Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chocolate Drop Blueberry Pancakes

Smothered in almond butter. Drizzled with maple syrup. Carb comfort food for the weary.

Essie and I have been learning about the brain. Science project. She asked me, on Sunday, to tell her everything I knew about the human brain.

15 minutes later, after ranting off everything I remembered from Anatomy and Physiology classes, I realized, old girl, you've still got it.

And I felt smart again. Something about being a mom makes me forget that I used to use my brain, and not just my heart and hands every day. Essie and her Grandpa were also very impressed. I may has well have been in second grade myself, receiving accolades from an audience.

It piqued our interest, to say the least, and I can tell this project is going to be FUN. One of the most enjoyable reads about the human brain that I have come across recently actually comes from my Blendtec Blender Recipe book.

I always like to imagine that the reason I have lost weight on this diet is because I am finally feeding my body the fuel that it actually burns. Part of my educational brain rant to Essie was about glucose, and I was glad to see my information backed up by this paragraph:

The brain can only metabolize glucose. However, in a very healthy person...when your body experiences a prolonged fast, a rebound hypoglycemic state can occur...When prolonged fasting occurs, adequate amounts of glucose are not available for proper brain metabolism. The brain, seeking glucose for proper metabolism, is then forced to send a signal to the pancreas to secrete insulin, causing a "hypoglycemic state." This "hypoglycemic state" is the brains attempt to force you to eat carbohydrates by causing you to experience incredibly strong sugar cravings, even when you're full...

...If your brain is forced to continue without a proper glucose source, eventually it will begin sending a signal to your body, forcing it to break down and metabolize your own muscle tissue as an alternate glucose source. (p. 7-8, Blendtec Recipe Book 2009.)

So I interpret that to mean: if all I eat is a low-carb diet based on foods completely lacking in complex carbohydrates, my brain will still think it is fasting, even if my stomach is full. I remember how that felt when, by my doctor's instruction, I tried to heal hormone imbalances using a low carb diet.

I never felt satiated. I was constantly in starvation mode, and within a few short months, the best feeling I had was when I quit. And I quit on accident. Like my body just took over because it couldn't take it anymore. I was so starved for something satiating, that the day after one of my sisters' wedding receptions, my brother and I finished off an entire chocolate sheet cake my mom had made. I don't remember feeling so good in a long time.

That sounds crazy. It was crazy.

I shouldn't have to eat an entire chocolate sheet cake to properly feed my brain the glucose it was begging for, after having been deprived of glucose for so many months by trying to subsist on meat, cheese, and heavy cream.

Watching Forks Over Knives, and changing my eating patterns to reflect it's health message, was one of the most liberating experiences I had had in years. Maybe that's why my passion for whole foods is a lil' over the top some days. Because my body is finally happy. I can finally feed it what it has been desperately asking for, and I can feel really good about it. It doesn't have to consist of an entire chocolate sheet cake, either.

It does consist of fruit, vegetables, starch, beans, grains, and more. (NONE of which are allowed on low carb diet. How depressing!) Having my diet consist of these health giving nutrients, I don't get those mad hypoglycemic sugar cravings that seem insatiable, and never-ending. I actually remember trying to get the sugar my body wanted so badly, by raiding the Atkins candy bar section of Wal-Mart. Counting Carbs. Five grams was too high. I am just so glad those days are over!

And now, I am past a year on a plant-based, whole foods diet. Does my body get mad cravings for meat? No. Am I constantly searching for something to satiate me that just isn't there? No.

I can eat a meal, like this, and feel so completely satisfied for hours.

Comforted. Nourished. Happy. Just like this video says carbs can make us happy.

If I follow what Dr. McDougall says, carefully, I have much better days. Waking early is something I look forward to every day now. I can't really sleep past 5:00 a.m. I never used to be able to do that on low carb -- my body felt too heavy and sluggish, and seemed to need longer recovery time. On plant foods, my body recovers quickly and is able to be up and energetic, starting early. Now I love my mornings.

These pancakes are a part of my meal plan to help me take care of the nine children I was talking about. I want to have a little fun, but keep it easy, too.


Chocolate Drop Blueberry Pancakes
By Dreena Burton

Modified to be oil free

Note from Ashlee: I already have blueberry spelt pancakes posted, but I found these, and love them even more. I measured the ingredients very carefully, and made a small modification so they could be oil free. I made both the oil version, and my oil free version, and strongly prefer the taste and texture of the oil free version. I used organic, wild frozen blueberries and slathered the finished product with almond butter, then drizzled with maple syrup. These taste good with, or without the chocolate. Kids tend to like the chocolate chip version, and adults like Paul and myself lean toward forgoing the chocolate. I often make enough pancakes for Paul and myself, and then add the chocolate chips to the rest of the batter for the kids.


1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons spelt flour
1 tablespoon baking powder (1 teaspoon for high altitude)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon (rounded) sea salt
1/3 cup nondairy chocolate chips (optional, but kids love it)
1 to 1 1/2 cups + 1 to 2 tablespoons vanilla nondairy milk (I used original almond milk)
1 tablespoon full fat soy vanilla yogurt (or, if not oil free, use 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil, or organic extra virgin coconut oil, melted.)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I used organic, frozen wild blueberries, they are smaller and burst with flavor)


Place the flour in a large bowl and sift in the baking powder. Add the cinnamon, salt and chips, if adding, and stir well. In a small bowl combine 1 1/2 cups of the milk with the soy vanilla yogurt (or oil) and stir well.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until just combined. Add the blueberries and gently mix (if using frozen, you can wait to add them just before you are ready to ladle.)

Using the edge of a paper towel, lightly oil a nonstick skillet. On medium-high heat, heat the pan for a few minutes until hot, then lower the heat to medium or medium low and let the pan rest for a minute. (I used a clean, nonstick griddle on medium-high heat, and did not need to oil it.)

Using a ladle, scoop the batter into the pan to form pancakes. Cook for several minutes, until small bubbles form on the outer edge and into the center. Flip the pancakes to lightly brown the other side, 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat until all the batter is used, adding the remaining milk to thin the batter as needed.

If This Apron Could Talk: Begin with 1 1/2 cups of milk and whisk into the batter. At first the batter will be very thin, but give it a few minutes. Later, as you've worked through some of the batter, you'll notice that it might become too thick. So, add the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk, a little at a time, to thin the mixture, if needed.

If using frozen blueberries, the pancakes will need a little longer to cook, as the batter needs to set up around the cold berries. If needed, lower the heat a little to allow the pancakes to set without over-browning.

Protein Power: Slather your finished pancakes with a layer of cashew or almond butter-or even hemp nut butter. It will become melty with the warmth of the pancakes, and with a drizzle of pure maple syrup--just divine! (I did this with almond butter and maple syrup! Oh, it was so good! And it felt good to eat it, too!)


  1. Wow! A whole sheet cake? That's determination, girl.

    I'm a carb-lover myself. My favorite being oatmeal & pumpkin, I eat it almost every day.

    Did you lose any weight on your low-carb phase, just out of curiousity?

    1. Yes, a whole sheet cake, split between myself and my teenage brother. That's what happens when you deprive your body of glucose for so long.

      How do you incorporate pumpkin every day in your menu? I would love to know, it would be fun to do the same, here. Without having to put it into baked goods or something. I know you said you like pumpkin smoothies...how do you make those? You should blog about that.

      The sad thing(s) about my low carb eating is that 1) I was pregnant. Poor baby! So I had no way of determining if the program worked for weight loss or not. It was initiated by my OB/GYN who noticed I had some hormone imbalances. Low carb was supposed to fix that. What a joke. 2) After a while I couldn't do it. I couldn't stand it anymore. I grew up on lots of veggies, delicious Utah fruits. To remove those things from my life completely, became unbearable. So I ended up eating low carb, high fat foods, with fruits and vegetables mixed in. Which is supposed to mess up the weight loss...

      I DO know I obviously lost, and have been able to maintain, long-term, significant weight with whole foods. It's not torture. It's heaven.

    2. Something I should mention, is that it was a HOMEMADE sheet cake. Smaller than store-bought, with about one fourth the frosting. Makes a difference.