Keeping Our Morning Bowl Full: Chex Adds Sixth Gluten-Free Cereal

By Bridget

While I’ve been living a gluten-free lifestyle for three years now, there are still certain struggles I can’t seem to get past. One of these daily difficulties includes what to have for breakfast. There have definitely been mornings that I wake up and finish off the gluten-free pasta from dinner or even eat sushi to get my day started with a “balanced” morning meal. Cereal, pancakes, muffins, and toast are definitely relics of the past, and even oatmeal can be a no-no for sufferers of Celiac’s disease.

Now most people who read this blog are probably well aware that Chex has sympathetically taken on the gluten-free cereal world, manufacturing corn- and rice-based cereals that are Celiac-friendly. Where a couple of years ago plain corn and rice Chex were the only options, the cereal brand has expanded their line of gluten-free squares with chocolate, cinnamon, honey nut and, most recently, Apple Cinnamon Chex!

Announced in a press release yesterday, the company has added this new flavor of Chex as the sixth in their line of gluten-free cereals. The new flavor is made with real apples and cinnamon, providing whole, gluten-free grains with no artificial flavoring. I am particularly appreciative of how commercially available the cereal is (you can find Chex cereal in just about any grocery store) and how affordable it is! So many gluten-free cereals can cost $5-$7 per box, which can keep my “breakfast-for-dinner” habit very alive. What’s more, Chex cereals in general have a great flavor that’s even gluten-eater approved!

Chex cereal is very forthcoming with information regarding their gluten-free products. Check out their website at chex.com/glutenfree for more information!

General Mills Seems to be Listening

images_03-02General Mills rolled out their gluten-free website, Live Gluten Freely, a couple of months ago. At that time, there were 200 products on the gluten-free list including, but not limited to, the gluten-free Betty Crocker mixes, some Progresso soups and Larabars. The company recently added several items to the gluten-free list, bringing the total to over 250 products!

The fact that Betty Crocker introduced gluten-free baking mixes might be the most exciting news since the introduction of gluten-free Chex cereals. However, the fact that 20 different flavors of Betty Crocker frostings are now labeled gluten-free is pretty great news for people that are not interested in making frosting from scratch. There are both “Rich & Creamy” and “Whipped” frosting versions available. Before I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I never made homemade frosting or baked much. When I found out that most canned frostings contained gluten in the form of wheat, I had a hard time believing it. Wheat in frosting?

So far, I’ve seen at least 10 flavors of the gluten-free labeled frostings on store shelves in my area. The Coconut Pecan version is much tastier than I expected it to be. Actually, since I had no choice for several years but to make my own frosting, I not only got used to making frostings, I actually enjoy it now. Nothing from a can is going to compete with homemade frostings, of course. Still, it’s nice to know that there are so many safe choices for ready-made frostings these days. From lemon to chocolate to strawberry to cream cheese – they’re all available gluten-free now!

Other additions to the General Mills line up are Valley Fresh Steamers from Green Giant and over 20 new flavors of Yoplait yogurt. That brings the total number of gluten-free yogurts to over 100. Remember when it was hard to get an answer about what yogurts were gluten-free? Unless it’s frozen and chocolate flavored, I don’t really care for yogurt, but I think I’m going to try something like “Key Lime Pie” or “Strawberry Shortcake” yogurt from Yoplait just for the heck of it. Oh the times they certainly are changing – indeed!

Some broths and soups were added to the Progresso gluten-free list, including “Chicken Rice with Vegetables” and “New England Clam Chowder”. There is no added MSG in the newly formulated soups and every type I’ve tried has been wonderful! The only item that is no longer on the General Mills gluten-free list is Strawberry Chex, which were discontinued due to poor sales. Some people in our area reported finding that cereal flavor but I never found it at any grocery or big box store. Personally, I think it hurts sales from mainstream consumers when companies splash “‘gluten-free” on the front of the box as was done with the Chex cereals. I know people that will not buy the cereal now, due to that term being in bold on the front of the box. Unfortunately, the misconception that gluten-free equals taste free is alive and well and probably will be for a while.

Gluten-free Turtle Brownies
Gluten-free Turtle Brownies

Don’t forget about the gluten-free recipe page on the Live Gluten Freely website. They are always adding new recipes to use with their gluten-free Betty Crocker mixes and Chex cereals! Try this gluten-free turtle brownie recipe (made with the Betty Crocker Brownie Mix) for a truly decadent treat!

Special thanks to all the readers who left a comment on Kay’s post about the Live gluten Freely website, to encourage General Mills’ efforts to cater to our market!

PLEASE Comment – Let's Make Sure General Mills Stays on the Right Track!

General Mills now has a over 200 gluten-free products, and more importantly, they’re actually labeling them “Gluten Free.” Let’s make sure that this isn’t just a market test. Leave your comment on our blog and let General Mills know that we appreciate what they’re doing. The more vocal we are, the more likely it is that they will keep — and even expand — their gluten-free labeling.

General Mills brands that are being labeled gluten-free include Fruit Roll-Ups, Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Progresso Soups, Larabar and Chex. Our eagle-eyed editors actually noticed that Yoplait has been labeling gluten-free versions of its yogurts as such for over a year now. But this is the first time that we know of that Yoplait has also published its gluten-free list. Click here for the full list of General Mills’ gluten-free products. Don’t forget to also check the ingredient label for the “Gluten Free” phrase before buying.

We hope other large food companies will follow suite soon. We’ve seen Kool-Aid packets, a Kraft brand, that are labeled gluten-free,  does that mean a Kraft gluten-free list is soon to follow? We can only hope!

On a personal note, this is such big news because it’s the first time a large “mainstream” company is giving a straight answer on which for their products are gluten-free. By now, we’re all used to the big-company-run-around answer to “is it gluten-free?” The phone rep reads from their script: “As the FDA has not yet issued a ruling defining the term gluten-free, we cannot confirm that a product is gluten-free. We advise you to carefully read labels each time that you buy our product. We also recommend that you consult your physician if … [insert eye roll here – I mean, really, who consults their physician on their choice of cereal!].” General Mills is not only publishing their gluten-free list online, but also labeling their products gluten-free! How refreshing.

As the publishers of The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide, we understand the importance of reading labels. But we would love to see easy-to-read labels like this. Our guide takes 3 full-time people over a thousand hours to research and edit. Gluten-free should not be that hard. Let’s thank General Mills for going this extra mile, and actually making it easy for us to make shopping choices.

Leave a comment below, and we’ll forward them on to General Mills’ marketing department. We hope that the other big food companies will do the same, and soon!