Thursday, August 13, 2009

RECIPE - a staple in our house - pancakes

With a year of GFCF (among many other "frees") under our belt, I have had a LOT of time to experiment with pancakes! Pancakes are a favorite and with the limited breakfast options we have, we NEED them and they must be healthy, hearty and easy to make. The other great use for pancakes in a gluten free diet is to replace bread for sandwiches. Other than muffins and cookies, it's the only bread-like substance in Grayson's diet.

We have tried all of the gluten free flours out there in pancakes and our favorite, by far, is teff. Teff is native to Northern Africa, but is now grown in the US primarily in Idaho. If you are culturally savvy you will probably know that it is the primary ingredient used for injera bread which is served as your utensil with Ethiopian or Eritrean food. It has a bit of a nutty bitterness to it when used alone, somewhat like a sourdough bread. There are also three types of teff, white, brown and red. The red is more nutritious and less bitter but the white is used more often and is the choice for injera bread. I use Bob's Red Mill red teff.

The low down on teff is that it packs more protein than wheat, has a high concentration of nutrients like calcium, thiamin and iron and is very high in fiber. The iron from teff is easily absorbed by the body, calcium (387mg) in one cup of cooked teff is about 40% of the USDA recommended daily allowance, and has twice as much iron as wheat and barley! Teff is an energy enhancing grain which makes it favorable for athletes.

Fun facts about teff - It is one of the smallest grains in the world measuring only 1/32 of an inch in size, in fact, it's name is derived from the Amharic "teffa" which translates to "lost", as in - it can be lost if dropped! ( Amharic is a Semitic language spoken in North Central Ethiopia) 150 teff grains are equal in size to one wheat kernel. 3000 grains weigh only 1 gram. Teff is used to make home brewed alcohol, is grown in Ethiopia as forage for cattle and has been used in adobe construction. Sounds like a Jack of all trades to me although I will stick with the pancake route.

Ah yes, pancakes, that is the point of this post, isn't it? So here is the recipe I have been experimenting with and have finally come to my ideal gluten, casein, egg, soy, rice-free pancake.

1 1/2 C teff flour
1/4 C quinoa flakes
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 C milk sub (I use hemp, but chocolate almond is really tasty too!)
3 tbsp oil
2 tsp xylitol

Mix it all up and drop it on a hot griddle. These are hardy and dark. We love the chocolate almond milk, but I know that some people avoid almond milk for either nut or soy sensitivities. The quinoa flakes don't change the flavor like quinoa flour does in higher quantities, it just adds some bulk to the recipe, because teff alone can be too flaky and flimsy for pancakes.

These are not very sweet, which makes them ideal as a bread substitute so adding more sweetness might be preferred by some people. So here are some great variations to this recipe. If you are adding these things into the pancake, blending is the key, because anything too chunky makes the pancake not cook through well. These could also be drizzled on top.

-blended zucchini (or any veggies)
-blended berries in or on top of the pancakes
-blended apples with cinnamon
-blended banana and chopped nuts
-organic blended pumpkin and cinnamon

I make double batches, separate them with wax paper and store them in the freezer double-bagged in freezer bags. Reheating is a snap in the toaster! They are great when you need to be on the road too, just hand a pancake (or two or four if it's my child) to junior and go.

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