Gluten Free Breakfasts

When you were diagnosed?  What did the doctor say?

My doctor told me (over the phone) that I could no longer eat “bread, cakes, cookies, pasta, etc”  He never mentioned breakfast.

And I didn’t think about it.  After all, I’ve never been a big breakfast eater anyway – or at least not on weekdays.  There is something about rising at 5:00AM and scrambling to get all of us out the door and off for the day that leaves little time for breakfast for me.  The girls eat, but my Love and I are busy packing lunches, etc.  And really?  My tummy has NO desire for food in the morning.

Coffee?  Yes.  Food?  No.

But on the weekends, when I can leisurely approach our day (usually) as the schedule is much more our own, breakfast can be enticing.  I have fond memories of Eggs Benedict from the “fancy French” restaurant we sometimes visited as kids when my dad had business contacts in town.  (I am neither certain now that the restaurant was truly fancy or French for that matter – thus the quotation marks.)

It was there that I remember getting poached eggs.  I don’t remember my mom poaching eggs for all of us before then. And now that I poach eggs for all of us on the weekend – I know why she didn’t try to poach eggs for 6 people.  EEK.

After my diagnosis, I realized quickly that our weekend breakfast routine – brunch with friends many times at area restaurant would have to change.  We used to meet up with friends at a Chicago restaurant that is famous for its cinnamon rolls (mmmm…yummmmmmmmmmm!) or sometimes another that serves fabulous pancakes/waffles…. or yet another that was famous for its freshly baked muffins.  Oh yes.  Breakfast pre-diagnosis was a carb-load for me.

And the silly thing is, I am not big on making pancakes.  I do have several pancake recipes – and crepes, etc. but they are not always my thing.  Maybe I’m just a picky breakfast eater.  I don’t know.  I do know that thanks to my pickiness, developing a list of breakfast ideas has been good for me.  That way I don’t feel stuck eating the same ol’ thing.  (My honey’s favorite breakfast includes oven baked potato wedges, scrambled eggs and some sausage.  I swear he could live on it but after a while I get tired of it.)

The other hurdle for breakfast/brunch is when others want to serve with you/eat with you.  The standard fare for breakfast is much more likely to be a gluten maze than a dinner out.  But let’s be honest, breakfast is cheaper.  And dinner?  Not always.

I remember our first weekend brunch with buddies after I was diagnosed.  A group of us began hosting brunches at our houses – rotating every month.  It had really just started (we had three brunches under our belts) when I was diagnosed.  And there I sat, wondering what I was going to do.  Each of us brought a different part of the brunch to share.  We tried to balance dishes and costs so no one was out too much and we had a fairly balanced brunch.  (Although to be honest, it was straight up carb-load with waffles, muffins, fruit, etc)

When I mentioned to a couple of friends that maybe I would connect with them after the brunch, they insisted that I still go.  It’s just breakfast, after all, they said.  I was worried about feeling isolated.  (It’s amazing how not eating the same muffin as everyone else can feel so isolating, huh?)  I didn’t want to have to explain to anyone, etc.  But in the end, I decided to go.  I enjoyed having that relaxing, un-rushed time to visit with friends.  At restaurants, clubs, movies, stores, etc there is always a bit of pressure to move on.  Not so at someone’s home for brunch.

And I’m so glad I did.  There were PLENTY of gluten-free offerings.  In fact, people made a point to let me know  what was in their food items, etc.  I truly think the only thing I couldn’t eat were waffles.  And that was okay. I had *plenty*.  And then we all went home and napped.

See?  Brunch rocks. (Okay, everything does when naps follow.)  😀

My latest list of gluten free brunch ideas include:

  • Migas (recipe to follow – easily adaptable)
  • Roasted potatoes, sausage, eggs
  • Arepas with poached eggs – served Benedict style
  • Arepas with leftovers  (See link above – just open arepas/stuff with leftovers)
  • Chilaquiles
  • Frittatas
  • Tortilla Patata (Spanish-style potatoes/eggs/onions)
  • yogurt
  • fresh fruit
  • smoothies
  • “Green eggs” (for a Seuss “Green Eggs and Ham” breakfast)
    • avocado-deviled eggs (Deviled eggs made with avocado instead of mayo)
  • pancakes
  • crepes
  • Breakfast “nachos”
    • tortilla chips topped with semi-cooked scrambled eggs, roasted veggies, black beans, salsa, cheese and baked, then topped with sour cream, avocado, diced tomatoes, etc
  • Baked eggs with roasted veggies
  • Homemade GF granola
  • store-bought GF cereal (I love Cinnamon Chex!)
  • GF Breakfast pizza (and read Betty’s comment – her recipe sounds good to me too!)
  • Cocoa calas – a doughnut that uses left over rice – this one is chocolate!
What are you eating/serving for breakfast?

Winter Migas     Photo by Kate Chan

I know you are wondering why I titled my photo “Winter Migas”.  Well, I guess it is because you can use whatever seasonal veggies you have on hand (or leftovers) to make your migas.  Since I had mostly winter veggies (carrots, onions, etc) and few leftover (roasted bell peppers, zucchini, etc) I thought it sounded more like winter.  In the spring or summer, we include asparagus or other market offerings to build our migas.

Truly, what you need are corn tortillas (GF, of course), onion, garlic, veggies of your choice, meat (if you desire, like chorizo, sausage, bacon, etc) and optional toppings like sour cream, avocado, green onions, cilantro and/or salsa.


This recipe  serves 2 hungry adults and 2 hungry toddlers with ease.


  • 6 gf corn tortillas
  • 6-8 eggs (depends on you), cracked and mixed together in a bowl
  • 1/2 large sweet onion (about 1 cup), sliced thinly into half-rings
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
  • 2/3 cup carrot sliced into strips (1/4″ wide, 3″ long)
  • 1 cup roasted bell pepper strips
  • 1 cup zucchini, sliced into long strips (about 1/4″ inch wide, 3″ long)
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons + chili powder, to taste
  • OPTIONAL:  Cooked Chorizo, sausage, bacon (2 links per person or 4 strips of bacon)
  • OPTIONAL:  avocado slices, sour cream, green onions, cilantro, salsa (for topping)


  1. Fry each tortilla in a bit of oil until they begin to brown and crisp up.  (Don’t deep fry, they should still be somewhat flexible.)  Drain and set aside.  (Without the oil, the heated tortillas will hardened and not be easy to chew.  Frying works best here.)
  2. Sauté onion until carmelized.
  3. Add carrot and cook until fork-tender.
  4. Add garlic and zucchini.  Sauté until fragrant.
  5. Add remaining roasted veggies (or leftover veggies) until heated through.
  6. Cut tortillas into strips (about 1/2 inch wide).  Cut strips in half, if desired.
  7. Add the strips to the roasted veggies, onions, etc.   Season well with salt/pepper and chili powder.
  8. Pour the egg mixture over the top.  Mix thoroughly while cooking to distribute the eggs/tortillas.
  9. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
  10. Serve hot/warm with meat accompaniment and toppings as desired.

I love a recipe that can adjust itself to my refrigerator’s contents, don’ you?

Happy GF Mornings to you and yours!
~Kate and family

GF: Healthier Eggs Benedict

GF: Healthier Benedict, originally uploaded by Kate Chan.

When I was little, my family would sometimes go to brunch at a fancy hotel restaurant when my dad had colleagues in town. One of my sisters would always order eggs Benedict. And oh man, those were good! I sometimes ordered the Benedict too, but often caved for the waffles piled high with fresh strawberries.

Alas, Eggs Benedict are not exactly the healthiest with all that lovely hollandaise sauce. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t still indulge every once in a while. And once gluten free, I would simply substitute home fries or oven baked potato wedges for the traditional English muffin base.

But now I skip the hollandaise all together. The flavors come through so much more nicely with just a drizzle of delicious, crisp olive oil and tangy balsamic vinegar in lieu of the hollandaise. I don’t think you will miss a thing!

For a little change up, we use smoked salmon, or honey-glazed turkey breast if we don’t have Canadian-style bacon on hand.

Instead of the English muffin, lately we’ve been using arepas (pronounced: Ah-ray-pahs). Arepas are easy to make – you just need to make sure you have the correct flour. Do NOT substitute regular masa harina or corn flour (not corn starch) for the precooked corn flour called for in the recipe. However, some area recipes also add fresh corn to the mix to add a little more texture and enhance the corn flavor. That’s a delicious too!

I was introduced to arepas about 10 years ago while teaching in Chicago. One of my students was from Colombia and his mom made arepas for a class party. Oh man, were they GOOD. Flash forward a few years to my diagnosis, and I started wondering about the arepas. I forgot about them for a little while I was occupied with finishing my Master’s and getting married (yes, on the same weekend…LOL). Then when we moved out to the Pacific Northwest, I began teaching Spanish at the local University. One of my students made another version of arepas again for me (this time a Venezuelan version) and my love of arepas just kept going.

Karen, at Gluten Free Heaven, wrote a wonderful post about arepas. She gives GREAT details about the flour and has some pictures that are going to make you drool. (Just a warning… I thought I was going to bite the screen when I saw her post the first time.) I will forever be indebted to her for reviving arepas at our house. *muaw*!

Shauna, at Gluten Free Girl, also got the arepa-craving moving along further with her post and photos too. Although, the arepas I make are a little different than the ones either of them make. But that is the beauty of arepas – versatile! easy! individual! Piece of cake! (Or Corn cake in this case!)

When I saw their posts, I was reminded how a simple, easy dish can make the world of difference for a gluten-free eater. (And, I’m happy to report, these little babies were devoured by our Chinese family members not once, but THREE times while they were here – at their request. I even sent them home with the recipe and flour in a bag. They made more arepas for my sister-in-law when they arrived in Colorado just a few short days after leaving us. See? It’s an addiction! LOL)

I use equal parts of precooked corn flour, queso cotija (Pronunciation help: “Kay-so” “co-tea-ha”) (Mexican crumbling cheese – sometimes called Queso Anejado) or parmesan and water. The recipe below makes 4 small-ish arepas. Since everything is in equal portions, it is super easy to double, triple or quadruple the recipe to serve large groups (like I did when our family was in town. Arepas for 8? 2 cups of each: precooked corn flour, queso cotija and water).

I will post the Venezuelan version and another with corn if anyone is interested another day. For now – here’s are the recipes for basic arepas and the Healthier Eggs Benedict. (Here’s a version of a recipe with fresh corn in it from Whole Foods.)

The other little benefit? This version of Eggs Benedict doesn’t make me feel like I need to do five more Step Classes to just break even on the calorie count! PHEW!

Gluten free: Arepas
Makes 4 small arepas. (Increase quantities if you want 4 Arepas that can be stuffed for sandwiches, etc)

1/2 cup pre-cooked corn flour (See this Gluten Free Heaven post for pictures of the bags)
1/2 cup crumbled queso cotija or queso anejado (Mexican crumbling cheese) OR parmesan cheese
1/2 cup tepid water


  1. Mix together all ingredients until a soft dough forms. Divide into 4 equal portions.
  2. Form the arepas by gently shaping them into round patties about 1/2 inch thick (for Benedict) or thicker (for opening/stuffing for sandwiches). (My students call them “South American edible hockey pucks” if that helps you with the shape idea. LOL)
  3. Heat a pan with a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat and preheat the oven to 400F.
  4. Lay the arepas in the pre-heated pan/olive oil on the burner and brown each side (about 3-5 minutes per side).
  5. Remove the arepas from the pan and place in an oven-proof dish. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  6. Serve and eat immediately. (Or follow the Benedict recipe that follows)

Arepas can be served with any topping you desired. When my family was here, I filled the table with the following and everyone made their own area sandwiches: avocado, bacon, turkey, tomatoes, a variety of jams, scrambled and poached eggs, smoked salmon, sour cream, mustard, ham, cilantro, basil, pepperoncinis, etc. (We pretty much emptied the fridge this way of leftovers too. LOL!)

Gluten Free: Healthy Eggs Benedict
Makes 4 Benedict stacks (Serves 2 for brunch)

4 eggs
1 medium ripe avocado
8 slices of Canadian-style bacon, smoked salmon or turkey breast
4 Arepas (see recipe above)
Olive oil, for drizzling
Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling


  1. Prepare arepas. While the arepas are baking:
  2. Poach eggs.
  3. Remove arepas from oven (when done) and create the Benedict stack. Place an area on the plate. Top with meat of choice, then avocado slices and finish with a poached egg.
  4. Drizzle the top of the Benedict with good-quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

¡Buen provecho!

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