Let’s talk cereal. Gluten-free cereal wasn’t a huge stretch. There are endless variations of puffed corn or puffed rice cereal that I enjoyed even prior to going gluten-free. However, I am always on the lookout for new options of gluten-free cereals. My kids have never been big fans of puffed rice or corn cereals. I think they get soggy quickly (toddlers and young kiddos can dawdle at the breakfast table) and, to be honest, they have a rather boring taste and texture.
As the gluten-free wave increases, so has our consumption of rice and corn products. They are great at mimicking some of wheat’s properties and giving us the comfort foods we love, like cereal. However, everything in moderation, right? Nobody really fully understands why the incidence of celiac disease and gluten intolerance is on the rise. However, there are some theories, which include our over consumption of wheat (it is a staple in every meal of the American diet) and the genetic modification of the wheat plant (creating more, unnatural gluten proteins). As we give up gluten and trade it in for “substitute foods” containing rice or corn, are we now heading down the same path as wheat?
Here are some examples of red flags I see. Recent reports have suggested that rice contains higher than expected levels of arsenic. The impact of this on our bodies over time is not well understood, but those of us who are gluten-free, tend to consume more rice products. The reports go as far as to suggest that children have more limited rice products in their diet, including rice cereal and rice milk. The concern with corn mainly involves the genetic modifications and pesticide use going on in this industry. Corn is seeing higher incidence of food allergies along with gluten. Is there a connection between the genetic modification of corn and use of pesticides that is causing this increase?
This is just a small snippet of what I see in my research every day. The field of nutrition is not well understood and not well regulated. My take is, absorb the information and make educated and rational choices. As more and more information about rice and corn arise, I am choosing to watch how much of these grains are in my family’s diet. If I see places where I can make a better choice for my family, I’ll do it.
So, back to cereal. Based on the points I’ve made above, what is a better choice? One product I’ve chosen to replace our rice/corn puffed cereal is Van’s™ Simply Delicious gluten-free cereal. Overall, I am a big fan of Van’s™ Simply Delicious gluten-free products. They seem to be thoughtful about their ingredients, including their fiber and sugar content. I like that their cereal contains oat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, and amaranth flours, instead of just rice or corn alone.
Van’s™ International Foods is based in Vernon, California. They carry a wide variety of gluten-free products that are readily available at many chain grocery stores. I actually have found this cereal at Target. We also like their frozen waffles and breadcrumbs. Their website provides a great list of gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options. Their Simply Delicious cereal is certified gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free, Non-GMO, and kosher.
The final selling point for me is their taste and the approval of my kids. My son will easily finish a bowl of Van’s™ Simply Delicious Cinnamon Heaven cereal with almond milk. We are shocked when he finishes all of anything. The cereal is tasty, crunchy and holds up well in milk. Even non-gluten-free folks can enjoy this cereal without batting an eye at the “gluten-free” label.
Becoming part of the gluten-free world has opened my eyes to where our food comes from and what is really good for our bodies. It isn’t easy to decipher the vast amount of information out there. However, as I look beyond wheat, being sure that my family receives a variety of whole, unprocessed foods is really the key. That means taking a hard look at rice and corn. Although my family and I are happy to have gluten-free pasta, bagels, cereals and breads made using rice and corn, I think it is important to limit these foods and explore other grain alternatives.
Disclaimer: I am not paid or compensated in any way to review gluten-free products. I only review products that I love, use in my daily life, and feel that others can benefit from too. I cannot guarantee that you will think these products are awesome too, but it is highly unlikely.