When I was pregnant, you wouldn’t believe how many people told me how much fun it would be cooking for a little person someday. Although this seemed like an obvious thing, I kind of shrugged it off, thinking that it wouldn’t be that awesome. I think part of me feared the pressure, or the possibility of cooking becoming more of a chore than a pleasure.
Although I’ve had my fair share of noggin scratchin’, I have to say that cooking is now more than a pleasure. It’s moved into a greater creative place, I feel freer, and I’ve discovered so many cool things through the challenges.
Take this recipe for example. Seeing as happy accidents seem to be at the core of what I do, it’s no surprise that the recipe for Revolutionary Pancakes evolved from something other than what it was originally intended for. In July of last year I blogged about Raspberry Ripple Buckwheat Porridge. Around this time, I was beginning to give my little babe whole grains, but because we chose to let him feed himself, it was hard to actually get enough in him – the floor had all it could handle, thank you. One day after blending the porridge up, I looked at the still-hot skillet on the stove from my husband’s eggs, and mused about pouring my own breakfast into the pan. So I did. And it made a pancake. A pretty perfect, tasty, sprouted pancake that my baby could actually pick up and eat himself without supplying the hardwood with yet another coat of whole grain goodness. For the win.
This got me pretty excited. Not only did I have a new and very popular meal for my wee one, but a new a very popular meal for myself. I’ve been experimenting a lot for the last 9 months with this one and I’m thrilled to say we have a rather fool-proof recipe on our hands, dear friends. Pancakes for everyone!
And what is so revolutionary about them? These pancakes contain two ingredients. They are flour-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, and vegan. They use soaked whole buckwheat and any other grain you have in your pantry; brown rice, quinoa, millet and amaranth are my favourites. Add-ins are welcome and sneaking some fruits, veg or superfoods into these is totally possible. Lastly, and my favourite aspect, is that you don’t even get a bowl or spoon dirty in the process since you can soak the grains right in your blender, then pour the batter straight into the pan.
I am trying my best to live a flour-free life. Why? Because even if I buy “whole grain” flour at the store, I don’t really know how whole grain it actually is, how long it’s been since it was processed, and just how that went.
If you consider foods’ three mortal enemies: heat, light and oxygen, flour seems like it may be on the losing end of this battle. Grinding grain inevitably exposes its insides to the three foes, so keeping grains whole right up until you’re going to consume them is no doubt the best practice to avoid losing vitamins, minerals, and gaining serious un-desirables, such as oxidized fats.
To remedy all of this, we can grind our own grain and use them right away. Soaking the whole grains first, then using them in a recipe such as this one, is the easiest method for most of us. We can also make our own flour, either in a dedicated grain mill (which can be expensive) or with something as simple as a coffee grinder. I also really love buying rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant) and grinding them in my food processor to make flour. This is a really easy and inexpensive way to ensure I’m getting a whole product, ground fresh and full of nutrients.
If you are going to buy flour, make sure it has an expiry date (as all food should go bad at some point, eh?) and surprise! Keep it in the fridge. That’s right, all sealed up tight in a cool, dark place. If you are someone who does a lot of baking and goes through flour very quickly, no need to worry about this too much, but if you’re a sporadic baker like me, keep the enemies at bay.
I must be upfront and inform you that these are not like the familiar, light-n-fluffy American-style pancakes, or whisper-thin European crêpes. Because they are not made with white flour, or flour at all for that matter, they are substantial in taste and texture. On the grounds of their potential density, I like to make mine on the thin side, and relatively small. You can thin the batter out quite a lot if you do like crêpes, but they will inevitably be chewier – a quality I quite like.
I’ve always been an enthusiastic pancake eater because they are the prefect blank canvas for all manner of healthy, tasty toppings. I like to crown these particular ones with homemade nut butter, fresh seasonal fruit, hemp seeds, coconut, and of course maple syrup, honey, or jam.
As a bonus, I’ve included a quick recipe for luscious Ginger-Vanilla Cashew Cream. Since I posted a picture of it on Instagram, it would be almost cruel not to provide you with the ingredients and method, however simple it all is to make. What’s groovy about pairing this with the pancakes is that you’re already soaking grains for breakfast, so giving the nuts a bath before bed seems like no extra effort at all.
1 part buckwheat groats
1 part other gluten-free grain (quinoa, millet and amaranth all work well)
about 2 parts water, as needed
citrus zest, such as lemon or orange
coconut sugar or maple syrup
spices, such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, etc.
fresh or frozen fruit (bananas are delicious)
unsweetened desiccated coconut
tender greens, such as spinach
1. Soak buckwheat and other grain overnight in pure water with an acidic medium (such as apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, read more about that here). In the morning, drain and rinse well.
2. Place grains in a blender with water equal to the volume of grains used (if you used 1/2 cup buckwheat and 1/2 cup quinoa, use 1 cup water). Blend on highest setting until smooth, and add more water if needed. The consistency should be like pancake batter: fluid and pour-able but not thin and watery. Add any other elements you’d like, but try to maintain the consistency – add more water if necessary.
3. Heat a large skillet or griddle with just a little bit of coconut oil or ghee. When hot, pour desired amount of batter onto the skillet, wait until bubbles form on the top and the batter becomes almost opaque, then flip. I recommend starting the first batch off in a really hot pan, then lowering the heat slightly to cook the rest. No need to add fat to the pan after the first round – once the pan is hot enough the pancakes should cook without the need for any additional oil.
4. Serve hot with desired toppings. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to three days. Freeze extras and reheat in a toaster oven before enjoying.
Ginger Cashew Cream
Makes about 1 cup / 250ml
1 cup / 140g raw, unsalted cashews
1 ½ Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
½ Tbsp. lemon juice
6 Tbsp. water
seeds from ½ vanilla bean (optional, but delish!)
1. Place cashews in water and soak for at least 4 hours, up to 12. Drain and rinse.
2. Combine cashews with all other ingredients in a blender and blend on high until completely smooth. Taste and adjust sweetness to your liking. Store leftovers in tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to five days.
* * * * * *
One more exciting thing to mention is The Guardian’s magazine, Observer Food Monthly has published a story about the wave of healthy eating washing over the globe and the women who are at the forefront of this movement. The cover features The Hemsley Sisters, Ella Woodward, Anna Jones, and yours truly (a very dolled-up version, I might add). Read the article and get one of the spring recipes from my cookbook, here.