When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Off to a good start

I was waiting in a long line at the grocery store yesterday and a caption on a magazine cover caught my eye. It asked readers, "What's your next chapter?". The phrase seemed to me a fitting question for the weekend; as we enter into a brand new year, many of us are probably pondering what direction our lives will take in the coming months, what choices we will make that will have a meaningful impact on how we shape ourselves and the world.

According to the local newspaper, my horoscope for 2011 involves a surging creativity, a new-found uniqueness that will make life exciting, and an evolving depth and wisdom that comes from seeking insight, which will draw people to me. I don't put much stock in horoscopes, mind you, but it's fun to think about what those predictions might mean for me, and certainly all of those things are possible if I choose them. With such big plans ahead of me, I decided it would be wise to start the new year off with a hearty, great-tasting breakfast today!

We are big pancake lovers in our family, and we have always made them from scratch, using an old, simple family recipe that I have modified somewhat to make it a little healthier. It is well worth the extra few minutes it takes to make these pancakes instead of ones from a mix -- the end results are really delicious!

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tblsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tblsp sugar
1 1/2 cups milk

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add grapeseed oil, vanilla, egg, and milk and whisk until well mixed.
Heat a small amount of grapeseed oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Pour enough batter onto skillet to make a 4-inch diameter circle. Repeat this process for each pancake until the skillet is full. Cook batter until bubbles form on the top of each pancake. Flip pancakes and cook them until the second side is golden brown.
Serve pancakes warm, with syrup or your favourite fruit topping.

We whipped up stacks of these pancakes this morning and Matt and Noah enjoyed them piled high on their plates drizzled with real Canadian maple syrup. Yum!

Over the past couple of years I have made many attempts at making gluten-free, dairy-free pancakes for Will and I using various recipes; my early results either tasted unappealingly like grass, or were rock solid enough to be used as weapons. About a year ago, I discovered Elana Amsterdam's pancake recipe in her Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook, and since then Will and I have been thoroughly enjoying pancake mornings again! I have made a few modifications to Elana's original recipe to make it work best for us.

2 large eggs (if eggs are a problem, you can substitute 2 tblsp arrowroot powder plus 8 tblsp water, or 2/3 cup of either applesauce or mashed banana for the eggs)
1/8 cup agave nectar
1 tblsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tblsp grapeseed oil

In a blender or food processor, combine eggs, agave nectar, and vanilla; process on high for about one minute, until smooth. Add almond flour, salt, and baking soda and blend until thoroughly combined.
Heat the grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Ladle two heaping tablespoons onto the skillet for each pancake. Cook until small bubbles form on the top of each pancake; when the bubbles begin to open, flip each pancake. Cook until pancakes are golden brown on the second side. Transfer to a plate and serve warm.

These pancakes are healthy, high in protein and they taste divine served with real maple syrup or your favourite fruit topping!

We rounded out our pancake breakfast this morning with a colourful, fresh fruit salad and some warm slices of bacon. (Bacon is not usually a word in my food vocabulary, but we received a small package of bacon from naturally raised pigs in our organic farm meat order this fall; this particular bacon seemed like a perfect treat for a new year's breakfast!) You can see from the boys' happy faces this morning that the first meal of the year was a hit!

I'm optimistic that 2011 will bring us many reasons to smile just like that.

I hope that the year ahead is a happy, healthy one for all of you, whatever your next chapter may be.

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