Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Gluten-Free Breakfasts

I love breakfast. But as I've said before, I'm a creature of habit. Before I was diagnosed, I ate a bowl of oatmeal almost every morning. There were a few weeks after my diagnosis that I thought I was going to have to give up oatmeal, but I was lucky. I found out about my gluten intolerance right about the time Lara's Gluten Free Oats began to be available at our local co-op. Besides those few panicky weeks, I have little to complain about. My temporary oatmeal hiatus, however, has prompted me to diversify my breakfast fare. I'm hedging my bets against future GF oatmeal price spikes and shortages...

I've compiles a picture of what I might eat for breakfast, mostly because early on I spent a ton of time surfing the web for healthy, interesting gluten-free breakfasts:

1. Oatmeal

Thanks to the companies listed, I often eat a bowl of oatmeal cooked in soymilk with raisins, blueberries, flax meal, and walnuts. If you love oatmeal, too, read this poem by Green Mountain State poet, Galway Kinnell.

Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Rolled Oats and Steel Cut Oats

Lara's Gluten-Free Oats (and oat flour!)
Gifts of Nature (you can buy oat groats here)

2. Bob's Red Mill Mighty Tasty Gluten-Free Hot Cereal

At first, I saw this corn-based hot cereal as an oatmeal substitute. I cooked it in soymilk and added raisins and chopped-up apples. The taste wasn't inedible, but it wasn't inspirational either. And it wasn't oatmeal. Then last summer I noticed a grit, cheese, and jalepeno bowl on the menu of our favorite breakfast place. Hmmm. The Mighty Tasty GF Hot Cereal does have a suspiciously grit-like consistency, though it's protein and fiber content make it nutritionally superior to most grits. When I started treating it like the grits it was, I found out why it was dubbed "mighty tasty." This cereal is a great choice for a cheesy (see below), warm, savory breakfast with lots of protein and fiber.

To try, cook 1/4 c. Mighty Tasty GF Hot Cereal (or grits or Arrowsmith's Rice 'n Shine cereal--they taste the same in the end, though the rice cereal has less protein and fiber than the corn cereal) in 3/4-1 c. water for about 10 min. Put 1 ounce of chopped-up cheddar cheese in your breakfast bowl (I use Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar). When the cereal is done, pour it over the cheese and stir to melt. Add flax meal, walnuts, and salt and pepper.

2. Gluten-Free in the Greens' Multigrain Hot Cereal

When I was little and refused to eat cold cereal (drinking the milk totally grossed me out), my mom would make me a creamy, wheaty hot cereal with raisins and honey. This multigrain cereal reminds me of those winter mornings when it was so cold I'd get dressed in front of an open oven door. The beauty of this hot cereal is that you cook all the grains in one pot ahead of time, preferably on Sunday night, pop it in a Tubberware, and have hot breakfast fixings for the rest of the week. My directions assume you'll be making it ahead of time and will be eating it for about 4 days.

In one pot, pour:
1/3 c. millet
1/3 c. brown rice
1/3 c. amaranth
1/2-3/4 c. GF steel cut oats
4.5-5 c. water
(This recipe makes about four servings. To adjust the amount or types of grains, just add three times more water than grain.)

Bring to a boil and cook for 20-30 min, covered. Check it from time to time to see whether the pot needs more water. Turn off the heat, leave the lid on, and allow the grains sit for 15-20 min. and absorb any remaining water. If you're cooking this the night before, spoon the cereal into a tubberware and wait for breakfast...

To eat, add 3/4-1 c. of the cooked cereal to a pot with raisins and a little salt. Add 1 c. milk or soymilk.* Cook gently until the milk and cereal are thick. Turn off the heat, cover the pot with a lid, and let the cereal rest for a few minutes. I add frozen blueberries at this point. Pour into your breakfast bowl. Add cinnamon, cardamom, or whatever spices you like, and flax meal and walnuts.

*note: I really like the taste of cooked soymilk, though I don't like that of cooked milk. If I was using regular milk, I'd just heat the cereal in microwave and add regular milk to the already-hot cereal. Just be aware, if you decide to cook the cereal in regular milk, that it won't taste like cold milk you added to already-hot cereal.

3. Not-too-sweet Midnight Muffins

One of my quirks is that I love to spread and dip (the little pottamus and I should get along well when he hits toddlerdom), which means that ordinary muffins, meant to be eaten plain in all their sweet-fruity-nutty goodness, don't really satisfy me for breakfast.

As a result, I've tended to like toast more. Unfortunately, I've struggled to find a brand of GF bread that has a decent protein and fiber content and that doesn't contain a lot of starch. Toast is also problematic because it gets cold when you take it to a restaurant. Eating cold toast when everyone around you has warm and crunchy wholewheat makes me want to invest in a travel toaster. So my search for a whole grain bread product that I can spread peanut butter on (isn't all bread just a vehicle for peanut butter?) and that travels well to breakfast restaurants has led me back to muffins.

Enter the pottamus. He hasn't been sleeping terribly well recently, and I've found myself up in the middle of the night, pacing up and down our small downstairs. He usually doesn't buy it. He's not upset; he just doesn't want to sleep. But I've found that baking is a surefire way of getting him to sleep. I wear him in the Ergo carrier or my ring sling and go about cooking. It bores him to sleep, I guess. Either that or there's something more peaceful about the movements I make while cooking than the please-go-to-sleep-so-I-can-go-to-sleep ones I make while pacing. Regardless, I've found myself inventing muffin recipes at 3 a.m. several times recently.

Because I want something healthy for breakfast, my rule of thumbs for muffins for muffins are little or no starch, not too much fat, and not too much sugar. This recipe makes about nine muffins (a strange number, I know, but I'm the only one eating them so I don't like to make too many, in case I don't like them). I eat them split and spread with peanut butter with a touch of honey.

In a large bowl, mix:
1/4 c. corn flour
1/4 c. teff flour
1/4 c. GF oat flour (quinoa or sorghum would also work)
1/4 c. brown rice flour
1/2 tsp. xanthum gum
spices: I like 1/2 tsp. each cinnamon and cardamom
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

In a small bowl, mix:
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 lightly beaten egg
1 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. honey (if you don't want to add jam or PB to your split muffins, you might add 1-2 tbsp. more sweetener)
3/4-1 c. milk

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix. Add in 1/3 c. dried fruit (I like chopped dates). Pour into muffin tins and bake for 20-25 min. in at 350. Go put your sleeping baby to bed.

4. Japanese-Style Breakfast

a bowl of rice
a hard-boiled egg, or leftover fish from dinner
miso soup

5. In the Greens Tips for a Healthy Cold Cereal Fix

Gluten-free cold cereals aren't difficult to find: Panda Puffs, Gorilla Crunch, and Brown Rice Twists are fairly ubiquitous in natural food stores. But I didn't eat sweetened cereals before I was diagnosed, and I wasn't about to start buying the organic, GF equivalent of Frosted Flakes just to get a nice, cold crunch on a summer morning. Here are the gluten-free cold cereals I've found that have a decent amount of fiber and protein and little added sugar. I tend to mix several cereals together and often add flax meal and walnuts or almonds to boost my fiber and protein intake (and for the added crunch!).

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