Sunday, July 3, 2011

Banana-Sunflower Buckwheat Cakes

I've been concocting this recipe in my mind for a while now and am so happy to share it with you today, because it really came out a winner!

My primary goal, truth be told, was to find the perfect vehicle for the fresh, local maple syrup I bought at the coop in May. This vehicle had to be spongy for good sopping-up effect, and whole grain-oriented without being too heavy or floury. The challenge was on!

My secondary goal was to create a new recipe using the raw buckwheat groats of which I had purchased so many pounds in a bulk buy, several months back. "So many groats, so little tummy..." I originally got those groats to make my scrumptious Rainy Day Crackers, and I still do -- don't get me wrong...but a girl likes to mix things up a little sometimes. Am I right, girls?

The name "buckwheat" is somewhat misleading because buckwheat is not a relative of wheat of all. This means that buckwheat is 100% gluten free -- great news for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

And although generally considered a grain due to its high starch content and culinary uses, buckwheat is really a kind of fruit seed! The buckwheat fruit, which looks a bit like a Japanese lantern, grows on a vine-like plant that is related to rhubarb and sorrel. So buckwheat is very unlike all the common cereal grains -- think millet, quinoa, wheat and rice -- which are the seeds of various grasses.

More good news is that buckwheat is generally considered alkaline in the body, usually ranked on par with quinoa and amaranth. And because of its dual grain-seed nature, buckwheat combines as either a starch or as a nut/seed in any give meal, making it quite versatile. You can read more about buckwheat here, in the online version of Mrs. Grieve's Modern Herbal (a wonderful resource for herbalists and the herb-curious).

If you've never tried buckwheat, you're in for a surprise, as it offers a distinctly chewy yet slippery texture, due to a high content of soluble fiber. This makes buckwheat terrific for supporting healthy bowels, detox and cholesterol balance.

Many traditional buckwheat dishes, such as kasha varniskes, make use of roasted buckwheat. Roasting brings out a rich nutty flavor, but it is not a required step. Raw, hulled buckwheat groats, pictured here, can be prepared quite simply by soaking for fifteen to thirty minutes in fresh water. After such a soak, followed by a thorough rinse to remove sticky saponins, the groats may be sprouted for a day or two OR eaten immediately!

What could be easier?

For this recipe, I used a cup of soaked groats as the foundation of a pancake batter, which I made in the food processor simply by adding in one whole banana (for texture and sweetness) and some boxed rice milk (I used the Rice Dream brand, original flavor). Of course I used a little salt, coconut oil and vanilla to round out the batter. And I threw in some whole raw sunflower seeds at the end, for a nice crunchy touch. The batter was ladled onto a hot skillet coated with melted coconut oil, and all proceeded in the same manner as when making typical flour-based griddle cakes, right up to serving them with real maple syrup, naturally.

Of course, if I had wanted to make 100% raw pancakes, I easily could have done so by ladling the batter onto Teflex sheets and dehydrating the cakes for four to six hours per side. In other words, advance planning and patience would have been required. I'll save that good idea for another day! Today, tradition and eagerness won out, while happy taste buds rejoiced. Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Banana-Sunflower Sprouted Buckwheat Cakes

Makes about nine cakes, enough to satisfy two people, namely me and my son, Zack, who gave two syrupy thumbs up to this recipe

1 cup raw buckwheat groats
1 ripe organic banana
1/2 cup rice milk (could use almond, coconut or oat milk)
1 teaspoon coconut oil
nice pinch of Himalayan pink salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

Place buckwheat in a large bowl and cover with fresh water. Stir and allow to soak for at least fifteen minutes or up to one hour. (Do this while talking on the phone with your friend Catherine, if desired.) Drain and rinse well. Add soaked groats to the food processor and process with the S-blade until fairly smooth. Add all remaining ingredients except sunflower seeds and process just enough to have a nice, smooth batter. When done, pulse in the sunflower seeds or stir in by hand so they remain largely intact.

Use a 1/4 cup measure to drop batter a hot skillet, preferably cast iron, that has been greased with coconut oil. When bubbles form around the upper edges and cakes are brown on the bottom, flip and cook side two, as you do with regular pancakes. Add more coconut oil as you make more cakes, to keep them from sticking. Divide griddle cakes between two plates and eat with maple syrup, or raw honey or jam if you prefer.


Catherine Fabrizi said...

hahaha! I will happily talk to anyone on the phone while they make these pancakes!
Must try -- they look amazing!

Diana Allen, MS, CNS said...

I can't wait to make them for you, my friend! xo Diana

Anonymous said...

Pancakes! Who doesn't love a good pancake? These sound wonderful ... and now with blueberries coming in season ... oh la la!