Dietary restrictions, whether they’re a choice or not, have huge impacts on the lives of those that they affect. People often feel the need to stay in and make their own meals, fearful of having to make people accommodate them. Unfortunately, making your own meals with dietary restrictions is not quite as simple either.
There has been progress in trying to provide recipes for the gluten free, dairy free, and/or vegetarian communities, but I’ve found you can still run aground looking for tasty accommodations. While I have none of these dietary restrictions, I am always looking for variety in my diet.
Here are a few intro recipes and recommendations for those converting to gluten free, dairy free or vegetarian diets.
Gluten, along with dairy, is one of the most common dietary restrictions. Gluten is a protein found in a variety of grains that texture baked goods and, in the case of breads and doughs, make them stretchy. A lot of baked goods contain gluten, so what better than to offer a dessert recipe for those struggling to give up the sweets they love.
*While gluten is mostly found in breads and doughs, I do not include a recipe for gluten free bread because I do not have experience, nor much faith, in crafting such an entry. *
Peanut Butter Cookies:
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 medium eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped peanuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl beat the peanut butter and sugar with a stand or handheld mixer until smooth. Mix in the egg with the vanilla into the peanut butter and sugar mixture. Fold in the peanuts, if using.
Scoop the cookies with a small cookie scoop onto the prepared tray. Take a fork and press the prongs into the cookie, rotate 180 degrees and press again to give the cookie the signature cross hatch pattern. Sprinkle granulated sugar over the cookies.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool.
Lactose intolerance or choosing to forgo dairy can be difficult because of our reliance on dairy bound foods. Recently, however, there has been an uptick in dairy alternatives including almond, soy and oat milks. My personal favorite is oat milk, and while I still enjoy some classic ice cream or mac and cheese, there are new alternatives. These include Oatly’s oat milk ice cream, which I highly recommend!
How about a super simple take on pancakes? Tasty has the absolute best dairy free and vegan pancake recipe that I’ve ever come across. I make a not-so-short stack of these bad boys almost every weekend.
This is one dietary restriction I have experienced. I went vegetarian when I moved in with my sister in 2021. I strictly made vegetarian and vegan meals for nearly a year. While I haven’t kept up with the diet, I have carried on a lot of recipes from that meatless era. Here’s my favorite!
Black Bean Burgers
2 cans seasoned black beans, drained (not rinsed)
Half medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 4.5 ounce can green chilies
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2-1 cup panko breadcrumbs (this will depend on the level of moisture)
6 slices pepper jack cheese (make sure it’s vegetarian)
Olive oil, for pan
Hamburger buns, lettuce, tomato, pickles, or your other favorite toppings
For chipotle mayo
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from canned chipotles
1/2 cup mayonnaise
In a large bowl, mash the beans until almost resembling refried beans, with a few whole beans scattered throughout. Mix in the onion and garlic. Add the seasonings and green chiles. Fold in the egg, followed by the breadcrumbs. *The consistency should be moist, but not sticky. Add more breadcrumbs if this is the case. *
Form the patties. Take a large sheet of foil and spray it with cooking spray. Take a 1/3 cup of the patty mixture and form in a ball. Lay the ball on the foil and press with your palm to form a patty. You can adjust the size and thickness of your burgers to your liking, but you should end up with six patties (I prefer a smash burger!).
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil.
Meanwhile, whisk together the adobo sauce and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Set aside.
Cook the patties in the skillet until the bottom is browned, flip and lay a cheese slice on the cooked side. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted.
Remove the patties and assemble into a burger, with the chipotle mayo on each bun slice, and follow with your favorite toppings!
Graphic by Neako Hallisey.