Bachelor Food: Saturday Morning Coconut Pancakes

coconut pancakes syrupIt’s hard to write when you’re full. And that’s one thing these coconut pancakes do: fill you up. It’s all the fiber in them, I think. But they’re tasty, easy to make — and grain-free.

So here’s how this little adventure started out.

I love my carbs. Pastas, pancakes, pastries, crusty French bread… They’re the stuff of life. They’re also not great for someone keeping an eye on their blood sugars and lipids.

So I’ve been deliberately cutting out foods with added sugars, and consciously adding more fiber to my diet. (I quietly mutter “Sugar equals death” under my breath when I’m tempted by my favorite pastries, but you know, it kinda spooks the other customers in line, so I just wander away sad and unsatisfied, but feeling just a little bit superior.)

Anyway. I’ve made the switch to whole-grain everything as part of a lifestyle change. Breads with multi-whole grains, whole wheat flour for cooking, whole wheat spaghetti and pastas, and swapping out quinoa and farro (it’s kinda like corn) instead of rice as a side dish staple. All in all, a healthier exchange, since it upped my protein and fiber intake and reduced my net carbs.

But sometimes you just want a stack of pancakes for breakfast Saturday morning.

There are some cool recipes out there using buckwheat and barley, some using almond flour, stuff with a lower glycemic index and higher fiber to make you feel full and keep you from that post-sugar-high crash. Some of them seem a bit exotic (and pricey!), with ingredients I’m not likely to use for much else, so they didn’t seem worth the purchase. But, we’re easily influenced by media (at least I am), and I’ve seen a couple of really enticing photos of “paleo-pancakes” on Facebook recently, so I caved. (Not that I can even imagine a caveman whipping up a batch of pancakes, but hey …)

coconut flourHere’s the killer ingredient: coconut flour. Those crazy Americans. My bud, who lives in Malaysia where coconut is an everyday part of life, never heard of such a thing. Somebody over here, probably with too much time on their hands, thought it might be interesting to grind up coconut flesh and see if bread could be made from it, I guess. And, voila. A flour substance that’s high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, and lower in carbs than regular wheat flour.

Well, sign me up. So I ran out to my grocery store and picked a 2 pound container. Yes, you can even find it at WallyWorld. I figured if I liked it, I’d try it in other things (imagine making chocolate chip cookies!), so it wouldn’t just sit in my cupboard waiting for the occasional Saturday morning breakfast. And my conscience would be lulled back to sleep when indulging: “don’t worry about it; it’s healthy.”

I did do a bit of background reading, first, before I plunged into experimenting. Turns out, coconut flour is much more absorbant than traditional wheat flour, so it sucks up your recipe liquids (milk, water) leaving your batter a bit thicker. That’s okay. Don’t try to compensate by adding more liquid; your batter will just end up runny. And because it’s gluten-free, you gotta use more eggs as a binder. (Gluten, although it’s gotten a bad rap lately, is the go-to ingredient in wheat that holds all the stuff together when cooking.)* So, you can’t just substitute coconut flour for wheat four 1 for 1. Turns out, it’s more like 1/4 to 1. So, where I used to just whip up pancakes with 1 cup of flour and 1 egg, this time I had to use 1/4 cup coconut flour and 3 eggs.

They taste a bit like coconut, as you might expect, so they have a naturally sweet flavor. Several recipes I compared online added 1-2 tablespoons of sugar (or honey, to stay paleo), but I didn’t think they needed it. Especially if you’re about to pour 1/2 cup of maple syrup over them. One friend recommended adding ground crickets, which would double the protein (he was serious), but I’m not that extreme. Thanks, maybe next time, Shane.

This recipe makes a deceptively small amount of batter. But remember, it’s heavier, so a little bit goes a long way. It’ll make the same number of pancakes as a proportional wheat flour recipe will; the pancakes will just be a bit smaller. But, believe me, they will fill you up.

coconut pancake ingrs

Here’s what you need

1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 – 1/3 cup milk. (Use coconut milk if you want to stay purely “paleo” and avoid dairy; but I just used my regular 1% cow’s milk)
3 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (Or use coconut oil if you’ve got it)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder (This is the stuff that makes the cakes rise — and no, it’s not the same thing as baking soda)
dash of salt (Adds to the chemical reaction to help them rise, plus balances out the flavor a little)

And that’s it. See how easy that is? You’ve probably got all that stuff already in your cupboards — except for the coconut flour, which I’m sure you ran out and picked up, like I did, just to try this out.

Here’s what you do

Basically, you want to mix your wet ingredients first, then add in your dry ones.

So, crack your 3 eggs into a bowl, add the milk, oil, and vanilla extract, and beat with a fork or wisk to combine.
Next, dump in your coconut flour, and add the baking powder and salt.
. It doesn’t have to be perfect; some small lumps are fine.
Heat up a little vegetable or coconut oil, about a tablespoon, in your frying pan or griddle.  I’d avoid the “HI” setting if you don’t want to smoke up the whole kitchen. Just sayin’.
Pour about a 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake (I used the same measuring cup as a ladle). This batter is heavier than normal pancake batter, so it won’t bubble when it’s ready to be flipped like you’re probably used to. You’ll just have to peek at the underside using a spatula/turner and flip when the pancake is a golden brown. I had to flip mine twice to make sure they were cooked through, but you don’t want to overcook them. Nobody likes maple syrup covered hockey pucks.
coconut pancakes teaThis batch makes about 6 pancakes, 3-4 inches wide — enough for two people if you’ve got other side dishes, and definitely enough for one, with or without extras.

Depending on how much syrup you pour on, these puppies have a much lower carb/sugar count than traditional pancakes. And with just 1/4 cup of coconut flour and the 3 eggs, I estimated about 24g of protein and about 10g fiber.

Not a bad way to start an indulgent weekend. Enjoy!


P.S.  About using more eggs as a binder, if you have an egg-sensitivity, my friend Rita offered a solution.  You can substitute milled flax seed as the binder. For 1 egg substitute 1 T of milled flax seed and put it into 1 T warm water. Let it sit several minutes until it becomes stretchy. Then add that to the recipe.  I’ll try that out next time I make these …

photo credit: Stephen Schmidt

Bachelor Food: Chocolate Peanut-Butter Cookies (No Bake)

Choco-PeanutButterCookies3
Okay, these may look a bit like charcoal briquettes in this photo, but take my word for it. They’re fantastic!

I’ve been single for about 2 years now, and I discovered something during this time of readjustment and recovering my identity: I still like to eat.

And, every once in a while, I actually enjoy cooking – when I have the time and energy, that is. And frankly, most days after work I just don’t. Add in the dinners out with friends, my new hobbies of running and yoga, and weekly church obligations, and that pretty much leaves me with just weekends to indulge in the kitchen.

And, like most guys (I think), I like having something to munch on when I’m unwinding in the evening with Netflix.  (“Netflix: a bachelor’s best friend.”) For a while I was stocking up on quick snacks, like granola bars or those single-serving sized cups of applesauce or fruit. But that gets old after a while. And sure, that cookie aisle at WalMart is kinda hard to resist, so my shopping cart would inevitably end up with some kind of name-brand cookie or sweet thing.  But, one of the things I’m trying to cultivate back into my life is healthy eating.  And those vanilla sugar-wafers (which I love) don’t exactly fall into that category.

Besides, have you looked at the ingredients in those things?!!!!  That stuff can’t possibly be good for you.

So today, on my weekly grocery run, I picked up a few items just so I could make “healthy” snacks myself.  – Yeah, I put quotation marks around that, cuz we all know anything with sugar in it probably isn’t really gonna be the best thing to chow down on before going to bed. But … whatever.  Ya gotta live, right?

And what I threw together when I got home turned out to be friggin fantastic.

So, here it is. If you like chocolate, if you like peanut butter (and isn’t that almost an obligatory thing if you’re American?), then you gotta try this for yourself.

Choco-PeanutButterCookies1And look!  Just a handful of ingredients.  And I know exactly what each one of them is, and how much I put in.  In fact, I took a basic recipe off the internet, but then cut the amount of butter and sugar in half.   #TakingControlofMyFood  #YayMe

So, just copy that photo to your phone gallery, hit the grocery store, and pick up those items for yourself, if you don’t already have them in your cupboards.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar (that’s about 240ml, for my non-U.S. friends) *
  • 1 stick of butter (½ cup, or 113g). Do yourself the favor, and use real butter, not margarine. And get organic, hormone-free if you can.  You’ll feel better about yourself.
  • ½ cup milk (125ml)  Ditto on the organic note.
  • 4 Tablespoons cocoa powder (60ml)
  • 1 cup peanut-butter (240ml)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (15ml)
  • 3 – 3.5 cups oatmeal / quick oats (about 750 – 850ml)

Hey, this isn’t rocket science, so don’t get all hung up about precise measurements.

Do It

In a saucepan, mix the sugar, butter, milk and cocoa powder, and heat until melted. Bring to low boil for about a minute, stirring until everything is dissolved and well mixed.  (I said “low boil.” You don’t need the stuff flying out of the pan and making a bigger mess on your stove. Nobody likes clean-up.)  Then add in the vanilla and peanut butter.  When that’s blended in nicely, add in the oats. Stir until well mixed, and then take off the heat.  And then just spoon out the batter onto wax paper (or aluminum foil if that’s all you’ve got), and let cool. They’ll firm up as they cool.  Makes about 3 dozen decent sized cookies.

And, voila!, as they say.  The stuff is amazing.

I’m thinking next time, just for variety (and to con myself even more into feeling that this is health food), I gonna swap out a cup or so of the oats with chia seeds.  It’ll probably make the flavor a bit more bitter and add more texture, but score one for added anti-oxidants, fiber, and Omega-3s!

Ya know what? This bachelor life isn’t all that hard after all.

—-

* One caveat with reducing the sugar. Yeah, it won’t knock your blood gluccose into the stratosphere, but the cookies don’t firm up as much when they’re cool.  You may need to keep them in the fridge if you don’t like soft and chewy cookies.

 

 

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STEVE SCHMIDT serves on the pastoral staff of Expressions Church in Oklahoma City. He is a graduate of the seminary at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK, and holds two masters degrees in Biblical Literature and Divinity. He did his doctoral research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York.

He blogs here on IMPACT Magazine’s Cafe Inspirado column, and you can always find him skulking on Facebook.
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