How to prepare gluten-free meals without torturing your family

Jul 10, 2013, 8:23 PM | Updated: 8:24 pm

Long before the gluten-free craze came about, many members in my dad's family discovered that they had Celiac disease. For Thanksgiving dinners, when we would gather together, there were always two separate tables: one filled with the “regular” food and one exclusively for those eating gluten-free foods.

I admit, at first, I had a really hard time with it. How could such a seemingly small ingredient (gluten, found in wheat) affect someone's body so drastically? I could not understand the harm that a piece of pumpkin pie could inflict.

The tables turned two years ago, however, when I got diagnosed with a severe gluten intolerance along with Hashimoto's disease. Thankfully, I had my family to turn to for help (and some very delicious recipes). Most grocery stores carry gluten-free products. Still, the transition was not as smooth as I might have hoped.

If you, or someone in your family struggles with gluten, I am sure you are aware of the challenges that this can create:

  • Cross contamination. Are those bread crumbs in the bread dish filled with gluten?
  • No one diet fits all. Finding meals to please everyone in your family — not just those with special dietary needs — can be a difficult task.
  • Dining out. Eating in restaurants and social gatherings is challenging because not every restaurant or dinner host is on-board with a gluten-free menu. Going out with your family or friends can turn into a not so pleasant experience.

Since I have experienced all of those challenges (and more) I want to help turn family meal time into an enjoyable time for you as well as those family members who are not on a gluten-free diet. If you find yourself in a gluten-free rut, I have a hunch that these recipes are just for you:


If giving up pasta has been difficult for you, or you want to switch it up from gluten-free pasta, try replacing it with squash. Spaghetti squash is a delicious and healthy alternative. This spaghetti squash and meatball dish from the “Chris Loves Julia” web site is delicious. If you are not a fan of spaghetti squash, pick up one of these vegetable spiralizers, and make your own “pasta” with zucchini, sweet potatoes, or carrots. Your kids might enjoy making pasta with you.


The “Our Best Bites” web siteposted the recipe for quick brazilian cheese rolls and they are the perfect addition to almost any meal. Warm, fluffy and cheesy…what's not to love?


Haven't found a pizza crust recipe that you love? Me either. However, this pizza recipe from Minimalist Baker claims it's the best of the best. I think I will be making it this weekend with my family (I have got major pizza lovers under my roof!)

Asian Cuisine

When making this Asian Noodle bowl with ginger peanut dressing, just make sure that you use gluten-free soy sauce. Besides that disclaimer, dig in and enjoy.

Savory vegetables

I have tried serving my family brussels sprouts multiple times, but so far I have been unsuccessful in convincing them that they are yummy. I think this creamy brussels sprouts & shallots dip is the ticket.

And now for some sweet recipes

Just be warned that these chocolate cake bites from the Oh She Glows web site are extremely delicious. I have served these at multiple parties, and every time I have people coming up to me saying, “Howare these gluten-free?” They are a crowd pleaser for sure.

If you have got children old enough to help out in the kitchen, let them help you make some chocolate macaroons. Chocolate and coconut combined is divine, and though this isn't the cleanest recipe, it provides lots of chocolatey fingers to lick.

Banana cream pie is my weakness. I could definitely eat it on a weekly basis, if not more. These three-ingredient banana bites (just bananas, coconut and cinnamon) are a perfect little pick-me-up and may help curb your banana cream pie cravings.

These banana bread breakfast bars, filled with bananas, oats and dates are both healthy and filling. Keep these on hand when busy mornings with your family roll around, and you will be set.

If you or someone you love is missing doughnuts, these cinnamon and sugar apple rings are a fun substitute.

I know first-hand that going gluten-free is not about what's popular right now; it is a way of life that will forever change the way I eat. It is not the easiest transition, but I am confident that these recipes will take you in the right direction and family meal time will be enjoyable once again.

Jessie McKinley is a city girl living in a small town. A graduate of Brigham Young University (in Home and Family Living), she now puts her knowledge to use daily as she teaches and raises her two young children, whom she adores.

Arizona Woman Busy Smart and Strong

Lindsay Ferguson, FamilyShare

7 ways to recharge your mom battery after a busy summer

After a long and busy summer, here are a few things that have worked for me to recharge my "mom battery" that might work for you, too.
8 years ago
Meg Johnson, FamilyShare

10 reasons trials give you more out of life

God doesn't send us trials to take away, but to give us more, out of life.
8 years ago
Heather Hale, FamilyShare

How to avoid the bored and lonely mom trap

Feeling isolated? Tired of one-sided conversations with a one-year-old? You can find joy in the journey as a stay at home mom. Here's how.
8 years ago
Nicole Carpenter, KSL

MOMentity: 10 time hacks to find an extra hour each day

What would you do with an extra hour each day? Sleep? Read? Cook? Nicole Carpenter with offers 10 time hacks to help you find an extra hour each day to do, well, whatever you want.
8 years ago
Megan Shauri, FamilyShare

No sweats allowed: Bouncing back from the grungees

Ways to free yourself from the elastic waist band in order to look and feel more like a woman than a tired mommy.
8 years ago
Becky Lynn

Tips for buying your teen the best used car for them

If your teen is clamoring for a car of their own, and you’ve been scanning Craig’s List, or the AutoTrader looking for the perfect used car, you are not alone. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently did a study and found that 83 percent of parents surveyed bought used, not new cars, for their […]
8 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
How to prepare gluten-free meals without torturing your family