Our favorite recipes {DF/GF/SF}

I had no known food allergies until 8 years ago when I was 31 years old. It came as a surprise, really. I’d taken the challenge of a two-week “Spring cleanse,” eating a strict regimen of raw foods. The first few days were brutal (sugar and caffeine withdrawal, anyone?) but effective: I cured a six-week croupy cough that had sapped the life out of me.

I was shocked. I’d been teased by friends for being “a health nut,” but suddenly I realized I knew nothing about the relationship between food and health. For years I’d lived with annoying symptoms (like gagging and a stomach that bloated to the size of a 6-month pregnant woman) but I’d learned to live with these unresolved issues in the midst of a far-too-busy life.

After years of keeping a stressful job and lifestyle, my health went into a tailspin when I was 33. I was riddled with chronic pain, panic attacks, insomnia, nonstop illness, and a dread of food. (It seemed that anything and everything I ate caused intestinal agony, no matter how healthy it was.)


My then-boyfriend-now-husband Eddie and I began to visit specialist after specialist—spending hundreds and even thousands of dollars—to seek long-term remedies. We were blessed to meet a variety of brilliant and compassionate practitioners who were thinking outside the lets-put-you-on-medication-for-the-rest-of-your-life box. I was resolved to heal systemically and not just treat symptoms. We pinpointed many foods that served as triggers to my physical and emotional bouts, I avoided them, and we began to see progress. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless.


Although this was only a handful of years ago, it was before the mainstream “health food revolution” broke onto the scene, so we were largely on our own in tracking down foods and recipes that were healing and helpful. (And restaurants weren’t yet offering allergen-safe options.) I ditched my lifetime of favorite recipes and cooking techniques and began to explore a whole new way of thinking in my kitchen. When my newborn son ended up with chronic health issues as well, I was more resolved than ever to use my kitchen to heal our family.


{Let me quickly add here that food alone has not healed all of our issues. It has taken a team of allopathic doctors, homeopathic/naturopathic doctors, lifestyle changes, and good food to address layers of health complications. We discovered that even some healing foods, such as olive oil, were allergies of mine. And my two-year experiment with eating vegan was incredibly detrimental to my methylation and metabolism issues we discovered along the way. The specialists we have seen have walked me through these complications. Ultimately, I know that God is my Healer, and sometimes He allows certain physical issues to remain a mystery (even to the brightest doctors) for His good purposes. I’ve come to trust Him and love Him so much more through this crazy adventure.}


One of the greatest joys of this challenging journey has been helping others who have found themselves in similar situations. They need to change their diet, but they’re overwhelmed with how to go about doing that. I’ve been asked time and again for recipes and tips, and out of a deep desire to help others (but not wanting to offer any medical advice—perish the thought!), a couple of years ago I created a simple Instagram account to post successful recipes that are dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, and processed-sugar-free, as well as holistic and healing.

After two years of posting foodie pictures, I thought it was high time to compile my favorite recipes into one place with easy-to-click links. Especially during the holidays I get asked for good substitutes to traditional dishes. Hopefully this list will help you as we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas!


By the way, these recipes are tried and true. They are not only Chao Family favorites, but whenever I’ve served them to “normal eaters,” they’ve been a hit as well! I wish I could personally thank each of the brilliant and generous creators of these beautiful dishes. I hope you enjoy their masterpieces as much as I have!


Baked Goods and Treats**

Perfectly Paleo Zucchini Bread

Spiced Cashews

Apple-Cranberry Sauce

Coconut Whipped Cream

Easiest Almond Cookie

Real-Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Raw Brownies

Peppermint Patties

Paleo Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Mocha Haystacks

Healthy S’Mores: Marshmallows

Healthy S’Mores: Graham Crackers

Chia Seed Pudding

Gelatin Gummies

Mexican Chocolate Cake

Pumpkin Bread

Gingerbread Cookies

Soft and Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies

**Because I cannot tolerate any kind of sugar (including fructose, raw honey, etc.), I use Stevia, Monk Fruit extract, and occasionally some erythritol (although I’m not a fan of how it gives baked goods a “cooling” effect). Substitution sweeteners can be tricky, so if you don’t need to avoid sugar altogether, I recommend cutting these recipe’s natural sweeteners in half.



Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Slow-Cooker Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry

Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup

Plantain Nachos

Paleo Tortillas (or Crepes)

Plantain Tortillas

Thai Meatball Curry

Chicken Pot Pie

Best Chili Ever

Paleo Pizza Crust

Egg Foo Young

Miso Ramen

Prosciutto-Wrapped Mini Frittata Muffins

Pad Thai

Pizza Spaghetti Pie Casserole

Madras Chicken Salad



Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Almond Flour Pancakes

Breakfast Cookies

Paleo Biscuits

Paleo Bread (I use to make French toast)

Nutola (no-grain granola)

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes

Dutch Baby


Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Scones

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Chocolate Coconut Donuts


Drinks and Broth

Hot Tea Tonic (for fighting cold and flu)

Whole Beet Juice

Chai Tea Concentrate

Bone Broth


Sauces, Dressings, and Sides

BBQ Sauce

Onion Rings

Coleslaw w/dressing

Vegan Cheese Sauce

Apple Cider Vinegar Salad Dressing



The Heal Your Gut Cookbook

We have benefited greatly from the GAPS diet, which is heavy on bone broths, ferments, raw and cultured dairy, healthy fats, and whole foods. It’s made a huge difference in our health, and I could not have navigated GAPS without this fabulous cookbook! While we’re not on the full diet anymore, I still incorporate GAPS practices and recipes into our daily routine.


Photo Credits: my iPhone. 😉