Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Healthy, tasty, oaty pancakes- FMD friendly.

So, as I mentioned recently, a few weeks ago Tyson and I took a trip to Boston. When we left, we had a list of restaurants and bars we wanted to try... you know, if we had the time. We ended up visiting 25 places in 5 1/2 days. 25. Needless to say, we came back a little...stuffed. As a result, we decided to go on a strict diet. When it comes to diets, we both thrive in programs that give you rules- specifically, rules that make sense and don't provide a lot of grey areas into which we can fit things like ice cream... After some research, we decided to try the Fast Metabolism Diet (FMD). 2 1/2 weeks in, we are both having really great results. However, I have found that I have to work to make things a bit more tasty- the recipes are satisfying physically, but mentally they leave a little something to be desired.

To give the basic rules in a nutshell: Overall, no white stuff- you know, refined flour, sugar, etc. Also no dairy. On Monday and Tuesday (Phase 1), we are able to eat healthy carbs like brown rice, sprouted grain bread, fruit, etc- but remain low fat. Wednesday and Thursday (aka the dreaded Phase 2) are the low-carb, high-protein, low-fat days. Friday-Sunday (Phase 3) are the happy days because you can add back in healthy fats like olive oil, almonds, and avocado. Plus you get fruit back, quinoa... it all feels so luxurious and naughty after that unpleasant Phase 2. 

Having said all of that- I have been looking for ways to create meals that fit within these guidelines and fulfill my psychological needs for satisfying foods. I will likely be posting a number of these experimental recipes over the next few weeks as we continue to try to alter our way of eating....and pants sizes. Some of them will be cited as coming from the FMD book, blog, or website- I am finding that the general guidelines for these recipes is great, but there are technical things that can be done that make the flavor so much better. Some of these are as simple as using the right pan or amping the basic recipe up with some bold spices. 

Let's get started! Today I present....Oat Pancakes with sugar-free berry compote

*This recipe would be FMD Phase 1 friendly, and could be Phase 3 friendly by switching the rice milk to almond milk.

This recipe is gluten-, soy-, dairy-, AND sugar-free. That's right- I have taken all  of the fun out of these pancakes...and they're still good! I will say that the first bite was a bit of a surprise- they do taste kind of like oatmeal. They won't be the fluffy, light pancakes you're used to, but I liked them and Tyson didn't complain...

Makes approx 12 3" pancakes, I did 3 pancakes per serving for a total of 4 servings.

Pancake Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups oats (I used rolled oats- please see the *Note below for info regarding steel-cut oats)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. himalayan sea salt (if possible- other salts would work just fine)
1/2 tsp of your seasoning(s) of choice. I really like pumpkin pie spice because it has all of the good stuff. Cinnamon would be great as well, some nutmeg, whatever strikes your fancy. 
2 egg whites (6 tbsp if you get the cartons of egg whites alone)
1 cup rice milk- you can also use any dairy or non-dairy product of your choice. If you are good with dairy (and some fat), I am betting buttermilk would make these super fluffy and lighter than they would be otherwise. 
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

First, you're going to feel like a cooking guru when you make flour. Put the 1 1/2 cups of oats into a food processor or strong blender. Press start. Watch as you create flour. Bam. That just happened.

*Oat Note: I have tried making these with steel-cut oats as well. Unless you have an industrial food processor, it was much more difficult to turn these into a fine flour. I ended up passing the flour through a sieve to get the larger chunks out:

Processed steel-cut oats

Sieved steel-cut flour
The remaining oat bits.

Also, the flour really soaked up all of my moisture as the batter sat. I ended up adding a splash more of the rice milk to thin the batter back out.

Once you have settled on a flour and made it like a cooking ninja, mix all of your dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the wet ingredients together in a smaller bowl. Whisk the wet ingredients to get the egg whites a little fluffy. The oat flour will be a bit dense, any extra air you can get in the whites will help fluff them up a bit. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients, mixing just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. 

Spritz a little non-stick spray onto your pan and heat it to about medium heat*. Ladle a scoop of batter in to make an approximately 3" diameter pancake. Or make it bigger. This is your party. But keep in mind you're gonna have to flip this beast at some point...

When you see bubbles forming on the surface, slide your spatula underneath to see if it looks like the cake is going to come with you willingly. If it feels a little wobbly, let it sit a little longer. This shouldn't take too long, but keep in mind that these pancakes are a bit more dense than your standard cake, so it will be a bit longer than usual. Flip the pancakes when ready- at this point, they should only need a few more minutes once they are flipped. 

Now for the topping... **
As I mentioned, the basic recipe for this stuff is sugar-free. That means that the sweetness comes from your fruit. If your fruit is tart, then this sauce is going to be a bit tart. So let's talk about your options if you want to sweeten it up. If you are looking for a natural no-sugar option, honey would be great and agave would also work. If you want a no-calorie sweetener, stevia, truvia, and xylitol would all also work (The latter would be the FMD options). 

The basic recipe for any compote is so simple, it's crazy. The amounts below should be sufficient for the amount of pancakes in the recipe above:

2 cups berries- or whatever fruit you like. I added apricots in my last batch just because they were getting soft. Your fruit can also be fresh or frozen.
If fresh- add about 1/4 cup of water. If frozen, the ice on the fruit should melt as it cooks- this will do the same job. 
~1 tbsp lemon can add a tsp of zest too if you're feeling fancy. 

Toss all of this into a pan, cook over medium heat. Also, this is when you should add any spices you might like. To stick with healthier items, I like to add some spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and maybe even a splash of vanilla.  If you are ok with sugar, you can use any of the options I mentioned above. I would start with 1 tbsp of honey, 1 tbsp of agave, or 1/2 tbsp sugar (or the sugar-substitue equivalent).

Then you just let it all hang out and break down into a beautiful sauce. Don't be afraid to let this just go for as little as 10 and up to 20  minutes or so, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom. The longer it cooks, the thicker it gets.

Berries are starting to break down
Complete compote- thick and rich

Once it has cooked down to your desired thickness, taste it do decide if you want to add more of your chosen sweetener or spices.

Now, the only thing left to do is plate it up, make it pretty, and enjoy!

I was feeling whimsical the last time I made these... you know those little drips you sometimes get when you make pancakes? I decided to go ahead and flip them over to create a handful of mini pancakes. Then I really got fancy with it:

Amuse bouche? Hamster breakfast? Exercise in perspective? Or just someone who watches way too much Food Network...?

Fortunately, Tyson also got his normal-sized plate....

Actual Human-sized portion 

FMD Footnotes:
* Cooking spray is a no-no on all phases. As long as you use a standard non-stick pan and don't set the heat too high, these should cook up just fine. I would not recommend these in a non non-stick pan... Also, if you are using a non-stick pan and you notice them starting to stick, that means your heat is too high. Reduce the heat and remove the pan from the burner for a minute while things cool down. The pan should release it's pancake hostage and allow you to continue cooking. 

** I have been informed that you are not allowed to cook fruit on FMD, only warm you won't get the broken-down compote that I have here. I would suggest slightly mashing your berries with a fork or potato masher and then cooking slowly until warm!

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