Don’t get me wrong, the gluten-free food industry has made our lives better and you will see many future posts about the gluten-free products I love. However, this country is facing an obesity epidemic (and consequential health issues) that is just downright scary. All of us, whether facing the challenges of living gluten-free or not, can benefit from eating more fresh, whole, unprocessed foods. I know…we have less to choose from than the general population. What we do have going for us, though, is that fresh foods are naturally gluten-free. Let’s look at this as a benefit and not a hardship.
It may sound cliche, but breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. It is also the one we are most habitual about and rely heavily on packaged foods for. Here are some delicious and EASY ideas for starting your family’s day off with a breakfast rich in fresh, wholesome, nutrient-dense foods:
- Rethink your bowl – Who says a bowl of cereal has to start with processed grains? Here’s a fresher idea. Start by filling your bowl with a variety of your favorite, fresh, seasonal fruit. Next, sprinkle on nuts, seeds or natural granola. For those of you that can’t tolerate dairy, try almond or rice milk. If you want to take it a step further and avoid processed nut and grain milks, make your own almond milk. It takes me no more than ten minutes to make a batch that lasts the entire week.
- Think stove top for whole grains – Research shows that breakfast eaters eat more whole grains (amongst many other health benefits) than breakfast skippers. I have to question whether this is true for those of us eating gluten-free. While manufactuers have come a long way in a short period of time, gluten-free breads, frozen waffles and cold cereals just don’t offer the whole grain value that regular options currently do. So, what can we do about this? Make gluten-free hot cereals that are minimally processed and contain little to no added sugars. Bob’s Red Mill has several gluten-free options; Glutenfreeda makes oatmeal from certified gluten-free oats; and then there are alternative grains, like amaranth and quinoa, which make tasty, satisfying hot breakfast cereals. I know it’s difficult to spare the extra time over the stove on a weekday morning, but try and make it a priority when you have more time on the weekends.
- Focus on the ingredients you CAN eat versus finding alternatives to what you can’t eat – A yogurt parfait with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of nuts and seeds is simple to make and loaded with nutrients. Rice cakes with a shmear of natural peanut or almond butter and banana slices is delicious. An omelet with fresh vegetables and a glass of orange juice is a great way to start the day. And, unless you have high cholesterol, keep the yolks in…that’s where all of the good nutrition is. If you don’t have time to cook in the morning, prepare a batch of hard boiled eggs over the weekend, so you and your family can grab them for eating on the run.
- Buck breakfast convention – Who says you have to have cold cereal, frozen waffles or muffins for breakfast? Many of your favorite lunch and snack foods qualify as a healthful breakfast. A few of my personal favorites include: apple slices and natural almond butter; smoothies made from natural yogurt and no added sugars; trail mixes (without preservatives); and sandwiches.