A Breakfast Family Tradition
Years ago, the popular children’s book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett inspired me to establish Saturday morning as family pancake morning with my children. This delightful story opens with Kate describing Saturday morning breakfast with a jolly grandfather who makes pancakes. He prides himself on the art of flipping pancakes. On this morning he flips a pancake so high it crosses the room and lands on her brother Henry’s head. They all have a good laugh and the event kicks off the “best bedtime story ever” that night.
Grandpa creates a wild tale about the town of Chewandswallow, a town where the food supply doesn’t come from grocery stores. Instead, the townspeople walk out with a plate and utensils to catch food the sky serves up three times a day. It may rain tomato soup, snow mounds of mashed potatoes- or maybe a storm of hamburgers blows in. All is well until the “weather” turns yucky and extra large and the people are forced to set out in search of a new town.
Children (and adults) love pancakes. A family pancake morning can promote togetherness for the family and create fond memories. It provides a chance to connect and talk about the week’s events. Children can pitch in and practice measuring and cooking skills. Pick any day of the week that is best for you.
Children will Enjoy Making Letter Shaped Pancakes
Children will especially love making shaped pancakes. Making letter pancakes is one idea for pancake fun. Letter pancakes are created using your favorite pancake batter and a turkey baster. After mixing the batter simply draw the mix up into the turkey baster just as you would with meat juices. Release the batter by squeezing the bulb. Now “write” your letter onto the hot griddle. Brown and flip just as you would an ordinary pancake.
Making letter pancakes is especially good for preschool children learning to identify letters. Activities using letters will help children learn the alphabet more easily. If you have a preschooler you may have noticed certain activities they do- like gluing macaroni on a large letter M for example. Preschool teachers usually introduce one letter per week and conduct activities with that letter each day. Find out what your preschooler’s letter of the week is for the following week. On family pancake morning, introduce that letter with letter pancakes. This will give your child a head start on letter mastery. For phonemic awareness (a necessary reading prerequisite) practice the sound that letter makes.
Whole Wheat Pancakes
Studies have proven that whole wheat flour is the most nutritious for your family’s pancakes. Whole wheat significantly lowers the risk of many chronic diseases including stroke, type 2 diabetes, a risk of heart attack and colorectal cancer. It is thought that whole wheat aids in maintaining a healthy weight. Following is a quick and easy recipe for whole wheat pancakes courtesy of Cooks.com.
- 2 Cups Whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp Baking powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 Eggs, Well beaten
- 2 Cups Milk
- 2 Tbs Vegetable oil
- Stir the dry ingredients together.
- Then add the eggs, milk, and oil.
- Cook pancakes until browning and bubbly around the edges.
- Turn with a spatula and cook until done.
Add to the taste, fun, and nutrition of pancakes with fillings and toppings. Choose a different filling or topping each week, or perhaps have two or three choices and let each child choose a personal preference. Chop very finely or sprinkle on the pancakes as they cook for the letter pancakes.
In recent years research has produced results labeling certain foods as being super foods. Super foods are high in anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants, as the term implies, attacks damaging oxidation in animal tissue. They contain vitamins, minerals and enzymes (proteins that assist in chemical reactions) thought to prevent the development of several chronic diseases.
Older children, between ages 8 and 10 are old enough to understand the dangers of unhealthy eating. Discuss diseases and causes, particularly the ones that may be genetic in the family. Talk about the benefits of food research and super foods so that they become aware of them.
Nutritious Pancake Fillings and Toppings
Dried cherry filling: red cherries are packed with anti-oxidants. Plenty of research indicates tart cherries as having anti-inflammatory value, reducing pain from gout and arthritis.Heart health benefits are also linked to the cherries.
Fresh blueberry filling: blueberries are naturally sweet and children will love the taste without added sugar. Research indicates blueberries as highly beneficial in protecting neurological damage to the brain. Lifelong consumption of these antioxidants could slash the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in future seniors.
Semi- sweet chocolate morsels filling: dark chocolate is very rich in poly phenols which are good news for chocolate lovers. Poly phenols are known to be inhibitors of the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Research conducted at the University of California, Davis found that a small bar of dark chocolate a day thins blood as well as a baby aspirin reducing the risk of blood clot formation that can lead to strokes.
Other Fillings and Toppings
Have fun with family pancake morning! There are so many possibilities for fillings and toppings that can add variety and nutrition to your pancakes. The whole family will look forward to family pancake morning!
Other filling and topping ideas:
- stir finely chopped walnuts into the batter. Top pancakes with sliced bananas and cinnamon.
- add chopped fresh in-season fruit to the batter, such as strawberries or whipped cream.
- top with bananas, strawberries, and honey.
- add finely chopped apples and raisins to the batter.
- top pancakes with homemade fresh cherry pie filling.
Get creative and I’ll bet you will come up with your own yummy and nutritious creations!