Q: “Mom, what’s for dinner?”
“A side of pancakes. Oh, and we’re starting with pancakes. Did I mention there will be pancakes for dessert?”
Every so often, we have a meal of pancakes.
With pancakes as the side. And pancakes for dessert.
It may sound like this is a “compromise meal” of “fun foods,” but it’s not. It’s just a chance to make food fun (while still eating plenty of vegetables)!
It’s fun and goofy to have a silly meal, and savvy real food cooks can still serve an entirely balanced, 100% homemade, nourishing meal that is FUN.
The Silly Pancake Meal Menu
Check this pancake menu out and tell me that it doesn’t have all the food groups and nutrients a good dinner should have:
- Pumpkin Pancakes – more than 50% squash or pumpkin puree, plus lots of eggs for protein. There are many ways to make this recipe, but we choose the grain-free version.
- Regular old Grain-based Pancakes – lots of options here, but ours will always be whole grains, gluten-free if necessary, healthy fats, and usually some dairy in the mix. The ones in the photo use whole, unground spelt and barley grains, soaked overnight in yogurt. The recipe is in The Healthy Breakfast eBook. We also love these 100% Whole Grain Soaked Pancakes. They’re super light and fluffy and very easy to make.
- Potato Vegetables Latkes – even though we already have one vegetable on the plate, this can be a starchy side with white potatoes if that’s your thing, or I’ve even used just one little potato with a huge zucchini (the zuke was definitely 80% or more of the 6-7 cups shredded veggies) to make it fall squarely back in the “vegetable” category. If you click over to the recipe you’ll see you can use sweet potatoes, broccoli, and spinach for a serious pancake-y veggie side dish experience.
There’s not an official “meat” dish in this meal, but there’s certainly plenty of protein – a dozen eggs disappeared in the making of all these pancake batters:
Need more protein? Try these grain-free almond apple pancakes or just about any coconut flour or almond flour pancake recipe.
What About Dessert?
I thought you’d never ask.
We had Paleo banana pancakes for dessert – you don’t even need any sweetener and these still taste like an indulgence (especially with chocolate chip faces on top), and now you have an official fruit category and more eggs for protein.
I put the plate with the entire batch of banana pancakes on the table and let the kids help themselves while I fried up the last bits of batter for leftovers, and even without extra chocolate chips, they brought me a completely empty plate.
Notes to Make it a Success
Want to have a silly pancakes meal of your own? Here are a few tips so you can serve the meal with the smile on your face that it deserves.
- Any of these pancakes can be made in advance if you’re worried you won’t have enough time or space to make so many at once. They heat marvelously in a toaster oven or on a cookie sheet in the oven, although the latkes reheat best on a griddle anyway.
- If you don’t have a large griddle, I’m not sure I would attempt this meal. The space is handy! Here are all three dinner pancakes hanging out, cooking together:
- The griddle pictured is by far my new favorite kitchen gadget. Mine is from Mighty Nest and they are also found on Amazon.
- I did not make anything in advance (other than soaking the grain-based pancakes). I just got everything ready, turned the toaster oven to warm, and started frying them up. Grain-based pancakes cook quite a bit faster than the pumpkin pancakes or the latkes, so although it’s pretty to see them all on the griddle at once, it’s not really practical to run it that way.
- I cooked everything on medium heat on my gas burners. You’ll know if you’re cooking too high!
- For the latkes – you can add fresh herbs for more flavor and nutrients and even a totally different experience, like Mexican cilantro-cumin latkes or Italian basil-oregano latkes. I added fresh parsley to mine this day after making a few batches for the kids.
- Also on the latkes, if you’ve served them a few times as “potato pancakes,” you can start shifting more and more of the percentage over to vegetables. In this picture, they’re at least 80% zucchini, which my son doesn’t really like, but with a little applesauce on top he didn’t even notice.
- Use your food processor to your advantage! I of course used it to shred everything for the latkes and mince the onion, and I also threw the parsley in there later. I could use it for the pumpkin pancakes, but I really prefer the immersion blender for that purpose. I usually use homemade orange veggie puree from the freezer, but I didn’t feel like digging to the bottom, so I just used one can of pumpkin for a double batch of pancakes.
- The pumpkin pancakes, latkes, and banana pancakes are all really adaptable to using a few extra egg whites in place of one whole egg if you have those leftover from making homemade mayo or Caesar dressing or something.
- And best yet, you’ve got an easy breakfast if you can make enough for leftovers. The pumpkin and any grain-based pancake freezes really well, and I imagine the latkes would do okay although I’ve never tried it. The banana pancakes seem a bit fragile, so since you can adapt the size of the recipe to any number of bananas, I would just make what you can eat that week.
Have fun with toppings too:
- plain yogurt
- fresh berries
- maple syrup
- sorghum syrup
- sour cream
- sliced green onions
- fruit preserves
- peanut butter
You do not need syrup of any kind though. The applesauce, yogurt and fresh fruit are excellent on all the pancakes, and if you have some cinnamon in the grain pancakes, that adds a feeling of sweetness already. Why not PBJ pancake sandwiches? Even more fun!
When to Serve a Silly Meal
Of course you can serve a meal of pancakes, with a side of pancakes, followed by pancakes for dessert any time you wish. You might want to do it the first time on a day when the whole family is together and not rushing off somewhere, although I managed the one in the photo shoot on a swimming lesson night – dinner at 4:45, swim lessons from 5:30-6:10, and dessert served afterward (which may explain the empty dessert plate).
I realized that this also makes a really fun diversion meatless meal for a Lenten Friday!
Plus, how fun would it be for a birthday party? You could have a total pancake-themed hour, adding some renditions of If You Give a Pig a Pancake and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (pancakes make some prominent appearances), Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle and Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie de Paola.
Make it Even More Fun
If I had more time on my hand, I start imagining some super fancy pancake desserts.
Try using real whipped cream and berries and chocolate chips to make faces (like Denny’s does for kids at, you know, breakfast), chocolate-covered pancakes with a coconut oil/honey/cocoa powder shell that would harden with a few minutes in the freezer, or even a fantabulous pancake ice cream sandwich – whether you go all the way and refreeze them or just plop some ice cream between two pancakes with whipped cream and homemade chocolate syrup on top, I’m guessing you won’t have complaints. (Did you know Smart Sweets, my desserts ebook, has a recipe for homemade chocolate syrup that is shelf stable, dairy free, and uses no refined sweeteners? Worth the purchase price just for that recipe, trust me.)
Try it, and You May, I Say!
Would you try this silly meal?
Would you eat them with a seal?
You will like them, you will see –
Try it and you may, I say.
Try it, and you may.
More silliness coming all this week! Be sure to sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed so you don’t miss any of the silly recipes and meal ideas. You can also follow me on Twitter, get KS for Kindle, or see my Facebook Fan Page.