I learned many things in college. As is the case with many a college grad, the biggest lessons were learned outside of the classroom (though not to fear, Mom and Dad, your tuition money was well-spent).
I learned that pulling all-nighters will not make you do better on a test or write a better paper. A little sleep, when it’s needed most, can go a long way. I learned how important it was to eat breakfast, and especially to eat breakfast before downing a triple espresso latte to compensate for those aforementioned all-nighters. And finally, in one of the most jarring revelations of my time in college, I learned that not everyone calls the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday Paczki day (pronounced POONCH-KEY), nor do they eat Paczkis on this day or even know what a Paczki is. With that revelation, my little metro Detroit bubble had burst, and I realized I was no longer in
Kansas Grosse Pointe anymore.
At first, people thought I was making this weird jelly doughnut holiday up, or that it was a family tradition that I had somehow deluded myself into thinking was a national holiday. It was before the days of the iPhone, so I went home to Google the holiday only to discover that it was, in fact, a holiday confined to the Midwest. And since most of my friends were from the East or West Coasts, I suddenly felt so small in this great big world that had never unitarily celebrated a day with Paczkis.
Now that I look back and know a little bit more about health and the culture of over-consumption in this country, it’s a little funny to me that we even need a holiday to celebrate eating artery-clogging donuts and fatty foods, when these things have have sadly become more like everyday staples than something to indulge in one day a year. Do we really need a special day to honor the foods that are making us a nation with the highest rates of Heart Disease or Type II Diabetes? These days, I’m more concerned about getting the word out about Meatless Mondays than Paczki days; at least no animal or human is harmed by people giving up meat one day a week.
And then there was something else I recently learned. In other parts of the country, people eat pancakes — rather than Paczkis — to celebrate “Fat Tuesday”.
Well, how about we call it Not-So-Fat Tuesday and make pancakes that are a little healthier than what’s being served at the local 24-hour diner. Vegan, Gluten-free, Sugar-free pancakes that can be eaten on more than just one day of the year…with just a little chocolate thrown in to make them taste and feel as indulgent as you need to be.
A few notes:
- These pancakes are sugar-free, as they are sweetened with stevia. That said, they really do benefit (as most pancakes do) from a drizzle of maple syrup. If you can do maple syrup, I would recommend it (after all, there’s no sugar in the pancakes, so you can have a little leeway there). Otherwise, you may try agave. If you’re on a low-sugar or anti-candida diet, a homemade raspberry sauce might be nice here — you can sweeten the sauce with stevia as well. Another option might be an almond butter sauce or even a chocolate sauce (which would make these triple chocolate pancakes). Play around with it and let me know what works! If you insist on no sauce but like a sweeter pancake, I recommend increasing the stevia by another 5 drops, or to taste.
- Make sure the pan is really, really hot before making the first batch. I heat my cast-iron skillet without any oil for a good 5 minutes before adding a spray of oil and the batter.
- If you don’t have vanilla stevia, you may use plain and add about 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
- I note the brand of the flour and stevia I use because I know that, especially in baking recipes, different brands can yield different tastes and textures. If you do experiment with other brands or types of flour, please leave a comment so others know what worked or didn’t work for you. Thanks!
Gluten-Free, Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Pancakes:
Inspired by the Puffy Pillow Pancakes in Isa Does It; Makes about 11 medium-sized pancakes
1 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or unsweetened dairy-free milk of choice)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ground flax seed meal
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons mild extra virgin olive oil (plus more for spraying or wiping skillet)
15 drops NuNaturals Liquid Vanilla Stevia
1/2 cup Lily’s Dark Chocolate Premium Baking Chips (or gluten-free, vegan chocolate chips of choice)
1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. To a separate bowl or large liquid measuring cup (like a glass Pyrex measuring cup), add almond milk, cider vinegar and flaxseed meal and whisk them together.
2. Make a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients (flour-cocoa powder mixture) and then pour in almond milk-vinegar-flax mixture into dry ingredients. Add oil, water and stevia as well and then very gently whisk with a whisk or fork until just combined. Do not over-mix. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
3. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Make sure it’s really hot. Spray skillet or add just a tiny bit of oil to coat bottom of skillet. You want a gentle coat of oil, not too much, and you want it to cover the bottom so no batter sticks. Pour batter by 1/3 cup into hot skillet, being careful not to crowd skillet (in my medium cast iron pan, I make two at a time). Cook pancakes over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes, until bubbles begin to form on top of batter and pancakes easily lift from the bottom of pan. Depending on heat of skillet, you may need a little bit longer for the first batch. Flip pancakes and cook for another 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on the other side. If the first batch comes out a little undone in the middle, you may cook for about 30 second to a minute longer on each side, but mine were fine with just the two minutes on each side, if that.