I LOVE making pancakes (waffles too). Always did. Not just pancakes but wild blueberry banana pancakes. It is true that it is the simple things in life that bring the most pleasure and making wild blueberry banana pancakes with my daughter on a weekend morning is top of the list.
So several years ago when the need to go off gluten threatened the morning breakfast-making ritual, I needed solutions!
I went Gluten-Free while troubleshooting a health related issue. As it turns out, gluten was not the culprit although it took almost six months to determine this (the issue has since resolved itself). At the time I was faced with the prospect that so many people with celiac disease or gluten-intolerance deal with on a daily basis. And I slowly began to discover just how much of my typical diet would be affected – hint: this was not just about bread. So many of our processed and unprocessed foods contain gluten. Eating out became a huge challenge and suddenly those trips down to Brooklyn, NY to visit friends and family could no longer include side-foodie fave trips for pizza, bagels and falafel – ouch!
Worst of all – I soon realized that pancakes (and waffles) were also off the table – the ultimate blow. I became relentlessly committed to finding a Gluten-Free alternative to get them back on the table.
While Gluten-Free products have improved over the years I wasn’t having much luck finding a mix that didn’t turn pancakes into stonecakes (do not use as a flotation device) despite working with different ratios of mix to eggs to milk or water. A random discovery lead me to of all places 30 miles west of Portland, Maine—to Gramma Mills of Steep Falls. Gramma Mills’ products are available in health food stores and some healthy food sections of the supermarket. A registered nurse, the company owner started exploring different mixes after her son became gluten intolerant in 2004. While hesitant to get my hopes up based on past mix experiences I decided to give it a try.
Not all Gramma Mills products receive Stars, but the waffle mix does. The waffle mix receives 1 star for the presence of vitamins, minerals and fiber—and contrary to popular belief—the waffle police won’t come take you away if you opt to make pancakes with this version of the mix. While the Gramma Mills recipe (in my opinion) benefits from adjusted mix to liquid ratios (contrary to package directions, I use less mix per batch), I have to say hands down this is the best pancake waffle mix I have had PERIOD! When I ultimately learned that I could go back on gluten again you betcha I high-tailed it down to NYC to binge on some everything bagels, but I’m sticking with my Gluten-Free waffle mix.
My time being off gluten got me very engaged with reading ingredients on product labels. My new mantra is if I can’t pronounce it or if it has more than 5 syllables I don’t think I want it in my body. As a short cut, the Guiding Stars nutrition navigation system serves as visual punctuation throughout the supermarket aisles—mini-graphic beacons that help steer me to products that I can not only pronounce, but are better for me too.
Gluten free or not, nothing beats pancakes (or waffles) with wild blueberries – teeny-tiny bursts of juicy sweetness, high in antioxidants and an excellent source of vitamin C. And when you can’t pick them right off the low-growing vines during midsummer in Maine the next best thing is the freezer section in the supermarket where you can score a bag of 3-star wild blues. And don’t forget the bananas in the produce section. Canola oil for cooking. Butter for topping. And of course, real maple syrup!
Happy Pancaking (or waffling)! Breakfast is saved and served!
Dave Weinberg is Chief Creative Therapist and Creative Services Professional at daveweinberg.com and creator of cellphoneSketchpad™ – mobile journal. cyber comic. digital rorschach. Now a popular note card line. Check out the daily blog at cellphoneSketchpad.com.