By Laura Avellaneda-Cruz
I am not familiar with the cultural origins of pancakes, but I know that they were a part of my family culture growing up (doused in fake maple syrup, which was one of my favorite foods as a child until I discovered real maple syrup).
However, for health reasons, I have lately been trying to avoid simple sugars. Did this mean doing away with the pancake tradition altogether? We didn’t want to do that, so I have come up with some delicious and healthy solutions using Alaskan berries from the freezer and a few store-bought ones.
In this photo are the two kinds of multigrain pancakes I made for Valentine’s Day:
Black currant pancakes and raspberry-strawberry pancakes, both made with Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain pancake mix. To add color, I mixed the berries in with the batter, but another option is to stick them in as the pancake is cooking, which provides bright spots of color.
I made a raspberry-strawberry sauce by just boiling the berries down with a little bit of orange extract. The sweetness and flavor gets concentrated so you don’t end up needing sugar or honey, or at least not much. And then plain greek yogurt adds richness and, in this case, an additional palette for making heart shapes.
This morning I made another variation on the theme: walnut and wild Alaskan watermelon berry pancakes with a sauce made of watermelon berries plus storebought frozen cherries and strawberries. This time, a few drops of orange and vanilla extracts gave the sauce some extra punch without needing any sugar.
Alaskan berries give so much flavor and color, and are fun to cook with! Since they can be on the tart side sometimes, I’ve found that adding bananas or oranges or other, sweeter fruits, as well as cooking them, can mellow out that tartness.
I am glad to keep our pancake tradition and transform it into a far more colorful, local, and antioxidant rich one!
Laura Avellaneda-Cruz works in the tribal health system on maternal child health and domestic and sexual violence data and program evaluation. A Licensed Master Social Worker and former teacher, her main foci are violence prevention and intervention, but she is also interested in overall community wellness, including obesity prevention and sustainable food systems.
An Alaskan since she was a little girl, Laura has only in the past few years been learning to harvest and process fish, game, and wild greens, along with her husband, Oscar Avellaneda-Cruz. Laura and Oscar eat from their garden, bike commute as much as they can, and work to build inclusive and equitable community in Anchorage and around Alaska.
In 2012, Laura facilitated an Anchorage Food Mosaic community dialogue on food and racial equity. This was part of the Alaska Native Dialogue on Racial Equity project, hosted by First Alaskans Institute.
lauritadianita (at) gmail (dot) com