You can't miss the marketing of pumpkin-flavored foods and beverages everywhere you go starting after Labor Day and continuing through Thanksgiving. Pumpkin's what I call a "super squash," packed full of vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, potassium, and fiber. These contribute to everything from eye to digestive health.
Is there really pumpkin in my latte?
Unfortunately, most of our favorite pumpkin-flavored delights don't contain real pumpkin, and those that do only have a minute, processed form of pumpkin like dehydrated pumpkin flakes. Then, if there were any nutritional benefits left to be had from the pumpkin, they're negated by the loads of sugar added to the recipe.
I thought I'd offer an easy pumpkin pancake recipe that not only maintains the nutrition of the squash, but also an opportunity to customize breakfast with toppings and mix-ins that make these pancakes to die for (corny Halloween pun).
These pancakes are gluten-free, and my preference is to add dark chocolate chips and/or peanut butter for extra antioxidants, protein, and monounsaturated fats. (Read about the potential health benefits of dark chocolate in my blog "Is Dark Chocolate Really Good for You?")
Maple syrup, fruit, nuts, coconut flakes, or other pantry items can also be added.
Gluten-free recipes can be a bit finicky sometimes. Keeping that in mind, I decided to use the gluten-free mix I already had on hand: Pamela's Whole Grain Baking and Pancake Mix. Bob's Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills also have good pancake mixes. (If you don't have a mix, you can use 1 cup GF flour, 1 tsp baking soda or baking powder, 1 tsp xantham gum, and a pinch of salt).
My mix actually had a recipe on the back of the package for plain pancakes, which I adapted (recipe below). As a dietitian, I wanted to add a few extra ingredients to kick up the nutritional profile.
Nutrition of Chocolate-Chip Pumpkin Pancakes
First, the added canned pumpkin puree made the pancakes a healthful breakfast on their own, which is packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. (Learn more about pumpkin's nutritional benefits in my blog here.)
Nevertheless, I added more!
Both for flavor and nutrition, I threw in a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa. Cocoa is low in calories, and has a small amount of fiber, iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and niacin. Adding a tablespoon of cocoa won't provide the daily recommended value of these vitamins and minerals, but it contributes towards the amounts needed during the course of the day. Plus, it makes the house smell like cake!
The two teaspoons of cinnamon added in provide polyphenols and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties can help fight off pain, inflammation of the arteries, and may even help protect against cancer. Cinnamon also may lower cholesterol and blood sugar. Believe it or not, cinnamon may help fight off fungal and bacterial infections, too, including bad breath and cavities!
Dark Chocolate Chips
I added a few dark chocolate chips to each pancake. Dark chocolate not only provides antioxidants, it's also anti-inflammatory. In moderation (1 oz./day), dark chocolate may help prevent disease like certain cancers, heart disease, and potentially diabetes. This was in addition to the unsweetened cocoa added to the batter.
Finally, after the pancakes came out of the pan, they were topped with a bit of peanut butter. By adding protein to a carb, blood sugar and insulin spikes can be reduced- especially important for people with prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes.
Taste & Texture of Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pancakes
These gluten-free pumpkin pancakes came out soft, warm, and with the coziest of flavors. They made a delicious breakfast full of protein, carbs, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting antioxidants.
So how do you make them? The recipe for Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pancakes is below, but remember, you can add your own spices like nutmeg or ginger, toppings like fruit or nuts, and even use fresh pumpkin instead of canned. Add your own creativity to make it delicious!
The brand of gluten-free pancake mix can be exchanged for another as long as it has xantham gum or is added in by you.
The package recipe called for whole milk, but almond, soy, cashew, or oat milk can replace it. Ensure the milk has some fat and protein to activate the baking powder in the pancake mix.
These gluten-free pumpkin pancakes can be made vegan by eliminating the egg and using a vegan substitute.
Any oil that you have in the cupboard will work.
GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE CHIP PUMPKIN PANCAKES
Yields 6-8 medium pancakes
1 cup gluten-free pancake mix
2 Tbsp oil
1 egg (or vegan substitute)
1 cup milk (any kind)
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl while the pan preheats over medium heat.
Pour batter into pan to form 3-4 circular pancakes.
Wait for bubbles to form and pop before flipping.
Cook for another 2 minutes on other side.
Repeat until batter is gone.
Serve with your choice of topping(s).
Chocolate, agave, or maple syrup
Peanut, almond, or apple butter
Nutrition: (Per 3-4 pancakes)
Calories: 655 kcals Protein: 11g Carbohydrates: 95g Total Fiber: 3g Sugar: 13g Total Fat: 31g Saturated Fat: 9g Sodium: 719mg Calcium: 40% DV Vitamin D: 10% DV Iron: 40% DV Potassium: 4%DV
Note: Saturated fat is high here, though much comes from the cocoa butter which is a healthful type of saturated fat. Saturated fat from dark chocolate behaves differently in the body than saturated fat from animal sources. Read more about dark chocolate's properties here.
For nutrition services, including coaching by a dietitian, as well as more recipes, visit www.ZESTNutritionService.com