Q: I have celiac disease, and am trying to follow a strict gluten-free diet. However, breakfast is a real challenge. Can you give me some ideas?
A: It has been said many times: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It not only helps improve mental and physical performance but provides many key nutrients, such as iron, B vitamins and fibre. Although traditional breakfast foods are often made with gluten-containing grains, these items can also be purchased or made from non-gluten grains, such as amaranth, buckwheat, corn, flax, millet, quinoa, rice, sorghum, soy and teff.
Gluten-free breakfast ideas
- Cold cereals: some good options are puffed amaranth, corn or rice; GF corn flakes; GF rice cereal; GF granola (look for granola from Enjoy Life Foods and Ener-G Foods).
- Hot cereals: can be made with cornmeal, corn or millet; grits; cream of buckwheat; cream of rice, oatmeal,* quinoa and teff.
- Toasted GF bread, bagel or English muffin with peanut butter or cheese spread. • GF pancakes or waffles** with fresh or frozen fruit. (Look for a gluten-free pancake/waffle mix or ready to eat frozen waffles, e.g. Van’s toaster waffles.)• GF muffin** with yogurt and fruit.
- French toast with GF bread. (Warm bread in microwave to aid absorption of the egg mixture.)• Toasted GF bread with eggs.
- Omelette (chopped green or red peppers, onions, shredded cheese) and leftover fried potatoes.
- GF pizza.
- Fruit smoothie. (Try milk or non-dairy substitute if you are also lactose intolerant; fresh or frozen fruit; honey or sugar and ground flax.)
* Commercial oat products are contaminated with wheat, rye or barley. It is important to choose pure, uncontaminated specialty oat products from companies such as Cream Hill Estates or FarmPure Foods (see Allergic Living Spring 2007 for more information about oats in the gluten-free diet).
** It is not possible to simply substitute gluten-free flours in a regular muffin or pancake recipe. The Complete Gluten-Free Cookbook by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt has many healthy recipes to choose from.
High-Fibre Hot Cereal
This quick, heart-healthy breakfast is packed with fibre and omega-3 fatty acids. Add a spoonful of brown sugar, chopped nuts and/or dried apricots or raisins for more flavour and extra nutrients.
3 tbsp (45 mL) flax seed meal (ground flax)*
3 tbsp (45 mL) cream of brown rice hot cereal (look for El Peto, Bob’s Red Mill or Lundberg)
1 1/3 cups (320 mL) water
Dash of vanilla
- Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium-to-large glass bowl.
- Cook on high in a microwave for 3-4 minutes, or until thick and creamy. Stir in vanilla.
- Serve with brown sugar, nuts and/or dried fruits.* As flax is very high in fibre, it is important to introduce it in small portions until tolerated. Start with 5 tbsp hot cereal and 1 to 3 tsp of ground flax, then gradually increase.
Variations: Substitute creamy buckwheat hot cereal or Bob’s Red Mill Mighty Tasty Gluten-Free Hot Cereal (made with whole grain brown rice, corn, white sorghum and buckwheat) for the brown rice hot cereal.
From Gluten-Free Diet  by Shelley Case, Expanded Edition, 2006 See www.glutenfreediet.ca 
Shelley Case is a consulting dietitian and author. She is on the advisory boards of the Canadian Celiac Association, the Celiac Disease Foundation, and the Gluten-Free Intolerance Group. The editors at Allergic Living additionally highly recommend her book Gluten-Free Diet, a vital resource for those interested in celiac disease and living gluten-free.