Most people assume that on a gluten-free, plant-based diet you can’t eat much more than fruit, and while I do find breakfast to be difficult to find while on the road, it’s actually quite wonderful when I have access to a kitchen!
One of Chris’ favorite breakfasts is one of the simplest: cereal and milk. Since he avoids refined sugar and I avoid gluten, it can definitely be difficult to find a happy medium. So my Cinnamon Chex would be his Uncle Sam’s Raisin Bran. Rather than have separate cereals, we worked to find a happy medium.
There is quite a variety of gluten-free cereals on the market, and one of our main staples for a LONG time was the various Chex cereals. They are gluten-free, but also contain sugar and BHT, both things we would like to avoid. We tried finding cereals that were naturally sweetened, have no added preservatives, and were lower in sugars, which can be difficult.
Here are some brands that are tried and true in our pantry (please note they are gluten-free and free of refined sugars and chemical additives):
One of our go-to cereal brands is Erewhon, they make organic, gluten-free cereals that are low in sugar and have few ingredients, which is always a huge plus. They make corn flakes (frosted and plain), brown rice crispies, and some varieties even have dried fruit.
Nature’s Path makes a lot of good cereals that even include some healthy fiber, such as Mesa Sunrise, Whole O’s (their version of Cheerios), rice crispies, and Maple or Vanilla Sunrise. Nature’s Path also makes a variety of cereals called Envirokidz Organic that are very kid-friendly. The only brand I will buy for Chris is the Amazon Frosted Flakes (can’t beat it when there;s only 3 ingredients!), but on a whole they are definitely catered more to children. While I love Gorilla Munch, Panda Puffs and Leapin’ Lemurs, they are definitely more of a treat than a healthy breakfast!
I also make a homemade oat-free granola with Erewhon brown rice cereal using a recipe I found on the Attune Foods website. Chris adores this granola, and has dubbed it “Sweeties”. It’s great to eat with your dairy-free milk of choice or just plain, and as long as it’s sealed well, it will stay crisp and fresh for weeks. It is GREAT for road trips, and I have made quick breakfasts using it with just a banana and peanut butter. It’s even great for a sweet treat as well. I’ve tried different flavorings of extracts (coconut and vanilla are especially good) as well as different kinds of nuts for different results. In the end, they are ALL good, so give this recipe a try! There are also a lot of good gluten-free granola brands such as Udi’s and Glutenfreeda, but they do contain oats and as a celiac I tend to steer clear. Trader Joe’s makes an oat-free granola but I found it to be a bit high in calories and sugar.
While we no longer consume sugar-based cereals, I only feel it’s fair to mention that there are some cereals you can find outside of the organic section, but most of them are definitely chemically-laden sugar bombs with little nutritional value like Fruity or Cocoa Pebbles, Gluten-Free Rice Krispies, or Chocolate, Cinnamon, Honey Nut or Apple Cinnamon Chex. The less sweetened varieties of Chex can usually be found generic, such as corn or rice squares (basically Chex with different labeling), but the second ingredient is usually sugar, and they usually contain BHT or BHA (quote “to maintain freshness”), which are considered harmful food additives. Since Chris is a two-time cancer survivor, we do our best to avoid foods with preservatives these days. So I do recommend that you stick with the more organic cereals with no chemical additives any time you can.
As for hot cereals, I admit I love grits, and as far as my research has showed, they are gluten-free. One of my go-to breakfasts on my last cruise was grits, GF toast and fresh fruit. Be mindful of the manufacturing disclaimer though, if you see it’s been processed in a facility that handles wheat, I would avoid it. I have mainly seen this with generic brands.
I have found that I have an intolerance to oats, which is pretty heartbreaking, so I stopped using them for meals and recipes in the past couple months; if you CAN enjoy oats, I highly recommend Glutenfreeda. They have various flavored oatmeals, such as banana flaxseed, apple cinnamon, and maple raisin. Their ingredients are all-natural too! They have a wonderful consistency and taste great with add-ins, my favorite being a spoonful of peanut butter, or a sprinkling of chia seeds, flaxseeds, or nuts. Eco-Planet also makes a delicious gluten-free, organic multi-grain hot cereal in flavors like apple cinnamon and maple, as well as plain (the consistency is awesome!). As for a heartier cereal, Bob’s Red Mill has a variety of gluten-free hot cereals as well. I haven’t tried any of them, because I usually like things that are quick and on the go, so the slower cooking cereals aren’t in my pantry as a staple.
Cooked quinoa is also great for a hot cereal, and one of my favorite ways to enjoy it is by adding raisins, nuts, a little sweetener of choice, and a spoonful of peanut butter. Once warmed up, add a little dairy-free milk or just enjoy as-is, but it’s a delightful protein-packed breakfast! Quinoa is easy enough to make in a rice cooker and yields plenty of leftovers that keep well in the refrigerator. Trust me, one cup of uncooked quinoa goes a LONG way
As for milk, while Chris is not a practicing vegetarian (but oftentimes eats like one thanks to me!), he stopped using dairy milk several months ago. I encouraged him to try Almond Milk, which was my usual staple; while he was at first quite skeptical, he was immediately hooked and hasn’t looked back. We can’t seem to keep enough almond milk in the house! I’m not picky when it comes to brands, I’ve used Silk, Almond Breeze and Trader Joe’s brands and found them all to be great. The Almond Breeze Coconut Milk is wonderful but very sweet, so I’d recommend it more for desserts (like a rice pudding) than for breakfast. I used to enjoy soy milk but found it didn’t keep as well as I would have liked it to, but there are countless brands that you can choose from, including vanilla and chocolate flavored! Rice milk is also an option, but I always found it to be thin and watery and not to my liking. You can also find dairy-free beverages made from hemp (which I’ve tried and found it to be pretty good!) or coconut milk. The wonderful thing about ANY of these dairy-free milk options is that you can find most of them not only in the cold aisle, but also on store shelves with the dry goods in smaller packaging. This makes it an excellent option for traveling on the road, as long as you have a fridge in your hotel room once it’s opened. They even come in “juice-box” sizes which is very convenient if you’re anything like us and may have more than one destination on a road trip!
Obviously fruit is a great thing to throw into cold cereal, my favorites being the old stand-by of bananas or strawberries, but there are obviously lots of other options you can try, such as blueberries, fresh peaches, raspberries and blackberries. Like a little sweetener? I usually just use a little sprinkling of stevia, but Chris loves honey of all things, which to this day amuses me when I see him putting it on corn flakes. Agave nectar is something I am learning to adopt instead of honey, and I find that a little goes a long way! You can also try a little coconut palm sugar, which is a natural sugar with a brown sugar and caramel taste.
Weekends are my favorite time to splurge on breakfast, and next time I will get into some of my favorite eats, like quinoa pancakes, tofu scramble and bi-colored oven potatoes. Hopefully you’ll love them just as much as I do!
What are some of your favorite gluten-free cereals?