Wheat-, Dairy- and Gluten-Free Snacks

A pear smoothie with pear slices on the table.
A pear smoothie with pear slices on the table. (Image: Tyler Olson/Hemera/Getty Images)

If you're on an elimination diet to identify food sensitivities, or following a straight-up paleo diet, chances are dairy and wheat, as well as all gluten-containing foods, are off the menu. Snacks and breakfast foods you once reached for, including crackers, cereal, energy bars and yogurt, are no longer valid options. While it may seem at first that there's nothing left to eat, you actually have plenty of delicious, nutritious and satisfying snack and breakfast options.

About Dairy Restrictions

When you eliminate dairy from your diet, you're not just avoiding milk -- you're avoiding milk products and the proteins casein and whey that are derived from milk and are often included in processed foods. Cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese, butter, yogurt, kefir and whey protein are definitely foods to skip. Any packaged products that list whey, casein or milk are also off-limits; this can include soups, cereals, chocolate, chips, creamy dressings, snack bars and protein shakes.

Wheat and Gluten Elimination

Going wheat free doesn't ensure you'll skip all gluten, but going gluten free means you'll skip all wheat. Gluten is a protein found in wheat as well as in barley and rye. Pasta, conventional bread, rolls, foods with fried coatings, beer, pizza and noodles are all gluten-containing. Many processed foods include gluten-containing ingredients such as wheat starch, wheat flour, barley malt syrup, wheatberries, durum, semolina, spelt, graham, Kamut and triticale.

Foods with labels that list a warning "contains wheat" are not possibilities for snacks. But some of these other ingredients may not trigger this warning, so you're best off reading the ingredient list thoroughly and passing on a product if you're unsure whether it's truly gluten-free.

Fresh Produce and Protein

All foods in the produce aisle, provided they don't have a marinade, dressing or croutons added, are gluten-free. Cut-up vegetables or fruits are easy, nutritious snacks that fit a dairy-, gluten- and wheat-free lifestyle. Dip vegetables in a vinegar-based dressing or serve alongside hummus.You could also create a dip with soy-based cream cheese and fresh herbs.

Protein Power

Use lettuce to wrap up slices of deli meats as a protein-rich snack. Fill hollowed-out cucumber with a tuna salad made with soy-based mayonnaise and chopped dill. Hard-boiled eggs with fruit makes a filling midday snack or a quick on-the-go breakfast. Whip up a smoothie with fresh fruit, coconut or almond milk-based yogurt and a hemp or soy protein powder for breakfast or a pre-workout snack.

An omelet or frittata filled with vegetables and Italian herbs is another snack option, or pair it with some melon slices or an orange for breakfast. Plain nuts, nut butter and seeds are gluten- and dairy-free. Pair roasted walnuts with dried cranberries for a quick trail mix, spread nut butter over apple and banana slices for breakfast or roast pumpkin seeds with olive oil and chili powder to pack and go.

Gluten-free bread can be toasted and made into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a snack or breakfast; you can also use it like regular bread to make meat or veggie sandwiches or to serve as toast with breakfast. Just read the label carefully to make sure it contains no dairy ingredients.

Nutrition Considerations

When you restrict entire food groups, you do risk nutritional deficiencies. To ensure you don't miss out on the vitamin D and calcium in dairy products, choose alternative milks that are fortified with these nutrients. Also opt for nondairy calcium sources at snack time, including canned salmon with the bones, spinach salad and baked cubes of tofu.

Without wheat, you may miss out on several of the B vitamins, which are added to cereals and breads. Consult your doctor to see if you might need a supplement, or look for gluten-free products that also provide the additional vitamin boost.

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