Gluten free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people cutting out gluten for health, dietary or lifestyle reasons. For those avoiding gluten, finding suitable breakfast cereal options can be a challenge. Bran flakes are a breakfast staple for many, but regular varieties contain gluten from wheat. So an important question for gluten free eaters is: are there any gluten free bran flake options available?
The short answer is yes, there are gluten free bran cereals on the market made from ingredients like rice, corn and sorghum. While the variety is still somewhat limited compared to regular wheat bran cereals, several reputable gluten free brands now offer bran flake options. With some searching, those on a gluten free diet can find bran cereals to enjoy.
What is Bran?
Before examining the gluten free options, it helps to understand exactly what bran is. Bran is the hard outer layer of cereal grains. It is full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Wheat bran is the most common type, containing the bran of the wheat kernel. Oat bran comes from oats, while rice bran is extracted from rice.
Bran is often praised for its nutritional benefits. It is high in dietary fiber, which can help promote digestive health. Bran contains B vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. It also contains antioxidants like polyphenols. However eating large amounts of wheat bran can inhibit absorption of certain minerals like iron, zinc and magnesium for some people.
When cereal grains are processed to make refined flour, the bran and germ portions are removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm. Bran cereal is made by taking the bran portion of the grain and reconstituting it into flake form, often with other grains or binders. This allows the nutritional benefits of bran to be enjoyed in flake cereal form.
Challenges of Gluten Free Bran Cereal
The key challenge when making a gluten free bran cereal is replicating the light, crispy texture of wheat bran flakes without using any gluten containing grains. Gluten – comprised of the proteins gliadin and glutenin – provides the elastic structure that allows breads and baked goods to rise and achieve a chewy texture. Since gluten free bran cereals cannot rely on these wheat proteins for texture, other strategies must be used.
Rice flour is often used as a base in gluten free products. But rice bran on its own can yield dense, crumbly cereals without careful processing. Achieving crispy, bran cereal flakes requires expertly crafted recipes and proprietary production methods by gluten free brands. Extensive trial and error is involved in creating gluten free bran cereals that live up to the taste and texture of conventional wheat bran flakes.
Gluten Free Bran Flake Options
Despite the challenges, several established gluten free food companies now produce bran flake cereals using innovative recipes and manufacturing techniques. Here are some of the more widely available gluten free bran cereal options:
Cascadian Farm Organic Purely O’s
Cascadian Farm, owned by General Mills, offers an organic brown rice cereal flake containing rice bran. Purely O’s have a lightly sweetened, crispy texture. They contain 1 gram of fiber per serving. The organic rice bran contains antioxidants and B vitamins. Purely O’s are made in a dedicated gluten free facility.
Barbara’s Multigrain Spoonfuls
Barbara’s Multigrain Spoonfuls are gluten free flakes made from brown rice, millet, quinoa and amaranth. They have 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein per serving. The flakes are lightly sweetened with fruit juice and flavored with cinnamon. Barbara’s cereals are produced in a dedicated gluten free facility.
Nature’s Path Qi’a Superfood Cereal
Nature’s Path Qi’a contains gluten free whole grain brown rice flakes as well as buckwheat and chia seeds. It is flavored with maple syrup. Each serving provides 4 grams of fiber and is a source of omega-3 ALA from the chia seeds. Nature’s Path gluten free facilities are free of the top 9 allergens.
EnviroKidz Gorilla Munch
Gorilla Munch from EnviroKidz is based on gluten free whole grain corn flakes and contains 4 grams of fiber per serving. It is sweetened with fruit juice and vanilla flavor. EnviroKidz tests all products for common allergens and produces Gorilla Munch in a dedicated gluten free facility.
Three Wishes Rice Bran Cereal
Three Wishes cereal is made with brown rice bran, giving it 4 grams of fiber per serving. It has a lightly sweetened, crispy texture. Three Wishes tests all grains and ingredients to ensure they meet the strict gluten free standards before being used in their products.
Perky’s Smart Flakes
Perky’s Smart Flakes contain a blend of sorghum bran, buckwheat bran and rice bran, providing 4 grams of fiber per serving. They are flavored with molasses and a touch of stevia. Perky’s Certifies all products as gluten free using the ELISA test to detect any traces of gluten.
Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs
Kashi’s 7 Whole Grain Puffs cereal is based on corn bran and also contains quinoa, oats, rice, buckwheat and rye flakes. They are crunchy, lightly sweetened and contain 3 grams of fiber per serving. Kashi uses certified gluten free ingredients to make this product in a dedicated gluten free facility.
|Brand||Main Ingredients||Fiber per Serving|
|Cascadian Farm||Brown rice bran||1 g|
|Barbara’s||Brown rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth||3 g|
|Nature’s Path||Brown rice, buckwheat, chia||4 g|
|EnviroKidz||Corn bran||4 g|
|Three Wishes||Brown rice bran||4 g|
|Perky’s||Sorghum, buckwheat, rice bran||4 g|
|Kashi||Corn bran, quinoa, oats, rice, buckwheat, rye||3 g|
What To Look For When Buying
When shopping for a gluten free bran flake cereal, here are some helpful tips:
– Check the ingredients list for any wheat, barley, rye or oat ingredients, which contain gluten. Look for grain ingredients like corn, rice, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa or sorghum.
– Look for a “gluten free” label clearly stated on the packaging. Brands certified gluten free follow strict protocols to avoid cross-contamination.
– Check whether the product is made in a dedicated gluten free facility for added assurance. Facility dedication prevents contact with gluten sources.
– Call or email the manufacturer if you have any doubts or questions about their gluten free practices. Reputable brands can explain their process.
– Opt for certified gluten free oats if you can tolerate oats. Oats are inherently gluten free but often contaminated, so purity protocols are important.
– Look for extra fiber from added grains like buckwheat or chia seeds. This boosts overall fiber content compared to a straight rice bran flake.
– Seek out organic or non-GMO verified options to avoid genetically modified ingredients and chemical residues if this is important to you.
– Compare nutrition labels and fiber content. More fiber per serving generally indicates a better quality bran flake.
Are Gluten Free Bran Flakes Healthy?
Gluten free bran cereals can provide a useful source of fiber and other nutrients on a gluten free diet, with some important caveats. Below are the main pros and cons:
– Good source of dietary fiber from bran
– Provides B vitamins like thiamin and niacin
– Contains antioxidants like polyphenols
– Rice bran may help lower cholesterol
– Easy gluten free breakfast option
– Lower fiber than wheat bran
– May be high in sugar or salt
– Risk of heavy metal contamination in rice
– Mixed impact on mineral absorption
– Limited protein compared to fortified gluten cereals
Overall, gluten free bran cereals are a healthier option than highly processed refined grain products, provided sugar and salt content remains low to moderate. Those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance should verify strict gluten free status when choosing a brand. For maximum nutrition, enjoy gluten free bran flakes in combination with fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and dairy or non-dairy milk.
Gluten Free Homemade Bran Cereal
For the most control over ingredients, fiber content and nutrition, some gluten free eaters prefer making their own homemade bran cereal. This allows customizing the combination of grains, sweeteners and flavors. Here is a basic homemade gluten free bran flake recipe:
– 1 cup brown rice bran
– 1⁄2 cup gluten free oats
– 1⁄4 cup millet
– 1⁄4 cup buckwheat bran
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1⁄4 tsp salt
– 3 tbsp brown rice syrup
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1⁄4 cup water
1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the rice bran, oats, millet, buckwheat bran, cinnamon and salt.
3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the brown rice syrup, olive oil and water. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir well to coat evenly.
4. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet in a thin, even layer. Press down firmly with a spatula to compact.
5. Bake for 60-65 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until firm and crispy. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
6. Break cooled cereal into irregular bran flake sized pieces and store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.
7. Serve with your favorite milk or yogurt and fresh fruit. Add a drizzle of honey or agave nectar if desired.
This basic recipe can be adapted with different gluten free grain and bran combinations, spices, sweeteners or dried fruits. Bran cereal is also delicious with some added nuts or seeds. Making your own lets you control the sugar content and customize the flavors.
The Bottom Line
For those on a gluten free diet, finding a tasty bran flake cereal helps add fiber, nutrients and variety at breakfast time. While options are still somewhat limited compared to wheat bran cereals, several reputable brands now offer gluten free bran cereals using rice, corn, sorghum and gluten free oats. With some careful label reading and brand research, gluten free eaters can find bran flakes that align with their dietary needs. Opting for certified gluten free and organic when possible provides added assurance. Or get creative in the kitchen and make your own custom gluten free bran cereal full of your favorite gluten free grains, spices and flavors. Either way, enjoying the nutrition and crunch of bran cereal is definitely possible on a gluten free diet.