Breakfast rut. Gluten-free start to the day.

the new juicer in action
It's no secret that breakfast is one of the most gluten-laden meals of most people's day. Cereal, toast, a bagel or muffin on the run.  A healthy, fast, gluten-free breakfast requires some planning if you want to have more than a banana.

There are plenty of gluten free cereals on the market these days. Most are just as chock full of sugar as the "regular" cereals  - and sometimes even more. While I've got an insanely sweet tooth - I'd rather not start my day with what equates to cookies floating in milk. Thanks to the growing gluten-free market we can also find a growing selection off waffles, bagels, muffins, cinnamon buns... you name it. The challenge is finding a HEALTHY choice.

I hate to admit that I've been on a bit of a bread binge of late. That huge shipment of free Udi's products certainly didn't help! I told myself that if you slathered gf toast or bagels in almond butter it was moderately healthy. I know I can do better.

hot rice cereal with raisins, walnuts and cinnamon

When I'm taking better care of myself, my winter breakfast has been Bob's Red Mill hot rice cereal. I also have a very simple cold or warm cereal in the form of plain buckwheat, millet or quinoa with soy or rice milk, sprinkled with raisins, walnuts and garam masala. This is very healthy, easy, and great use for leftover grains. It's delicious, and higher in protein than rice - but like anything, after a while I need a change.

Buckwheat with organic raisins, walnuts, garam masals and rice milk
Bill likes fruit and yogurt. I'm more of a veggie person than a fruit person. Truth be told, I like my sweet in the form of chocolate. Fruit and yogurt work for me when it's too hot to think of stirring hot rice cereal - or cooking up grains for future breakfasts. It's also a good option for road trips or when staying away from home.

chickpea flour muffins are high in protein and fibre

Once in awhile I'll bake some super healthy gf muffins made with chickpea flour, eggs, bananas, walnuts and lots of spices. These are handy for breakfast on the run - or to take with you when staying away from home. I like to keep a decent stash in the freezer. Keeping them healthier vs sweet means I won't be inclined to snack on them when I'm craving cookies.

When I'm trying to curb the toast habit, those are my typical "go to" breakfast items. Thanks to my friend Pina - I'm finally giving juice a try. Spinach, strawberries, fennel and pumpkin seeds would not normally add up to breakfast in my mind - but WOW! My first attempt with the Nutribullet was a winner. This is not an endorsement for the tool - in fact I had to go out to buy it twice, because the motor went up in smoke on the first one I bought. Number two seems to be a better piece of equipment.

Here's to day one!
I like the idea of having a carb-free breakfast - and incorporating protein in the form of nuts and seeds. Like anyone starting out on a new diet regime - time will tell, but this week I'm pretty pumped about what I'm hoping will be a breakfast makeover. 

I've never eaten this much fruit before - bananas, nectarines, berries, greens and seeds all blend together really well - no need for milk ingredients or milk substitutes, so perfect for people who are lactose intolerant too. Admittedly, pretty hard core healthy - and not for everybody.

If you'd like to read more about my super-easy muffin recipes see link HERE and HERE. I've posted about my quinoa breakfast HERE - and buckwheat HERE

I figure if you start the day healthy, you'll feel better about having fries for lunch :)


New York, Anna & the gluten-free adventure

My cousin Anna and I have been writing to each other from distant lands for more than 20 years.  Our mothers are sisters who both left England in the 1960's and head in very different directions. Anna's mum emigrated to Australia and my mum came to Canada. Last week we met for the very first time in New York City. Within minutes of meeting our pen pal status was elevated to great friends. 

Anna was a serious trooper when it came to trekking around the city to try famed gluten-free bakeries. Being a vegetarian she was quite empathetic to how restaurants were chosen, and was open to shopping in the Chelsea Market near our guest house (where we had a kitchenette) so that we could have some fresh foods at home and to pack for days of hiking the cityscape. A new adventurous food friend - this was sheer bliss!

First stop: Tulu's Bakery. I've linked all of the names of the establishments to their websites so that you can find out what you need. 

Despite the late hour, Tu-lu's door was constantly swinging open with people coming in for an end of day cupcake fix. 

We met a bloke named Benny here - who referred to himself as a "Glutard", much to Anna's amusement.  When she asked if he'd been to La Risotteria he was quick to share he'd been picked up not once but twice, by girls who were looking for a gluten-free boy toy. When we left, Anna wondered aloud if this might be Benny's best selling point.  

On to the grub - I ordered the cinnamon coffee cake loaf, a brownie and a chocolate cupcake. Anna opted for a selection of mini cupcakes (image above). In an unusual state of self control we actually made it back to our hotel with our loot in tow.  That loaf was gobbled up for breakfast the next morning with tea. We conferred that Tu-lu's had been worth the trek.
Babycakes is probably the most famous of the gluten-free bakeries in NYC. The owner Erin, has been on many TV shows and has published a beautiful cookbook. On our last night we made this our pilgrimage. 


Yowza. I just didn't know where to start! While this bakery is known for their cupcakes - I thought I'd try a donut and a madeleine as I'd never had either before. Worth. Every. Penny. Can't believe I showed such self control.. and a part of me is relieved that this place isn't too close or I'd be needing to run more often!        

One of the best things about food - is how it bonds us. In our gleeful perusal of goodies we got to know Hanna, who sat in the window enjoying a cupcake. Hanna kindly offered up a couple of her favourite gluten-free restaurants in the city. As our NYC visit was winding down, we didn't get a chance to try them this time - but I've linked to Nizza and Fiorello so that you can check them out. 
We ate at La Risotteria, which is without a doubt a "must do". According to Benny - you might even get a date out of it! This was my third visit to the establishment, and I can't imagine a trip to NYC without a stop here. Even Anna commented that her risotto was the best she'd ever eaten. I normally opt for pizza, but this round had the spinach and sausage risotto. SO GOOD!

There is something incredible about arriving at a restaurant where gluten-free bread sticks are greeting you! This place only seats 20 and doesn't take reservations, so unless you are willing to hang out for a bit - I recommend you go early. A special thanks to my Auntie Thea for treating us to this special night out on the town! 
Finally, a shout out to Benny's Burritos (nope, not the same Benny)...where we had yummy Mexican food - notations on the menu clarified the gluten-free factor, and there was a huge selection. The place is packed in the evenings (a good sign) so we did lunch. Bill and I have eaten here on previous visits and I always have a hugely satisfying meal. 

Looking forward to checking out Hanna's suggestions on our next visit to NYC.... but will miss having my dear cousin, the lovely Sunshine Anna by my side. 

If you're heading to NYC anytime soon be sure to bookmark this post. If you have other great options to share - please do so in the comments or on this blog's Facebook fan page HERE. If you come from a place where gf treats are hard to find... I recommend that you bring an extra suitcase to cart home some goodies... and bring some stretchy pants for the ride home :)