I went with 8 fabulous women friends of mine on an adventure in Big Basin Park on Sunday. Some of us were staying over, camping there for the night, while the rest of us were heading home in the evening to be back for work Monday morning. We were planning to leave early in the morning, packing our gear into the cars and turning up the music to get us pumped up for the drive down. We started the morning with a sandwich bar, where we could each make our own customized sandwich filled with lots of veggies, hummus, tofu, and cheese (for some). There was even a triple-decker sandwich created! If that won’t get you through an 11-mile hike, I don’t know what will! Except, of course, what I whipped up for breakfast to power us through this long day…
I woke up earlier than planned and thought to myself that I just had the loveliest of friends, and I was so happy to be adventuring with them, and that we should have something to start our active day with style; something that will keep our bodies and minds happy for the rest of the day. Oatmeal would work, but that’s a little boring for a Sunday. Pancakes would certainly cover the “style” and “mind” categories well, but pancakes are not typically first on the list of healthy breakfast options. So I thought I could adapt a basic pancake recipe into something a little more fun and a little more wholesome. I just threw ingredients into the mixing bowl and hoped I wasn’t adding too many mix-ins to make these babies palatable. After heating up our skillets and pouring the first dollops of batter onto the sizzling pans, the cinnamony smells were intoxicating. They came out perfect, with a moist and fluffy interior and a crispy browned outside, and were packed with great ingredients to give us an invigorating start to our day. The dried coconut and bananas gave them a hint of tropical flavor, and the oats and pecans were a nice added texture. The whole wheat flour didn’t make the pancakes too heavy as I had worried it might, but instead just made them taste a wee bit healthy – but not too much that anyone really noticed. Because of all the sweet fruity flavors, these pancakes were delicious with raspberry preserves spread on liberally! This was definitely the winning topping, although there was maple syrup and agave present to be poured over too. And these pancakes definitely gave us a great start to our long day of hiking. We even made it to the end of a longer hike than we originally planned to take, and got to see 3 breathtaking waterfalls!
Without further ado, here is the recipe. It produces a large batch, and I got about 20 4-inch pancakes with it. You could always halve the recipe if you want less (or make a full batch and freeze your leftover pancakes – then whenever you want one, you can just pop it in the toaster oven and have a tasty snack or hearty breakfast in mere minutes!).
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour if you want a lighter pancake; I didn’t have any of this on hand at the time)
1 cup oats
1 cup unsweetened dried coconut
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tblsp. canola oil, plus a little oil for the pan
1 cup water
2 cups plain soy milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 Tblsp. maple syrup
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1 banana, sliced thinly
raspberry jam, maple syrup, or agave, for topping
Sift together the flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix in the dried coconut and oats. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, water, soy milk, vanilla, and maple syrup. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet mix in. Mix until just combined (make sure not to over-mix. Some lumps are okay!). Gently fold in your chopped pecans and banana slices. Let batter sit for a few minutes while you heat up your pan/s.
Lightly oil a large skillet and preheat over medium-high heat. You’ll know when the pan is hot enough if you flick some drops of water over the pan and they bounce off and sizzle.
Use a ladle to spoon your batter onto your pan, and make even-sized circles of batter. I typically get perfect pancakes by letting them sit on the pan longer than my patience will allow; I wait for them to start bubbling on top and have a bit of wispy steam/smoke coming out the edges from the bottom. This is when I flip them. Let the second side cook until they are browned and the whole pancake is barely firm to touch. Transfer to individual plates, or one large serving plate that you can keep warm in the oven.
Top with your favorite topping! Eat! Go for an invigorating hike or other active-day adventure!