Sunday, February 9, 2014

Healthy Blueberry Oat Pancakes (+ gluten free!)

There's something indulgent and wonderful about weekend breakfasts.  You're not rushed to get out the door, you can take your time and make something delicious.  Suddenly, breakfast isn't just a necessary quest for nourishment you scarf down while you get ready for work, it is once again a meal to be enjoyed.

I'll be the first to admit, North American breakfast doesn't lend itself easily to veganism.  Typical weekend breakfast menus are full of bacon and eggs.  Don't get me wrong, I love a tofu scramble as much as the next vegan, but it still feels like it's lacking something.  As luck would have it, pancakes are particularly easy to veganize.  Unfortunately, typical pancakes, made of white flour and covered in syrup, are nothing but empty calories, devoid of any and all nutritional value.  Sure, it's maple-flavoured empty calories, but let's face it, not the best start to your day.

One day, a few years ago, I accidentally invented something awesome.  I wanted pancakes for brunch, but went to the cupboard to discover I had no flour.  Drat.  I did, however, have an exceptionally large bag of oats.  I had encountered oat flour in baking before, and figured it was a reasonable substitute for wheat flour.  It was not reasonable.  It was amazing.  It was like healthy oatmeal and delicious blueberry pancakes had a lovechild, and then that lovechild rolled around in maple syrup.

Blueberry Oat Pancakes
Serves 2

1 cup oats (gluten-free if that's how you roll)*
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
a dash of salt
a few dashes of cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
3/4+ cup non-dairy milk
Splash o' vanilla
1/3 cup frozen blueberries

In blender, grind oats into flour.
In small bowl combine ground flax with about 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk, mix and set aside to thicken.
In medium size bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add remaining 1/2 cup of non-dairy milk, vanilla and flax mix.  Let batter sit for about 5 minutes. Add more liquid if need be (batter should be slightly thicker than pancake batter).
When your skillet is nice and hot (med-high), melt some vegan margarine or coconut oil.  Gently fold frozen blueberries into your pancake batter.  Ladle into pan.  Cook thoroughly before flipping (these pancakes will be more delicate than typical wheat flour pancakes, but should hold together fairly well if cooked enough before flipping).  Cook until nicely browned, but these will take longer than regular pancakes.
Top with real, Canadian maple syrup, berries or bananas.

* A note on Gluten-free oats: For those new to the GF game, oats are inherently gluten-free.  However, typical oats you buy in the store are almost always contaminated, as they are often processed on the same equipment as wheat. For this reason it is essential that you acquire legit gluten-free oats if you are sensitive to gluten.  Bob's Red Mill has GF Oats that you can find at most supermarkets, and if you are in the Ottawa area, Castor River Farm's oats are gluten-free, very reasonably priced and can be purchased at the Ottawa Farmer's Market (check their website to find out which weekends they attend which market).