The year I graduated from college, I started writing Christmas/Holiday Greetings to family and friends. I’d sign my name and write a brief note, and it seemed impersonal. I stopped sending cards and began writing a personal Christmas letter that I printed on colored paper and added a few photos that I copied onto the letter. In 2009, when I learned that my computer was capable of producing a fancy newsletter that was shiny and glossy, I began chronicling my journey by creating an 8-12 page newsletter. I call it the Last Say So Holiday Newsletter. Take a look!

Gluten and Dairy-free Recipes

One evening, in 2017, while dining at a friend’s house, I ate the best macaroni and cheese that I’d eaten since I had a big plateful of my Mama’s. The next morning, I woke up sick, bent over with the worst stomach ache I’d ever experienced. When I explained to my doctor that I felt a similar bloating sensation when I ate anything with cheese in it, he suggested that I lay off of cheese for a while. He added, “Perhaps you should avoid all dairy products.” As I digested his words, no pun intended, he made a third suggestion, “I also believe that your gut might benefit by not consuming any foods that contain gluten.” It seemed that overnight, I was being asked to give up most of the foods that I’d always enjoyed eating.

Having to adjust to a new cooking and eating lifestyle was difficult for me for three basic reasons:

1. I realized how dairy-heavy my diet was. I could no longer eat pizza, casseroles, have a bowl of cereal with cow milk, or drink my favorite beverage, chocolate milk!
2. I spent hours in grocery stores reading the back of every food label to be certain that I didn’t purchase anything that had gluten or dairy in it. It was extremely time-consuming.
3. My restaurant choices were drastically limited.

So what did I do? I started cooking differently. Over time, I’ve either created new or tinkered with hundreds of gluten and dairy-free recipes and made them my own. My faithful family and friends have been my taste-testers, though most of them didn’t know what they were eating. When they complimented the deliciousness of a dish, as they went to get seconds, then I told them that they’d been eating gluten-free gnocchi with butternut squash, kale, and sage brown dairy-free butter sauce, for example. It’s clear to me now that delicious and healthy meals can be prepared without including gluten or dairy ingredients.

I’m sharing a sample of meat, veggie, and dessert dishes that you might enjoy, whether you eat gluten or dairy or not. When you have your family or friends over for dinner, treat them to a tasty GF/DF meal, so that the next morning they don’t wake up bent over and sick to their stomach, all because they were too ashamed to tell you that their body doesn’t tolerate gluten or dairy.

And I’ll end with this. Mine will never compare to Mama’s, but Marichal’s baked mac and cheese has a savory flavor very similar to her’s, and it contains no gluten or dairy.


Gluten-free gnocchi
Butternut squash
Kale, roughly chopped, with the tough stems removed.
Dairy-free butter (the equivalent of 1 stick, which is ½ cup or 8 tablespoons)
Fresh sage
Garlic (minced or very thinly sliced.
Walnuts (optional)
Parmesan for garnish

Dice the butternut squash into cubes and toss with olive oil and roast in a 350 degree oven until tender.

In a saucepan of boiling water, add the gluten-free gnocchi and cook until the gnocchi rises to the top of the boiling water. Drain and set aside.

For the sage brown sauce, melt a stick of butter in a saucepan, adding the fresh sage, letting it flavor the sauce until it’s nice and crispy. Stir in the garlic at the very end, so that it does not burn.

Once the butter is brown, add the gnocchi and let it cook for 2 minutes, until the butter coats the gnocchi.

Add the roasted butternut squash, kale, and walnuts. Season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with lots of parmesan. Enjoy.


Shelled and deveined shrimp (frozen or fresh)
Grits (1 cup)
Chicken stock
Olive Oil
Chopped onion
Minced garlic
Old Bay seasoning
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Pinch of flour
Dairy-free heavy whipping cream
Dairy-free shredded parmesan cheese
Dairy-free shredded yellow cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper

Add 2 cups of chicken stock to a medium-size pan and let it come to a boil.

Add 1 cup of grits to the chicken stock

Thaw frozen shrimp by running tap water over them and then patting them dry. If you have fresh shrimp, rinse them with tap water and then pat them dry.

Season the shrimp with Old Bay, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder.

Heat up olive oil in a skillet and add in shrimp. Cook until pink, about 3 minutes.

Remove the shrimp from the skillet and add the chopped onion and butter.

When the onions become translucent, then add the minced garlic and a pinch of gluten-free flour.

Then coat the pan with dairy-free heavy whipping cream and add a pinch of salt and pepper and stir well.

Return the shrimp to the skillet.

Stir in some dairy-free shredded parmesan cheese.

When the grits are done, stir in some dairy-free cheddar cheese.

Plate the grits and then spoon in the shrimp mixture on top of the grits. Enjoy.


One diced onion
One diced bell pepper
Two to three diced celery stalks
Two to three diced carrots
One can of diced tomatoes
Gluten-free flour (for gravy)

Dry Seasoning:
Salt or Lawry’s/Pepper, Garlic powder, Onion powder, Tony’s Creole seasoning, Paprika, Italian Seasoning, Thyme, Bay Leaves

Wet Seasoning:
Gluten-free soy sauce, Red Wine Vinegar, and Beef broth

Wash neckbones well and pat dry.

Add to a large, thick tin baking pan.

Rub in each of the dry seasonings.

Add the can of diced tomatoes.

Add the diced veggies.

Add beef broth (enough to fill ½ of the pan).

Add Gluten-free soy sauce.

Add red wine vinegar.

Cover in foil and cook in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes to 2 hours.

Remove and strain the broth and add GF flour to make a gravy.

Pour gravy over the neckbones and return to the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Serve with rice, cabbage, your favorite type of beans, and hot water cornbread (cornmeal contains no gluten). This meal is OH, so goodt!


One box of gluten-free elbow macaroni
Shredded dairy-free cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese
One large egg
One cup of oat milk
½ cup of dairy-free sour cream

One tablespoon of Lawry’s seasoning salt
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of pepper
¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon of dried mustard
½ stick of dairy-free butter (four tablespoons)
Parsley and smoked paprika to garnish

Boil elbow macaroni until it’s cooked the way you like it.

While the macaroni is boiling, in a bowl, add one egg, a cup of oat milk, the Lawry’s seasoning salt, salt, pepper, dried mustard and cayenne pepper. Mix well.

Once the macaroni is done, drain it and put it in a large bowl.

Add butter, sour cream, and oat milk mixture and mix well.

Then add the shredded cheese mixture and stir, adding more oat milk, butter and sour cream as needed, so that it starts to become creamy and has the consistency that you like.

In a baking dish, layer the macaroni mixture, followed by a layer of shredded cheese, until the baking dish is filled.

Top it off with a generous layer of shredded cheese.

Garnish the dish with parsley (for color) and smoked paprika.

Bake covered in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 20 minutes, and another 20 minutes uncovered. Serve hot and enjoy.


1 stick of dairy-free butter (it measures to 1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons). I use Earth Balance Brand
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
1-1/2 cups gluten-free baking flour (with xanthan gum)
1/2 cup dairy-free heavy whipping cream
Confectioners’ sugar, optional

Preheat the oven to 325°F and set a rack in the middle of the oven. Thoroughly grease six 4-inch fluted tube pans.

Cream the butter.

In a large bowl, cream the stick of butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This will take longer than you’d expect, about 5 to 7 minutes. Beating the butter well adds loftiness to the cake batter, so don’t rush this step.

Add the eggs.

One at a time, add the eggs to the bowl. Beat well after each addition. The beaten eggs will add to the volume of the cake, so be sure to mix at a medium-high speed to whip air into the batter. Note that there’s no leavening or rising agent added to the recipe: all the volume comes from the way you beat the eggs.

Beat in the flour and cream.

Next, add the lemon extract and lemon zest. Then alternate adding flour and dairy-free cream into the batter, beating well after each addition.

Fill the pans and bake.

After finishing the batter, gently pour the batter into the prepared pans. Do your best to divide the batter equally between each pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool the cakes in their pans for 10 minutes before attempting to remove them from the pan. Set a wire rack over each cake, then invert. The cake should slide off cleanly onto the rack. If not, leave the cake pans upside down on the rack to cool; they should drop out.

Allow the cakes to cool completely before slicing.

If desired, dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

You may also serve the cakes with ice cream, fruit preserves or additional whipped cream.


Gluten-free fettuccine
Peeled and deveined shrimp
Fresh spinach
1 stick of dairy-free butter (I use Earth Balance)
Minced garlic to taste
2 ½ cups of non-dairy heavy whipping cream
4 ounces of non-dairy cream cheese (more if needed)
1 cup or more of non-dairy parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil the pasta until it’s cooked the way you like it.

While the pasta is boiling, in a separate non-stick pan, cook the shrimp in a bit of non-dairy butter, garlic and onion powder. Set aside.

Once the pasta is done, drain and return to the pot (saving a bit of pasta water).

Add a stick of butter to the pasta.

Add minced garlic to your liking to the pasta.

Add 2 ½ cups of non-dairy heavy whipping cream.

Add a cup or more of non-dairy parmesan cheese.

Add 4 ounces of non-dairy cream cheese.

Stir in black pepper and a pinch of salt.

Turn down heat and add spinach, stirring until all the ingredients are incorporated and melted. Add a bit of pasta water if the mixture appears dry.

Stir in the shrimp.

Serve hot and enjoy.

Note: You can substitute chicken for the shrimp or add both proteins to the dish.