The Nickel Pincher: The Best Way to Start Your Day

For a tastier, healthier alternative to store-bought mixes, try these simple pancake recipes this weekend.

May 3, 2012

Homemade pancakes are easy to make—even if you don't use wheat.

Gluten-free diets are all the rage these days. Even if you don't suffer from celiac disease (which is defined as an intolerance to wheat gluten), research is showing that cutting back on the amount of wheat you eat can do everything from easing inflammation to treating digestive ailments like acid reflux, says William Davis, MD, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health (Rodale, 2011).


It's also a money-saver. Whole grain flours have a limited shelf life and lose nutrition rapidly. If they aren't stored properly (in your freezer), they can develop off tastes as the natural oils in them go rancid.

The Dark Side of "Healthy" Wheat

So start adding some wheat-free flour alternatives to your daily rotation. The tastiest way to do that? Pancakes! Grains and seeds like quinoa, buckwheat and oats are all gluten-free and make really great pancakes once you grind them up into flour.

I like to soak my grains before turning them into flour, which you can do in any blender or food processor. Soaking grains and seeds is a simple way to make them more digestible, boost their vitamin content, and make their minerals more bioavailable. Sprouted grains have significantly lower glycemic indexes than bread made from regular flour, meaning that eating them doesn’t cause the blood sugar spikes that products made from traditional flour (even whole grain flour) do.

Fast and Easy Soaked Oatmeal Pancakes (makes 4 to 6 pancakes)

1 cup organic rolled oats (regular or quick; not instant or steel cut)
1½ cup organic buttermilk or 1 cup organic milk plus ½ cup plain organic yogurt
3 organic eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
organic butter for frying


1. Eight to 24 hours before you want to make your pancakes, mix the rolled outs and one of the milk options together in a glass jar, cover loosely, and set it on the counter to soak.

2. When you are ready to make your pancakes, pre-heat a skillet over medium heat (I like a good heavy cast iron skillet). Then, add the rest of the ingredients to your soaked oats and mix well. The oatmeal should have absorbed all the milk, so there's no need to drain it. This pancake batter will be thicker and have more texture than an average batter.

3. Melt a little butter in your pan, scoop in some batter, and cook until the little bubbles appear on the surface. Then flip the pancake and cook until that side is golden brown.

4. Serve with more butter and real maple syrup, sorghum syrup, honey, or fruit preserves. Yum!

Incredibly Delicious Sprouted Nut or Grain Pancakes (makes 4 to 6 pancakes)

This recipe can be made with raw almonds, hazelnuts, buckwheat groats or quinoa. Sprouting your grains will make them easier to grind into flour, but you can find pre-sprouted grains and nuts at most health-food stores, if you don't want to sprout your own.

3/4- to 7/8-cup nuts or grains
large glass jar
3 organic eggs
1 to 1½ cups organic milk
1 teaspoon backing powder
organic butter for frying

How to Know If You're Gluten-Sensitive


To sprout your grains: (If you are using buckwheat, skip this step and proceed directly to making your pancakes. If you let buckwheat soak, you will end up with the most amazing goo.) Pick over your dry nuts or grains, discarding any foreign matter or discolored pieces. Put them in a large glass jar and cover with warm water. Let them soak for 8 to 12 hours at room temperature, then drain, leaving the nuts or grains in the jar. Every 8 to 12 hours after that, rinse the grains or nuts with warm water and return to the counter (but don't leave them soaking in water as you did the first 12 hours; at this point, they're just sitting, damp, in your jar). After about 24 to 48 hours, you should see tiny roots just barely peaking out of the ends of some of the grains (sooner if your kitchen is warm, later if your kitchen is cold like mine is in the winter). At that point, the grains or nuts are ready to use. You can also put your jar in the fridge and use it within a day or two.

Making your pancakes: Put the drained grain, eggs, and 1 cup of the milk in the blender and blend until the batter is nice and smooth. Scrape down the sides once or twice to get all the grains incorporated and add a little more milk as needed to keep the mixture moving. If you like very thin pancakes, add the entire extra ½ cup of milk.

Add the baking powder and blend briefly to mix it in well. Ladle your batter onto a hot, buttered skillet and cook as for Soaked Oatmeal Pancakes. These are naturally sweet, as soaking converts some of the starch in the grains to sugar, so you may find they are delicious as is without much added sweet topping.


Cinnamon-Apple Pancakes: Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon when you add the baking powder and sprinkle a tablespoon of finely chopped apple over each cake after you pour it into the skillet.

Blueberry Pancakes: Sprinkle each pancake with a tablespoon of frozen blueberries after pouring it into the skillet.

Farm gal, library worker, and all-around money-pincher Jean Nick shares advice for green thrifty living every Thursday on