Give the gift of easier – and healthier– breakfasts

The Associated PressNovember 21, 2012 

flaxseed pancakes and waffles As far as I’m concerned, the best holiday gift is one that’s handmade and edible. And if you can make it in big batches on a budget – and have it be healthy – even better.

That’s the thinking behind this delicious pancake and waffle mix. Face-to-face with a whiny child on a Sunday morning, too many otherwise accomplished and adventurous home cooks reach for a box of pre-fab pancake mix. That’s a shame, not least because it’s easy to make your own mix, using ingredients of your choice, and to do so in – you guessed it – a jiffy.

The food police love to vilify pancakes and waffles as nothing more than carbs and sugar, but these guilty pleasures can be nobler than that. At their base, pancakes and waffles depend on a few key ingredients: flour, salt, sugar and leavener. If you swap in whole-wheat flour for at least some of the white flour, add a little flaxseed, slash some of the sugar, and top off the finished product with fresh fruit, you’re suddenly looking at a very respectable breakfast. Heck, you even could drizzle a little Grade B maple syrup (my favorite) on top, and it still would be a healthy choice.

Using whole-wheat flour in the mix should not be terribly objectionable. Though there are some folks who insist their bread be white because “brown bread tastes yucky,” no one feels that way about pancakes and waffles. And when you toss in some flaxseed, you really amp the recipe’s nutritional value even as you add a subtle but distinctive nuttiness.

Flaxseed is showing up more and more frequently on supermarket shelves these days, and you can always find it online. I often add a tablespoon or two of it to my breakfast cereal in the morning. Just keep in mind that flaxseed isn’t properly digested unless it is ground. You can buy it pre-ground or grind it yourself in a spice grinder. After you open the package, keep it in the refrigerator or freezer; it tends to go rancid quickly.

At holiday time, you can measure the batch into pretty containers – old canning jars are perfect for this purpose – attach a nice hand-written label and recipe with a ribbon, and consider it done. The deluxe version? Just add a little package of dried fruit or a tiny bottle of maple syrup.

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