“You’re gluten-free and vegan?”
“How is that even possible?”
“What can you eat?
Forget all those voices of doubt!
Being gluten-free and vegan definitely has its challenges, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a delicious diet full of variety.
In this article, I’m going to show you the basics of conquering a gluten-free and vegan diet!
Here’s what I’ll cover:
- All About Gluten: What Exactly Is It?
- Gluten-Free Living: Should You Be Avoiding Gluten in Your Diet?
- Vegan and Gluten-Free: Tracking Your Nutrition
- Best Brands: Gluten-Free and Vegan Brands to Simplify Your Life
- All About the Food: 33 Recipes to Try Right NOW
All About Gluten: What Exactly Is It?
You have undoubtedly heard about gluten before, but what exactly is it? And why do so many people avoid it?
Let’s find out.
By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll know more about gluten than you ever thought you would!
Gluten is the general name for proteins found in the following:
- Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
Gluten is a substance that helps food maintain its shape.
You can think of it as “glue-ten!”
While gluten is obviously in foods like pasta, wheat, and cereals, it is also in lots of foods that you may not expect. Here are a few examples:
- Salad Dressings
- Soy Sauce
- Some Imitation Meat (for example, Seitan)
- Potato Chips
Many people develop a sensitivity or even an intolerance to gluten and need to cut the substance out of their diet.
This is easier said than done, but don’t worry, it’s totally possible.
Gluten-Free Living: Should You Be Avoiding Gluten in Your Diet?
There are quite a few reasons people commit to a gluten-free lifestyle!
Here are 3 common gluten diseases:
Celiac Disease: People that have Celiac’s Disease cannot eat gluten because it triggers an immune response when consumed. The immune response will actually damage the GI (Gastrointestinal) tract which will cause inflammation in the small intestine. It also keeps the body from absorbing nutrients in food.
As of now, the only treatment for this disease is to practice a completely gluten-free diet.
Once people with this disease stop consuming gluten, their small intestine begins to repair and they will stop experiencing symptoms.
Gluten Intolerance: People that have a gluten intolerance will experience uncomfortable symptoms when consuming gluten. These people may or may not have Celiac Disease.
Gluten Sensitivity: People that have a gluten sensitivity will also experience uncomfortable symptoms when consuming gluten, but it is less extreme than people that have a Celiac Disease or a Gluten Intolerance.
For both gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity, speaking with your doctor and nutritionist can help you make a diet plan to avoid gluten and track your symptoms.
The symptoms associated with a gluten intolerance or sensitivity are the following:
- Pain in the Abdomen
- Skin problems such as psoriasis, alopecia, or chronic urticaria
- Joint and muscle pain
- Numbness in your legs or arms
- Brain Fog
The tricky part about narrowing down a gluten intolerance is that none of these symptoms are completely unique.
What I mean is that all of these symptoms could easily be caused by other factors!
As a result, many people continue eating gluten and seek out other causes for their symptoms. If you have one or more of these symptoms, you should absolutely speak with your doctor to see if it is a gluten intolerance, or if something else is going on.
It is important to note that a gluten intolerance can develop in your 20’s or even later, so don’t assume that if you didn’t show symptoms as a child that you are in the clear for a gluten allergy.
Here are common ways that doctors test if you are gluten intolerant:
- Blood Test: If you currently include gluten in your diet and are experiencing some of the symptoms listed above, it is worth it to get a routine blood test completed! The test will look for certain antibodies that are higher in those that have Celiac disease.
- Biopsy: A biopsy is when a doctor takes a small sample of cells in order to run tests. Doctors can take a biopsy from your small liver to test for Celiac disease. Biopsies sound scary, but don’t worry — doctors have this down and it’s a smooth and efficient experience for patients now.
- tTG-IgA test: This stands for Tissue Transglutaminase IgA antibody test. This test is looking specifically for Celiac disease and has a very low rate for false positives.
- EMA test: This stands for IgA Endomysial antibody test. This test is great for testing for Celiac Disease. However, it is more expensive and a more difficult test to administer, so it is typically reserved for those where it is difficult to diagnose through other methods of testing.
Vegan and Gluten-Free: Tracking Your Nutrition
Whether or not you are on the journey to finding out if you are gluten intolerant, or you are already full gluten-free, it is important to track your nutrition.
This is extra important if you are gluten-free AND vegan!
Beyond just making sure you are getting all of the essential vitamins and nutrients you need, tracking what you eat and how you feel can tell you so much about your daily life.
You may think that this practice is a waste of time.
“I already know what I eat… why should I track it?”
But I guarantee you that you will be surprised by what you find when you track both your nutrition, and your mood and health symptoms!
This goes beyond just keeping track of WHAT you eat, it goes into WHEN you EAT, HOW you eat, and WHY you eat (hint— it’s probably not just when you are hungry!)
Here are some of the benefits of tracking your diet:
- You will have a deep understanding of your eating habits! Where are you getting your calories? Are you getting enough nutrients?
- It will help you meet your goals. If you have a specific calorie goal, nutrient goal, or other, tracking your diet is a sure-fire way to stay on track.
- You can see the correlation between your eating habits and your mood. Do you notice that after a ton of sugar in the morning, you feel a big slump in the afternoon? Having knowledge about food and actually seeing how it affects you are two different ball games. Tracking your nutrition is one way to bridge that gap.
- Start changing habits! If you are new to the vegan and gluten-free lifestyle and working to slowly change your habits, the first step is to learn your existing ones.
A good old-fashioned pen and notebook are perfectly fine to track your food habits!
You might be looking for a more in-depth and convenient app to do this.
Here are a few apps that I recommend trying to get you started.
- YouAte App: This app takes a non-judgemental approach to tracking your food. If you are a visual person, this app is for you! It focuses on the actual meals you eat and how they made you feel.
- Am I Hungry App: This app is all about how you approach eating. It helps you pave the road to eating more intuitively and recognizing when you are actually hungry and what you crave.
- Cara App: This app is a full-body tracker. This app tracks your food intake, your water intake, and more to help you connect the dots about your health. It will have you track the amount of sleep you're getting, whether or not you are on your period, and more.
- MyFitnessPal App: A tried and true favorite for tracking both fitness and nutrition, this app has both a free version and a premium version that will get the job done.
Since being both vegan and gluten-free means that your diet is more restrictive than others, it’s always a good idea to learn about your pre-existing habits to be the healthiest version of yourself possible.
Best Brands: Gluten-Free and Vegan Brands to Simplify Your Life
If you’re new to the gluten-free and vegan life, it can be absolutely daunting.
A lot of times, you can become more focused on what you can’t eat than what you can eat!
Not to worry, lots of incredible people have developed amazing and delicious products that vegan and gluten-free consumers love.
The next time you’re at the grocery store, make sure you are scanning for some yummy gluten-free brands!
- The Little Northern Bakehouse: This brand makes delicious bread that you are sure to love!
- Simple Kneads: This bread brand has a delicious sourdough option
- Bfree Foods: This brand has an array of vegan and gluten-free friendly bagels, breads, and tortillas to choose from.
- Glutino: This brand is completely gluten-free and has products like pretzels, crackers, cookies, wafers, and more! Many of their products are vegan, but not all. So make sure to scan the ingredients before digging in.
- Trader Joe’s: If you are vegan and gluten-free and you live near a Trader Joe’s, you hit the jackpot. The Trader Joe’s brand boasts amazing treats like veggie burgers, plantain chips, flavored nuts, brownie mix, tater tots, and more. Stock up!
- For pasta brands, there are lots of vegan and gluten-free options to try. Oftentimes, these brands use ingredients like quinoa, lentils, or pea protein as a base, making these pastas rich in protein and nutrients! Here are a few brands to try out: Ancient Harvest, Banza, Explore Cuisine, Barilla, Tolerant Foods and more!
These brands are going to taste delicious, as well as save you time and energy!
All About the Food: 33 Recipes to Try Right NOW
When it comes to gluten-free and vegan cooking, there are some magicians in the kitchen that have created incredible recipes you simply have to try.
Scrumptious Breakfast and Brunch Recipes
1.-7. To kick things off, check out this video with 7 delicious vegan and gluten-free recipes by Devon Nicole, including a tropical bubba smoothie and sweet potato muffins.
- With fall just around the corner, perfect his recipe for Pumpkin Muffins by Texan Erin .
- A classic in any household, make sure you give this Gluten-Free Pancake recipe by Mama Knows Gluten Free a try.
- For an infusion of nutrition, eat up this Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal by Eating Bird Food
- A creamy and delicious concoction, this Cinnamon Roll recipe by Broma Bakery is too good to pass up.
Timeless Lunchtime Recipes
- Everybody loves a carb, whip up these Stuffed Potato Cakes by Ela Vegan to satisfy your craving.
- If you haven’t tried them yet, you’re in for a treat. Check out this Cauliflower Nugget recipe by Counts of the NetherWorld.
- Super satisfying in every way, these Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos by That’s Deelicious are the perfect lunchtime meal.
- Everybody loves pizza, and this Paleo Vegan Pizza by Paleo Running Momma is no exception.
Want more lunch recipes? Check out our Complete Vegan Lunch Guide!
Delicious Dinner Recipes
- Sweet potatoes are so underrated, but no longer. This Vegan Stuffed Sweet Potatoes recipe by Simply Quinoa is the recipe to beat.
- Another sweet potato classic, this Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi by Healthy Living James is positively scrumptious.
- This Vegan Mushroom Bourguignon recipe by Ela Vegan is rich and flavorful.
- For a bit of spice, make these Vegan Lentils Enchiladas by Counts of the Netherworld
20.-22. For three incredible recipe ideas, take a look at this video by Cheap Lazy Vegan! It includes recipes for tomato lentil stew, chickpea salad coconut wraps, and stir fried noodles & zoodles with vegan “tuna.”
All About Appetizers
- Everyone loves chips and dip. This French Onion Dip by Sweet Simple Vegan is a classic recipe.
- For a great side dish or pre-dinner treat, try this Garlic Bread by Gluten Free Cuppa Tea
- These Cauliflower Hashbrowns by Healthier Steps are a great appetizer to bring to a potluck.
- Full of healthy ingredients, this Green Falafel by Elephantastic Vegan is to die for.
27.-29. In this video, The Domestic Geek walks you through how to make 3 healthy desserts, including crispy peanut-butter balls, double chocolate chickpea brownies, and creamy lime tarts.
- These No Bake Pecan Pie Bars by Purely Kaylie are a nutty and delicious treat.
- Don’t worry, sugar-free can still be sweet. This Sugar-Free Vegan Peach Cobbler recipe by The Roasted Root proves it.
- For the ultimate classic, keep this tried and true Brownie recipe by Loving It Vegan on hand.
- As sweet as Peanut Butter Pie by The Conscious Plant Kitchen, this is the best recipe you’ve never heard of.
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Meat-Free? Can’t Stop Me.
Now you have all the tools at your disposal to eat some delicious meals while staying within a diet that is healthy for you!
Remember the keys to success:
- Track your nutrition
- Keep your eyes peeled for awesome gluten-free and vegan brands
- Make some magic in the kitchen.