My husband and I both lucked out when it comes to food allergies. I only have a minor, teeny, mild allergy to kiwis and bananas. In fact, so minor, that I didn’t even realize it was an allergy until a few years ago when I found out that not everyone’s mouth and tongue burn and turn red when they ate bananas and kiwi (I thought it was just a thing that happens, like the roof of your mouth getting cut up when you eat Cap’n Crunch). Obviously, it isn’t severe enough to stop me from eating them.
We thought Craig was allergy-free, but over the past few years, he’s slowly been honing in on the root of some digestive and skin issues, and after a long and storied investigation (complete with a string of pill-pushing doctors, elimination diets and more research than I think I did during all of college) we think we’ve figured out the culprit—an oat allergy. Poor guy. We were eating oats in various forms almost everyday. Heck, even our soap had oats in it! And everyday, he’d have a reaction, especially bad immediately after he’d consumed or used an oat product.
An oat-only allergy is actually kinda rare (no, it isn’t a gluten allergy or intolerance, he’s fine with other gluten-y things, and he even tried gluten-free oats, which he still had a reaction to), but the second he went cold turkey on the oats, everything started to clear up. It was like night and friggin’ day. We were so happy that we’d figured out what the problem was, but it definitely took some adjusting to become an oat-reduced household (I still eat them sometimes). You’d be amazed at how many things contain oats or oat flour. Breakfast has been a real struggle for him. Before, he could eat overnight oats or oatmeal or a yogurt bowl with granola or granola bars or cereal or multigrain bread, but now, almost all of those options have been cut out. But not anymore!
I’ve been working on an oat-free granola recipe for a while now, and I think I finally figured out a winner. It definitely isn’t your standard granola, but it’s lightly-sweet, crunchy, nutty and tastes absolutely incredible on top of some Greek yogurt or in a bowl with some milk.
The mix-ins of the granola are totally adaptable (below in the recipe you’ll find the amounts for what we usually use), but the base of the granola—AKA: the oat substitute—is what really makes this recipe shine. It uses a combo of puffed brown rice cereal (think: the hippie version of Rice Krispies) and quinoa flakes. Now, quinoa flakes may sound weird, but I bet if you look at your local Whole Foods or health food store, you’ll find them in the same aisle with the oats and other hot cereals, and maybe even in the bulk bins if you’re lucky. Quinoa flakes are just quinoa that is processed in a very similar fashion to old-fashioned oats—the grain is rolled and flattened to make flakes that are quick-cooking and result in more of a porridge than a grain. Which means they work pretty much perfectly for oat-free granola.
I also love the quinoa flakes because quinoa is an incredible source of complete vegetarian protein. Meaning that, in quinoa, you can get all nine amino acids that your body needs to get from food in one food source. Why is this so awesome? Well, a lot of vegetarian sources of protein (beans, grains, etc.) don’t contain all the amino acids, which is totally fine, because you tend to make up for what you’ve neglected in one meal with another, but with quinoa (and other complete proteins, such as soy, hemp seeds, meats, eggs, dairy, and others) you take all the guesswork out. Eat some granola, get all your amino acids. Works for me.