Beth Lipton is a writer and certified health coach. She is a contributing editor at Clean Plates.
I gave up grains a few years ago, and I’ve never felt better. Now, this isn’t me preaching to you to eat like I do—we all have to find the eating style that works for us as individuals. For me it’s mostly paleo, and low-ish in carbs (paleo isn’t necessarily low-carb, but that’s a topic for another day). But definitely no grains for me, thanks.
Still, the siren’s call to foods traditionally made with grain—pancakes, pizza, cookies, etc.—is just as strong. So I’ve had to learn to make it work. I gave up grains, but there’s no way I’m giving up pancakes. No. Way.
Here are some of the tricks I’ve learned over time, from trial and error, from other people’s paleo recipes online, etc. Utilizing these tips has let me have my paleo and eat my pancakes, too. I hope you find them useful—and by all means, if you have more, please share.
1. Your pancake base needs to be a blend.
The goal is always fluffy pancakes—you want to be able to make a batch that you can eat, but that your white-flour-eating friends will enjoy, too. The secret to this is using a combination of grain-free flours. Almond flour, coconut flour and arrowroot are my go-tos; sometimes I use two of them, sometimes all three. But always a mix. Coconut flour on its own is kind of grainy (ironically) and sucks up too much moisture; almond flour by itself yields heavy pancakes. Arrowroot is too carby. But mix them and the magic happens.
One of my fave crowd-pleasing recipes: Fluffy Gluten-Free Pancakes
2. Use plenty of fat.
Good fats like coconut oil and butter were demonized for decades. Now that we know that high-quality fats are healthy, let’s use ‘em. I like ghee for cooking pancakes, or, if I’m having bacon with my cakes, I’ll cook it low and slow to render the fat but not brown it, then cook the pancakes in the bacon fat. Heaven.
3. Watch the heat.
This is true for all pancakes, but since grain-free batters can be heavier than their wheat counterparts, it’s even more important. You want the griddle on medium-low, and don’t be afraid to fiddle with it as you’re cooking. If it’s too high, the outsides will cook and the insides will remain wet and undercooked. Remember to flip when the edges are bubbling and lightly browned.
4. Top ‘em off.
If the goal is low carb, you can’t douse your pancakes in maple syrup. But all is not lost. Slather them with a little nut butter, scatter on a few berries (they’re low in sugar compared to other fruits), spread on some butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.
5. Grab a mix!
There’s no shame in taking a shortcut (especially for busy weekdays). A few really good mixes to give you a head start: Birch Benders Paleo Pancake Mix, Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Pancake Mix and Simple Mills Pancake & Waffle Mix.
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