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To flapjack or not to flapjack, that is the question.

Pancakes always create a bit of anxiety for me because I never know quite how to classify them—are they a main course or a side? Do I treat them like a quiche, for example, and order pancakes as my entire meal or do I instead treat them like toast and order them in addition to my eggs and bacon? Typically the former leaves me feeling a little carb heavy and the latter makes me feel like a fatty. Usually my internal debate goes something like this:

Fatty Foodie: “OMG pancakes sound so good. They are probably just the run of the mill flapjack, but what if they are extra fluffy or extra thin or something I’ve never even seen before. I should probably try them.”
Fit Foodie: “Pancakes are essentially sugar and carbs topped with fat and more sugar. Do not order them. Get the egg white omelet with veggies.”
Fatty Foodie: “You owe it to your foodie family readers to investigate what could possibly be and likely IS the best pancake in the entire universe. Look, it’s called a griddlecake. That means it’s something really special. And it has at least one egg in it so that’s protein. It’s essentially health food.”
Fit Foodie: “She has a point with the egg. You can go to the gym later. Do it, but get a side of fruit.”
Fatty Foodie: “Good idea. Get a side of fruit and a few eggs. Pancakes are really just bread. You need protein. You can only eat half of the pancakes if you get too full. Oh look, this place already has a menu item consisting of eggs, bacon and 2 pancakes. That means pancakes are supposed to be ordered alongside other food. Get that meal. It’s totally normal and socially acceptable.”

Clearly, the Fatty Foodie side of my brain paid attention in law school while the Fit Foodie side was checking out hot guys. Shit. Saturday morning I was in Oklahoma City for a conference and I ordered the “griddle cakes” (with a side of fruit) from room service at the Colcord hotel. These pancakes were fluffy, flavorful, HUGE and amazingly delicious. I ate half of them (and none of the fruit) and felt like I couldn’t breathe for the rest of the day because I was so full.

When my husband suggested I make pancakes for breakfast the next morning my inner fit foodie cringed. I decided I would make pancakes, sans the side (or main course) of eggs but I would try to make them a little healthier. I added ground flax seed, bananas and blueberries to the pancake recipe I usually use and voila-I had a fiber, fruit and protein(ish) rich meal in one simple flapjack. If I had oats, I would have added them too and maybe even chia seeds or granola.

My Sunday pancake wasn’t as big or fluffy as my Saturday morning rooms service griddlecake, but it was pretty darn good. And I felt better after I ate it too. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it.

Healthy(ish) Pancakes

Makes about 16 4-inch pancakes

1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups skim milk
2 cups AP flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons ground flax seed
1 large egg
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen, preferably wild)
1-2 teaspoons vegetable oil for pan

  • Whisk lemon juice and milk together in a large measuring cup; set aside to thicken while you prepare the other ingredients. If you have buttermilk, you can use it instead of the milk and lemon juice combo…but if you don’t want to run to the store for buttermilk on a Sunday morning, use lemon juice and skim…it still tastes great!
  • Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and flax seed in a medium bowl to combine.

 

  • Whisk the egg, mashed bananas and melted butter into the milk until combined (make sure the butter is cooled enough that it won’t start to cook the egg or make the milk rancid). Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients in the bowl. Pour in the milk mixture and mix very gently until just combined. A few lumps should remain—do not overmix!
  • Heat a 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. * Add 1 teaspoon of oil and brush to coat the bottom of the skillet evenly. Pour ¼ cup batter onto three spots on the skillet. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of blueberries over each pancake just after pouring batter into the pan (some people add them to the mix at the beginning, but adding them later keeps the berries intact and bleed free).
  • Cook the pancakes until large bubbles begin to appear—about 1 ½ or 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes using a wide and thin spatula and cook 1 ½ to 2 minutes longer. Add more vegetable oil only if necessary.
  • Serve Immediately**

*Is the pan hot enough? Make a test pancake about the size of a half dollar (use 1 Tablespoon of batter.) If, after 1 minute, the pancake is blond in color, the pan is not hot enough. If it’s golden brown, the pan is the right temperature. If you try to speed up this process by heating the pan at a higher temp, your pancake will be dark and unevenly cooked and you will be full of shame. Don’t do it.
**If you want to serve all the pancakes at the same time, put them on a greased rack set on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven. Do not cover. They will hold for about 20 minutes before they get soggy so cook quickly!