About a month ago I took an IgG blood test with the goal of finding out if I was sensitive to a few foods that I suspected were bothering me. The results came back and I wasn’t surprised: I’ve developed a sensitivity to eggs, cow and goat dairy, almonds, and cashews. (And also mushrooms, pineapple, and brewer’s yeast. I’ve never drank a beer in my life, so not sure what’s up with that!)
While I rarely eat dairy anymore (and have been off gluten for over 8 years), up until a month ago I would eat the occasional egg in a baked good maybe every 2-3 weeks. As for almonds and cashews? I ate them daily. For years.
When I took out gluten and (most) dairy from my diet years ago, nuts became my trusty ally. I’d add them to salads for calories and crunch, grab them for on-the-go snacks, and pack them by the pound anytime I traveled. Almond butter? A daily staple. Cashew cream? My go-to fruit topper.
Well, in the past month not a single almond or cashew has crossed my lips. And I’m surviving! I’ve discovered, though, that while avoiding almonds and cashews helps me, avoiding all nuts and seeds helps me more. I’m sad to say it, because I love nuts and seeds. But my gut/skin/hormone health is more important to me, so it’s sayonara to them for now.
Nut/seed-free lunches and dinners haven’t been challenging. After all, I can still eat all meats and seafood, all vegetables, all fruits (except pineapple), and lots of healthy fats like olive oil and avocados. Far more challenging? Breakfast.
Anything baked/bready/carby? There’s gluten in that. (And if I make it myself there’s usually eggs or nuts in it.) Anything with cheese/yogurt/butter? That’s dairy. Baked goods, omelets, scrambles, pancakes, waffles? Eggs. Granola, “paleo” baked goods, anything with almond flour? Nuts and seeds. Check check.
So what’s a person on a limited diet to eat? Well, we have to get creative, but we don’t have to starve.
Over the past month of eating gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, and seed-free breakfasts, I’ve put together a handful of tips for allergy-friendly breakfasts that nourish and satisfy.
1. First, think savory.
When you can’t have eggs, dairy, or almond flour, sweet breakfast baked goods—even healthy ones with wholesome ingredients that you can pronounce—are pretty much off the table. So think savory, not sweet.
- Roasted sweet potatoes atop a bed of greens topped with crumbled bacon and diced avocado
- Sautéed apples and carrots with breakfast sausage (or homemade breakfast sausage)
- Roasted vegetables (asparagus, green beans, bell peppers, zucchini, etc.) with a side of hummus and sliced avocado (if you need to avoid seeds, make your own hummus without tahini)
- Essential Slaw Salad (leave out the seeds) topped with flaked salmon
2. Prepare proteins ahead.
With eggs off the menu, the egg-free among us need to have other proteins around that we can quickly grab to add to our hash, rice, etc. I like to shred up roasted chicken and keep it in containers in the freezer to pull out in a flash. I also like making breakfast sausages in batches and freezing those.
Cook up a pound or two of salmon, ground beef, or ground turkey and just keep it at the ready in your fridge to throw in anything—breakfast or otherwise. If you have protein made and ready to go, it will save you the hassle of having to brown a few pounds of meat at 7 am. (Blagh.)
3. Try breakfast bowls.
It works like this: Sauté up some vegetables in a little olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil. Cabbage, carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli, zucchini—anything goes. Season with salt and add in your protein of choice (ground meat, flaked fish, shredded chicken, chickpeas or beans if you can tolerate them, etc.). Heat that through. Pour it into a bowl and top the whole thing off with diced avocado, sprouts, microgreens, herbs, fermented vegetables, salsa—whatever you like.
There are an infinite number of ways to change this up each morning so it never gets boring. You can even do a sweeter option, like sautéed cabbage and apples seasoned with cinnamon and maple syrup. Serve that topped with some chicken apple breakfast sausages and dried cranberries.
Need more “heft” to your bowl? Layer everything over a base of cooked rice, quinoa, millet, or roasted root veggies.
4. Eat leftovers.
This is a quick breakfast dream come true. Just heat up whatever you ate for dinner the night before and there you go! I personally love leftovers and have no problem eating them any time of day. Remember to think savory, not sweet.
The United States is one of the few countries that makes sweets the main focus at breakfast. A traditional Japanese breakfast is a bowl of miso soup with rice and some pickled vegetables. In India, breakfast is often quite similar to lunch and dinner: flatbread, a lentil dish, spiced potatoes, and a variety of chutneys. Traditional Korean breakfasts often consist of some sort of stew with vegetables and kimchi.
To our sweet-accustomed American palates, beginning the day with a savory meal may feel strange at first, but I believe it’s a great habit to cultivate. Eating a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and nut/seed-free diet has pushed me to adopt this style of eating out of necessity, and I love it!
So tell me: when you can’t eat gluten, dairy, eggs, and nuts/seeds, what do you eat for breakfast? Share your faves in the comments.