The Monsters In My Kitchen: A 4-Day Dairy Free Gluten Free Challenge

{By Ellery Sadler}

gluten free dairy free quinoa stuffed peppers

Everyone knows monsters don’t hide under your bed or in your closet (unless you live in the world of Monsters Inc.), but I found two in my kitchen. Dairy and gluten. They’re both deceptively delicious and hidden in just about everything. They look like friends but they are really foe (and that’s the scariest of all, right?).  Now, personally, I would have thought my monster would be sugar. But in reality, dairy and gluten make up a shocking amount of my diet.

My mom was telling me about a friend of ours and her daughter who are doing a two-week cleanse and I decided I’d do a slightly less intense version. So for four days I am not eating gluten or dairy.


Day One:

Today was day one. I woke up feeling something like a martyr. This was like Julie & Julia gone nightmarishly wrong. While Julie & Julia spent their days feasting on the best of French cuisine, loaded with butter and salt and cheese and everything delicious under the sun, I was here staring at an empty fridge and severely limited list of ingredients.

If there is anything I love it is bread (as my entire family will gladly testify to).

But this morning I had to substitute a thick slice of french toast for gluten-free cereal and rice milk. After a run to the grocery store, I had more options in the form of fruits and veggies. Now, I’ve always liked fruits and veggies (as long as you leave out the mango, pineapple, honey dew melon, blueberries, blackberries, pears, apricots, plums, watermelon etc. etc.) but my heart was stolen by bread and cheese a long time ago. There is something amazing about cheese, especially smoked Gouda, and a thick slice of squishy homemade bread. Seriously, that is heaven. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Some people dream about fame or fortune. Me? I dream about food.

By about four o’clock I was hungry, so I decided to start making dinner: quinoa stuffed peppers and a salad. These recipes I made up turned out so delicious I had to share them!! If you’re looking for a satisfying, flavorful, delightfully healthy dinner this is perfect. The peppers are basically a lighter, fresher version of a pizza-style quinoa. The crunchy almonds and sweetness of the grapes and balsamic is perfect for a light side salad.

Anyone can be a good cook when you can slap some cheese on it or put some bread with it, but the true test a good chef is if you can cook without your favorite ingredients. To my surprise, you really can make amazing food even without the dairy and gluten.


Quinoa Stuffed Peppers with Asparagus and Caramelized Onions  


Serves 6

Preheat oven to 375 degrees


  • 4 belle pepper cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 medium onions thinly sliced
  • 1 bundle of asparagus chopped into ½ pieces
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced

gluten free dairy free dinner recipePlace the bell peppers in a glass baking dish, set aside. In a sauté pan, cook the onions and garlic with a dash of olive oil and a little bit of chicken broth for 15-20 minutes over medium heat, until the onions are a rich brown color and slightly soft. Add the asparagus and pesto and sauté for 5 more minutes.


Toss in the tomatoes and remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Scoop the quinoa into the peppers. Cook for 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!


Salad with Balsamic Dressing, Almonds & Grapes

unique salad ideas

1 cup of sliced green grapes

½ cup of slivered almonds


I love this combination of crunchy and sweet, it’s just unusual enough to be cool but still taste good. Add the grapes and almonds to sliced spinach and toss with balsamic dressing for an easy, elegant salad.


One day down. Three more to go.