Gluten Free For Good


More About Melissa

I’ve been detained for the past several weeks. In fact, I almost forgot I had a blog. If it hadn’t been for the occasional spam updates, this blogging thing might have completely slipped my mind. My absence has been for good reason though. I’m involved in an exciting book writing project with friend, colleague, writing guru, endurance athlete, and fellow blogger Pete Bronski from No Gluten No Problem. Although it’s been a wild ride (sprinting a marathon as Pete says), I’m grateful and thrilled to be involved. We’ll keep you posted.

And now — back to blogging.

Have you ever wondered if you’re getting a hit of iron when you cook in a cast iron skillet and then eat the food? Doesn’t that sound like more fun than buying and taking iron supplements?

I’m not suggesting giving up your iron supplements if you’re truly deficient, but why not let some of that free iron migrate from the pan to your red blood cells? A 2007 study published in the Ecology of Food and Nutrition Journal found that iron nutrition status among vegetarians can be improved by using cast iron skillets in meal preparation. The iron transferred from the skillet to the food and was absorbed by the subjects. The use of cast iron pans decreased the prevalence of iron deficiency anemia in the population studied.

That’s great if you’re absorbing your iron to begin with. People with unmanaged, undiagnosed (or newly diagnosed) gluten intolerance are often iron deficient. The area of the small intestine where iron is absorbed can become inflamed and damaged, so even if you’re eating a healthy diet you might not be absorbing or assimilating the nutrients.

You’ve heard the old saying, you are what you eat.

Uh, well, not always.

It’s more like, you are what you’re able to digest (breakdown), absorb into circulation, and ship out to your anxiously-awaiting cells. If you aren’t absorbing your iron, you should find out why. If you don’t get enough iron in your diet, which can be the case with vegetarians, cooking with cast iron will boost your intake.

I have a small cast iron skillet from my grandmother that I use on a regular basis. It’s my personal breakfast skillet. I roast veggies in it and top the mixture with a poached egg or two. It makes for a delicious, iron-rich meal. It also makes for quick cleanup since I’m cooking and eating out of the same pan.

Heavy Metal Skillet Breakfast

Broccoli stalks (amazingly good roasted)
Pastured eggs
Simply Organic All-Purpose Seasoning
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease skillet. Trim broccoli stalks by getting rid of the funky stuff on the outside. Cut in 1-inch wide by 2- to 3-inch long chunks (see photo). Cut cauliflower chunks in half. Cut onions in 2- to 3-inch chunks. The vegetable pieces should be cut to similar sizes so they roast evenly.

Place vegetables in a small bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil. Add some Simply Organic All-Purpose Seasoning (my absolute favorite multi-purpose seasoning), sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Stir to cover vegetables. Put the broccoli chunks, cauliflower, and onions in the skillet and place on center rack of oven. Set timer for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, add the tomatoes and spinach, stirring to blend the newly added vegetables with the others. Roast for another 10 minutes.

In the meantime, poach two eggs. Once the vegetables are roasted, top with the eggs and enjoy.

Note: Broccoli stalks are awesome roasted. Don’t throw them away. They taste tender and slightly sweet when roasted. They’re delicious!

You might also like:
Carol’s version of Eggs Florentine baked in a cast iron skillet (from the wonderful blog Simply Gluten Free).

Peace, love, and cast iron.

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35 Responses to “Heavy Metal Skillet Breakfast”

  1. Such a gorgeous and healthy breakfast (or lunch or dinner!), Melissa. I love cooking in cast iron. 🙂 I had tried peeling the stalks of broccoli and then eating the entirety steamed, but didn’t care for it much. Roasting the stalks sounds like pure brilliance. We have broccoli, which I’ll be making tomorrow most likely, so I’ll definitely try roasting the stalks–thanks!

    I’m so excited about your book project. Gosh, any book from Pete is fantastic and a book from you alone would be amazing, so one from you together … well that will be a totally fabulous book! Can’t wait for more details! 🙂


    • Melissa says:


      I’m a huge fan of roasted vegetables and I have to say, adding the Simply Organic All-Purpose Seasoning makes everything taste and smell delicious. It’s my “go-to” seasoning, especially for roasting. I use broccoli stalks in smoothies, but roasting them until tender is my favorite!

  2. Wendy says:

    I love the iron skillets my grandmother gave me. When we went gluten free, I let them rust, sanded them down and re-seasoned them. No way was I giving up my Nana’s skillets. Thank you for telling me how to use broccoli stalks!

    • Melissa says:


      That is so interesting about sanding them down and re-seasoning them. So, you’re with Diane on thinking they might hold gluten contamination? What would you cook in them that would have wheat in it? Bread? Maybe barley? That never entered my mind. Hmmm? That’s what I love about this GF community. There is so much knowledge! Thanks for sharing yours. =)

  3. Alta says:

    I love broccoli stalks. Actually prefer them to the florets, especially raw. This sounds so good. I can imagine the tomatoes getting all soft and yummy. And eggs on top? That’s MY kind of breakfast for sure.

    • Melissa says:


      Well, you know I’m a “vegetables for breakfast” person, so this kind of meal is common fare for me. And I have to agree with you on the broccoli stalks versus florets, especially raw. I’m not a big fan of raw broccoli florets. I do like them lightly steamed though. I love the roasted stalks though. They are a favorite of mine!

  4. Martha Russell says:

    I love our cast iron skillets which we bought 45 years ago before we were married and still use them all the time. My greatest treasure is a cast iron dutch oven which I got at the same time and only paid $5.00 for it!! I couldn’t begin to tell how many soups, stews, roasts, chillis and spaghetti sauces have been cooked in that dutch oven through the years!!!


    • Melissa says:


      I have a couple of Le Creuset dutch ovens, but not the old-school cast iron type you can get from the Army Surplus store. I want to get one of those. As I said (somewhere in these comments), my son has one and uses it camping all the time. He loves it for cooking whole chickens, fish, even baked potatoes. Hope all is well with you!

  5. Maggie says:

    You’ve done it once again Melissa! I’m currently studying the minerals section of my first module for school! Just finished reading up on Iron. We use a cast iron pan a lot too. It’s definitely our easiest pan to clean. In addition, a friend of ours just introduced us to broccoli stalking (hehe) and we are hooked. So…I’ll be making a variation of this dish soon enough. Thanks for the inspiration and for complementing this week’s studies 🙂 PS: Book? Sooo exciting, can’t wait to hear more news.

    • Melissa says:


      Broccoli stalking! I love it. I’m interested in hearing about where you’re going to school. Nutrition is such a wonderful field to be in and you’re already so far ahead of the pack when it comes to food science! Can’t wait to hear more.

  6. Maggie says:

    And as soon as I pressed “submit comment” I got an email telling me you had left a comment on my blog. Synchronicity at its best!

  7. I’m so glad you wrote about this and included the study! I’ve read other things saying that absorbing the iron from cast iron was just as bad as absorbing anything from a nonstick…which seemed really off to me, but there was never any research to back up the other things I’ve seen.

    And that breakfast looks amazing! 🙂

    • Melissa says:


      If you can access the whole study you’ll see they did a good job breaking it all down. I know there has been some controversy about iron transfer from pots, that’s why I did a search on it. It is nice to know you’re boosting your iron intake just by choosing the right pans to cook with. =)

  8. Diane Eblin says:

    I love roasted veggies for breakfast and really like your idea of the poached egg too. I’m a long time fan of broccoli stalks. I actually started eating those way before I would eat the tops. I’ve always done things backwards. I do love my cast iron skillet. I bought a new one after going gf because I didn’t trust the old one. I think I’ll be having this for breakfast tomorrow.!

    • Melissa says:


      Hmmm? I never thought about my skillet being contaminated. Interesting. My small one was my grandmother’s, but I’m thinking it was probably rare to ever have had gluten in it (the small one anyway). I have several different sizes of cast iron skillets. I make GF cornbread in the medium sized one. My son cooks in a big cast iron dutch oven sometimes (like a whole chicken) over an outdoor fire. It is such an awesome way to cook.

  9. How exciting – I can’t wait to see what you and Pete have cooked up!
    Luckily over here at this (mostly) vegetarian house (I eat meat periodically), neither of us have ever had issues with our iron. Now, B-12, that’s another story, for me at least. And one of the reasons I went back to eating meat.
    That said, I love my cast iron skillet, but my husband still doesn’t ‘get’ how to clean it.
    As for the broccoli, we love the stalks grilled, steamed, roasted and shredded for brocco-slaw. It feels wasteful not to eat them. I don’t peel them, just cut them into “rounds”. I give the really hard ends of the stalks to my chickens, and they enjoy them a lot – recycling!

    • Melissa says:


      Love the idea of using every single bit of the veggies (passing along bits and pieces to the chickens). They do that at Grant Farms (my CSA farm). The chickens eat amazingly well, munching down the scraps from all the organic veggies. I haven’t used broccoli stalks in slaw yet, but you’ve given me inspiration. Grilling on an outdoor grill would be awesome as well. Thanks for your insight. I always appreciate hearing from you!

  10. Elese says:

    Oh this looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it. Exciting about your upcoming book project…thanks for the great post. Always inspiring! 🙂

  11. Alisa says:

    I LOVE broccoli and never used to think of using the stalks. This past year though I’ve started using them up …roasting, steaming, shredding, whatever … soooo good! Even better though … cauliflower stalks. Not as much stalk left there, but what little there is becomes so amazingly sweet when you roast it.

    Glad you decided to come back and visit the blog Melissa 🙂

    • Melissa says:


      Thanks! I agree about the cauliflower stalks — they are sweet when roasted. When I get cauliflower direct from the farm in my CSA share the stalks are bigger and there are more leaves left on the plant. I love the leaves as well. Good stuff, indeed!

  12. naomi says:

    I have the same sort of thing, but with eggs scrambled and then stirred in. I always use my cast iron pans for anything I can and never even thought I could be absorbing anything from them. I thought that you had to cook something acidic in cast iron to liberate some of the iron?

    Eggs and veg in a cast iron pan – such a grounding start to the day!

    x x x

    • Melissa says:


      Scrambled eggs sound just as good. The study I read demonstrated considerable iron transfer from the pan to the subject. It also showed some manganese transfer. And, you’re right, the more acidic foods and the more aqueous foods took up greater amounts of iron. I remember hearing that years ago with tomato sauce and iron pans. Thanks for your comment. Hope all is well with you!

  13. Lexie | Lexie's Kitchen says:

    Rock on! We had eggs and chard in our cast iron skillet today. But look at this beautiful array of veggies you are serving up. Love it!!!


    • Melissa says:


      Thanks for your comment! We’re on the same wavelength. I love chard and eggs! Especially in a “one serving” skillet.

  14. Gigi says:

    You know what a pleasure I find these informative posts of yours! I use cast iron for this very reason as often as possible because I AM severely iron deficient, although that’s under control. That is the reason I gave up dairy and, for a time, egg yolks (still limit these), due to their inhibition of iron absorption (along with several other foods).
    Any-hoo… I love the post, the picture is grand, and anything you write, I will relish, I am certain… looking forward to hearing more on this project with Peter. 🙂

    Gigi 😉

    • Melissa says:

      Hi Gigi,

      So nice to “hear” from you. I sure wish you could just pop in and have breakfast with me. I’m sure we’d have plenty to talk about. We need to make sure we connect next time we’re at the same event! BTW, your pea flour bread looked awesome! What a fun surprise that post was. =)

      Happy 2012!

  15. lo says:

    There are lots of great reasons to love cast iron pans! Now, if only mine were filled with those delightful eggs, I’d be an even happier camper!

    Glad to see you’re back, Melissa. Good luck on the book work!

    • Melissa says:


      Hope all is well with you two. Wishing you fine food, good wine, and lots of fun in 2012. I appreciate you stopping by to say hello. Thanks!

  16. Love, love, love my cast iron skillets! And boy is this post making me hungry, wish I had that right in front of me now!

    Thanks for the link love!

    ps – roasted broccili stalks? Going on my must try list!

  17. Kim says:

    Any tips on how to easily make poached eggs? I have only made them using a thick sauce as a sort of “cup” to cook the eggs in and haven’t ventured into making straight up poached eggs. We’re going to make this for dinner tonight–looks lovely! And I LOVE my cast iron pans!

  18. […] up at breakfast.  Lately I’m totally stuck on Melissa’s (Gluten Free For Good) Heavy Metal Skillet Breakfast.  It tastes amazing and I can use whatever vegetables I have on hand plus the poached eggs on top. […]

  19. Shonnie says:

    Love cooking in an iron skillet. I will have to try this. I am not good at poaching eggs though.

  20. Hi,

    That looks so delicious. I love poached eggs and make them all the time. Just barely simmer some water, filling the saucepan about 3″ deep with water. Crack the egg one at a time in small cup. Slowly add the egg into the barely simmering water. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Simmer for about 3:30 minutes. Remove with a wide slotted spoon and let the water drain out. Add to recipe. Hope that works.


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