Sweet Freedom: Fluffy Fruited Whole-Grain Pancakes

When I asked my husband how the pancakes were, he said “Great! Can’t you tell?” As he handed me an empty plate just 5 minutes after I handed him a full one.

Could he tell that they were made with whole spelt flour? Nope. Did he detect anything missing from the lack of refined sugars? Not a chance. Did he notice the added dose of protein? He’s a man, it was surely welcomed if anything. But the texture, surely it wasn’t quite right without eggs? Slightly different perhaps, but fluffy and uber cake-like … just the way he likes them.

sweetfeedomfluffyfruitedpancakes

The recipe I used is from Ricki Heller’s new cookbook, Sweet Freedom, and I cannot tell you how much I love her pancake recipes! They are actually made with whole spelt flour and use everyday pantry ingredients. In fact, all of the recipes in Sweet Freedom are wheat-free (many are also gluten-free), vegan (dairy-free and egg-free), and free from refined sugars.

Though I have enjoyed her Carob and Date Pancakes (they were the inspiration for the Pillowy Whole-Grain Pancakes in my book, Go Dairy Free!), these Fruited Pancakes were perfect for using seasonal summer produce. Okay, I lamed out and used diced bananas. What can I say, we were in a banana mood. But, you can use any fresh seasonal fruit you like. Blueberries, diced peaches, pitted cherries … just toss them in.

Yes, pancakes are no longer banished to the land of weekend indulgences. These babies are nutritious, and positively delicious …

Fluffy Fruited Spelt Pancakes

Adapted from Sweet Freedom, by Ricki Heller

Alisa’s Notes: These pancakes are very light in sweetness, perfect for dousing with maple syrup. You can increase the sweetness a bit by using a regular vanilla milk alternative if you desire. I went with an unsweetened one.

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Wheat-Free (but not Gluten-Free), Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Whole-Grain, and Free from Refined Sugars.

  • 1-3/4 to 2 Cups Plain or Vanilla Milk Alternative of Choice ( I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Flaxseed
  • 2 Teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Grapeseed, Sunflower or Other Mild Tasting Oil (original recipe uses 3; your call, I was cutting the fat a bit, but more oil means more fluff!)
  • 1 Tablespoon Agave Nectar or Maple Syrup
  • 1-3/4 Cups Whole Spelt Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Unflavored Protein Powder (rice or soy are ideal) or Soy Flour or Chickpea Flour, sifted
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg or 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 Cup Berries or Chopped Fruit (I used banana)

Measure 1-3/4 cups of the milk alternative into a measuring cup and add the flaxseeds, vinegar, oil, and agave, stirring well. Set aside while measuring remaining ingredients, or for at least 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, protein powder, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and spice (if using). Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix just to blend (there should still be a few lumps here and there).  If the batter is too thick, gently fold in another 1/4 cup of milk alternative (I needed too since I was only using 2 T of oil). Gently fold in the fruit.  

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat (spray the pan with olive oil spray if desired). Using an ice-cream scoop or measuring cup, measure out about 3 to 4 tablespoons (or 1/4 cup) of batter for each pancake and spread slightly in the pan.  

Cook each pancake about 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown and puffed up.  Serve immediately. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers for later use (may be defrosted in the toaster). 

Yields 15 to 20 pancakes (Ricki says 10 to 12, but I am not coordinated enough to make pancakes quite that big)

sweetfeedomfluffyfruitedpancakes2

The Guilt-Free Banana Bread Recipe You Have All Been Waiting For …

Okay, maybe not ALL of  you, but ever since I posted about the Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread from my book, Go Dairy Free, I have been flooded with requests for the recipe. It is in the book (along with tons of dairy-free living info and many other awesome recipes, if I do say so myself), which can be ordered on Amazon for an insanely good price … but enough with the sales pitches … I am more than happy to share that recipe with you here!

But first, a little background on the recipe …

An important part of going dairy-free for me was turning to home-baked bread. At the time, every last loaf at my local grocer contained milk in some form (milk powder, cheese, whey, caseinate, etc.). Even when a couple specialty vegan/dairy-free brands appeared, they were way too costly to warrant regular purchase.

While I learned to enjoy pounding on dough for a good homemade yeast bread once in a while (excellent stress reliever), I don’t always have time or the patience for the process. So I set out to create a quick bread that was nutritious enough to use for my morning toast. With that in mind, this bread is completely sugar-free, using just the bananas for a hint of sweetness. I find it perfect as a base for nut butter, jam, or honey, each of which adds their own dose of flavor, wouldn’t you agree Ricki? [Ricki has a new cookbook out called Sweet Freedom – desserts without wheat, dairy, eggs, and refined sugar – so I consider her the ultimate expert on sugar-free baked goodies]

If you want a little of the sweet stuff, feel free to add around 1/4 cup of your favorite sugar (honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, sugar straight up, etc.) to the recipe. But, if you want a loaf of sugar-loaded, dessert banana bread, I suggest you look elsewhere.

Healthy foodies who know how to savor the flavor … read on, and fire up that oven!

Mini Sugar-Free, Spelt Banana Bread Loaf

Unsweetened Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread
Recipe from “Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living” by Alisa Fleming (yours truly!)

This Recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free and Optional Nut-Free

“Going out on a limb, I created a banana bread recipe that is completely void of added sugar of any kind, relying solely on the extra-ripe bananas for their natural sweetness. What resulted was a mildly sweet loaf of bread that my entire family adores. It is perfect for breakfast, and won’t leave you face down on your keyboard by 10am. Feel free to make this bread the night before, allowing the banana flavor to infuse and giving the bread time to take on some moisture. If you do prefer a bit of a sweeter loaf, add a bit of sweetener with the wet ingredients.” – [Yes, I just quoted myself]

1/2 Cup Unsweetened Milk Alternative of Choice
2 Tablespoons Ground Flaxseed
2 Cups Whole Grain Spelt Flour or Whole Wheat Flour
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1-1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Grapeseed or Coconut Oil
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
3 to 4 Medium-Sized, Very (Very) Ripe Bananas, Mashed (about 1-1/2 to 2 cups mashed)*
1/2 Cup Nuts, Dried Fruit, or Other Add-ins (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350ºF (175ºC) and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. In a large mixing bowl combine the milk alternative and flaxseed and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Returning to your mixing bowl, blend in the oil, vanilla, and bananas until well mixed. Stir in the dry ingredients by hand, being careful not to over-mix; a few lumps are okay. Gently fold in the nuts, fruit, or any other add-ins, if using. Spread the batter into your prepared loaf pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is browned and resilient to the touch. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before removing it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Mini-Loaf Option: The loaf pictured above is actually a mini-loaf. This recipe will make four mini loaves, baked at 350º for about 22 to 25 minutes. I topped the loaves with some sliced almonds just before popping them in the oven and subbed the vanilla extract with 3/4 teaspoon almond extract for a slightly almond vibe.

* I prefer to use a full 2 cups of banana for the deepest flavor and a very moist bread, but using 1/2 cup less will allow the bread to rise a bit more.

Yields 10 to 12 servings

Virtuous Whole Grain Banana Muffins

In case you haven’t noticed from my past recipes, I am always looking for ways to use up those leftover bananas. For some odd reason, I purchase the same amount of bananas year round, regardless of our internal demand. In the summers, morning smoothies ensure that we go through at least one or two bananas per day, but in the winter and early spring, the last thing on my mind is a monstrously chilly beverage. So here I sit, once again, with a bunch of quickly ripening bananas, simply begging to lend their sweetness to a baked goodie.

Trying desperately to keep it healthy, I was elated when I found a whole wheat banana muffin recipe on Recipezaar that numerous people swore rose beautifully. They did not lie. I altered the recipe in several ways (reducing the fat a touch, adding some flavors, etc.), but still used their moisture ratio as my guide. These muffins turned out, dare I say about a whole grain muffin, relatively light and fluffy! Keep in mind; these are muffins, not cupcakes. They aren’t overly sweet, yet they are perfect (in my opinion) for early morning taste buds or with afternoon tea. I added raisins for an extra jolt of natural sugar, but you can swap them out for nuts, chocolate chips (I can’t stand chocolate in muffins/bread, just me though), blueberries, or other add-ins. You will still need some of that hot water in the ingredient list though (see the recipe to know what I am talking about).

banana-nut frosted banana muffins

I “frosted” one fresh out of the oven with a quick mixture of some leftover mashed banana, nut butter, ground flaxseeds, and some flavors to taste (molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg). For a sweeter added touch, “frost” them with your favorite jam.

Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Banana Muffins

This Recipe is Milk-Free, Soy-Free, Tree Nut-Free, Peanut-Free

  • 1/2 Cup Raisins (or more if you like)
  • Boiling Water (about 1 cup should do)
  • 1-3/4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Wheat Germ
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Mashed Ripe Banana
  • 1/4 Cup Grapeseed or Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Honey or Agave Nectar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Place the raisins in a small bowl, and cover them with the hot/boiling water.

Preheat your oven to 325ºF and grease 12 muffin cups.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour, wheat germ, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Briefly set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, blend the banana, oil, honey, eggs, and vanilla. Drain the raisins, reserving the liquid. Add 5 tablespoon s (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) of the hot raisin water to your mixing bowl.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in your large mixing bowl, stirring just to combine. Do not over mix. The baking soda begins to react as soon as it hits the liquid, so over mixing will cause the muffins to loose some of their fluffiness … a few lumps are okay.

Stir in the plumped raisins, and divide the batter evenly between your 12 muffin cups.

Bake for 20 to 24 minutes, or until they just begin to take on a golden hue, and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin, comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes in the muffin cups, then remove to a wire rack.

Yields 1 Dozen Muffins

dairy-free banana wheat muffins

Wheat-Free Option:
Use spelt or oat flour in place of the wheat flour, and substitute ground flax for the wheat germ.  I would guess that you could also use your favorite gluten-free flour blend (with xanthan gum as directed) to make them gluten-free / casein-free too if you wished).

Tips:
Be sure the bananas are quite ripe; this will add sweetness to the muffins.
Measure the oil in a ¼ cup, then use the same cup to measure the honey. The oil coating on the measuring cup will help keep the honey from sticking.

Happy Baking!

“Buttermilk” Banana Pancakes Made with Love

Oddly enough, my husband and I had our very first date on Valentine’s Day.  I know, I know, not the best day for a first date, but it worked out well I would say. Yet, because we are frugal, we never go out on the actual day of to celebrate. There are no 2-for-1’s and you have to battle the crowds for reservations … simply not our style.

My sweet husband had already given me a beautiful Valentine’s gift earlier in the week (he can never wait!), but I still wanted to make something nice for him on this special day … 

Well, it was a nice attempt anyway. You see, while I can come up with ideas that work out well and customize recipes nicely, my execution is often very, very poor.  I am super-slow in the kitchen, and lack some of those basic skills … like the ability to flip pancakes.  Yep, they turn out like mutants.  Sure, they taste good, but pretty they are not.

After attempting to make several “normal-sized” pancakes, I finally realized that dollar-sized were the only way to go for my bumbling spatula skills.  That is when my wonderful husband entered. I pointed at one, and said, “See, that one looks kind of like a heart!” He reciprocated, “An internal one maybe!” After we both had a good chuckle, he took the helm, and some nice little pancakes resulted …

Wheaty Banana Buttermilk Pancakes

That work he did as a teenage burger flipper definitely left him with some solid life skills. Though I must say, that every meal seems to turn out better when we make it together. We make a great team.

So, with a belly full of these pancakes we headed out for a hike in the desert hills to enjoy the sunshine and the first day of our 14th year together.

“Buttermilk” Banana Pancakes

Vegetarian, Vegan / Egg-Free (optional), Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Peanut-Free, Tree Nut-Free

This recipe was inspired by one that I saw on Recipezaar. While I love banana flavor, I am not big on pancakes with too much bananal; it is a textural thing.  So I just used 1 large banana, which equated to 1/2 cup of mashed banana.  Feel free to use more if you prefer, they should still turn out nicely.

  • 1 3/4 Cups Original or Unsweetened Milk Alternative (I used almond)
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice
  • 2 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (can use all-purpose, a combo of all-purpose and regular wheat flour, or experiment with your flours of choice)
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Large or Jumbo Egg (see note below for egg-free)
  • 2 Tablespoons Oil (I used grapeseed)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Honey or Agave Nectar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup Mashed Ripe Banana (1 to 2 large)

In a large bowl, combine the milk alternative and vinegar or lemon juice, and set it aside for just a minute.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set that aside.

Returning to the milk alternative, whisk in the egg, oil, honey or agave, vanilla, and banana. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just everything is combined, but do not overmix.  A few lumps are okay (especially since you are likely to have some banana lumps!).

Heat a small amount of oil (maybe a teaspoon) in a large skillet over medium-low to medium heat (my stove can get a little too toasty on medium). Pour about 1/4 cup of batter (or 2 Tablespoons for those little dollars) onto the skillet for each pancake.

Cook until the bubbles break on top of the pancakes (check to ensure they don’t brown too much though), flip, and cook for another minute or two, or until lightly browned on both sides. Serve with maple syrup, berries, nut butter, or other topping of choice. Since I was cooking, I completely filled up on munching them plain as I was going!

Flash freeze any leftovers and toast them up for a quick pastry breakfast anyday!

Vegan / Egg-Free Option: Warning, I have not tried this, but am fairly confident it will work.  If you want to omit the egg, either use more banana (aka the whole cup) or up the milk alternative to 2 cups, and add a wee bit more baking powder (perhaps round it out to a full 2 teaspoons).

Yields about 2.5 to 3 dozen dollar pancakes