Gluten Free For Good


More About Melissa

Pete Bronski, founder with wife Kelli of the blog No Gluten No Problem, is an endurance athlete, friend, colleague, and co-author of our new book (May release date), The Gluten-Free Edge: A Nutrition and Training Guide for Peak Athletic Performance and an Active Gluten-Free Life. Check here for pre-order details. And when we say, an Active Gluten-Free Life, we mean everyone on the planet, not just super-heros.

After long hours (days, weeks, months) of researching, writing, rewriting, and interviewing gluten-free athletes and athletes who choose to be gluten-free, Pete is back logging long hours trail running and I’m back at Mary Jane telemark skiing. I’m also in the process of losing the 5 pounds I gained while writing and creating high-octane recipes for the book. Aahh, the irony of writing a book on sports nutrition (weight gain and a slide in fitness).

It was worth it and I’m incredibly grateful for the experience, but now I’m on a mission to revive myself. My eating habits weren’t bad while writing the book, but I sat on my bum for way too many hours and my exercise routine, active lifestyle, and yoga practice suffered. That’s not something I want to make a habit of.

I’ve found that the best way to kick-start my day and boost my energy levels is to eat a power-packed breakfast. That means a combination of high-quality carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing healthy, gluten-free breakfast ideas for an active lifestyle. All will be vegetarian, nutrient-dense, and delicious.

First up: gluten-free power porridge with whole-grain oats and teff—perfect before heading out for a day of skiing or hiking (or in Pete’s case, mega-distance trail running).

But before I get to the recipe, I’d be remiss if I didn’t do a little “compare and contrast” of oats. Oats are not all the same, as fast-food, mega-giant McDonald’s demonstrated last year with the unveiling of their “Oats with the Most” fruit and maple oatmeal bowl. After reading the ingredient label and nutrition information, I’m thinking the tag line should read, “Oats with the Most additional and unnecessary low-quality, junk-food additives.”

McDonald’s Oatmeal Bowl contains the following ingredients: Oatmeal—whole grain rolled oats, brown sugar, modified food starch, salt, natural flavor (plant source), barley malt extract, caramel color; Diced Apples—apples, calcium ascorbate; Cranberry Raisin Blend—Sweetened dried cranberries (sugar, cranberries), California rasins, golden raisins, sunflower oil, sulfur dioxide as a preservative (contains sulfites); Light Cream—milk, cream, sodium phosphate, datem, sodium stearoyl lactylate, sodium citrate, carrageenan.

What the heck is datem?

I’m so glad you asked.

DATEM (directly from Wikipedia): Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Ester of Mono- and Diglycerides is an emulsifier used to strengthen dough by building a strong gluten network. It is also known as E472e and is often derived from genetically modified soya bean oil.

First off, if it’s called E472e, it’s not food (not to mention its other name). Really? We need a dough strengthener in our oatmeal?

Aside from the fact that this oatmeal is contaminated with gluten, it’s filled with a boat-load of unhealthy ingredients. Leave it to McDonald’s to completely ruin what should be a healthy breakfast.

Now, let’s take a look at the ingredient list on my bag of Montana Gluten-Free OatmealIngredients: whole grain rolled oats. Period. Wow, the oats are the ingredient. It’s the same thing with my bag of teff. Ingredients: whole grain teff. What a concept. The food is also the ingredient.

To be fair, the McDonald’s ingredient label included everything in the pre-made bowl of oatmeal. Yes it comes with the apples, cranberry raisin blend, and light cream infused into the oatmeal (don’t even ask). Unfortunately, you can’t pull through the drive-up window, order the Oatmeal Bowl and say, “Hold the  E472e, the barley malt extract, the caramel color, the multiple sugars, the modified food starch, the calcium ascorbate, the sulfur dioxide, the sodium stearoyl lactylate, sodium citrate, and the carrageenan.”

To insure that my “compare and contrast” playing field is level, I’ll include the same detailed nutrition information on my porridge at the end of the recipe.

Gluten-free oatmeal and teff power porridge
(photo above–Montana GF Processor’s raw oats and Bob’s Red Mill raw teff)

what you need
1 and 1/4 cup water
dash of salt
1/2 cup certified gluten-free whole grain rolled oats
2 tablespoons whole grain teff
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 small apple, cored and chopped
1 tablespoon raisins (or a mix of raisins and dried cranberries)
honey or maple syrup (to make it vegan, used maple syrup)
coconut milk or other milk

what you do
1. Bring water and salt to a boil.
2. Slowly add oats and teff, stir well, and turn heat to low. Add vanilla, cinnamon, apples, raisins, and cranberries (if using).
3. Cook on low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove from heat when liquid is absorbed and serve with a drizzle of honey (or maple syrup) and milk of choice. I like light coconut milk with it, but any nut milk will do.

PER SERVING (Oatmeal Teff Porridge): 3.2 g fat; 78 g carbohydrate; 11 g protein; 10 g fiber
Nutrition Bonus: excellent source of iron

PER SERVING (McDonald’s Oatmeal): 4.5 g fat; 57 g carbohydrate; 5 g protein; 5 g fiber
Nutrition Time Bomb: additives, preservatives, dyes

Note: Some people with gluten intolerance have an immune response to oats, even certified gluten-free oats. If you choose to try oats, start slowly (1/3 cup) to see if you react. Oats also contain a lot of fiber, which is a good thing, but may cause gastrointestinal stress if you’re not used to it. Check with your healthcare provider if you’re unsure about adding oats to your diet.

Peace, love, and power porridge. Stay tuned for more healthy breakfast ideas for an active gluten-free life!


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20 Responses to “Gluten-free oatmeal and teff power porridge”

  1. Alta says:

    Love teff. This sounds so delicious. 🙂

  2. Jean Layton says:

    Love the idea of asking for the McD’s oatmeal sans additives. Wonder what the young person behind the counter would think.
    Congrats on the book coming out, placing the title in my to be read soon file.

    • Melissa says:


      Thanks so much for your kind comments. I appreciate it and am thrilled you want to read our book! We should just exchange books with each other. =) Love it that you wrote a GF version for the Dummies series. It’s wonderful!


  3. McDonald’s. All in the name of greed. Damn…thanks for illuminating it for all of us. Great post! I still like my waffles but only as a treat. I much prefer my almost daily dose of hot oatmeal. I love the idea of adding teff to it. Thx!!!

    • Melissa says:


      I have to admit, those crispy waffles of yours look very tempting! And isn’t it national pancake and waffle day today? Glad I had the oatmeal on hand, I need to stick to non-sweet treats right now. =) Thanks!

  4. Melissa, I have to thank you for turning me on to the Montana Gluten Free folks. I’ve been eating their oats since you posted about their bread. (And I’ve made some bread, too!) I’ve never had teff, so I’ll have to give this a shot 🙂 So excited and looking forward to the book too!

    • Melissa says:


      Teff is power food. Perfect for a girl like you. Glad you like the oats. The weird thing is that some people find them bitter. I’ve got that “supertaster” thing going on and I don’t find them bitter at all. Have you ground them for protein in your smoothies? I’m thinking that would be a great option for protein. They’re higher in protein than any other oats. We’ll be sending you a couple of books when they come out since you’re one of our featured athletes. Thank you, thank you, thank you! =)

  5. Alisa says:

    Wow, the murdered oats. That takes talent. I think I’ll take your version – and really need to try teff!

    Yay on the book! It looks great (just popped over 🙂

    • Melissa says:


      “Murdered” oats! I love that and you are sooo right. Thanks for the “yay” on the book. The finished cover design will be different, but we’re almost there with sending it to the printer. It’s been a great (and exhausting) experience! We’re very proud of the outcome.

  6. We have only just started to see teff flour available here in Australia, but I’m forever hopeful we’ll see teff grain at some stage too.

    • Melissa says:


      Thanks for your comment — I appreciate it. I’m surprised teff grain isn’t available in Australia. I’ve always felt you were way ahead of us when it came to gluten-free options. Interesting…hope you get it soon. I love the stuff.

  7. Still a teff virgin, along with a few others it seems. 😉 Gag on datem. Seems we need to stop hiding behind made up names. I thought that is why we had the FDA and labeling? Arrrgh. So many people think or convince themselves that they are getting a healthy fast food option when in reality–as you’ve so clearly pointed out–it’s anything but that. (BTW, have you checked out the stats on the Mickey D’s mango real fruit smoothie?) Anyway, your recipe sounds super healthy and tasty! And I can’t wait for the book. Already pre-ordered!


    • Melissa says:


      As always, your addition to the conversation is greatly appreciated. Yes, gag on datem. There are so many weird things in our food supply, it’s no wonder people are sick. No, I didn’t even know McD’s had a smoothie. Maybe that will be my next project — a compare and contrast of smoothies. =) Thanks for the tip off. And thanks soooo much for your support. Pete and I appreciate it and I think you’re going to be happy with the book. There is a lot of good information within the pages, and it’s different from what is currently available on GF living (and thriving).


  8. Maggie says:

    It’s funny how nutrition and exercise fall aside when we’re busy. That’s when we need them MOST! Same goes with meditation. Hmmm, we need to rethink this Melissa 🙂 Your oatmeal bowl sounds delish. I love baking with teff flour but have never tried the grain. I will get some! By the way, have you ever written a post on soaking nuts and seeds? Would love to know your thoughts on this. Sorry for the TOTAL aside 🙂 xo

    • Melissa says:

      Hi Maggie,

      Thanks for your input. We’re on the same page with so much of this (exercise and nutrition). As for soaking nuts and seeds — very good question. I used to do that many years ago, but I’ve quit bothering with it. Yes, I know about the enzyme inhibitors, etc., but it starting feeling like a big waste of my time. I spend a lot of time setting myself up to eat well and that just didn’t feel like a priority. I don’t have a problem with any nuts or seeds so I figured my time could be spent better in other ways. Like getting some exercise. =)

      • Maggie says:

        Awesome Melissa, thanks for taking some pressure off 🙂 xo

      • Melissa says:


        For some soaking may be the right thing, but for me it started to feel burdensome and unsoaked nuts and seeds don’t bother me, so why bother? Like you said, food should not come with added “pressure” to do everything “right.” =) Life is hard enough, don’t you think?!

  9. Kate says:

    This recipe looks great! I’ve been looking for a recipe that makes teff less intimidating forEVER. Thanks! Can’t wait to try it tomorrow.

    I’m wondering – Would it still be as tasty if it was made the night before, stored in the fridge and re-heated with a splash of coconut milk or water?

    • Melissa says:

      I’ve never done that, Kate, so I don’t know, but give it a try and keep us posted if it works. =) Thanks!

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Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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