Saturday, April 4, 2009

Starting this Blog (and the day) with Whole Wheat Pancakes

Well, for my first entry I think it's appropriate to start off with a recipe for Whole Wheat Pancakes. I usually make Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes, but you can add any kind of fruit, or none at all, to this recipe. I encourage adding fruit because it naturally sweetens them a bit more, and you don't have to load up on tons of syrup. You can also, of course, add anything else you want, like chocolate chips... but let's keep this on the uber-healthy side for now.
I find this recipe serves about four (and very well). Be sure to check the notes at the bottom before you start.

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk, plus more if necessary*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon artificial sweetener
  • 1/2-1 cup mashed bananas**(about 2 medium bananas)/blueberries/etc.


  • Sift together your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder) and set aside. Beat together your wet ingredients (egg, milk, salt and artificial sweetener) in a bowl. Add and stir in dry ingredients. Mix in fruit of choice.
  • Preheat a skillet over medium heat, and spray with cooking spray. Pour batter in according to the desired pancake size. Cook until bubbly, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn, and continue cooking until golden brown.***


* I usually add a little bit more milk to this batter, to make it more liquidy. Depending on how you want your pancakes you can add varying amounts of milk to get it to the desired consistency. My sister likes "Juicy Pancakes", which are slightly raw on the inside. To get this, the batter should be thicker.

** Tip for mashing the bananas: Put the bananas in a bowl. Using a fork, slice them up a bit, then stick them in the microwave for up to a minute. When you take them out, they'll be a lot softer. Use the fork to mash them up in the bowl until mostly liquidy.

*** Tip for fluffy pancakes: When you flip the pancake, don't press down on it with your spatula. This won't make them cook faster, nor make sure they're fully cooked. It'll just squeeze out the air that makes your pancakes light and fluffy. Also, if you can, try to only cook each side once.

And now... for a little rumination on the benefits of whole wheat. Growing up in a house where white bread was pretty much forbidden, I grew up hating whole wheat. I was the only kid at school with whole wheat bread slices for my sandwiches. As I grew older, my mother (the whole wheat lover of the family) relaxed more on her eating rules. As she began to eat more unhealthily, so did the rest of the family. Of course, I'm sure this had something to do with me and my sister growing up and entering teenage-hood... we got old enough to pressure our mother into getting the junk-food alternatives, and we would buy white-bread sandwiches at the cafeteria in a kind of rebellious act. But on this healthy-eating mission of mine, I've made several changes in my eating ways, the first one being the switch to whole wheat.

I now only eat whole wheat. All my bread, cake, and cookie recipes are 100% whole wheat. In fact, I think it was this first rule that I made for myself that first got me into cooking. Before a couple of months ago, I could hardly even make pasta. Now, I'm the main cook of my family, and I make sure everything is the healthy alternative.

Whole wheat is the healthier alternative to normal, white wheat for several reasons. It has more healthy fiber, and isn't refined the way white flour is. Because of this, it doesn't cause Blood Sugar levels to spike as much, which can lead to a lot of binge eating. Whole wheat is also an extremely good source of antioxidants, Vitamin B, Vitamin E, magnesium, and iron... even more so than vegetables. Whole grains have been shown to lower the risks of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood coagulation. Other studies have shown benefits including a lowered risk of cancer, and several have found that people who consume whole grains consistently weigh less than those who consumed less, or none.

It's easier than you think to get more whole grains into your diet. If you cook, you can start by finding versions of your favorite recipes that use whole wheat. You can also substitute in whole wheat flour for recipes that call for white flour, but it's recommended that you only substitute in about half the amount of flour with whole wheat flour, and leave the other half as white. It is possible to do a full substitution with some recipes, but baking time and texture may change considerably. You can also start by buying products with whole grains in them, but be wary of the actual ingredients in them. It's important to check the food labels on products that claim to be "whole grain", because, more often than not, they include SOME whole grains, but also great amounts of refined grains as well. The easiest way to ensure that you're eating 100% whole grains is cooking your own foods. With a lot of recipes, people can't even tell that what they're eating is whole wheat... and if they don't know it, they don't seem to care. It seems people just have a predisposition to dislike the taste of anything they know is whole grain. Don't tell them, and in a lot of cases, they'll never know.

So. To conclude, my first step for Pimping my Diet, was to commit to eating only whole grains (or hardly any refined grains, when impossible to avoid completely).

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