Tips for going dairy free and gluten free: especially for cheese lovers.

Tips for going dairy free and gluten free: especially for cheese lovers.

Previous I talked about a research study that found 50% of people with celiac disease also had a casein intolerance (a protein found in cow’s milk). The inflammatory response was similar to that of gluten exposure. Read more about the article here.

Therefore a certain percentage of people with celiac disease may want to consume dairy as a temporary elimination or it may be necessary over a long period of time.

Certain things are fairly easy to swap. Plant based beverages are popular, vegan butter substitutes are found in most grocery stores and coconut or almond ice cream are becoming more mainstream.

The biggest question I usually get is, “but what about cheese?!?”. I get it. Cheese is absolutely delicious and is featured in a large variety of dishes. How can we go about cutting down and eliminating cheese in our diet?

I asked some dietitians and my social media followers for their best tips and they delivered! Read on for the best strategies for cutting out and flavouring food without cheese.

celiac disease, registered dietitian, clear focus nutrition, IBS, bloat, pain, gut symptoms, gluten intolerance

Starting out dairy free

Sometimes it’s easiest to cut down first before cutting it out entirely. Or perhaps you notice a little is okay for your body.

When cutting down on cheese, “Use more powerfully flavored cheeses like blue cheese to have less. Grate cheese so it spreads over a larger area vs. slicing. Use nutritional yeast especially in things like sauces which can mimic the taste of cheese.” – Shena Rose, RD

There are so many vegan cheeses available, both commercially produced and artisinal (eg Miyoko’s) and there are plenty of DIY kits online for those inclined to make their own. – Morgan Faie, RD

I always like to say, “cheese is a condiment, not the main meal” If you are looking to trim down, but not necessarily cut it out completely, just sprinkle a little on top, so every bite gets a little bit, but it’s not necessarily incorporated throughout. – Julie Harrington, RD, Culinary Nutrition Consultant of

I like to ask “What is it you like ABOUT cheese? This is a great way to find out if it’s the texture, the creaminess, the flavor, the ritual, the familiarity, the ease etc. Avocados replace cheese well on sandwiches. Nutritional yeast is great parm replacement on pasta and popcorn. Combining soaked cashews with garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and nutritional yeast can make an amazing cheesy sauce. It may also just be about cutting back. Very often a touch of cheese can still provide the flavor people want but without taking up too much room on the plate. I like think of it as a garnish or “walk on role” instead of the star of the meal. – Mary Purdy, MS, RDN Host of Mary’s Nutrition Show Chair, Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine

celiac disease, registered dietitian, clear focus nutrition, IBS, bloat, pain, gut symptoms, gluten intolerance

Cow’s milk free “cheese” alternatives

For cheese – the brand “Daiya” or “Dr. Cow” have cheese alternatives or you can make your own with cashews and nutritional yeast (there are TONS of recipes online and Pinterest). I have a blog post on ditching dairy when breastfeeding- when moms notice a sensitivity in their baby. – Allegra Gast, RDN, IBCLC

I’ve made dairy-free mac & “cheese” from butternut squash and cashews. There are some great dairy-free products on the market, such as Kite Hill cream cheese & Daiya shreds. Additionally, people who can’t tolerate lactose can often have lactose-free cheeses like cheddar. And many people do well with goat- or sheep-milk cheeses. ~Melissa Groves, RDN, owner of Avocado Grove Nutrition (www . avocadogrovenutrition . com) Portsmouth, NH

Nutritional yeast sometimes adds a “cheesy” flavor to things. – Diane Norwood, RD

You can make wonderful cheese sauces using cashews as a base and you can even make “vegan cheese” with them. Take a look at the book called This Cheese is Nuts. Melody Lindner RDN, LDN.

Nutritional yeast. Nut cheeses. Tons of recipes for those. Vivienne Aronowitz

There are so many great plant based cheese now so try some to find ones you like. Also making cashew cream and feta is so easy to do and you learn to use that in place of cheese. I think your eating style slowly gives way to less cheese alternatives too. Sharon Palmer, RD

My best vegan cheese tip is Chado cheese!! I have many food allergies and the first that was diagnosed was dairy. So I’ve never had cheese, ice cream, chocolate milk… any of them! And I didn’t miss them because I don’t know what I’m missing! @weareforth Instagram

I’m newly diagnosed (it will be one year in July) and had/have persistent gut symptoms even though I’m following a strict gf diet. As of about two months ago, I cut out all dairy. It hasn’t been a cure all, but I definitely feel better without it. The hardest thing for me has been cheese, chocolate, and not being able to bake with butter. I had to make it a shift in mindset more than anything. And when I’m really craving something from my “old life” I’ll usually get a gf/vegan pizza or cashew milk ice cream. @chelseabird1325 Instagram

celiac disease, registered dietitian, clear focus nutrition, IBS, bloat, pain, gut symptoms, gluten intolerance

Not easy to make the transition but it’s better now than 10 years ago when I realized dairy made my asthma 147494737 times worse. Cheese was the only form of dairy left in my diet – it’s still hard sometimes but there’s so many alternatives now. They’re just more pricey 😐 @miyokos_kitchen @treelinecheeseand @heidihoorganics are my go-to’s and I make a pretty mean tofu ricotta 😉 @kellyjonesrd Instragram

My daughter has celiac and recently went dairy free. Her stomach feels much better! She makes her pizzas with vegan cheese and uses almond milk or coconut milk etc. She also uses earth balance instead of butter 😊 – b_c1961 Instagram

My daughter has celiac and it took us a couple years to figure out that she was still having a lot of bloating because of dairy. She was an absolute cheese lover!! She uses @kitehillfoods for cream cheese and I make cheese sauces with nutritional yeast. – @thrivingglutenfree Instagram

Lots of alternatives out there! I just bought a cashew based Camembert in the UK! – @nutritionxkitchen Instagram

For vegan cheese I love @nutsforcheese! @mindfulmunching Instagram

I use nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan and to sprinkle on and in things for a bit of cheesy flavour. I use daiya shreds for pizza or nachos, and the slices on burgers or for grilled cheese. They have packets of sauce you can buy to make Mac & cheese (3 pkg for ~$10 which is way less than 1pkg with pasta for about $6-7). The other brand I like more than daiya (but which is more expensive) is earth island. I find the shreds melt better and go further, it’s more like real cheese (though they still don’t melt flat so when you are he king if it’s cooked it’s easy to over cook things). – Amber Plater Facebook

My step father uses goat cheese on everything and has no reaction to it. – Rae-Lynne Dicks Facebook 

Using dairy free cheese alternatives is a great way to start but it’s an adjustment in taste buds for sure. At first i found that fake cheeses like Daiya tastes nothing like real cheese, but overtime it became more normal tasting and now real cheese just tastes like salt! Daiya cheese blocks are quite close to real cheese I think and earth island makes a great mozzarella. I also make Parmesan cheese out of almonds and nutrition yeast mixed together in my vitamix. I think you have to try a bunch of brands and recipes until you find something that you like! – Micaela Overholster Facebook

celiac disease, registered dietitian, clear focus nutrition, IBS, bloat, pain, gut symptoms, gluten intolerance

Flavouring creatively without cheese

I often use avocado on sandwiches or burgers instead of cheese! It provides a creamy texture with less saturated fat. – Therese Bonanni MS, RDN, Nutritionist at Navesink Wellness Center in Rumson, NJ.

A yummy and nutritious cheese substitute for Mexican cuisine/soft cheeses is tofu! Medium or firm tofu can be crumbled up and either baked or lightly sauteed with spices to be transformed into enchilada fillings or as a topping on your favorite Mexican or Latin cuisine dishes. -Jennifer Rodriguez, RDN, LDN – Food is Vida Vegan, Bilingual Dietitian (

Nutritional yeast, avocados and tahini are plant-based alternatives in my house that are all very savoury – Lindsay Van der Meer, RD

When making pizza, be sure to replace some of the salty and fatty texture and flavour that cheese provides. Sun dried tomatoes, olives and artichoke hearts are all good options Pamela Fergusson, R.D. PhD

A different approach to answer this question, but especially for those looking to go plant-based for ethical reasons, learning more about the dairy industry and how cheese is made can help some people stick to their personal choices if it’s something that resonates with them. That being said, I love introducing people to familiar recipes that use simple homemade cashew or tofu-based cheese sauces – like enchiladas, pizza, and pasta.  – Lauren Panoff MPH, RD, Plant-Based Lifestyle Strategist for Families (

celiac disease, registered dietitian, clear focus nutrition, IBS, bloat, pain, gut symptoms, gluten intolerance

If it’s for pizza, I just make one with refried beans and it satisfies the same craving. I use Mexican toppings like cilantro and salsa, cumin, lime juice, tomatoes, peppers, avocado, whatever you like. – @khamsinbean Instagram

Instead of pizza, I do flatbreads with pesto dollops (dairy free pesto) or I’ll make tahini based dressing and drizzle that on top or avocado based dressing. Both give a nice creaminess. I also like cashew based and nutritional yeast based pastas. – @celiac_dietitian Instagram

If we get pizza we get 2, one with and 1 with no cheese.  I add extra pepperoni for flavour. – JohnandKaren Clarke Facebook

For sauces and things, I play with cashew cream, pureed cauliflower, and nootch. I also started eating bacon again – as someone posted above, it’s really the saltiness when to comes to casseroles, sauces and such. – April Peters Facebook

Have annoying stomach pain? Read more about why that might be happening here.

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