Gluten-free Breakfast Basics

 

With back-to-school right around the corner, it’s time for people who can’t eat gluten to plan ahead for breakfasts. We’ve all heard it: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and gets us off to a good start. We need energy to study, work and play! Many studies have shown improvements in concentration and learning for children who eat breakfast, and starting the day with a healthy breakfast helps adults, too. There are great options from both the regular grocery store and specialty products.

 

Some of the best choices:

• Greek yogurt is a great source of protein. Add in some berries and sprinkle in a spoonful or two of ground flax seed or chia (Salba) to get in a little extra fiber.

• Get creative with eggs: scrambled eggs, omelets, huevos rancheros, an egg bake, a crustless quiche, or even hard-boiled for an inexpensive, high-protein, on-the-go breakfast. Add in veggies with the eggs for a more filling breakfast with more antioxidants and fiber. Research is clear that an egg a day won’t negatively affect our risk of heart disease. Of course, egg whites are always an option, too.

• Smoothies are also a great way to get some additional fruit in your diet, and most kids enjoy them. Just make sure to get some protein from Greek yogurt, protein powder or even tofu. Bonus points for throwing in a handful of spinach!

• Don’t forget old standbys, like cottage cheese or ricotta cheese and fruit, gluten-free, free-range sausages, grits, etc.

• As far as cold cereals go, nutritionally, Crunchy Flax, Whole O’s and Mesa Sunrise are among the best options because all are great sources of whole grains and fiber. Van’s has a new gluten-free cereal line as well.

• KIND now has Whole Grain Clusters that are tasty and provide some protein and fiber, too.

Some mainstream breakfast options are naturally gluten-free, like most kinds of Chex (not wheat Chex, of course). Sprinkle in a spoonful or two of ground flax seed to get in a little extra fiber. And, of course, there are more and more gluten-free versions of the typical standards. EnviroKidz has some for children of all ages, like Gorilla Munch and Koala Kids, and there are new gluten-free Rice Krispies (watch out, regular ones have gluten) and these are in most local supermarkets. Many stores sell gluten-free bagels, muffins, scones, waffles or other sweet breakfast treats. 

Looking ahead to chilly mornings, hot cereals are a great way to start the day with fiber and whole grains. Most gluten-free grains cook up nicely as hot cereals. My personal favorite is millet, but kasha (buckwheat), quinoa flakes, amaranth, teff, etc. work well, too. It’s easy to make a big pot and have them all week long. Bob’s Red Mill has a few nice options, like Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal. Don’t forget about certified gluten-free oatmeal, which can be found at specialty stores or online.

You can also think beyond usual breakfast foods for a change of pace. Soups or any kind of leftovers work well, and you’re only limited by your imagination!
 

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Cheryl Harris
Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, is a nutritionist and mindfulness coach in Fairfax, VA. She runs a private practice focused on digestive & autoimmune health, Harris Whole Health. She blogs at www.gfgoodness.com. Connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.