The worst part about traveling is the traveling. That’s the conclusion I came to as Alasdair and I were sitting on the floor in Iceland’s airport surrounded by weary travelers and waiting for our connecting flight. We had a fantastic trip visiting family and friends in Scotland, and as far as actual traveling logistics are concerned, we had it pretty easy. No flight delays, decent weather, only the occasional screaming baby. But no matter what spin you put on it, waiting in multiple lines, dragging suitcases that feel as if they are loaded down with rocks and sitting for hours on transatlantic flights is never going to be fun or easy. Especially when someone is kicking your seat for 6 hours and 10 minutes…. Not to mention the jet lag. That queasy tiredness you feel when you cross multiple time zones is something I avoid like the plague. I tried my best to sleep on the flight over to Scotland. I ate light, I stayed hydrated, and I stayed up the first day upon my arrival. I basically took every jet lag tip I could find and tried to implement it. And it worked. By my second day in Scotland, I was well rested and raring to go.
Unfortunately, on the way back, I’m not having as much luck. Up at 4:30 a.m. the first day, up at 6:00 a.m. the second morning. Have I mentioned that I’m not a morning person? But, despite my hatred for all those who are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed before dawn, part of me is jealous. Part of me wants to be up with the sun, getting errands accomplished and starting my day without a hint of the usual bleary-eyed chaos. So, instead of hitting the snooze on the third day, I decided to embrace what the morning has to offer. And what this morning had to offer (other than a beautiful sunrise and some chirping birds) was pancakes. Homemade pancakes with toasted almonds and blueberries.
I knew these pancakes had to be good because my jet lag is wearing off and the chance that I will voluntarily rise with the sun anytime in the future is slim to none. I also knew they had to be healthy because I spent the last week and a half devouring all sorts of naughty goodies over in the UK. So, I made some good, healthy pancakes and maybe even changed my outlook on morning people. They’re not so bad. In fact, they seem rather happy and laid back. Much nicer than us bleary-eyed folks rushing through the commuter crush. Maybe I’ll be a morning person yet. Or maybe I’ll just eat my pancakes and go back to bed… 🙂
Healthy Recipe Ecstasy? These pancakes are about as healthy as pancakes can be. I used almond flour so they’re gluten-free. I used almond milk so they are dairy-free. And I used honey instead of white sugar as honey contains a few nutritional benefits that sugar does not. Except for the baking powder, these pancakes would work for the Paleo diet – if you can find a substitute for the baking powder to make them fully Paleo have at it. I think baking soda and cream of tartar might do the trick. With this breakfast dish, you get your fruit and nuts and sweet morning treat all wrapped up in the beautiful bow that is a pancake and ribboned with some maple syrup.
Except, these weren’t so beautiful the first time I made them (see mushy pancakes below). They were thin and hard to flip, and for the life of me, I couldn’t get them to stay together unless I made mini silver dollar-sized pancakes and cooked them extra long. And, even then, the result was mush or “pancake hash” as Alasdair called them. Delicious flavor but missing that whole stackable pancake thing.
So I made them again, realizing that the problem with a lot of gluten-free dishes is that they don’t hold together very well without, you know, the gluten So I added an egg, decreased the milk and upped the flour. I also jacked up the heat and ended up overcooking half the batch (see below).
Fortunately, third time’s a charm. All I had to do was decrease the heat back to medium, and I got pancakes that were nutty and sweet and all sorts of morning goodness. I didn’t even miss my usual weekend breakfast of eggs and bacon – which I had more than enough of in Scotland.
**Speaking of gluten-free, I was surprised to run into that term in Scotland. For the most part, food allergies and intolerance are not as widely accepted over in the UK as they are in the States. A lot of the Brits I know would feel like they are being too much of a burden to ask for a gluten-free menu or to turn down milk in their tea because of a dairy intolerance. Despite that cultural difference, I found that many of the restaurants and shops are now offering gluten-free options. Including, most surprisingly, a small, unassuming restaurant on a tiny island off the West Coast of Scotland. It’s a strange feeling to sit down for lunch at a restaurant located on an island that’s about a square mile and only accessible by ferry and read a menu offering gluten-free sandwiches. It seems that gluten-free really has gone global!
- 1 and ¾ cups almond flour
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder (make sure there's no wheat starch)
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 2 tablespoons raw honey
- ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, plus more for cooking pancakes and almonds
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup fresh blueberries, plus more for garnish
- ⅓ cup chopped almonds
- Maple syrup (optional)
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees; have a baking sheet ready to keep cooked pancakes warm in the oven.
- Mix the dry ingredients (almond flour, baking powder and salt) in a small bowl.
- Mix the wet ingredients (milk, honey, coconut oil, and egg) in a large bowl. Whisk until combined.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing gently until ingredients are just combined. Don't over mix.
- Gently stir in the blueberries.
- Heat a large skillet (nonstick or cast-iron) or griddle over medium heat. Fold a sheet of paper towel in half, and moisten with coconut oil; carefully rub skillet with oiled paper towel.
- Pour ¼ cup batter into the skillet. You should be able to fit 3-4 pancakes in a large skillet.
- Cook for 3-4 minutes or until pancakes are firm enough to flip. Flip carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the underside, one minute more (gluten-free pancakes are more fragile than regular wheat flour pancakes so be extra careful with the flip).
- Transfer cooked pancakes to a baking sheet or platter; cover loosely with aluminum foil, and keep warm in oven. Continue with more coconut oil and remaining batter. (You'll have 10-12 pancakes.)
- Add one final teaspoon of coconut oil to the skillet. Add the chopped almonds and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly toasted.
- Serve pancakes warm and top with more blueberries, toasted almonds, and maple syrup, if desired.