandwiches.
During the summer, take advantage of seasonal fruits and berries to prepare a fresh, healthy fruit salad for dessert. Top a cobbler made with fresh or frozen fruit with an oat crumble topping and replace any butter with non-dairy margarine to make it allergy-friendly. Serve sherbet or frozen fruit pops in place of ice cream. For a baked dessert, try flourless peanut butter cookies -- with only three or four ingredients, they are simple enough for your child to mix up and scoop onto cookie sheets while you prepare the rest of dinner.
Tips & Warnings
Check the label on every packaged food you buy -- dairy and wheat derivatives lurk in unexpected places. Even products labeled "non-dairy" can contain milk proteins. If your child is gluten-intolerant, avoid rye, barley and graham flour, in addition to wheat products, and make sure oats, buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth are labeled gluten-free.