I stumble into the kitchen, rubbing my eyes of sleep and heading for the coffee pot. It’s my most unguarded moment, when I don’t focus first on how much better I feel, how thrilled I am to be learning so much, how grateful I am to finally find out that I have celiac disease. In the glimmering morning, as the coffee is brewing, I still miss it.
Toast? Nah. I have good, gluten-free cinnamon toast from Kaili’s. Biscuits? Scones? No, those were only for special occasions. Pancakes? I had those on the morning of my birthday. I don’t miss them at all. Increasingly, I’m concocting decent gluten-free versions of all my favorite foods. And if I haven’t found the good ones yet, they’re lurking out there. I know it.
No, there’s something I miss in the mornings for which there is no decent replacement.
Oatmeal. Oh god, I miss oatmeal.
If there is any controversy in the gluten-free world, it’s oats. After much careful study, scientists have shown that oats do not contain gluten. They think. The proteins in oatmeal are structured differently than those in wheat, rye, barley, et al. So why can’t I eat them? The dreaded C word: cross contamination.
Apparently, if oats are planted in one field, and wheat in the neighboring one, wheat spores can waft over to the oats, glom onto them, and contaminate them with gluten. Worse yet, most oats, or oats products, are produced in plants that also produce wheat products. If the oats roll over machines that have recently touched wheat, I get sick. It’s just that insidious.
It’s not fair. I love oatmeal. For the past few years, I have eaten oatmeal every morning for breakfast. You’d think I would have tired of it, but I never did. Every morning, I opened up the cupboard with the coffee and pulled out my bag of Bob’s Red Mill organic thick-cut oats. On school mornings, I’d make it in the microwave, to save time. And while it heated and boiled and roiled, I’d ponder the toppings. Blueberries? Walnuts? Dried apricots? Candied ginger? How about all of them? (Those were on Sundays, when I made the oatmeal in the double boiler and coffee in the French press. And the time to spread out the entire New York Times. Ah, those mornings.) And when my spoon hit the bottom of the bowl, and the last oats were in my stomach, I always let out a little satisfied sigh.
Now, sometimes I pass oats in the bulk section of the PCC, and I pause to stare at them. If only…
Of course, no one knows for sure. In fact, this page will show you the multiplicity of opinions on the subject, along with more precise science than I can write here. And in Canada, celiacs are told they can eat oats. So maybe I should move to Canada?
In the meantime, I’m working on it. I’ve located this oatmealmade in Scotland, at a family business with a stone wheel that has only ground pinhead oats for 250 years. Surely they can’t have cross-contamination issues. Perhaps, but I don’t have an answer yet, so I won’t eat them until I know. My doctor told me that my intestines should take about six months to heal fully, on this gluten-free diet. And then I can slowly try oats, see how they make me feel. Maybe for Halloween, I’ll go dressed up as a bowl of oatmeal!
This morning, I had a bowl of hot cereal: Cream of Rice. With risotto for dinner last night, I’m calling this the 24 Hours of Rice. Smooth and easy, and blaringly white, Cream of Rice is labeled Gluten Free in big letters on the front. It heats up fast in the microwave and sits well in the stomach. And this morning, I filled up the bowl with sliced almonds, golden raisins, a dollop of this gorgeous maple syrup, a pinch of cinnamon, and a full tablespoon of flaxseeds. It looked so pretty I had to take a picture. And I enjoyed that bowl of lovely warmth.
Still, I miss my oatmeal.
P.S. This is, of course, a very old post. It’s 2012. There are plenty of certified gluten-free oats out there now. Our favorite is Bob’s Red Mill certified gluten-free oats.