pancakes and part of the “whole” story

I love waking up on a Saturday with nothing to do and plenty of time to play in the kitchen. I didn’t even intend for this to be a blogworthy project when I started, but once I got going with my buckwheat and spelt flours, I realized I had a lot to talk about.

In the last few months, my pantry has gone from scarcely populated to brimming with things I hadn’t even heard of until recently. Thanks to the blogs that I frequent (see links) and one of the books that changed my life, I now spend way too much time and money at Whole Foods, stocking my shelves with things like coconut oil, safflower oil, buckwheat groats, whole amaranth, garbanzo bean flour, spelt flour, buckwheat flour, to name a few. I have to admit, though, that while the original decision to buy these products was informed and enlightened, I had sort of lost sight of why I use them as opposed to conventional ones. If I’m going to make vegan buckwheat pancakes with spelt flour and flax meal, I’d better have a damn good explanation as to why it’s worth the effort.

So, let’s focus on the flour. I realize buckwheat pancakes are nothing new to most of you. Americans have used buckwheat flour to make pancakes since the pioneer days, long before the industrial revolution smashed all of our grains into nutrition-less oblivion. Read Michael Pollan for a better explanation, but essentially it became cheaper and easier to strip a whole grain of its nutrient-containing germ (vitamins, minerals, essential fats, phytochemicals, antioxidants) and bran (fiber!), leaving only the starchy endosperm (pure carbohydrate) from which we make white, fluffy flour that is nutritionally worthless but tastes real good and has a long shelf-life. Seriously, though- read In Defense of Food. I can’t begin to explain the complicated, deep-seated political motivations that fueled our country’s movement toward refined grains that have royally screwed our systems, but Pollan will woo you with his take on it all. The moral of the story is simple: use whole-grain flour. You’ll be getting essential nutrients that your body needs and the fiber that will keep you full. There are also oodles of different grains to choose from (I love Bob’s Red Mill– there’s practically an entire aisle at Whole Foods dedicated to ol’ Bob), all with varying textures and protein contents and levels of gluten to experiment with!

Oh, man. I could go on. There’s so much more to be said about buying and eating whole grains, especially regarding the marketing claims that trick you into thinking you’re getting the benefits of whole grains when you’re not (don’t be fooled by “multi-grain”, “seven-grain”, or the worst offender- “enriched”). But that’s another post for another time. I made pancakes with buckwheat and spelt flour because I had them in my whole-grain arsenal and I could feel good about putting them into my body. I made them vegan because I was out of eggs, and because I can’t seem to resist the temptation lately to make things without animal products just to see if they’re as good. These were great, although definitely not fluffy like a typical pancake. Recipe was my first hit when I googled “Vegan Buckwheat Pancakes.” I altered it slightly.

Vegan Buckwheat Pancakes
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup spelt flour
1 tablespoon ground flax meal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (pretty sure I forgot this, now that I’m writing this out…whoops)
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon raw cane sugar
1 cup almond milk
1 1/2 teaspoons safflower oil
1/4 cup water

Mix, pour, enjoy! Oh, I greased my pan with coconut oil, but it was way too oily on the first batch so I wiped the pan clean and went sans lubrication.

toasting some coconut for toppings

I added blueberries to this batch. they were tart, but nice with the coconut

no bluebs or coconut here, just homemade dark chocolate peanut butter and a teeny drizzle of 100% pure maple syrup

yes, I ate both plates.

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