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Nutrition Packed Caramelized Banana and Dark Chocolate Chunk Pancakes

Posted Apr 28 2012 3:22pm

Nothing warms my heart more than when I hear my children talking with their friends and explaining something (anything) I have taught them about life, faith, science, nutrition etc… It means they ARE actually listening! So it was pleasing to me when I heard my daughter explain to her friend the difference between a treat and a snack. When my daughters friend said she was hungry and suggested they eat some chips, my daughter responded “chips aren’t a snack they are a treat, let’s have an apple.” So they both ate an apple, laughing the whole time because they both only have half their front teeth, then they shared a small lunch-size bag of Doritos.  Now sure, I would love to say my kids don’t eat things like Doritos, but this is reality and they ARE going to eventually… So I am glad it was in my estimation only about 6 chips per girl and of course the apple first!
This concept of treats vs. snacks is something I work hard to keep consistent in our lives, so that my children understand that when they are hungry they need to nourish and feed  their body  with a healthful snack , preferably one that came from the earth and still looks like it did when it was in nature. I also recognize the need to satisfy a craving for something sweet or salty, so we call those treats and we typically don’t eat them when we are hungry, but rather when they sound good and in moderation. This is an important lesson for children, especially with all of the prepackaged “food” labeled as snacks, but really containing little to no sustenance, only empty calories which ultimately leave kids hungrier in the end.  I am not a fan of taking a healthy a snack like an apple, and then covering it in caramel or chocolate just so kids will eat it. If you are going to turn fruit into a dessert, which we do all the time, then call it what it is so kids learn to differentiate between treats and snacks.

Now sometimes I like to turn something with good solid nutritional value into a treat, especially on Sunday mornings! This last Sunday I made our family favorite Sunday morning breakfast treat; Caramelized Banana and Dark Chocolate Chunk Pancakes. Doesn’t sound nutritious you say? The base of these pancakes has no butter, dairy or sugar and boast nearly 20 grams of fiber! I use a 50:50 ratio of whole wheat to white flour to keep the pancakes from being too dense, and I eliminate the need to use butter or oil by adding ground flax seed. I use almond or soy milk to replace the dairy and raw agave nectar to eliminate the need for sugar.  Caramelizing the bananas really adds depth to the flavor of these luscious pancakes! And as if you need to explain why dark chocolate chunks make these pancakes just that much better, well the bitter sweetness of the dark chocolate adds an earthy balance to the sweet caramely bananas which altogether transform this healthful breakfast into a dreamy Sunday treat! Pair the pancakes with a 75:25 egg white to egg yolk scramble, some turkey bacon and fresh fruit and you have a healthy breakfast topped with a delicious treat! Enjoy!

1 cup whole wheat flour1 cup white flour3 tbsp ground flax seed1 ½ tsp baking soda¼ tsp salt2 eggs2 cups almond, soy or non-fat goat or cow milk3 tbsp raw agave nectar (or ¼ cup raw unfiltered honey)½ tbsp neutral oil (I use vegetable) 2-3 ripe but not mushy bananas, peeled and cut into rounds½ cup dark chocolate chunks or chips (75% or higher, I use Valrhona but I’m a self professed chocolate snob)What to Do:Heat oil in large sauté pan, add bananas in a single layer and cook on medium-high heat until they begin to caramelize, about 5 min on each side. Remove bananas from pan and set aside.  Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Mix eggs, milk and agave nectar or honey together in another mixing bowl. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix with a wood spoon just until the dry ingredients are all incorporated. It is important to not over mix this batter or your pancakes will be tough and dense. Gently fold in the bananas and the dark chocolate.  On a non stick griddle or in a nonstick pan lightly sprayed with oil, I use vegetable oil sprayed from Misto, spoon batter in about ¼ cup scoops. Cook for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Serve warm with butter and honey, or syrup or nothing at all because they are that good!! Enjoy!
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