Autoimmune Paleo Colombian-Style Arepas (seriously authentic!)

Autoimmune paleo Colombian-style arepas - seriously authentic! // #AIP #arepas #colombianfood

My husband and roommates (from Venezuela) are all following the same leaky gut protocol that I did last year - Repairvite Diet/AIP. I'm doing it with them for moral support and as a personal challenge (more info here and our AIP FB support group is here). It's forcing me to come up with new delicious AIP and Repairvite Diet-friendly recipes! We started on Ash Wednesday and are doing it for the first 30 days of Lent, and then we'll begin food reintroductions the right way - one food every 3 days.

It's been a rough start, but I'm very excited to share what has been The One Recipe to help us all keep our sanity so far: AREPAS!

I figured out a way to not only to make paleo arepas, but fully autoimmune paleo, too. Heck yeah! And let me say it now: these actually taste like arepas and not just another paleo bread item.....

I told you that my roommates are from Venezuela. This was important for me to mention since arepas are a Venezuelan staple dish! If you are unfamiliar with them (I'm so sorry if that's the case - you are missing out on something amazing!) they are made from a type of corn flour called masarepa, which is a pre-cooked, finely ground flour. All the Venezuelans I know say that the only brand to use is Harina P.A.N. I trust them :)

Yeah, of course I know that corn isn't paleo, but these babies are SO GOOD and worth every bite if you follow the 80/20 approach to a paleo or primal diet. My favorite type to get are the thicker deep-fried ones that are sliced in the middle and stuffed full of meat and cheese. Ungh. I have dreams about them. 

In Miami Beach, I lived down the street from a Venezuelan restaurant that made them perfect every time. Here's a shot from my most recent visit to the city:

Colombian-Style Arepas vs. Venezuelan-Style Arepas

Venezuela's neighbor, Colombia, also makes delicious arepas, but they are slightly different. They are usually flatter, like a pancake, and instead of stuffing them, you can eat them plain or top them with whatever you like. I used to get them from a Colombian restaurant not far from our condo in Miami Beach topped with a big slice of mild cheese and a thin steak. So good!

Since these arepas are thin and can't be sliced and stuffed, they are more like the Colombian style than the Venezuelan style. I think that a Venezuelan style will require some type of flour to get the right consistency and I do plan to experiment! 

Malanga dough

So, you're probably wondering - "what the heck did she use to make the dough??" 

Here's the secret: it's one of my favorite tropical starches - malanga (also known as ocumo in Venezuela). I've written before about how I love to use both malanga and taro as a nightshade-free potato substitute. Yuca is pretty good too, I just hate working with the kind from the grocery store that's coated in that awful petroleum-based wax. I buy it frozen, from a local farmer, or not at all.  My local farmers don't wax them, meaning they're perishable and have to be kept in the fridge and consumed within a week of harvest. 

Grain-free Colombian-style arepas (#paleo, #AIP) //

Recipe notes

You will need to use the mashed malanga from this recipe to make these arepas. You can also read a ton more about malanga and taro, another favorite starch of mine, at that link. 

Since there are 4 of us on the AIP right now and I am such a huge fan of batch cooking, we peeled and boiled about 15 pounds of malanga all at once and then mashed it all up. We stored the mash in the fridge for a week and ate it as a side dish with dinner some days and fried it up as arepas for breakfast other days. 

Be sure you use the red can of Great Lakes Gelatin in this recipe - DO NOT USE THE GREEN COLLAGEN HYDROLYSATE - it will not work and you will waste your ingredients!

And, if you still think that Great Lakes is "too expensive", check out this analysis I did vs. the store-bought, factory-farm derived Knox gelatin:

Happy eating! I hope you enjoy this recipe and that it brings some joy to your breakfast plate :-)

Colombian-Style Arepas - Paleo, AIP, and Seriously Authentic

Recipe by Amanda Torres @ The Curious Coconut

Arepas are a beloved corn bread patties traditionally eaten in Venezuela and Colombia. This version, developed with my Venezuelan roommates, is fully grain-free, paleo, and autoimmune protocol compliant thanks to being made from the wonderful tropical root malanga (also known as ocumo). Enjoy these fried patties of crispy crunchy deliciousness with any meal of the day, but they are especially wonderful at breakfast.


  • 2 cups mashed malanga (follow the recipe here or check the instructions for a quick method)
  • 3 Tbsp filtered water
  • 1 Tbsp gelatin (Great Lakes red canister)
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
  • 1/2 to 1 1/4 tsp unrefined salt
  • 1/2 to 1 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 to 1 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • optional: 1 carrot shredded
  • few Tbsps fat of choice for frying (animal fats like lard, bacon fat, and tallow taste best, but coconut oil works, too)

Cooking Directions

  1. If you don't want to click over and read the mashed malanga recipe, I'll give you a crash course: peel roots with a veggie peeler, coarsely cut, boil about 25 min or until fork-tender, then mash with enough bone broth (this stuff is great in a pinch), coconut milk, and fat until the consistency is like mashed potatoes.
  2. Prepare the gelatin egg: measure the water in a small saucepan. Gently, slowly, and carefully "rain" the gelatin over the water. Please take the 2 minutes to do this - otherwise you will end up with clumps! Sprinkle a little bit, watch it "bloom", then sprinkle a bit more. Once all the gelatin has bloomed, place pan on stovetop and heat over medium low heat a few minutes to dissolve the gelatin. Whisk vigorously until frothy once dissolved.
  3. While gelatin is dissolving, add mashed malanga and tapioca starch to a large bowl and mix to combine. If using shredded carrot, add it in now (this is something my roommate's family traditionally does with their arepas).
  4. Stir in whisked gelatin "egg" and work to combine. I use my hands and dig in!
  5. Heat fat in a large frying pan over medium heat about 2 minutes. You want the oil to be hot so adjust as needed.
  6. Pinch off a small ball of dough, roll in a ball, and flatten between the palms of your hands. Form patties that are about 4 inches in diameter.
  7. Add patties to hot oil, ensuring that you don't over-crowd the pan. Check after about 3-5 minutes to see if they are ready to flip. They should easily lift from the pan. CAREFULLY flip (the batter on top will still be runny). Cook another 3-5 minutes and flip again if desired to achieve maximum crunchiness.
  8. Arepas are done when both sides are crispy and browned.
  9. Serve with any meal of the day, but they are wonderful with breakfast - they pair well with my Smoky Maple Sage Sausage, bacon, slices of ham (be sure to check the ingredients), and of course eggs, if you can eat them.
  10. Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for 1-2 days. Reheat with a little fat in a frying pan for a few minutes on each side. It would probably also work to heat up in a toaster oven. Enjoy!

Recommended Ingredients & Tools

These are the ingredients that I use in my own kitchen at home, which are available from my affiliate partners. I only recommend things I love to use myself and that I think you will love, too! Click on any image to learn more about the product. 

I'm pleasantly surprised with the Pacific Bone Broth - I use it in a pinch when I'm out of homemade and it's wonderful! And the only coconut milk I can recommend is Aroy-D, since it contains no ingredients besides coconut and is not packaged in a can with a BPA or BPS liner. And the Microplane peeler just rocks, period.

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