Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In Search of the Perfect Healthy Pancake

Whenever I make pancakes, they're usually whole wheat and from a boxed mix. The whole wheat lessens the minor guilt that comes from once again serving the children something pre-packaged. I've made homemade pancakes before, but it's usually for a special occasion or when we're having a breakfast for dinner type situation. I'm not a morning person, so generally I can't be bothered to hover around in the kitchen for any amount of time longer than the time it takes to make a pot of coffee.

But lately mornings have been different. Some part of my brain is still on eastern time. That, combined with the fact that it gets light around 5 a.m. here, usually has me up and feeling motivated by about eight. Plus, it's summer, which means that most days, once the dogs are walked, the kids and I don't have to go anywhere. We can ease into our day slowly and a late breakfast isn't entirely out of the question.

Feeling bad about morning after morning of cold Pop Tarts (What? They could warm it up! They know where the microwave is.), I thought I'd put forth a bit of effort and make a healthy breakfast. There's been an oat cake recipe floating about the internet that a lot of other bloggers have had success with so I decided to give it a shot. I processed my oats to a flour like consistency. I soaked them overnight in soy milk. The next morning I added the remaining ingredients and fired up the griddle.

The result was not good. Here's the thing, I normally love healthy, weird tasting, slightly bland stuff. Even if the taste doesn't excite me, just knowing it's good for me, makes it easier for me to eat it. But even I couldn't eat these oat cakes. They were eggy and spongy and the taste was just weird. Think of a bready omelet. I'm not sure what went wrong. Maybe I flubbed on the recipe. Or maybe I just wasn't meant to love these. Anyway, if I couldn't stomach them, I knew there was no way I could get the kids to eat them. The whole batch got trashed.

The next day I was on a mission. I really wanted the kids to have homemade pancakes. I made a batch using this recipe.

I had some buttermilk laying around so I used that instead of regular milk. I also replaced about half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat. Oh, and I threw in a handful of ground up flax seed for no other reason than I like to see how much I can get away with before the kids notice and/or complain.

These pancakes were perfect. They were fluffy and delicious and tasted like something from a restaurant. It should say something about the usual quality of pancakes around here that, after tasting them, the boy said, "These are delicious. Where did they come from?" As if I couldn't make a delicious pancake on my own, they had to be brought in from some outside source.

But as good as these pancakes were, they can't really be considered healthy. So now I ask you, do you have a healthy pancake recipe? Do you have a yummy gluten free pancake recipe? Do you have an oat cake recipe that you love? Please share!

(Also, is it slightly ironic that even though I'm on a desperate search for a healthy pancake, I vehemently refuse to give up my junky, high-fructose-corn-syrup filled pancake syrup? I could say it's because real maple syrup is too expensive, but really I just love the crappy stuff. Especially if it's 'butter' flavored. Yum.)


Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

okay i can't help you here.
I love pancakes.

Back in my single days when I ate things from a box I actually love my pillsbury microwave pancakes.
Pitiful I know!!!

I have package mix that is gluten free and they are okay...not great.

Theresa said...

uhm....I don't have anything useful to add. If I'm going to get up and make pancakes, I just make the regular, probably not that great for you kind. With lots of butter and fake syrup. Oooh.. or sometimes warmed fruit preserves. I save up my "healthy" breakfasts for when we have like.. oatmeal.

kraftykash said...

BTW I LOVE butter flavored syrup. In case you were wondering ;)

kraftykash said...

No pancakes or oatcake recipes....sorry. But we do enjoy having what we call Haystacks. Its similiar to sausage, biscuts, and gravy.....that was a staple around here before. Now we have morningstar veggie sausage patties, 1 per person. A piece of fiber loaded toast, 2 eggwhites cooked, shredded hashbrowns, and white country gravy. Pile all that on your toast, you will be full for the rest of the day. Korby has adjusted well to the "sausage". Otherwise we all enjoy making omelettes. :)

Tammie said...

peggy: my kids love those pillsbury ones. if it were up to them, those would suffice.

theresa: actually i can totally relate to that way of thinking because im really much the same way. i figure if im making pancakes, i may as well just go all out. but id like to have a healthier version once in a while.

oh, and isnt the fake syrup just the best?!

Tammie said...

kashoan: i was wondering! just thinking about butter flavored syrup is making my mouth water. it has to be one of the worst thing in the world to eat. BUT I DONT CARE.

im not a sausage or gravy lover but the boy is and this sounds like something that would be right up his alley. plus, hes gotten used to the occasional fake meat product and usually doesnt complain. now that hes home all day i need more filling foods or he'll be snacking all.day.long.

Maria Rose said...

I've been searching for the perfect vegan pancake and so far I am awash in mediocrity.

Dani said...

Ellie Krieger has a couple of good options. They are whole wheat and have a nutty flavor, but my kids *love* them.

We use maple syrup or brown rice syrup. But I have no problem admitting that I would much rather use good, old fashioned, Mrs. Butterworth's. Brings back memories of my childhood.

Oh...I actually prefer a Pop Tart cold. I haven't had one in years, but I never toasted or warmed them.

Penny said...

I just went to look in my cabinet. We do Aunt Jemima Whole Wheat and Hodgesons Mill Multigrain with flaxseed. I really like both, but I don't think I'd ever have the energy to make pancakes from scratch!

~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

I don't worry about the guilt of eating not-so-good-for-you-pancakes, because the pure maple syrup makes up for it. It is currently being researched for properties that could lead to longer lifespans. Because maple trees live so long, they are trying to make a correlation between syrup and the lifespan of a tree -- and seeing if consuming syrup can benefit humans. Drink up.

Theresa said...

OOh! I second the Ellie Krieger suggestion. I've made several of her recipes from when she had the food network show for healthier stuff. Never tried her pancakes, but if they are anything like her apple muffins I would definitely try them!

Not Your Aunt B said...

We're on the FiberOne pancake mix made with soymilk with bananas or blueberries in the batter then topped with more fruit and fat-free cool whip and syrup. YUM. I also like honey on my pancakes too, esp. if I make them real thin, almost like a crepe.

nevertravelled said...

Have you tried Trader Joe's or Bob's Red Mill? They seem to have everything yummy gluten-free.

I have a good from-scratch recipe but I rarely make pancakes. Terri prefers them from a mix anyway, which I don't entirely understand but hey, it's easy. She also likes peanut butter on them, which makes the syrup question entirely up to my choice.

That fake syrup always reminds me of my grandma's house (it is pretty yummy). We had only real maple syrup when I was a kid -- or, bizarrely, and maybe this is evidence of how things change, my FAVORITE was Karo light syrup, which we also had and is pretty much just high fructose corn syrup with vanilla flavor. I loved it. With butter, of course. I still don't love real maple syrup but I can't bring myself to buy the other stuff, so mostly we just don't have pancakes. :(

Anonymous said...

Mollie Katzen (of Moosewood fame) had a book out a number of years back that was filled with breakfast recipes. Her pancake recipe is definitely my go to when I make them, and best of all you can mix the dry ingredients and keep them in a large container in the freezer (so they don't go rancid) and then pull out what you need per batch. They are totally yummy, but definitely not gluten-free. The name of the book is Sunlight Cafe and it has some amazing breakfast recipes in it (which is saying something since it is my least favorite meal of the day!)

Dysfunctional Mom said...

I can't make pancakes.
I am a good cook, a damned good cook, and I can not make a good pancake so save my life.
It's microwave Aunt Jemima at my house.

Sarah12730 said...

I love that there's someone else who always had Karo syrup. Pancakes, when I was growing up, were always made with Jiffy corn muffin mix and topped with Karo light syrup. I've never really been happy with "regular" pancakes, actually, too bland. We also always had real maple syrup in the house, and they sold maple sugar candy at the local farmer's market in Lansing, so I think I had about a maple leaf a week, lol. Considering my parents were, otherwise, the most granola-crunching hippies around, those pancakes were really out of character for them. And I think we had them about every other weekend.

As far as your request for a healthy pancake, I can't help you there. But at least I can make you feel better about what you've got going on already!

Tammie said...

dani: elie seems to be your go-to girl doesnt she? i may need to purchase some of her books.

penny: yeah, the aunt jemima whole wheat is what i usually use around here. i think they are pretty good but the boy only mildly enjoys them. i think its because he knows that as a 12 year old boy, he's supposed to dislike anything slightly healthy, and the brown is a tip off.

jodi: i had no idea there were real benefits to actual maple syrup. interesting.

aunt bea: i like the idea of making them thin like a crepe. ive never tried that at home before.

daphne: i'll try those suggestions. ive found i love just about everything that trader joe does. hes my new boyfriend. :)

i made some peanut butter pancakes a few years back from a rachel ray recipe. it was a bit of a lengthy recipe for everyday, but the kids liked it. ever since then ive been intrigued by the idea of mixing pancakes with peanut butter. id probably experiment with it more often, but since lunches are sometimes pb&j's, i dont know how much peanut butter i can get away with serving them.

i cant imagine putting karo syrup on anything. i thought it was only used for making pecan pies.

anon: im going to look up Sunlight Cafe. i have virtually no breakfast cooking skills. id love to at least once in a while surprise the family with a nice breakfast. plus i like the idea of having some of the pre mixed ingredients ready.

cyndy: it took me years to make a decent pancake. even now, mine arent always 'pretty.' plus, really, there are so many great frozen pancake/waffle solutions, you dont really *need* to make them from scratch.

sarah: this is all too funny about the karo syrup.....now im intrigued. i NEED to know what karo syrup tastes like on my pancakes. i like the idea of using corn bread mix for pancakes. i may need to try that. ive been making johnnycakes a lot lately and the recipe has cornmeal in it. so they are a bit heavier and tastier than a pancake. i didnt know if the family would like them, but the boy is all about them.

and honestly, regular pancakes are very bland. in the past when ive gone to dennys or perkins, ive always been disappointed at the taste of a plain old white pancake. i really think different flours and grains thrown in make them more interesting.

nevertravelled said...

I know, the Karo syrup thing is weird. It's definitely an acquired taste. However, I cannot FATHOM actually buying pre-made pancakes or waffles (that just seems wrong) so I guess we all have our quirks!

Has anyone ever had sourdough pancakes? We used to have these when I was a kid and we made our own sourdough bread. They are kind of amazing.

also it is so interesting to hear how even pancake preferences vary around the country.

Tammie said...

it is interesting. who knew people would be so vocal about their pancake choices?

growing up i never had a homemade pancake. it just wasnt even considered. i thought the Bisquick pancakes i ate were homemade. now i cant stand bisquick. whats in that stuff anyway?

sourdough pancakes sound delicious. i imagine its a good complement to the sweetness of the syrup.

if you cant imagine buying pre made pancakes, i bet the Pillsbury Uncrustable pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches drive you CRAZY!

Sarah12730 said...

Bisquick! I love that stuff! Probably because, like store-bought ice cream, it was rather off limits while I was growing up. I married a southerner, who seemed to think I should be able to make biscuits and gravy out of thin air, and he's had to adjust to the idea that what he wants from me are biscuits made from Bisquick or out of that refrigerated tube. Biscuits from scratch, by me, are rather like rocks.

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

We do egg-free pancakes here because of Bug's allergies. They're pretty good. I'll check my allergy cookbooks and see if there's a gluten-free option, too.

So it's 9am and I'm now craving a pancake AND a Pop Tart.

nevertravelled said...

YES!! What is the POINT of prepackaged white-bread peanut-butter-jelly sandwiches? There were some at a house where I was babysitting and I just sat there, dumbfounded. WHY.

hester said...

Those pancakes look fantastic! And I feel inspired to try and sneak some flax seed into my family now. We have gluten free pancakes EVERY Saturday and sometimes Sunday as well as they are such a treat for my coeliac husband. They are also Greta's favourite food. We have them with good old lemon juice and sugar.

Here's our recipe:
1 sifted cup of gluten free plain flour
Half a teaspoon of bicarb soda
1 egg
small spoonful of sugar (optional!)
About 1 and a half cups of milk (we use soy milk as I'm a bit allergic to dairy).
Beat milk and egg, then mix with other ingredients. Hold back a bit of the milk and just add it as necessary until the texture seems right. Melt some butter in a non stick frypan and.....voila!

Mari said...

Ah, the magic of buttermilk! I think they are healthy enough if you don't eat them every day.

CT said...

I add oats, banana puree and chopped almonds to mine!

and I take the cheap maple like syrup and boil it a bit with a stick of cinnamon and a bit of vanilla, and serve it warm!

Lia said...

I love making pancakes, but only on the weekends or for dinner. I NEVER make them on a school morning, but I do sometimes make big batches and freeze them with wax paper in between for easy school breakfasts.

I use Angry Chicken's recipe from her cheat sheet. It's really good and easy but it does not involve whole wheat flour. I should try sneaking some in to see if they notice. Your recipe sounds delicious, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, I don't care for real maple syrup either and the kids hate it. I really love Eggo syrup, but it's full of high fructose corn syrup. So we buy Log Cabin, which has corn syrup and sugar in it, but not the high fructose kind.