One thing that I have personally noticed about eating gluten-free is that, after awhile, it’s easy to accept that I can’t eat the way everyone else does. This is not to say that I don’t miss old favorites, or that it’s easy to deal with dining outside the home. Those are topics for a different post. As far as the day-to-day aspect of the gluten-free diet goes, it’s been easy to accept when I have meals planned and the right food on hand.
For lunches we usually have leftovers, or sandwiches made with gluten-free bread. I find it easy to plan gluten-free dinners and keep the appropriate ingredients on hand. This leaves breakfast.
For me, breakfast is the most difficult meal of the day. I’m fine if I have breakfast on hand. But sometimes, at 10:00 on a weekday morning I suddenly find myself in a Starbucks, staring down a row of pastries. And I haven’t had anything to eat all day. It could be because I rushed out of the house, trying to get my kids to their various schools. Or it could be because my son ate the last of the gluten-free cereal. That’s when the resentment kicks in: we celiacs can’t just grab a muffin or a bagel like everybody else. We really have to plan for our breakfast needs.
Figuring out what to eat for breakfast can be a challenge for families new to the gluten-free diet. Here, I’ve included some of my suggestions based on what works for my family:
Cereal is a great, easy breakfast. My kids are at the ages (4 and 6) where they can pour their own bowls and settle down to eat without any help at all, which frees me up to shower and pack lunches. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of gluten-free cereal options out there. Things are getting better though! General Mills recently reformulated their Rice Chex recipe to eliminate all gluten-containing ingredients and even manufacture them on a dedicated gluten-free line. Nature’s Path gluten-free cereals (which include their Envirokids brand) are available in Whole Foods and Safeway (check the organic/health food section). Gluten-free cereals can still be difficult to find, and a little pricey, so I recommend ordering from Amazon.com if you don’t live near a Whole Foods. Some of my son’s favorite gluten-free cereals are Nature’s Path Whole O’s, Panda Puffs and Rice Chex. I like Cinnamon Chex (one of the more difficult cereals to find in my area) and Arrowhead Mills Organic Maple Buckwheat Flakes (clearly, I am a big fan of sweet cereals).
Bacon and Eggs
My son loves eggs. They take a little more time to prepare than cereal but make for a nutritious breakfast when paired with fruit and bacon or chicken sausage (just make sure you read ingredient labels to make sure your sausage is gluten-free — I’ve run across brands that list teriyaki sauce or breadcrumbs as ingredients). This are also a great option for breakfast or brunch when dining out — just make sure you ask your server to prepare them on a clean (gluten-free) cooking surface.
Fruit and Yogurt
Pair yogurt with fresh fruit for a fresh, summery breakfast. Top with gluten-free granola for a more filling breakfast (and a bit of a crunch). Alternatively, “to-go” yogurts (like Yoplait Simply GoGurt and Stonyfield Squeezers) paired with a banana make good, quick breakfasts for families on the go.
Pancakes and Waffles
I use Pamela’s Ultimate Baking and Pancake Mix to make pancakes and waffles. We usually do this on weekend mornings but sometimes we’ll make a big batch and freeze them for use later in the week. Frozen gluten-free pancakes and toaster waffles are another option — look for those made by Van’s or those sold under the Trader Joe’s private label.
There is conflicting information out there as to whether oats are safe for those with celiac disease. Here is some information about oats and celiac disease from the Celiac Sprue Association. If you decide that oats are appropriate for your celiac child’s diet, look for oats that have been certified as gluten-free, such as Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free rolled oats. Within the Bay Area I have found gluten-free oats at Whole Foods and at Harvest House Natural Foods in Concord. We cook gluten-free oatmeal the same way we cook regular oatmeal and usually add cinnamon, brown sugar and dried fruit.
We often make gluten-free muffins, scones, bagels or quick breads on the weekend and eat them throughout the week.
I almost hesitate to mention cereal and nutrition bars because they aren’t necessarily the most nutritious and/or filling breakfast choices. However, the reality of being part of a busy family is that sometimes we have to do what we have to do just to get out the door in the morning. That’s when these come in handy. We like Envirokids crispy rice bars and Larabars (which are made from fruit and nuts). I especially like to have these on hand in my purse when we’re traveling because it’s not always easy to find a gluten-free breakfast when on the go.
These are among the few easy and popular breakfast ideas for gluten-free families. What are your favorite gluten-free breakfasts? Share them in the comments!