Alas, my fall pumpkin contribution to the food blogging world. Light and fluffy coconut flour pancakes, packed with filling protein. Dollop with a creamy cashew cream lightly sweetened with maple syrup for a low sugar topping.
Now, before you ask, no, I have not gone paleo. What I have done though, is have a ton of fun learning to cook with coconut flour, the newest grain-free flour on the block. Made from dried, defatted coconut meat, this grain-free flour has become popular with paleo and low carb dieters. With only 8 grams of total carbohydrate in a quarter cup serving, most of it coming from fiber, it's easy to see why.
My food philosophy focuses on food rather than nutrients. In the case of carbohydrates, I encourage my clients to choose the right carbs rather than avoid them. Still, there are some people, like some of my clients with difficult to control diabetes, who benefit from eating a low (not no) carbohydrate diet. It's easy to makeover most dishes to have less carbs - in most cases I just up the veggies and swap in some filling, healthy fats. But where I really struggled was baked goods - even keeping the portion size small, swapping in whole grain flour and using a small amount of sweetener, it would still spike their blood sugar more than I'd like. I've got a few cookie recipes in my arsenal using almond meal, another a nutritious low carb flour, but nothing that could replicate light and fluffy consistencies.
Then I discovered coconut flour.
Now, please be warned, coconut flour is a bit difficult to work with. My first time cooking with it was an epic fail. Probably the greatest fail of my entire cooking career, beating out the time I substituted cayenne for chili powder and my sweet potato gnocchi that liquified in the pot. Yes, my coconut flour biscuits were worse than tongue-scorching tortilla soup and a pot full of orange sludge. Because coconut flour has a high ratio of fiber to carbohydrate, it needs lots of liquid. So, I probably should have known better than to substitute 1:1 coconut flour for whole wheat flour without any adjustments. The resulting biscuit was so dry and crumbly, just one bite literally sucked all the moisture out of my mouth. I literally had to stop and chug a glass of water!
I hope I didn't scare you away, because once you get it right, coconut flour is a wonderful, grain-free alternative! Actually, I think baked goods (made correctly!) with coconut flour taste the most like white flour. Since it doesn't have a strong flavor, like bean or nut flours, coconut flour blends seamlessly into the baked good without overwhelming.
These pancakes aren't just for paleo dieters or people watching their carbs. High in protein and fiber, these pancakes won't leave you with the midmorning slump like other pancakes high in sugar and refined flour. They're also gluten free, perfect for anyone with celiac, gluten sensitivities or following a low FODMAPS diet for IBS. Even if you aim for a plant-based diet like me, these really aren't all that animal heavy protein heavy, with the equivalent of one egg per serving. The rest of the ingredients are all vegan!
Now, I have to mention this maple-cashew cream. Because it's so delicious and I know you'll want to dip apples into it, spoon it over yogurt or just eat it by the spoonful, this recipe makes about double what you'll need. Or, and I just got this amazing idea, you could stack these pancakes into a "cake" and layer it with cashew cream instead of frosting. Ohh! Even better - alternate layers with blueberry chia seed jam for a little fruity flavor! Okay, I need to stop myself before a run to the kitchen and make a giant pancake cake!
I should note, since we're going with the lower sugar theme and all, I wouldn't add maple syrup. You really don't need it - the maple cashew cream is sweet enough. That last picture, the maple syrup was added for prettiness. Speaking of which, funny story about it. I tried to get that lovely shot action shot of maple syrup pouring over the pancakes. Apparently that requires more hand-eye coordination than I have, because I ended up just pouring maple syrup all over the table! Not even close!
Have you cooked with coconut flour before?
Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple-Cashew Cream
Makes 12, serves 6; with leftover cream
Serve leftover cream as a dipping sauce for fresh fruit or spooned into oatmeal.
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 3 tablespoons coconut sugar (or other unrefined sugar)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 eggs, preferably organic and free range
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Maple Cashew Cream:
- 1 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 2 hours in water
- 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, plus extra if needed
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, whisk together coconut flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin puree, almond milk, oil and vanilla extract. Mix wet ingredients into the dry until well combined.
- Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Spray with a little olive oil or coconut oil. When hot, add scant 1/4 cups of batter and cook until set on one side, about 3 minutes, then carefully flip and cook the other side about a minute until golden. Set aside on a plate or keep warm in a 200 degree oven while cooking the remaining pancakes.
- While the pancakes are cooking, place cashews, almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla in a food processor. Blend 3-4 minutes until creamy.
- Serve 2 pancakes dolloped with maple cashew cream.
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