I not afraid to admit that I still haven’t cracked the issue of the grain-free breakfast. At lunch and dinner I hardly notice the absence of grains any more. But I’ve been completely unable to embrace the solution offered in the no-grain and no-carb literature: I do not want to eat a piece of salmon, or a leg of chicken, for breakfast. I do not want to try miso soup. Eggs are fine as far as they go, but I am running at 100 miles an hour most mornings, trying to get myself and two small children out the door by 8:30, and I am not in the mood to cook.
I think this is the first time I’ve mentioned that I can tolerate small amounts of rice. For some reason, perhaps because it has never been a large part of my diet, rice doesn’t seem to bother me as much as other grains. (The harm-hierarchy goes wheat, rye, oats, corn, rice.) So I’ve been eating Dove’s Farm cereal flakes for a few months now, which is a mixture of rice and buckwheat, and one of the very few wheat-free cereals that doesn’t contain any maize. I have it with fruit and Greek yoghurt, which is great, but I’m really tired of having it every morning (except Sundays, when I have buckwheat pancakes – see the Recipe tab). Breakfast is definitely the hardest meal to decouple from grains, and even after two years a breakfast without bread or cereal seems inadequate and unsatisfying. This probably explains why I’ve been eating the same breakfast for over six months, now that I’ve found a cereal I can tolerate!
I wonder whether this difficulty is purely cultural, or if there’s something more to it. There are plenty of societies that cope with alternative breakfast foods, and the ubiquitous presence of bread and breakfast cereals is so heavily marketed in our society that it’s easy to imagine that we’re all brain-washed in some way. On the other hand, there is something slightly delicate about the morning stomach, which craves something slightly bland and sweet, rather than a heavy, strongly flavoured menu. I’m not a huge fan of the English breakfast, which is probably something to do with my vegetarian past, and who has the time to cook on a weekday morning? Dr. Atkins (himself apparently overweight when he died) must have had a wife or personal chef to prepare his eggs and bacon in the morning: I need quick and easy option, something to eat with one hand while I’m packing lunch boxes with the other.
I’ve recently had a go at baking my own bread again (as commercially available wheat-free bread also universally contains maize). I’ve found a bread-making flour which only contains rice, potato starch and tapioca, and it produces an acceptable if slightly cake-y loaf. I keep it sliced in the freezer, and use it when only a sandwich or a slice of toast will do – which is actually less often than I thought. I’ve tried the same recipe for pizza dough, but found it too heavy. I now make my pizza following Jane Kennedy’s inventive recipe – the base is made out of grated zucchini (courgette), mozzarella and a beaten egg. Hmm, maybe Jane has some ideas about breakfast? I’m very open to suggestions.