The Double Diet: Gluten-Free AND Vegetarian

Photo courtesy of Thanks, Green Mom!
Photo courtesy of Thanks, Green Mom!

Less chance of obesity and disease, less chance of painful menopause and energy loss, less chance of dying (young) and less chance of destroying the planet and having to move to the moon? Dang, that sounds good. According to the Vegetarian Times, those are only a few of the benefits of a vegetarian diet. Well, super for them, you’re thinking, there’s no way I can throw out another “food group” with gluten already having gone the way of the last unicorn. Gluten-free vegetarian – or scarier yet, a gluten-free vegan – just sounds impossible.

I’m right there with you – I’m not a vegetarian. I do like the idea of cutting down on meat, though, even if just to eliminate it one or two days a week. (Any Catholics out there? Give yourself a pat on the back; you already do the gluten-free vegetarian thing on Fridays during Lent!) The way I read it, the facts state loud and clear that being vegetarian is better for your health and better for the environment. Of course, it’s ok to disagree with this, but even if you’re just a little bit curious, or want to try out a vegetarian meal or two, read on!

As many of you know, when you’re already missing nutrients because of your gluten-free diet, it’s hard to go meatless as well. If you’re going to try, you might want to consider using gluten-free vegetarian recipes just once in a while at first, gradually adding ones you like to your recipe box.

Trying out naturally gluten-free vegetarian foods is the easiest place to start. Here are three gluten-free foods vegetarians love:

Tempeh (check the Grocery Guide to find out which brands are gluten-free) – It’s a fermented soybean cake somewhat like tofu. You can find Five Ways to Prepare Tempeh at “The Kitchn.”

Sunflower Seeds – The Garden Guide shows you how to cook sunflower seeds for a tasty anytime snack.

Avocados – You may be missing healthy fats by avoiding meat, so try this vegetable to complete your meal. Try it in salads or mashed up with salt and pepper on gluten-free bread.

Any gluten-free vegetarians out there? What advice can you offer? (Seriously, help me out here. Where do you get your nutrients?)

As for the rest of you – ready to get experimenting? Here’s a recipe to get you started:

Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Rice with a Zesty Dijon Cheddar Sauce from Ginny Callan’s vegetarian Horn of the Moon Cookbook


1 ½ cups uncooked brown rice

3 cups water

1 lb fresh asparagus

2 tbsp butter

½ cup chopped onion (1 onion)

3 large cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp dried dill weed

1 tsp leaf thyme

4 cups sliced mushrooms

2 tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp tamari (optional, according to the Grocery Guide, San-J sells wheat free tamari sauces)


1 cup milk

2 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 tsp Dijon-style mustard

1/8 tsp dried dill weed

Bring the rice and water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Lower heat to simmer. Cover and cook until rice is tender and water has been absorbed (approximately 40 minutes).

Cut the last inch off the bottom of asparagus stalks. Then lightly peel off the outermost skin of the next 2 inches of stalk and cut the asparagus at an angle into ½-inch pieces. Steam asparagus until just tender.

Preheat oven to 375º. In a 10-inch skillet, put 1 tbsp butter and melt. Saute over medium heat onions, garlic, dill weed, and thyme. When onions just begin to brown, add mushrooms. When mushrooms are barely tender, remove form heat. Add this mixture to cooked rice in medium-sized bowl. Add remaining tbsp butter, steamed asparagus, lemon juice, salt, and tamari, Stir well. Place into 4 individual baking dishes and bake 15 minutes.

Pour milk into double boiler. When it begins to get hot, add the cheese, stir until melted, then add mustard and dill weed. Keep hot in double boiler.

Top each dish with the mustard-cheese sauce and serve. 4 servings.

11 thoughts on “The Double Diet: Gluten-Free AND Vegetarian”

  1. I’m a gluten free, soy free vegan! It can be difficult. I do not have the luxury of dining out. I get my proteins from legumes, lentils, quinoa. Organic brown rice is a staple. I eat tons of veggies – bok choy, leeks, sweet potato, cabbage, cauliflower. i limit the night shade veggies – potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes. toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds are a great snack as well as almond butter.

  2. I’m a gluten free, dairy free, semi-vegetarian: I eat fish, though not terribly often, and I always try to find sustainable fish products.

    When I’m not eating fish, I eat a lot of GF oatmeal, quinoa, and fruit-nut bars (I like Kind brand) for protein, brown rice, lots of veggies and legumes, and I love Daiya cheeses for GF-DF pizza splurges! I also eat a lot of eggs, since they’re cheap, easy to cook in a bunch of different ways, and tasty. And salads are always an option.

    By biggest problem is with variety – I often get stuck in culinary ruts.When I do, I’ll have some Thai-style rice noodles with fried tofu, or something like that, and I’m happier to go back to my PBJs and chickpeas. But I am always looking for more ways to add variety.

  3. I’m a gluten-free vegetarian too, and I try to limit my dairy. Protein is easy to find in nuts, beans, tofu, and eggs. I think it’s important to take a B-12 supplement if you’re gluten-free and vegetarian, but other than that it’s not too hard to eat nutritious meals. And, I’m certainly not wasting away from malnutrition.

  4. My new cookbook, Gluten-Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook, A Seasonal Vegetarian Cookbook will help you eat well, lessen your carbon footprint and eat gluten-free to celebrate the earth’s bounty of choices. Please do check it out at

    With endorsements from chefs, authors and noted doctors, this is a book that as Dr Christiane Northrup says, ” A fantastic, easy to follow cookbook that will open up worlds of health eating pleasure.”

  5. I have been a vegetarian since I am 15 (by choice) and gluten free for just over a year (by dr.’s order). Due to a lack of time to cook, I find myself eating a lot of prepared/ frozen dishes. When I can cook, I find I do a lot with Tofu and vegetables and the many variations I can concoct. I have found Quorn Roast and Chikn Tenders to be very good as well. I can make them on a Sunday and they last me through the week on salads, sandwiches and as an entree with veggies. I had contacted Quorn who advised that they cannot call it Gluten Free, it is not made with any gluten ingredients and they are made in the same factory as gluten and wheat products. Also in a quick pinch Helen’s Tofu Steaks and Chckn Steaks have been great and are labeled GF.

    Eating out has been the most difficult and can frankly get unpleasant at times. If it is gluten free, it is not normally vegetarian, if it is vegetarian; it is not necessarily gluten free. A few places have been accommodating locally, but one more plate of unseasoned steamed veggies may send me over the edge, I am better off cooking at home. To those that bend over backwards to make me happy though, I appreciate the effort!

  6. I’m 100% gluten-free, 100% dairy-free, and 100% vegetarian! I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time so I already had a handle on where to get good fats and protein as well as interesting variety in my diet. I was diagnosed celiac about a year ago, which is when I also had to go dairy-free, and it’s tough sometimes but not impossible. Mostly this means that dining out is a huge issue (but it really is for all celiacs) and there are few prepared foods I can eat.

    So….I learned to cook! I’ve always been a healthy eater but celiac has really forced me to have to recreate the packaged and restaurant food I can’t get anymore. I make some delicious Thai food, tasty zero sodium soups, gluten-free pizza, and on and on. For treats I’ve found the occasional prepared food like Tempt non-dairy frozen dessert that are amazing!

    I get good fats from olive oil in salad dressing, peanut butter (which goes great on so many things — celery, apples, plain, you name it!), and fortified rice milk among other things. Protein is everywhere, including many plant foods and nuts.

    I love my diet! The hardest part for me isn’t the lack of variety or feeling restricted, it’s the worries about cross-contamination (shared kitchen) and the extra time it takes to make food.

    I’m considering going vegan, but then I have to say good-bye to the few gluten-free prepared foods I do buy, such as the breads. I’m becoming a good cook but I am hardly a baker (haven’t even tried yet).

  7. I’ve been vegetarian for 26 years and gluten free for 4…. It is fine.

    Think Asian food – Thai, Indian, Chinese – lots of these cultures are mainly vegetarian anyway and wheat is not a big staple in many Asian dishes.

    You can always find something vegetarian and gluten free in an Asian restaurant and Asian supermarkets stock packets of sauces etc for easy home cooking.

    Bake some tofu, cook some rice, steam some veges, make up a butter chicken sauce or a green curry sauce or a …..? sauce and pour it over your vegetables and tofu and rice for a great tasting quick meal that covers all of the food groups and is not as intense,fattening and gluggy as a properly cooked curry.

    I eat dairy, eggs, nuts and soy for protein as well as combining legumes (beans and lentils) with rice – which, when eaten together in one meal, create a complete protein.
    Again think Asian – Indian dahl and rice – 1 billion Indians survive on it!

  8. I am a celiac vegan! It’s super tough….I had been vegan before i was diagnosed with celiacs. When my diagnosis came, i thought i would wither away to nothing! However, you become more creative when you’re so limited with food. Quinoa, sweet potatoes, homemade bean chili, stirfrys, there are really lots of options!

  9. I have been a semi-vegetarian (I eat fish and eggs) for 3 years and gluten free with Celiac disease for about a year now. I am also just starting to limit the amount of dairy in my diet as I’m reacting to it (lactose intolerant?). As I am on a budget, I find that frozen mixed vegetables and dried beans/lentils are a life saver for me. Also, brown rice, corn tortillas, and tortilla chips are a staple. Salsa comes in handy for many dishes (including eggs-yum!). I’m concerned with my diet so I’m looking to acquire some new staples and make some new creative dishes.

  10. I have been vegAn for over a year now and gluten free for half of that. The assign food route is always a great option. Snack on loads of nuts, legumes, brown rice, quinoa and tofu…learn to love the tofu :) make sure it’s labeled “fermented tofu” or really it’s just dead calories because your body can’t absorb the proteins from it. When it’s really hot or I’ve done loads of exercise I do feel like I need an extra pick-up tho. So every now and then il have a animal product free protein shake( make sure you check the back label of your pure protein powder blend or zinc tablets. The only thing I find hard is going out to restaurants (tho salad is always an option) and also eating in front of my girl friends…other than that it’s been great. Learn to experiment with your cooking and approach the supermarket with an open mind as it were and you will never get bored.

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