oh, how I miss it

cream of rice in the morning, originally uploaded by shaunaforce.

It’s the mornings when I miss it most.

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.

26 comments on “oh, how I miss it

  1. Shauna


    Maybe we could just pretend we’re Canadians, eh?

    Actually, I think your dietician has outdated material. Mine said I can drink whiskey, gin, vodka, etc. I’ll look it up and post about it soon.

  2. Laura Flowers

    I get obvious rashes when I eat gluten, including oats. However there is one brand that doesn’t do anything to me. It’s Nature Path instant organic oatmeal. So who knows? Just thought I would pass that along. And you are right, that info is outdated about distilled spirits. There is almost no gluten in there, if you can imagine a cell of gluten in a gallon of water, that might be about how much gluten is in them if any. Also the same for white vinegar according to my allergist. Another thing, in Europe they get to eat Wheat Starch!! Now that makes me jealous. I am told their wheat starch is better washed than ours? Lol weird.

  3. Anonymous

    I just read an article by Scott Adams at Celiac.com saying if there could be the possibility of wheat dust on your oatmeal, just RINSE it before cooking it. duh.
    Now you can have your oatmeal again.

  4. Carolyn

    As a Canadian, I can tell you that it is not true that we can eat oats here anymore than you can there. Health Canada still says that oats are not gluten free. The Canadian Celiac association released information that tests show that some celiacs can tolerate small amounts of PURE UNCONTAMINATED OATS. This means that we are not going out and buying Bob’s Red Mill, or Quaker, or granola bars or other products made with oats, since most are of the regular, contaminated kind. There is one farm in Canada that guarantees uncontaminated oats (less than 10ppm, which is the lowest the ELISA test allows) known as Cream Hill Estates. There oats are not yet available commercially, but I hear you can order directly from the company. There is also a farm in the states that has uncontaminated oats. Check out http://www.glutenfreeoats.com.
    As for alcohol, they say the distillation process actually kills the protein, but many company’s add the mash back in. You should contact the manufacturer to find out if they do this. There is also gluten free beer out there made of buckwheat and rice flour. Contact Gluten Free Living magazine in New York.
    Europe as much lower standards about what is considered gluten free. The limit there is 200ppm (that is 10X the limit in Canada which allows 20ppm and the USA which allows 50ppm – check FDA), so many gluten free labels there can use wheat starch and oats.

  5. vicki

    Wow, firt time I have ever tried to leave a comment on a blog and you are either getting it 4 times or it is gone to cyberspace. anyway…..

    Oat flakers are readily available for home use and they work well. If you use one of these you would eliminate the worry of cross contamination in milling. That way you would only have to find a farm that sells the gluten free grain and you could flake it yourself.

  6. Anonymous

    My wife is on a gluten free diet due to chronic fatigue. I just ran across this link and thought I’d pass it along. No, don’t work for them and we’re still awaiting our first order.


    We are proud to have been the first company in the USA to offer “SAFE” oats to the celiac community. We are one of you, so we understand issues if our oats are not pure and uncontaminated. Yes, from the President to the Production Manager we are on a gluten free diet. The mission of Gluten Free Oats® is to provide the purest oats available for people with celiac disease. Inspected by celiacs from planting to packaging, we understand the importance of avoiding cross-contamination from wheat, rye or barley. Gluten Free Oats® can be considered SAFE for people who are gluten intolerant because they are tested to be below 10 parts per million (ppm) by the University of Nebraska FARRP Laboratory


  7. Nancy Lindquist-Liedel

    Bob’s Redmill has Gluten Free oats advertized on their site. I cannot find it in the stores, so I may have to mail for them. It would sure increase our list of foods here.

  8. Anonymous

    I live in Mexico so one distilled beverage I often enjoy without issue is tequila. Never have had a problem with it. Mezcal is also fine for me. Beer … it’s cheap and good down here, but bad news for me.

  9. Anonymous

    About pancakes.. My husband makes me pancakes every Sunday morning with blueberries. He uses Arrowhead Mills All Purpose Gluten Free baking mix instead of flour. He also beats the eggs whites separate. The pancakes are wonderful and GLUTEN FREE! Also, I make cornbread using the baking mix instead of flour in the recipe. It’s wonderful!

  10. Kaytlin

    Im a Canadian and very new to Celiacs was only Diagnosed last year. I have been on the Diet since January 2008 with a treat once a month which I am now cutting back to every 3 months because ooowie my Tummy hates me. I only just discovered by reading your site that I can eat Oatmeal. So Thank You so much and I cant wait to read more on Your site. I also loooove Oatmeal. You should see if someone in Canada could mail you some *Laughs*

  11. geminiswp

    Oh lord, I read your blog and have been an oatmeal nut since I was 2….45 years later I go bonkers when I eat the organic stuff…I did not know that this was not gluten-free.

    I have made everything from cookies to scones with oatmeal and have yet to find a suitable replacement.

    There is a site someone posted here and I am ordering at least two 2 pound bags…

    I NEED my oatmeal – I stay full for hours rather than minutes!

  12. mokarena

    I know what you mean. I miss oatmeal too. And homemade granola. I don't really care for that stuff at Trader Joes they call gluten-free granola. If it's granola, where's the oats? I tried eating the gluten-free oats, but I still react to them. I hope some day I will be able to eat gluten-free oats.

  13. Anonymous

    Try Glutenfreda Instant Oatmeal. There are several flavors in a variety pack. It has flax in it, which I could do without. But it's great to have a quick oatmeal fix.

  14. Patricia Preciado

    Hi there. Ive known for 8 years that my sister and her daughter had severe food allergies. But it wasnt until this year that my teenage daughters started expressing a variety of symptoms that led me to see a neurologist. We are currently in the process of testing for gluten allergy. So we are looking in to a Gluten Free diet and experimenting.

    As I said we’ve been very familiar with food allergies to wheat (but not specifically gluten) cow dairy, soy, eggs, yeast, sensitivity to corn and citrus fruit and all sugars processed and derived from corn and sugar cane. So I’ve been experimenting with recipes for years that we used as a supplement to our normally healthy diet but not EXCLUSIVELY gluten free.

    Now that we know we need to go gluten free I am searching for alternatives to oatmeal as well, which has been a MAIN staple in our diet. I just wanted to share that I have had MUCH success with the versatility of Quinoa.
    SUSHI with quinoa – I have made sushi wraps with steamed quinoa, they did not stick together like rice but make an excellent grain free substitute for rice if you are turning to rice to now be a mainstay of your diet, it is good to diversify in areas that you dont mind making substitutions.
    GRAIN FREE flour tortilla – I made very successful soft and foldable/bendable flour tortillas by looking up traditional wheat flour tortilla recipes, and substituting Quinoa flour (quinoa pulsed to flour in my coffee grinder) Coconut flour, Flax Meal and Almond Meal. The trick is to experiment with different mixtures of gluten free flours to find a texture and consistency appropriate to the item you are cooking or baking. The last trick up my sleeve was to add 2 tsp of Xanthan Gum which is critical as a bonding agent to help the gluten free flours stick together and lend a texture more consistent with wheat.
    CREAM of QUINOA – This is my favorite. I pulsed 1/4 cup quinoa in my coffee grinder (i have 2 one for coffee the other for grinding grains, nuts, spices, chunky sea salt, etc). Boil ground quinoa with almond milk (we’re allergic to dairy and soy) and I added pure maple syrup to sweeten. After boils, reduce heat and simmer for several minutes. Top with fruit and enjoy. Makes at least 2 servings. This taste almost exactly like the CREAM OF WHEAT i grew up loving! So Im very happy to have figured out this substitute.
    STeamed Quinoa – check online for tons of recipes to steam quinoa. it is excellent with spices, onion sea salt and garlic added, but it is also very good plain, similar to plain steamed rice. You can also cook it with a sweetener and eat it as a breakfast cereal. Or usually i will make about 1/2 cup to 1 cup. just steam it plain. Then spoon out enough for one serving. Top it w almond milk and fresh cut fruit and raw agave nectar or pure maple syrup in the morning. Then you can use it througth out the day for different tastes as you made it plain. So you can add it to a salad or lettuce wrap, or eat it as a side dish. Or i like to eat it just plain steamed.

    1. Nancy

      Hello Patricia,
      I just read about you dauaghters and their allergies, they are the same as mine. I have avoided milk and citrus for years, now finding out I’m having major problems with
      oatmeal and corn. I was wondering since your family has the same problems I do, if you
      can steer me to any good cookbooks. I also have severe fibromyalgia and just read today
      that it can mimic celiac disease, or the other way around! Last bowl of oatmeal was last night and I miss it already! Best to you- thanks

  15. Britt

    I know this post was a while ago, so maybe you’ve already figured this out, but Bob’s Red Mill has certified GF oats. Yum!

  16. Melanie

    I’m trying out other grains. Maybe I will grind instant brown rice in my coffee grinder and add boiling water to it to make my own “cream of rice.” If what you miss is the protien content in oatmeal, Quinoa is a good choice. I have it with soy milk and fruit, but you do need to rinse it for at least 5 minutes before cooking or it will taste like soap. And while we’re at it, there’s nothing wrong with just pouring some milk over plain cooked brown rice and eating that for breakfast.

  17. Jen

    I just found a website – http://www.glutenfreeoats.com. This is a family with three generations of celiac sufferers. The grandson was diagnosed at age 2 and as a teenager decided he wanted to find/create a source of uncontaminated oats. His oats were the start of their business. Maybe after you have gone the six months to let your intestines heal, you could try a small bag of these oats and see how it goes. Blessings to you and yours!

  18. Nancy

    I love oatmeal but have not been able to eat it for years because it ALWAYS gave me heatrburn. I got a mailer from Rodale about a ‘gluten free diet’… my husband had been having issues with his digestion so I ordered the book and subsuquently bought gluten-free oats. I decided to try them, too, as I thought maybe this was my problem, too. I have been eating Bob’s Red Mill oats for the past two weeks (not every day) with no problem. Who knew?!! I’ve been on meds for gastric problems for years and I’d like very much to get off… maybe if I follow this gluten-free diet I can. I’m glad to have found this page. (Also have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.)

  19. Maria Palma

    I’m doing a 28 day experiment to see if being gluten-free will help reduce the fat on my belly, and also to see if it’s contributing to my baby conceiving issues. I’m sad that I can’t eat oatmeal because I live it too! I’m surprised there are so many foods with gluten in it!

  20. Heather

    I use Bob’s Red Mill gluten free oats. They have them in quick oats and whole oats. I just made gluten free oatmeal cookies last night with dried blueberries in them. yum! I’m fairly new to the gf game too and I think I would have gone crazy if I didn’t have oatmeal. I think you can find Bob’s Red Mill on amazon.com and on vitacost.com. Happy cooking!

Comments are closed