Monday, February 7, 2011

GEGGF - Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? Supposedly, if you eat breakfast every day it aids in weight loss (I obviously haven't seen this yet). Something to do with the whole "you won't be absolutely starving and pig out on everything under the sun at lunch time" strategy. All I know is I'm a bit of a bear to deal with before noon without coffee and something in my belly.

Unfortunately, traditional breakfast foods are absolutely riddled with gluten. Would you like your toast white, wheat, or French? How about English muffins, bagels, croissants, scones, pancakes, waffles... and that's before getting into the whole additives discussion.

But, you're reading this blog entry and I assume that you meet one of the following criteria (maybe more):
  • You're meeting someone gluten free (SGF) out for breakfast.
  • SGF is a houseguest of yours (Or Valentine's Day went really, really well) and you want to make sure they break their fast without straining your bathroom plumbingdistress.
Now I'm going to start off with the fact that, some of you crazy people might think leftover sushi is breakfast food -- good for you (it actually does sound a bit yummy). However, I'm going to stick with some more traditional breakfast foods for the sake of this post. You can use your imagination beyond that! Let's start with the easy one first:

Breakfast at Home.
Luckily, there are a ton of traditional breakfast foods that are cheap, easily accessible, and naturally gluten free with no effort required. They are included but not limited to:
  • Eggs (I'm talking in the carton here, not fancy egg-substitute things)
  • Most yogurts (I waffle back and forth - to me, nothing beats the taste of Yoplait - which is marked gluten free - but concerns for animal wildlife and the knowledge that it's better for you make me try to gravitate toward greek yogurt like Chobani - also gluten free).
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables (But veggies aren't breakfast food, you say? I present you with a Spanish omelet. Lawyered).
  • Most cheeses you'd want to use for breakfast - read the label to be on the safe side, but you're probably good.
  • Potatoes. Again, I'm talking raw, in the bag, unprocessed here.
  • But, if you're in the mood for quick and tasty, check out Ore Ida's gluten free list for hash browns and tater tots.
  • Many brands of bacon. I usually buy Oscar Meyer, but I know that Bar-S is marked gluten free.
  • Many brands of breakfast sausage. I used to buy Johnsonville, but their site doesn't explicitly state their products are gluten free anymore. This may have changed - double check first or pick a different meat.
  • Many brands of ham and canadian bacon. I'm partial to Boar's Head because all of their meats, cheeses and condiments are gluten free - no reading labels for me!
  • Many cereals are gluten free. Start with Chex - Corn, Rice, Honey Nut, Cinnamon, Strawberry and Chocolate Chex are all marked gluten free.
  • Milk is naturally gluten free, as is butter.
  • Heinz ketchup is also gluten free.
So with that list - eggs and bacon, omelets, fruit and yogurt, cereal and milk... all good depending on how fancy you want to make breakfast. They do make gluten free pancake mixes (such as gluten free Bisquick) that you could try if you wanted to impress someone, but if you're just having someone over for one day chances are you have a lot of gluten free foods right in your pantry.

That said - some gotchas:
  • Use tubs of butter? Double dipping the knife can cause cross-contamination. When in doubt open a new tub. Same goes for peanut butter, jelly, and anything else that you dip a knife into and spread onto bread products.
  • Some cooking sprays like Pam for baking can contain gluten. Make sure to read the label or just use un-cross-contaminated butter this time.
  • Using gluten free toast? Toasters are the enemy. You probably don't have a virgin toaster handy, so use a toaster bag or just don't use it.
  • Don't use the same serving utensils for gluten and gluten-free foods.
OK -- so this sounds too complicated? Here are some tips for eating out:
  • Choose the place wisely. A lot of diners can accommodate you, but make sure to call ahead and ask. If the manager asks "What's gluten?" it might be a hint to try a different place.
  • Always make sure to ask for "no toast." Even if you say the meal has to be gluten free - trust me, I waitressed during my college years and sometimes you get on autopilot - and just one crumb is enough.
Looking for a place you know is OK? Here are some suggestions:
  • Locally, try Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free Cafe. She has a wide variety of items, and yes, non gluten free people are allowed to eat there too. :) As a bonus, she has a storefront with gluten free items. Some of them (think Chex) are cheaper at the grocery store, but she does have some items that are hard to find elsewhere.
  • Fifty South Diner in Ballston Spa is willing to accommodate a gluten free diet and has wonderful food.
  • If you are lucky enough to be in close proximity to an Original Pancake House, they serve gluten free pancakes at many locations!
Where are your favorite local breakfast joints, and what have your experiences been with breakfast out? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

1 comment:

Chalydra said...

I like Nature's Path cornflakes with Almond Breeze. (I also avoid dairy.) Add some Sunmaid raisins (as they are one of the only brands that does not include sulphites) or some fresh berries and it works great.

I also like plain rice cakes with natural peanut butter and raisins. Watch for the flavoured rice cakes as they use all sorts of things in that.

Also try Bob's Red Mill gluten-free cornbread mix and put on some un-contaminated jam. Even better, cook up some frozen berries in a pot with a bit of sugar and you have a wonderful quick "jam".

I have more difficulty because I also avoid eggs. Some places can only give me fruit, which does not fill me up enough. But sometimes potatoes are available.