Gluten Free Overseas Part2: Breakfast in America
Of all the meals I had in America, breakfast was by far the hardest for me. As a coeliac, the vast array of pastries, breads, donuts and mueslis were out of bounds, typically leaving fruit salad, apples, bananas and eggs. Those who read my previous blog post will know that I dislike eggs leaving fruit as the only option in most cases. While I like fruit, a high FODMAP meal consisting solely of fruit doesn't do my gut any favours.
The solution for me was to order a whole lot of gluten free nut bars from Amazon. With shipping, credit card fees and currency conversion, they ended up well under NZ $2 each. The other reason they worked well is that I continued to travel within America every few days and unlike here in New Zealand, Californian hotels and motels almost universally do NOT provide crockery, cutlery or a fridge. What you will get are paper and plastic cups, a small coffee machine and creamer. No tea, hot water, milk or teaspoons. I was told that this is due to somebody once getting sick from poorly washed dishes and suing a hotel. Some motels do have a "kitchen" which means you get a sink and bar fridge, but still no dishes or milk.
My fairly cheap & healthy breakfast that wasn't eggs.
While looking for nut bars, I discovered a wide variety of gluten free muesli (or "granola" as it's known in America) bars. They almost universally consist primarily of certified gluten free oats. In New Zealand and Australia (which have common food labelling laws) no products containing oats are allowed to be labelled gluten free due to the high cross contamination risk. In America, at least one company specialises in contamination free oats with a dedicated processing plant and harvesting machines that tour the supplier farms which in turn have contracts with their neighbours forbidding the growing of wheat, barley or rye within a certain distance.
The small amount of research that I've read about coeliacs and oats suggests that around 90% of coeliacs can safely consume uncontaminated
oats. The other 10% still react badly to the protein found in oats which is also a member of the gluten family. (The protein in corn is also a gluten, but even fewer coeliacs have problems with this, so to keep things simple, most of the world colloquially uses the term gluten only to refer to wheat, barley and rye glutens.) I briefly thought of trying out the some GF oats, but decided that it would be prohibitively expensive to import GF oats to NZ on a regular basis, so there was little benefit for me to risk getting very sick while travelling.
Snacks and baked goods
American snack foods are similar to what we're used to NZ with the main difference being the much higher popularity of donuts and pretzels. Like here, the gluten free status of potato chips depends on brand and flavour. I found it very easy to find nuts in America with small packets often costing US $1 or $2.
A good tip for those planning to fly into San Francisco: there is a specialist entirely gluten free bakery called Mariposa
in the ferry building (pier 1) in the Embarcadero district. This is a lovely spot to have lunch with a view of the bay bridge (Golden Gate is in the distance to the north). For about $9 each way, one can take a 30min train ride on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport) get there from SFO. I love Mariposa, they're an oasis in a desert of gluten and remind me of my own favourite bakery back home in Christchurch: the Totally Gluten Free Bakery
Posted by Rory on May 16th, 2015 under Gluten Free Travel