Blog Eleven: Navigating Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Swaps

“Navigating Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Swaps”

Blog Eleven: Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Written by Mandy Sacher, CEO of Wholesome Child

Mandy 2

Hi there,

How did you go navigating a restaurant menu? I hope my tips and tricks from last week helped you if you visited a restaurant.

Did you know, that around one in 20 children has some form of food allergy or sensitivity? This number has doubled in the last decade and the most common ones are wheat and dairy, which can often be concerning for parents as many foods and family meals contain some or both of these.

But, never fear! Food group swaps don’t have to be scary. There are definitely nutrient-dense gluten and dairy-free options out there and when you know what to look for, they can be simple and delicious. Some of my favourite swaps are also a great way to include a range of other food groups and boost veggie intake too.

Nutritious gluten-free swaps

Something I see commonly with gluten-free families is trying to replace all grains and wheat with rice. Not only does this become boring, but it’s not as nutritious as it could be. Instead, try…


This is a protein-filled ancient grain that’s also packed with necessary vitamins and minerals like iron and magnesium. Not only is it a great substitute for rice, but it’s delish in my Chocolate Quinoa Crackles to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.


Buckwheat is another gluten-free grain with a low glycaemic index and high levels of zinc, manganese and copper which can help develop a strong immune system. This grain can also be cooked into mueslis, popped or toasted for a crunchy topping to bread and desserts, or even try using buckwheat flour in my Almond and Buckwheat Vanilla Biscuits.


Millet has a slightly nutty flavour and is easy to digest, making it perfect for little tums. My book features an amazing gluten-free flour mix (page 32) and millet is the star of the show.

What’s the deal with dairy?

Firstly, I emphasise to my clients that children should have no more than two serves of dairy a day, so if they have a reaction to milk or dairy products, they might not necessarily have an allergy – they could simply just be consuming too much.

With all the dairy-free milk alternatives on the market now, this one can be a little easier to navigate. My favourite milks are almond, coconut milk, rice and oat milk. But be mindful that rice milk isn’t suitable for children under 5-years-old.

As for yoghurt, coconut yoghurt is a great substitute for sugar-filled squeezy yoghurt. In fact, my DIY Coconut Yoghurt is easy to make and great for the environment too. Just remember with coconut substitutes, whilst adding variety and enjoyment to the menu, they’re not a great calcium substitute.

Speaking of calcium, the removal of dairy can often leave families concerned if their child is getting enough calcium. Not only do kids need calcium for strong bones, but both muscle and nerve function rely heavily on this mineral too. So, if you’ve made the choice for your child to become dairy-free, you need to add in other calcium-rich foods, like…


Some children may find the taste of rhubarb a bit overwhelming, however not only is it packed with calcium, it’s high in fibre, protein and vitamin C.


Stir-fry, anyone? Broccoli is one of my kid’s favourite green veggies and they love it cooked in a soup or in my Veggie-Packed Pasta Sauce.


Leeks are another nutrient-dense veggie full of fibre and antioxidants, plus, you can substitute onions for leeks in nearly every recipe. Try them in my Beef and Veggie Meatballs for a dinner idea the whole family will enjoy.

I hope these simple swaps and additions can help you and your little ones.


Mandy xx