Traditional breakfast or brunch dishes such as Western omelets, bacon, quiche and whole wheat muffins don't work very well when you're following a gluten-free vegetarian or vegan diet.
But luckily, the fact that your diet doesn't follow a conventional pattern allows you to discover some really delicious -- and innovative -- breakfast and brunch recipes.
In the list below, I've combined the sweet (vegetarian cheesecake and crêpes) with the savory (omelets, tofu scramble and avocado salad). You can mix and match the recipes to create a world-class brunch for your friends, or you can pick and choose among them, depending on your mood on any particular day.
Here are 10 of my favorite gluten-free vegetarian and vegan breakfast and brunch recipes:
- Crêpes with Raspberry Sauce. These festive crêpes, from About.com's expert on gluten-free cooking, aren't vegan (although you can substitute other ingredients for the milk and butter, there's no real way around the eggs), but they are vegetarian. They'd be perfect as the centerpiece of a holiday brunch.
- Asparagus Omelet. Asparagus is my favorite vegetable, and when it's in season I buy enough to fill my refrigerator. This omelet combines asparagus with Gruyère cheese (another favorite of mine) for a rich, low-carb breakfast dish.
- Buckwheat and Honey English Muffins. This recipe, another from About.com's expert on gluten-free cooking, qualifies as both gluten-free and vegan. The English muffins are also soy- and nut-free -- perfect for those with multiple food sensitivities. They're also yummy with jam on top.
- Avocado and Pomegranate Salad with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette. It's hard to go wrong with this salad as part of your brunch -- the sweet-tartness of the pomegranate seeds blends almost perfectly with the smooth avocado and the fragrant cumin. Just make sure to use a safe brand of cumin -- my Gluten-Free Spices article can help you pick one.
- Fruited Breakfast Quinoa with Honey. Protein-rich, gluten-free quinoa can help you get needed protein when you're eating gluten-free and vegetarian (read more about that here: Getting Enough Protein on a Gluten-Free Vegetarian or Vegan Diet). Just make sure to use a gluten-free soy milk if you want to keep this recipe vegan.
- Curried Tofu Scramble with Spinach. This recipe, from About.com's expert on vegetarian food, echoes the flavors of India with its rich spices. As above, just make sure to choose safe spices and a gluten-free brand of tofu (here's my Gluten-Free Tofu List).
- Vegan Broccoli Quiche. It wouldn't be brunch without quiche, right? If you agree, then this tofu-based quiche should be a hit regardless of whether you're a gluten-free vegan or vegetarian. Just make sure to use a gluten-free pie crust (I explain where to find them here: Gluten-Free Pie Crusts Galore!)
- Greek Omelet with Artichokes. This substantial omelet -- it comes out shaped more like a wedge than a saucer -- makes abundant use of Greek artichokes, which are in season in the spring but can be purchased frozen year-round.
- Vanilla-Flax French Toast. Here, you take French Meadow's certified gluten-free Multigrain Bread and add eggs, milk, flax and vanilla (I like Singing Dog's Alcohol-Free Pure Vanilla) to make French toast that would be equally at home in a family weekend breakfast or a luxurious holiday brunch.
- New York Cheesecake. The last time I hosted a brunch, I made this cheesecake as part of the meal, and I'd make it again in a heartbeat. It's vegetarian but (obviously) not vegan. For suggestions on finding or making gluten-free graham crackers (needed for the crust), turn to my Gluten-Free S'mores article.
Hosting the Perfect Gluten-Free Vegetarian or Vegan Brunch
So how should you pull all this together when you're having some friends over for brunch?
I think people tend to plan too many dishes when they're holding a brunch -- I know I've done that. Therefore, I'm inclined to cut back on the variety and to focus on a few important things: a couple of exquisite recipes, plus good gluten-free coffee (which rules out most flavored coffees, by the way).
To me, this means serving one grain-heavy dish (muffins, crêpes, French toast or English muffins), one protein-rich dish (omelet, quiche or tofu scramble), plus either a salad or a dessert (cheesecake). If you throw in a bowl of fresh melon or berries (whatever looks the best in the store the day before), your guests should have plenty to eat ... and hopefully will rave about your brunch for days to come.