Easy Healthy GF & DF swaps on a budget

Sep 24, 2020 | Tips and Tricks

Whether you are trying to adopt a healthier more Mediterranean based diet, more plant focussed, whole30, Paleo or a strict gluten free diet, here’s some easy and more budget friendly swaps you can make.

Legume Free

If you’re trying to go legume free such as on a Whole30 diet replace the beans in your favourite recipes such as in a Chilli con Carne recipe with cubed butternut or delicate squash or zucchini.


Replace the bananas called for in your recipe with frozen organic cauliflower and pair them with frozen berries. There’s no need to buy expensive tropical/exotic fruits. Local & seasonal fresh & frozen fruits and vegetables such as berries, pears, plums, spinach, broccoli, kale, beet root can be the foundation for healthy smoothies. Instead of pricey “superfood” powders, add fresh organic chopped lemongrass or ginger to your smoothies. They are loaded with natural antioxidant & anti-inflammatory properties & for very little money.

Add neutral vegetables like zucchini, spinach and cauliflower to your oatmeal/ porridge.

Dairy Free Baking

Use coconut oil in baking. Refined coconut oil (doesn’t have the strong coconut flavour) is best for cookies and cakes and pastry. Use melted regular coconut oil for most all other baking, such as muffins & quick breads.

Vegan butter is not only very expensive, but it’s often quite processed and made from multiple vegetable oils and stabilizers are often used as well.

Paleo Nut / Seed Flours

Rather than buying expensive nut or seed flours, like almond flour, make your own. Recently I spotted almond flour (a well known brand) for $12.99 for a 1 pound bag!


Pulse raw or sprouted nuts or seeds( i.e pumpkin & sunflower seeds) in a food processor until you achieve a fine meal. Just be careful not to over pulse or you will have a nut/ seed butter.

Salad Dressings 

Make your own salad dressings and vinaigrettes. Not only is it much more economical, but it’s way healthier!!! Store bought are full of sugars, preservatives, stabilizers etc.. etc..


Here’s one of my go-to vinaigrette recipes:

Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette

  • 120 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 45 ml apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 25 ml fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely grated( I prefer using a Microplane)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp dried basil
Place all of the ingredients in a glass jar. Shake. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

This is great for salads of any kind, including pasta and quinoa salads.


Make your own spice blends. If you are not celiac or gluten sensitive/ intolerant, source your spices in bulk. Usually the freshest & cleanest sources for spices are in bulk at local health food stores/food co-ops. Grocery stores bulk spices tend not to be as clean or well maintained. Now If you’re celiac you are right to be worried about cross contamination. Bulk is not a celiac safe source. Find spice companies that you can trust & who clearly label their spice packages, including all of the ingredients. It will still be less expensive buying spices this way as opposed to the spice aisle of your local grocery store. Two companies I trust to provide safe gluten free spices are The Spice Hut out of Bellingham Washington (thespicehut.com) and Westpoint Naturals out of Vancouver BC (westpointnaturals.com).

Switch out onion and garlic powder called for in recipes for fresh minced onion and garlic. Powdered onion and garlic contains loads of sodium and fresh imparts more nutrition and flavour. Use a micro plane grater to get your garlic super fine.

Vegan / Egg-less Mayo

In our area a small jar of vegan mayo costs around 7 dollars. You can make it for a fraction of the cost yourself with minimal healthy ingredients. My recipe takes just minutes to make: egg-less mayo

Gluten Free Breadcrumbs

Pre-packaged Gluten Free breadcrumbs are very costly. Take your favourite Gluten Free Bread (I use multigrain or seeded), tear it into big pieces. Place pieces in a food processor and pulse until you achieve fine crumbs. Make them in large quantities and store in a glass mason jar in the freezer.

Energy/Protein Bars and Balls

I see these everywhere now, from coffee shops to juice bars. I even saw some at an independent juice & smoothie bar. Not only were they tiny and expensive, but they even contained “sugar” . Make them yourself! You can control the ingredients, sugars etc… most of my energy balls can be made in less than 10 minutes. Here’s one of my favourites:

Walnut Chocolate Coco Bites

These are grain, dairy & can be made nut free by substituting raw sesame seeds. Great with your morning smoothie.
  • 1 cup raw walnuts or raw sesame seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded (medium shred) coconut
  • 2 ½ to 3 1/2 tbsp maple or date syrup or 2 tbsp liquid Keto sweetener (monk fruit/erythritol blend) or 6 dried dates *
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Large pinch sea salt
  • 2-3 tbsp coconut butter*
  • 2 heaping tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until a mixture is well combined & mixture comes together but nuts are visible & chunky. Roll into balls, cover & place in the refrigerator. These will keep for several weeks in the fridge in a sealed container. Yield: 8 golf ball sized balls.
*if using sesame seeds you will need to increase the coconut butter to 3 tbsp and liquid sweetener by about 1/2 tbsp