National Pancake Month – Soothing Comfort Food

February 5, 2010 in Blog Recipes, Cooking & Baking Hints, Diabetes, Diabetes Management, Diabetic Menu Item, Mediterranean, Nutrition, Weight Management, Whole Grains by Joyce Bunderson

Are we talking comfort food? Pancakes can be gourmet or down home. Kids and adults alike don’t really care if you call them flapjacks, hotcakes, griddlecakes or just plain pancakes; what they do call them is an all-time American family favorite.

At our house, we have pancakes for breakfast 2-3 times a week; but during the past five years, I’ve been a little surprised to learn that so many people have them for an easy dinner.

Pancakes, by any name, are probably the oldest form of bread. I imagine they were first made on hot rocks, but now we bake them on griddles or fry them in a pan. Some even add lots of egg and create crepes (the upper-crust relatives of simple ole pancakes.)

One of the wonderful things about pancakes is that you can snag the family members (especially teens) that are difficult to corral for a healthy breakfast; they’ll grab a pancake or two. Even Dr. Grandpa, who almost always eats breakfast at home, is sometimes in a big hurry. He likes to have what he has named, ‘driving pancakes.’ I don’t know if it is legal to eat and drive in your state, but there are no rules against ‘driving pancakes’ here. He just warms a few pancakes and eats them like toast.

One way to draw interest to the breakfast table is to involve kids in the preparation. I suggest that you keep the camera nearby for the flipping stage. Flipping your first pancake should be a fun and memorable occasion. Making pancakes with the easy pre-measured packets that Dr. Grandma provides, makes it simple. Another suggestion is to be sure to have the child break the egg into a separate cup, then inspect so the family won’t have shells with their breakfast. Pancakes are really a perfect item for the learning to cook phase – not too many difficult cooking techniques or too much measuring – but lots of potential for pleasant memories.

A little reminder: To make ‘pancake day’ an irresistible draw to the kitchen, try making a small ‘topping buffet.’ Some suggestions are: puréed sweetened strawberries, banana slices, blueberries or blackberries, raisins and yogurt; don’t let this list dampen your creativity. You can make pancakes in shapes or sprinkle them with chocolate chips – whatever it takes to get them interested in breakfast. If you want to stay away from chocolate chips, try diced bananas; they caramelize easily and are delicious and make cute faces or initials, or whatever you think up. Blueberries are a given, of course.

After your family is fed, if you have leftover batter, you may want to consider making little ‘silver dollar’ pancakes. Oops!  I forgot, many of you might not have ever seen a silver dollar. I remember as a girl, my grandmother would make Silver Dollar Pancakes. No silver – just small (a little bigger than a fifty cent piece, if you’ve ever seen one of those.) Don’t ask me now, why I thought that they were so special, but they were. Now days, you could take a little stack of ‘Silver Dollar’ Pancakes and put them into a sandwich bag after they’re cooled. ‘Silver Dollar Pancakes’ are perfect for kids (and parents) on shopping trips. Do I hear you thinking about syrup? Seriously, if you made them with Dr. Grandma’s pancake mix, they’re delicious just plain. They’re ready to be a healthy snack, especially if they’re made with Dr. Grandma’s whole-wheat flour (no white flour), no sugar, and mild extra virgin olive oil. You could make little ‘sandwiches’ with the pancakes and peanut butter to hold them together.

Leftover pancakes are a standard breakfast for us; 3 or 4 pancakes in the microwave for about a minute, heats them and it’s like a second pancake day in the week. Now that Dr. Grandma’s Pancakes are available, people are learning that pancakes are a healthy choice; and that they can support their weight loss goals; keep their blood sugar under control and still have a comfort food – and they won’t be hungry an hour after breakfast.

Pancake styles change over different life stages. A couple of months ago a friend of my son (both now in their late thirties) found him on Facebook; he asked how I was. He said, I remember the pancakes that your mom made with chocolate chips made into a face shape. Now, looking back and knowing the challenges of having diabetes in our family, I wish that I had used blueberries, so I could tell you a real healthy story, but this is the truth. With a younger family and no diabetes, family and friends loved the chocolate pancake faces.  Being remembered for a yummy food is fun!

Did you know Pancake Day is on Fat Tuesday which became the end of Mardi Gras in New Orleans?  It was originally the last Hurrah before serious Easter observances. Having never lived in Louisiana and only visited New Orleans once, I had never heard of Pancake Day.  I’ve recently learned that Pancake Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday – the beginning of Lent, which is 40 days prior to Easter. This year Pancake Day is on February 16th. I love the story of Shrove Tuesday Pancakes! by Bridget Haggerty.  She tells about the traditions of this Tuesday in the British Isles – what fun to imagine the races with women running along flipping pancakes, the community gathering together, and using up all the luxury ingredients.

It used to be that pancake days were special days, but now we have them fairly frequently. Now that pancakes can be made with 100% whole wheat, no sugar, and healthy extra virgin olive oil, there’s nothing between our comforting pancakes and us.

There are 15 recipes on the main Dr. Grandma’s website for pancakes. Two that I’ve recently made – Sweet Potato Pancakes with Apple Walnut Topping. and Apple Pie Oatmeal Pancakes, with Applesauce Topping. is brand new.