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Changing your diet can be tough. Maybe you’re going paleo, vegan, gluten-free, or whole food. Maybe you’re doing it for health reasons, for ethical reasons, or because you just need to mix it up. Regardless of the how and why, dietary changes are challenging.

After all, you’ve eaten one way, day in and day out, for years. Maybe decades! I’m vegetarian and gluten-free, so it’s fair to say that I eat very differently than I did ten – or even five! – years ago. I had to learn how to cook new foods, develop new taste buds, and adjust to a different version of Thanksgiving. It’s not easy to switch the way you shop, cook, and eat.ā€‹

 

But if you stick with it, big dietary changes will simply become the way you eat. Over time, it becomes the new normal.  And if you’ve done it right, it’ll be the new and very delicious normal.

 

Making dietary changes shouldn’t be about what you’re giving up.  Because, hey, this mouth-watering dish is gluten-free and vegetarian. 

Holy yum.  (Click through for the recipe!)

Regardless of how and why you’re mixing up your diet, here are some simple suggestions for the transition:

 

1) Focus on what you can have, not what you can’t.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the things you’re ‘giving up.’  For me, this was especially true about going gluten-free. Oh, how I mourned the loss of bread and pasta and baked goods!  But there are so many things that I can still enjoy, like quinoa, rice, millet, and gluten-free bread.  Consider this change an opportunity to try new recipes and find new favorite foods! 

 

2) Read cookbooks and blogs. You’ve got to learn how to cook all over again. Going paleo?  Time for some decent veggie recipes.  Switching to vegetarianism?  Better figure out how to make yummy tofu (side note: here’s my Perfect Baked Tofu recipe). Make cooking delicious meals a hobby, not a chore. Borrow cookbooks from friends or check books out of the library.  And, of course, blogs are your best friend!  I love food blogs because I get a ton of unique ideas and advice from real people.

 

3) Create shopping lists. The grocery store can feel like an unfamiliar, mysterious place if you’re loading up on new foods and giving up old favorites. A shopping list ensures you come home with stuff you can actually eat instead of just a random mish-mosh.  It will help control your budget, too.

 

4) Yes, you can still eat out – you just have to plan ahead.  Check out online menus to find restaurants that you can eat at (many have gluten-free or vegetarian menus). And many restaurants are more than happy to make modifications for you, if you ask nicely and tip well!  But just to be safe, always have snacks on hand. This way, you’ll never get caught in a hungry pinch.

 

This ‘macaroni’ and cheese recipe is a new favorite. I was browsing cooking websites and saw so many mouthwatering photos of baked mac with breadcrumbs on top. My gut reaction was, "Ugh, I wish I could eat that!" But then I began scheming on how to create a gluten-free version.  And you know what?  This version isn’t the same, but it’s just as good!

 

Not only does my macaroni and cheese feature an AMAZING cheese sauce, but you get a dose of veggies because I used cauliflower instead of pasta.  I hope you enjoy it!

Gluten-Free Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

 

Ingredients (makes four servings):

 

  • 1 head of cauliflower, washed and all big stem pieces trimmed away
  • 2 tablespoons of butter (I used Earth Balance; coconut oil may work well, too!)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch 
  • 1 cup milk (I used soy milk)
  • 2 cups thoroughly chopped sharp cheddar + 1/4 cup thoroughly chopped sharp cheddar (I used a block of Cabot Extra Sharp)
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup chopped baby spinach
  • 4 pieces of Udi’s whole grain brad

 

Directions:

 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a cast iron skillet or a 9 X 9 casserole dish.
  • Steam the chopped cauliflower for 10 minutes, or until slightly tender. Add chopped spinach to the top of cauliflower and steam for another minute or two until spinach wilts. 
  • In a pot on the stovetop, cook butter, milk, and cornstarch on medium high until it thickens. Stir constantly.  Should take about 5 minutes.
  • Add cheese, spices, and mustard to milk mix.  Continue to stir until cheese completely melts.
  • Put four pieces of Udi’s into toast and toast to golden brown.
  • In a large bowl, combine cauliflower and cheese sauce. Mix and pour into skillet/casserole dish. Chop the toast and sprinkle on top.  Add 1/4 cup of chopped cheese to the toast.
  • Cook for fifteen minutes. Remove and let stand for five minutes before serving.

 

I had this mac and cheese for breakfast one morning with two over-easy eggs on top.  It was DIVINE.  Mac and cheese.  It’s what’s for breakfast!

Learn more about living gluten free! Visit Udi’s Gluten Free Community This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine. Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.ā€‹

 

What is your story behind your dietary change, if you’ve made one?

{ 24 comments }

 

Leave a Comment

  • Elizabeth @ Positive Change January 6, 2014, 8:25 am

    I made a huge change at the start of 2013 (Gluten Free) I was super sick all the time and my stomach was just a mess. This turned out to be the best decision of my life. I stopped realizing what I could not have and realized I was pain free and that is all that matters. My family feels bad that I can’t have the sweets and breads and other things but I let them know that I want to eat this way because I am not in pain. I have tried so many GF dishes and I love how I feel and that is all that matters!

    Reply
  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun January 6, 2014, 8:40 am

    I haven’t made any drastic dietary changes but I’ve just made it a goal to eat better. This requires me to not get lazy and get in the kitchen. One of the best ways for me to do that is by reading cooking and health blogs – thankfully I LOVE to do that and have learned so much! I also love to read so I love finding new great books to motivate me and get my great ideas!

    Reply
  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More January 6, 2014, 8:51 am

    Such great tips! I’m vegetarian, dairy-free and (trying to be) mostly gluten-free. It definitely takes a little work but once you get used to it, it doesn’t take as much thought to just EAT.

    Reply
  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats January 6, 2014, 9:15 am

    I found out over 2 years ago that I needed to cut out dairy, sugar, soy and gluten from my diet. I cried in the car when I left the Doctor’s office, I knew it was coming but it was still hard to take! Now I only cut out gluten and soy and just avoid the other two when I can, but I definitely learned that it isn’t as hard as it seems at the beginning and you definitely get used to it. People think it’s so awful that I can’t eat gluten, but to me it’s nothing anymore.

    Reply
  • Kelly January 6, 2014, 9:18 am

    Great post! My teenage daughter was recently diagnosed with Celiacs and #1 is a real struggle for her right now!

    Reply
  • Nicole January 6, 2014, 9:48 am

    Nice post! I remember before becoming vegetarian wanting to stop eating meat but I would look at vegetarian cookbooks and think to myself, “I don’t know how these people do it!” Finally, it took an “aha moment” of sorts and then I just did it because it meant that much to me. Cutting out gluten was sort of the same way. It’s hard to imagine certain foods, like Mexican food in general, without gluten-y flour tortillas but because it’s worth avoiding and I still love Mexican food, I use corn tortillas or try new recipes I never even dreamed of that make me forget all about gluten!

    Reply
  • cait January 6, 2014, 10:25 am

    this looks amazing and i’m so happy for this post! i’d like to change my diet by getting a lot more fruits and veggies and this is just the first step! xo

    Reply
  • Ali January 6, 2014, 10:57 am

    I did a food sensitivity blood test to determine the best diet for myself. I had little things like allergies, bloating, etc. that I knew were contributed to by food, so I took the test and as it turns out, I needed to go gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free. I’ve been eating this way for over 2 months now and I haven’t even looked back. There are a lot of options out there and I just think about how much better I feel and my body likes the food I provide it. I was “poisoning” myself with those foods before and I value my health too much to do that.

    Reply
    • Maddie June 9, 2014, 4:29 pm

      Hi Ali – can I ask where you get such a test done?

      Reply
  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape January 6, 2014, 12:03 pm

    Love the idea of cauliflower mac and cheese!

    This was also a really wonderful post. It had a lot of nice practical tips for tweaking your diet that I know I found useful.

    Reply
  • Rebecca January 6, 2014, 12:51 pm

    So there’s no such thing as gluten-free pasta? You would think there’d be a way to do that, with everything else they can make GF. Google says there are a couple of options, but I don’t know if those are just claims, or actually 100% GF.

    I’m thinking about cutting out dairy for a while, since my stomach seems grumpy at me after dairy, especially ice cream. I’m wondering if I’ve developed lactose intolerance. Which makes me kind of sad. But I think for me it might be about certain products or certain amounts of dairy. Skim milk has never seemed to cause too much trouble, but ice cream or too much cheese, etc, can cause problems. We’ll see. I really like milk, so cutting it out is going to be interesting.

    My dad bought my mom the Daniel Plan healthy eating/living/whatever book for Christmas, and I have a feeling those recipes will be showing up in our house this year as my mom is trying to be healthier and lose some weight. My dad is all about healthy food, so he’ll be thrilled.

    Reply
    • Courtney January 8, 2014, 1:37 pm

      @Rebecca, there is GF pastas, I use brown rice pasta when I am cooking and there are a few different kinds of GF pastas out there, but I found the brown rice was my favorite.

      Reply
  • Kristen @ The Concrete Runner January 6, 2014, 4:17 pm

    I am actually trying to transition to a gluten-free diet this year, but I am doing it slowly, gradually reducing my intake. I love your tips and I am trying new things like gf cookies and pizza crust! It makes it much harder being vegetarian as well as I know you understand’

    Reply
  • Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs January 6, 2014, 5:59 pm

    Great tips!

    I don’t eat gluten free, but I LOVE cauliflower, so I can’t wait to try out this recipe!

    Reply
  • sarahf January 6, 2014, 6:35 pm

    I’ve never had to really dramatically change my eating, although it has happened gradually over the years, but I love your positive attitude to it. I’ve been trying healthier versions of favorite cake recipes recently, and I’ve realised that I need to accept they may not taste the same, but they still taste good in their own right.

    Reply
  • Florence January 6, 2014, 7:12 pm

    These are great tips! Do you think it’s better to go cold turkey or ease your way in? For me cold turkey never works and sets me up to binge, but sometimes gradual change is difficult because things get so gradual they er…end up not changing. Right now I’m trying to drink less milk because it makes my stomach got crazy. I regret it every time I have a latte but it seems so rigid to say no more, ever!

    Reply
    • KJ January 7, 2014, 12:50 am

      About a year ago, I wanted to try to cut out animal products from my diet, and I struggled with the same debate that you pose now — cold turkey vs. gradual — for the same reasons.

      What I ended up doing was telling myself I was going cold turkey for 30 days — no meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, etc. After that 30 days, I could reassess the changes I had made and evaluate which ones I wanted to continue to implement and which ones weren’t for me. I found it helpful, because it gave me an impetus to actually make the changes, without feeling the pressure of having to make them forever.

      Admittedly, this might not work for everyone, but it’s a technique I found helpful!

      Reply
  • Melissa @ Mel's Miles January 6, 2014, 11:46 pm

    I went vegetarian in February of 2011 and had a pretty hard time adjusting (I cheated a few times…). After 3 years, being a vegetarian is second nature to me and I can always find something to eat at a restaurant or dinner party.

    Reply
  • Kate S. January 7, 2014, 10:22 am

    Over my life, I’ve tried to change my diet dramatically many times. For most of those years, it was quite a struggle, but at this point in my life, I find I’ve naturally settled on a way of eating that makes sense to me–my #1 is intuitive eating and within that, I steer toward gluten free and whole foods, though the intuitive piece means (for me) I’m not aiming for 100% of any style of eating. I do have a slight gluten intolerance, but I’m trusting that as I continue to be mindful of the way it makes me feel and continue to explore other things, it will wean itself out of my regular rotation (which it has :).

    I love your advice and can back up that it works. I think a lot of people go into dietary changes with unrealistic expectations of what they’ll eat–often gluten free initially means no more baked goods or processed foods. But eventually you’re going to want that mac and cheese or that cookie or whatever, so you want to be prepared with knowing you have lots of options. I’ve always loved the tactic of actually starting to integrate the different foods even before the change has been made, so those foods become familiar and you have room to figure out what you like. That way when every cell in your body wants a cookie, you just eat a cookie instead of turning it into a big “I can’t do this” freak out. I love your rational approach to this, as usual :).

    Also, have you tried Jovial pasta? It is by far the best gf pasta and it’s just brown rice–no weird ingredients. I truly love it and it makes GREAT mac and cheese!

    Reply
    • Caitlin January 7, 2014, 11:07 am

      Yay thanks for this comment. I have not tried that pasta but I’ll keep an eye out.

      Reply
    • Lisa January 13, 2014, 7:47 pm

      Thanks for the tip !! Where can I find it ?

      Reply
  • jonelle January 9, 2014, 1:20 am

    Rutabga makes an excellent cheesy dish too! I’m allergic to potatoes, wheat, rice, and may much more, but we’ve adapted a mac and cheese recipe with diced and boiled rutabega and it is amazing! Also have found that kohlrabi mashed with cauliflower makes the best mashed potatoes. Will definitely be trying your dish! Thanks :-)

    Reply
  • Amanda June 9, 2014, 5:06 pm

    You make everything look so delicious!

    Reply

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