How to Eat a Pomegranate
November 4, 2014 – 7:51 pm | No Comment

Some foods are just plain intimidating, and I’ve historically counted whole pomegranates among them.
Unlike other fruits, whose edible flesh lies directly under the skin, a pomegranate’s edible part is actually the hundreds of little juice-filled …

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Pancake-a-Palooza

Submitted by on January 25, 2012 – 5:35 pm4 Comments
 

At the risk of being labeled a one-trick pony, I’m going ahead with back-to-back pancake posts.

Blame my kids, who will eat anything so long as it is in pancake form.  It’s forced me to get a bit more flexible with meal planning, but also made me realize that, if you take poetic license to include croquettes, fritters, crepes and other relatives, you can hit all 5 food groups without ever leaving the frying pan.  The best part is that the recipes below will be welcomed by all family members, from the finger-food set all the way to adults, and many of these recipes are flexible enough to serve as entrees for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.  Oh, and did I mention how fast and easy they are to make?

Here are some of the winning recipes we’ve sampled in our house over the past few months; you may recognize some of them from previous posts, but I’ve resurrected them to take up permanent residence in this veritable Pancake Pantheon.

Fruit pancake favorites:

Most people have this one down.  Add sliced bananas, diced apples or fresh/frozen blueberries to the batter of your favorite storebought pancake mix and cook as usual.

Veggie pancake favorites:

Pink (Beet/Sweet Potato) Pancakes: Add 1/4 cup of my beet-sweet potato puree to your favorite storebought pancake mix.  Prepare the mix per package instructions without making any modifications (except perhaps to leave out the sweetener if you wish).  This recipe will produce truly pink pancakes if you use a lighter-colored mix, or dusty-rose colored pancakes if you use a darker mix, such as buckwheat.

Pumpkin pancakes: Add 1/4 canned pumpkin puree (or look for Fig Foods’ Pumpkin Puree in a BPA-free tetra-pak) and 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice to your favorite storebought pancake mix.  Prepare the mix per package instructions without making any modifications (except perhaps to leave out the sweetener if you wish).  Since pumpkin is such a concentrated source of Vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene), even this modest addition can make a big dent in meeting a toddler’s daily requirements.  The rough numbers are as follows: assuming a standard batch makes 6 pancakes and you add 1/4 cup pumpkin puree to the mix, each pancake has about 25% of a 1-3 year old’s daily Vitamin A needs.

Zucchini Pancakes: This easy, dairy-free recipe, from the Barefoot Contessa, is a winner!  Unlike many other allegedly zucchini pancake recipes, zucchini is actually the main ingredient here–rather than, say, carby potatoes or white flour.  To make it gluten-free, lower-glycemic and even more nutritious (fiber, protein and iron), I swapped out the 6 TBSPs all-purpose flour it called for and substituted 5 TBSP garbanzo bean flour (a.k.a., chickpea or gram flour).  After the first batch was in the pan and the remaining batter was sitting around getting liquidier, I added an additional TBSP of garbanzo bean flour to thicken it for the next batch.  I might also suggest halving the salt it calls for; the full 1 tsp yielded a slightly too-salty pancake for my tastes.

I liked these so much that I may even make them for Hannukah next year as a lower-glycemic latke for my Diabetic relatives.

Protein-rich (entree) pancake favorites:

These recipes are lower carb pancakes whose calories primarily come from protein and healthy fat, yet their textures are deceptively cake-like or bready.  They will fool even the die-hard carbophile toddlers, such as mine, who will gobble them up and be none the wiser that they’ve actually consumed a nutritionally balanced meal.

Elana’s Almond Flour Pancakes:  This recipe, from Almond-flour guru Elana Amsterdam, was an instant hit in our house.  I couldn’t believe how easy they were, what a great texture they had, and how yummy!  I make them in the evening to prepare for the next morning’s breakfast, and they heat up beautifully on the second day.  I’d suggest keeping the pancakes smallish, and use a spoon to spread the batter as it hits the pan so the pancakes don’t wind up too thick; otherwise, they may not cook through before the outsides are brown and you risk burning them.

I love this recipe for a few reasons.  First of all, almond flour is super nutritious and low carb/low glycemic, making it a wonderful substitute for traditional grain-flour based breakfast pancakes among adults watching their weight or blood sugar.  If you use agave nectar instead of honey in her recipe, it keeps the glycemic index down that much more.  Secondly, I found these almond pancakes to be the perfect way to introduce tree nuts to my babies, since whole nuts are a choking hazard for young babies, and most of the almond butters I come across are a bit too stiff/chalky in texture for them as well.  Leftover pancakes also make a mess-free, portable snack for older infants/todders, and add nutritional variety to baby diets that tend to be so carb heavy.

Grandma Esther’s Salmon Croquettes:  As I’ve written previously, these salmon croquettes are a very convenient way to add some substance to a light lunch, as a topping or accompaniment to a salad or perhaps a light veggie soup.  The original recipe called for canned salmon with bones, though now that I’ve got kids, I updated the recipe to include a version that utilizes boneless/skinless canned salmon…it’s a major time saver, and helps prevent a possible choking hazard if serving to little ones.  The last time I made this, I used a plain cultured yogurt drink in lieu of buttermilk; you could do the same, or use a plain kefir as well–both are excellent substitutes, as they contribute the acid required to activate a chemical leavener (baking soda).  These salmon croquettes freeze beautifully, and have a very cakey, light texture– not at all like a “salmon burger” which is much denser.  If you’re looking to minimize canned food in your family’s diet due to concerns about BPA, check out my previous post for a list of canned salmon products that are in BPA-free cans.

Chickpea flatbread (Socca): While most moms seem fixated on whether their kids are getting enough protein, I’m way more obsessed with my kids getting enough iron.  Chickpea flour is a terrific source of iron; a 1/4 cup serving has 10% of the adult daily value for it, which translates into about 16% of the daily value for a one-year old.  It’s high in both protein and fiber, making it a beautiful lower-glycemic choice for the whole family, and entrees made from it perfectly suitable as the main course.  I resurrected my favorite Socca recipe for this occasion, since it’s an easy skillet bread that you can top with any number of your favorite ingredients… like thinly-sliced veggies, sauce or grated cheeses… to give it a pizza-like effect.  And what kid doesn’t like pizza?  A “chickpeazza” is far more nutritious than the ‘better for you’ whole-wheat crust based pizzas you see being marketed for kids, and it’s grain-free and gluten-free to boot.


Dairy-based pancake favorites:

Ricotta Pancakes: I hear some moms have trouble getting their kids to drink milk, and they’re worried about calcium intake.  One way to diversify the standard kiddie standbys of yogurt and string cheese is to make Ricotta Pancakes.  Ricotta pancakes are fluffy and light; most recipes use very little flour, rendering them a naturally low-carb and high-protein affair (so long as you go easy on the maple syrup, of course).   Note that ricotta cheese is relatively high in lactose, so if you’re on the more sensitive end of the lactose intolerance spectrum, this isn’t a recipe for you.

I made Mark Bittman’s Bulgur-Ricotta pancakes one evening for the kids, which, as you will see, are most certainly NOT gluten-free.  It’s a lovely, nutritious recipe for those who can handle wheat.  But they were labor-intensive as far as pancakes go.  And they got a bit dense the day after.

I came across a lighter, gluten-freer and far faster recipe in the Canadian blogosphere at poppytalk, in the form of these Buckwheat Ricotta Pancakes.  True, they are not *as* dairy-rich as the Bittman recipe, but my kids can easily polish off the entire batch, which yields a solid 1/4 cup of ricotta cheese per head.  Not that I have any trouble getting dairy into them, but I’m just saying.

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4 Comments »

  • Brigid says:

    These are some great ideas! My favorite breakfast from childhood were similar to the ricotta pancakes: cottage cheese pancakes! My moms recipe only included 1tbsp of flour but once I started making them recently I’ve found I can substitute GF flours or even use whole oats! They are so creamy inside and delicious!

  • Tamara says:

    Well, are you going to share the recipe or what?? :)
    I love the idea of a cottage cheese pancake for my lactose-intolerant readers, since you can get it in lactose-free versions (unlike ricotta cheese).

  • anna says:

    Thank you so much for this incredible collection of recipes! I’ve hit the jackpot here. Can’t wait to try the zuccini pancakes, and I think I will try adding amaranth flour to the chickpea flour mix. Hopefully it will turn out as good! I am also obsessed with iron intake for my 10 month old ever since she stopped breastfeeding, and is now just on formula, and whatever else I feed her. I love your site. THANK YOU!!

  • Tamara says:

    Hi, Anna,
    Thanks for your comments. You might also be interested in one of my older posts on Teff flour with a recipe for crepes. Teff is among the highest iron flours available. I’m planning to play around with some more kid-friendly teff recipes soon (muffins?) so stay tuned!

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