A food I had a love/hate relationship with for many years. But after realizing they don’t have to be glorified breakfast cake or particularly even eaten at breakfast (which also isn’t my go-to), I’ve fully embraced pancakes in all the wonderful ways.
This version is just about as whole-food as you can get, with oats, beets, banana, eggs, and not a lot else. These days, I tend to add on greens and maybe an additional egg to make pancake meals a balanced meal.
Hope you enjoy!
One more big / little thing
I’ve decided to share most of my recipes in my newsletter going forward this year, rather than publishing all of them here on the blog portion of the website. If you enjoy regularly receiving recipes from me as well as focused nutrition topics, I encourage you to sign up to receive my nutrition newsletter.
Beet Banana Pancakes, serves 2
Inspired by David of Green Kitchen Stories Prep: 40-60 minutes to roast beets (can be done ahead) | Cook: 15 minutes
2 eggs 1 banana, peeled 1 cup /100 gr rolled oats 2 – 4 Tbs. filtered water, or more as needed ⅛ tsp. salt ¼ tsp. baking powder 2 medium / 100 gr cooked beets coconut oil or ghee for frying
To Serve: 1-2 tsp. olive oil 1-2 handfuls of greens 1 fried or scrambled egg, for each serving
Prep ahead: Wash and halve the beets and wrap them in foil. Roast in a 400 degree F oven until soft, about 40 minutes. You can prepare more while you’re at for other meals or snacks.
To make Pancakes: Crack the eggs into a blender; add the banana, water, oats, salt and baking powder and blend until smooth.
Then pour into a bowl. Grate the cooked beets and add into the batter and stir through.
Heat a little oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat.
Whisk the batter and thin it a little as needed, then pour in ⅓-½ cup amounts into the pan. Cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side. Repeat with the remaining batter. If planning to have some leftovers, reserve the unused batter, so you can cook and enjoy them fresh.
For the greens and eggs: Heat the remaining coconut oil, add a pinch of salt, and stir in the greens, and a splash of water if needed. Steam/sauté for a couple minutes until wilted.
Then fry or scramble one additional egg per serving
Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt, molasses or applesauce, and with the fried egg and greens on the side.
It seems we’re fully into the new year now. The Christmas decor is all taken down, the neighborhood immersed back into winter darkness without the festive lights. We’re all back to work and school, business and workouts as usual. Back into our old routines and maybe struggling with any resolutions made at the turn of the decade.
I suspect like a lot of people, I didn’t actually make any concrete resolutions. But I did reflect on the old year, realizing a lot of good progress on ‘overall health and happiness’ was cemented in 2019. And since I like the changes I made to get there, I’m continuing to put an effort into them.
Because there’s still progress to be made. The last several years have brought so many health challenges my way, and I’m finally seeing real longer-term improvement.
Since I work within the public health and nutrition industries, I read a lot this time of year about the best diets, and this and that. Veganuary is under way, the climate crisis and wildfires in Australia are on the top of many individuals’ minds, and reducing plastics are a topic of discussion–in Oregon, we’ve finally instated a statewide ban on plastic grocery bags–which seems archaic that we’re only just now getting there when it was standard practice 12 years ago when I first traveled to Europe.
But that’s a topic for another day–though one I do want to get to.
It came across my newsfeed today that despite the massive media attention given to the best way of eating, of working out, of ‘self-care’ – ing, etc., the best way is still personalized nutrition and integrative health. Which means one size does not fit all. And sometimes one size doesn’t even fit most.
I made a big list this morning of the positive health changes I saw come to fruition last year and after looking them all over, I realized two big foundational pieces stood out. One, I received a comprehensive micronutrient test to measure my intracellular nutrient values – as opposed to the not as reliable serum markers that a doctor might measure (which don’t show whether nutrients are actually making their way into the cells to be utilized); and I drastically reduced my stress.
Even though I was already ‘walking my talk,’ through diet, my micronutrient test showed otherwise. You may have heard the saying ‘we aren’t what we eat, we’re what we digest.’ Coming in after marathon training and a particularly bad-timing autoimmune flare, my micronutrient status was sub-optimal in many random not obvious nutrients.
What followed were several months of repletion, and continued focus on gut health to actually absorb those precious nutrients. And feeling substantially better.
But I was also frequently reminded about the link between stress and nutrition. When stressed, we use up nutrients faster and we don’t absorb them as well, because the stressed brain and body is not a resting and digesting brain and body. That means we need to try to eat in a relaxed mindset. The smoothie I’m sharing below can cause me an uncomfortable, bloated tummy on days when I eat it at my work office in a rush, or when there’s too much stimulus in the building. And on other days when I’m relaxed, it has no such negative effects.
Likewise, partially ‘mechanically broken down’ foods like soups and smoothies help our stressed systems get more nutrients in the system when we need them.
Beyond practices that help me keep daily stress in check and continuing to work on optimally digesting / absorbing my foods, I’ve also given myself a little personalized nutrition challenge to incorporate more beets and greens in this winter season. I chose these two specifically given several months of bloodwork results, but they’re incredibly health promoting for most of us.
This daily smoothie, which I often have for a mid-afternoon snack, is my current go-to.
SpicedBeets and Orange Smoothie, makes 1 ~16 oz. To prep for several days of smoothies, I wrap a few medium beets in foil and roast them all together to use as needed. Though the ingredients might seem tedious with this and that random seed and nut, I’ve included a range of them to hit more of the antioxidant micronutrients we need. Use whatever protein powder is appropriate for you, or if you don’t need extra protein – simply leave out.
1 orange, peeled and sectioned 1 medium beet, roasted 20 grams / 1/2 a scoop vanilla protein powder 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 1/4 tsp. cardamom a small handful spinach or other greens, or 1-3 tsp. moringa powder 1 tsp. chia seeds 1 Brazil nut 1 Tbs. raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds 1/2 – 1 cup water, to desired consistency
Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and puree until smooth. Double batch, divide, and store in the fridge if you prefer a couple days’ worth at a time.
I had an instance last weekend that after some consideration, seemed like a metaphor for life right now. I had been planning a creative cake project for William’s birthday and in retrospect I planned the more creative aspects of it, but not so much the logistics of size and weight, how many layers can actually stack before it’s too much. That sort of thing.
After a few hours of baking, as assembly got underway, the cake began breaking apart before me, each layer collapsing in to the next as their weight was too much. In panic, I *tossed* the whole thing in the freezer, hoping it would chill quickly enough to stop the destruction.
And then like the cake, I completely melted down. William who really didn’t care whether he had cake or not, tried to reassure me, but the damn cake falling apart was in that moment an abject failure on my part after toiling away for hours and planning and looking forward to it for weeks.
So I took a break, made some tea and ate a snack because sometimes a blood sugar boost and tea actually is the best remedy before going on.
A little more resolve in my system, and I found a way to salvage two of the four layers, effectively putting the cake back in adequate proportion territory, and still plenty enough for a birthday.
For the artistic frosting finale, I realized the downsizing really put a hamper on how the color scheme / paint-like effect of the frosting was going to end up and at the end, William laughed at the looks of my finished result, although ‘it doesn’t look bad, really‘ were the words that came from him, and ‘just different than what you were going for.’
Different than what I was going for are probably words that describe most things for me. There’s that river again, which I cannot push. Trust and go with the flow. Again.
And maybe believe in yourself and know that you / I / we can make good come from every challenge.
Back to the birthday cake and it turned out tasting, if not looking, perfect. Almond poppy seed layers from this base recipe, cream cheese frosting, and a few splashes of color from mostly natural food dyes, which was part of the project.
What all that has to do with today’s recipe, I’m not entirely sure. Other than we like poppy seeds in this house. And raisins. And cake, in various forms. Occasionally.
Fittingly though, I first made this beet + seed loaf cake, a major spin-off from Nigel Slater’s popular original, for a Mad Hatter Tea Party at work last spring. The party was for our volunteers and since most of them are retired master gardeners who also love earthy flavors and garden-inspired things, the cake was quickly gobbled up with approval. The tweaks I gave the original involve substantially less sugar and some more wholesome flours and it’s safe to say this is more of a breakfast or snack loaf, rather than a sugar rush in a slice.
Beet + Seed Loaf Cake, makes 1 9×5 or 8×4-inch loaf
Recipe updated: 6/12/2021
The flours can be changed here, depending on what’s on hand. Instead of chickpea, sorghum or millet are great substitutes. I used ground flax seeds here instead of eggs, but an earlier version of this made with 2 eggs instead also resulted well.
2 Tbs. ground flax seeds
6 Tbs. water
100 grams / 1 cup chickpea flour
70 grams / a scant 1/2 cup brown rice flour
25 grams / ¼ cup arrowroot flour
½ tsp baking soda 1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract ¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup plain, unsweetened yogurt (I used coconut yogurt)
70 grams / 1/3 cup cane sugar
150-170g / 5-6 oz. raw beet, shredded coarsely
juice of half a lemon
½ cup raisins
1/4 cup mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc.)
4 tsp. poppy seeds, divided
Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C. Line a loaf pan with baking parchment. A 9×5 will yield a larger, more compact loaf, and a slightly smaller pan will yield slices that are taller.
In a small bowl, combine the flax and water and then set aside for a few minutes.
Stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix the vanilla, coconut oil, applesauce, and brown rice syrup. Stir in the flax meal.
Grate the beetroot coarsely and fold into the mixture, then add the lemon juice, raisins, mixed seeds, and 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds. Then stir in the flour mixture.
Pour the mixture into the cake pan, smooth the top, and then sprinkle over the remaining 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds. Bake for 50-55 minutes and test with a toothpick to see if done. The cake should be moist inside but not sticky.
Leave the loaf to cool for a good 20 minutes before turning out of its pan on to a cooling rack.