Friday, March 30, 2012

Getting Started Gluten Free- Breakfast

A few people have recently asked for advice on getting started on a gluten free diet.  Where to begin?  First, let me tell you what NOT to do.  Don't go to the grocery store and read every label in the cereal aisle.  You might end up a pile of tears.  Clean up in aisle 3!  That's how I started, but that was a long time ago, back in 2003.  We've come a long way, my friends.  Gluten free is so easy!  Don't try gluten free recipes if you're not the kind of person to cook every meal from scratch. Make this diet functional for you!  I think there's just a few easy things to replace in your kitchen and in your life to make you go 100% gluten free from day one.  Let's start today with breakfast, the most important meal of the day!

Label Reading:  One thing to remember is that gluten free means no wheat gluten, wheat, barley, or rye.  The ingredients list should say at the end, "Contains:  wheat, milk, soy, nuts" or some combination of allergens in bold.  Let your eye go to this to start.  If this isn't there, curse the brand name for not following the law, then read all of the individual ingredients.  Watch for hidden gluten in malt (usually barley). 

  • Buy it--Cereal in your normal cereal aisle:
    • Gluten free General Mills Rice Chex (see photo below for other variations of flavors that are also gluten free)
    • Gluten free General Mills Rice Krispies (the box MUST SAY gluten free, the regular kind is not)
    • Fruity Pebbles (I still check the box every time to make sure nothing has changed)

  • Avoid it-- There are several organic cereals that you might find in a specialty aisle labeled gluten free.  They are gross.  Don't waste your time when you're starting out or you will just be depressed.
  • Milk is gluten free, but people who have a hard time digesting gluten are often lactose intolerant.  I put Lactaid milk or vanilla soy milk on my cereal and in my coffee. 
  • Coffee is gluten free-- go nuts!  Watch out for weird flavored creamers, but they are usually fine.
  • Latte fans should watch the extra fillers.  I avoid Starbucks mochas, but the white mochas (syrup) are okay.  Again, nix the regular milk.
Pancakes or Waffles or Muffins
  • Sometimes a Saturday morning requires something more exciting than more Rice Chex.  Go for the pancakes!  Pamela's Pancake Mix is insanely great.  Just add water, an egg, and oil, and you've got pancakes for two. Recipes for waffles, muffins, crepes included.
  • Udis gluten free bread is wonderful toasted!  I store mine in the fridge and it will last a month or two.  I actually prefer the kind in the green bag, which is more of a whole grain bread.  Butter and jam are safe!
  • Celiacs are traditionally told not to eat oats.  Recently, we decided it was that they were processed in a way that could include wheat, but that celiacs might not actually be intolerant to pure oats.  Bob's Red Mill carries oats that are specifically labeled gluten free.  I'll use these to make my oatmeal.
Things that are naturally gluten free:  eggs, bacon (unless it's super ghetto), potatoes, most spices you'd put on your potatoes, juice, fruit, cottage cheese, yogurt.

Stay tuned for my notes on other meals at home, simple pantry substitutes, what to drink, and what to do at restaurants.

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