Saturday, July 9, 2011

gluten freedom and buckwheat pancakes

I have been away from public blogging for awhile now, not feeling so hot and focusing on my family. I did some soul searching, listening to my body, getting frustrated with doctors, having some tests, and ultimately determining I am unable to consume or use wheat products. Wheat exacerbates and creates many unpleasant symptoms for me, from allergies and asthma, to skin troubles and chronic anemia to debilitating fibromyalgia pain. It's only been a few weeks, but I'm already feeling better. Gluten freedom hasn't (and won't) fix all my symptoms, but it's helped tremendously, and I'm convinced this has gone on a long time (I believe wheat allergy played a role in my asthma, too, which started severely when I was 18 months old). I'm also convinced my fatness (and gender) contributed to doctors not catching this. Ask me about my anger at the medical community, sometime. Or don't. You probably shouldn't.

Anyhow, my lack of energy led to a complete disinterest in cooking and baking, and I'd only been making the bare minimum. I wasn't baking much because it was really starting to make me feel awful, and the energy expended and resulting pain wasn't worth the pleasure of a baked treat. I've gone away from fresh vegetables (except for simple salads), which is especially tragic now that we live in the bay area, where there's farmers markets nearly every day of the week somewhere nearby, and there are great stores that sell delicious produce, too. Now I've got to re-commit to healthy, fresh, delicious food.

Today I made buckwheat pancakes. I was searching for gluten-free vegan recipes online, and most recipes either use a pre-made flour mix, or only use rice flour. I like rice flour, but it seems too gritty to use without something to off-set that texture. My first attempt resembled concrete. Whoops! Then I decided to think simpler. These are not as flat as crepes, but they're definitely not big and fluffy pancakes. More baking powder (and/or a little apple cider vinegar) would probably help this. Maybe next time. I think they came out pretty well, though. They're high sugar for a pancake, I don't deny.

Buckwheat Pancakes

1 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cup almond (or other nondairy) milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp maple syrup (or agave)

Preheat (I used cast iron) skillet over medium (or just below medium) heat. Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and dry in a large measuring cup or small bowl. Add wet to dry and mix really well with a fork. Go ahead and over-mix that bad boy, because it's the wheat gluten that makes pancakes tough. Over-mixing wheat-free flours actually develops the shorter non-wheat-gluten proteins and helps with binding and structure.

I used a quarter-cup measuring cup to scoop batter into the preheated oiled pan, making two at a time, two minutes per side. I used canola oil out of laziness, but coconut would have been a better choice in hindsight. Makes 10-12 dollar-sized pancakes. (I think I'll double it next time.)

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