by Anna Harris, Contributing Writer
Meet a toddler’s breakfast nirvana and a mama’s healthy breakfast solution, fluffy buttermilk-soaked pastry wheat pancakes studded with winning bits of chocolate, flavored and enriched with classic pancakes additions of vanilla, egg, and butter. (To read more about the soaking method used in this recipe, read here.)
I realize that chocolate chip pancakes are not anything close to sophisticated cuisine. To some of us they might not even sound remotely desirable. My three-year-old son, however, would beg to differ, as these are his weekly breakfast staples. It’s likely that as mamas (and some of us have grandiose visions of what the family meal table should look like-Eggs Florentine over homemade sourdough English muffins, Spelt Crepes filled with creme fraiche and local berries, Coconut Granola with home cultured yogurt-that sort of thing) we have the highest hopes for diverging our children’s palates and to nourish every cell of their tiny, developing bodies. I know that for myself, this is indeed a fierce longing.
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Additionally, I was raised in a food-centric, large, and ravenous family where the notion was held that a cleaned plate was akin to godliness and wasting or throwing food away was practically a crime. So you can imagine my befuddlement when our second-born not only showed little interest in food but was very (to add insult)…picky! I tried training, coaxing, allowing my toddler to get hungry, nothing much seemed to interest him in my whole-raw-milk-honey-drizzled-yogurt, or eggs, perfectly raised yeast and sourdough breads, or even the soothing simplicity of warm oatmeal. I confess I even tempted him with store-bought cereal, the brightly packaged, fruity “kids” yogurt, and organic pop-tarts with no success at incurring a voracious manly appetite.
My whole being was perplexed and distressed because my tiny man truly is small as well, Elliot has spindly, long limbs left unpadded by even a hint of baby chub. It was as if he always had something more exciting to do, as if it were such a chore to sit down and eat. I believe the turning point was with these pancakes, being both sweet and easy to chew, something he could quickly recognize. He began to consistently eat breakfast with very rare conflict. For months at a time I fed him pancakes, with both a sigh of relief that he was being fed with the sustaining combination of whole grains and fats but also with a sigh of acceptance at his quirk of being absolutely ok with hardly any variety, something my own soul regularly craves.
It might grate on my butter-devoted nerves when Elliot balks at the sight of a golden pat melting across his single pancake, but oh! it brings me joy and relief to see him fed for the morning and his plate forked clean. I also smile knowing that I can at least fry those pancakes in coconut oil or butter until the edges are so crisp they crackle at the bite and that he loves when we pour a trickle of real maple syrup atop. While those wonderful foods together (I am referencing my experience as a Trim Healthy Mama ) may not be the friendliest to my mama waistline, they are absolutely sublime for fueling my whippet-thin toddlers.
Practically speaking, I don’t whip up a batch of these fresh every day, becoming a veritable short-order Betty Crocker for my young ones fickle appetites, I typically will make a batch every week though, wrapping extras and storing in the fridge to pull out for the following mornings. We have a very loose rotation of simple and generally frugal breakfasts. Here are some of them.
Inexpensive & Healthy Breakfast Options
- Overnight soaked oatmeal with toppings of butter, maple syrup, honey, raw milk, cinnamon, raisins, or walnuts.
- I often will make of Trim Healthy pancake batter made of oats, cottage cheese, and egg whites for myself that sits in a half-gallon jar on a make-as-I-please basis.
- Egg-based breakfasts, scrambled or fried, with or without homemade toast. (With eggs, as much as I adore them, my children just always think they taste better from our plates, which I guess is ok with me, as long as they are eating them.) Here is one of my especially nutrient dense scrambled egg recipes.
- Smoothies can be popular with the children when it’s warm, I can put loads of homemade yogurt, honey, and whatever frozen fruit we have, inside.
- Super-simple favorites: A banana and peanut butter for Elliot, in particular.
- Toast and pan-fried ham or bacon.
- Leftovers, Eden and I are versatile and will happily eat leftover pasta (Eden) or leftover brown rice and quinoa (myself) along with leftover cooked vegetables and protein source. French toast using up odds and ends of bread fall into the yummy leftover category.
- Just recently, my children also have been converted to enjoying vanilla-infused yogurt and toast. Perhaps this is due to the frequency yogurt is served in our house, they just can’t get away from it!
Since that critical point of my son’s toddler breakfast issues, we have come along way and he will eat what the rest of the family eats, even if it means us lending a hand in the momentous task of bringing the offending spoon to his weary mouth.
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, sifted
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1-2 eggs
- 2 tbs. butter, melted
- 2 tbs. coconut sugar/sucanat
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
- ⅓-1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life brand with only 3 ingredients, also dairy-free)
- Coconut oil, butter, ghee, peanut/sunflower oil for frying
- Measure sifted flour into a bowl, mix gently with buttermilk, allow to sit overnight.
- Whisk together vanilla, egg, coconut sugar, melted butter, add salt, baking soda, and baking powder, pour into flour mixture. Add chocolate chips and stir gently to combine.
- It's helpful to let the batter rest for 10 minutes before frying. Use a ¼ cup measure to pour out onto a heated, well oiled skillet or frying pan. Cook on medium heat until bubbles begin to form around the edges, flip and cook on the other side until cooked through and browned.
I will also note, that while our family seems to digest dairy with ease, this recipe is so simple to make dairy-free by substituting coconut oil and milk or almond milk and sunflower oil for the butter and buttermilk. Just be sure to include an acid medium along with your alternative milk (lemon juice, apple cider vinegar) or you could always use half yogurt and half water for nice results. Spelt, barley, or kamut flour can be substituted for the more domesticated pastry wheat as well.
Other Nourishing Gourmet Pancake Recipes:
- Sourdough Pancakes
- Basic Soaked Pancakes
- Whole Grain Blender Pancakes (I do the gluten-, dairy-, and egg-free options)
- Blueberry Lemon Pancakes made with sprouted flour