It took my approximately 30 years to give oatmeal another shot. I ate it occasionally as a kid but probably after age 8 or so, no more. I think it was a texture issue. It was with trepidation that I tried oatmeal again, at the strong recommendation of a good friend who shared a great recipe for banana oatmeal. Using whole oats instead of instant oats results in chewier, less-gluey texture that I prefer, and the bananas add sweetness and creaminess. I’ve upped the ante on this recipe by adding a slew of yummy tropical fruit and a sprinkle of flaked coconut for good measure. The oatmeal and chia seeds are filling, and the fruit gives it enough flavor that I don’t miss my morning smoothie. This is a great breakfast on a day you need a little more oomph. In my picture, I think I topped it with just pineapple and coconut. If you have a kiwi, dice it up and throw it on. The color is so pretty and bright green stuff must be good for you, right? And bring some mango to the party while you’re at it. Go crazy with whatever fresh fruit you have, you only need a small amount of each.
Tropical Oatmeal (serves 1, go ahead and double, triple, quadruple… you get the idea)
1/3 to 1/2 C whole oats depending on your appetite, just use the same amount each of oats, water, and milk
1/3 to 1/2 C water
1/3 to 1/2 C nondairy milk (I used unsweetened coconut-almond)
1 banana, cut into very thin slices (reserve some to dice and add on top if you like)
your favorite tropical fruits (I like kiwi, mango, and pineapple), diced
1 T unsweetened coconut flakes (toasted if you like)
1 T chia seeds
In a small saucepan, heat the oats, milk, water, and chia seeds until they begin to boil. Stir in the thinly sliced bananas and continue to stir until your oatmeal reaches desired consistency, about 2 minutes. The bananas will mostly melt into the oatmeal. Place in a serving bowl and top with diced fruit and coconut flakes. You can also make this in the microwave (about 2 minutes on high) but just stir it well before heating or else the chia seeds will all clump together and it will taste disgusting if you get a spoonful of chia seeds. Trust me on this.
This is a recipe makeover. I have been using the same basic pancake recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook for the better part of the last 20 years or so. Pancakes are a skill, I have learned. As a new cook, my pancakes invariably were burnt on the outside, or perfectly cooked on the outside and a gooey doughy mess on the inside. It was so bad that I eventually gave up on pancakes and stuck with waffles–the waffle iron makes temperature regulation easy and waffles are pretty much fool proof. But they are not pancakes, and sometimes you just need a nice fluffy pancake to start your weekend. And you don’t want to start the weekend full of refined starch and fat, so try this health-i-fied version full of antioxidant rich blueberries. Of course you could omit the berries if you don’t have any, or substitute a different berry or chopped fruit. The next time I make these, I am going to combine chopped peaches and blueberries since peaches are in season. Yeah! I love peaches!
I have learned over time that in order to make good pancakes, you need one of two things: an electric skillet that heats evenly and allows you to regulate the temperature, or a really good nonstick griddle. I know some people swear by cast iron but that just never worked for me. I now have a great double burner nonstick griddle that is heavy and heats evenly. Let the griddle heat with a little spritz of oil (you don’t need much if you are using nonstick cookware) while you are preparing the batter, that way you can be sure the surface is evenly hot. On my cooktop, a setting of about 4-5 usually works well. A droplet of water should spatter and dance on the surface when the griddle is ready. You also have to watch it with pancakes b/c the griddle will continue to heat and retain heat as you are cooking, and you may need to turn down the heat as you get to later batches. Cooking pancakes is as easy as watching for the bubbles to rise and pop, and for the surface to just begin to dry before you flip them.
Vegan, Whole Grain Blueberry Pancakes
makes about 16 pancakes, very easily cut in half if you don’t need so many
4 T unsweetened natural applesauce
6 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
1 C blueberries (fresh or frozen, can use a little more if you like)
2 T ground flax seed mixed into 6 T warm water
1 C whole wheat pastry flour
1 C rolled oats (old fashioned oatmeal, not instant)
1 & 1/2 C almond milk (unsweetened)
3/4 t sweet leaf stevia (or equivalent of 2 T sugar)
Heat griddle to medium heat (about 4 or 5 on an electric range). Mix the flax seed and water and set aside to thicken while you father and prepare the rest of the ingredients. Combine all ingredients except the berries in a large bowl. Mix with an electric mixer or by hand until well combined. Fold in the blueberries by hand. Spritz or brush griddle with a small amount of cooking oil (I use olive oil, but don’t use extra virgin b/c the flavor will be too strong). Drop batter on to hot griddle. I use a cookie scoop that holds about 1/4 cup. Cook pancakes, flipping after bubbles have risen to the top and popped. Cook on other side until set. Keep warm in a 200 degree oven on an oven proof platter if you will not be serving them immediately.
What’s your favorite kind of pancakes? What do you add to make them special?