Updated: Feb 13
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.
Unfortunately, most of our favorite pumpkin-flavored delights don't contain real pumpkin, or if they do it's in a minute, processed form 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, but you can customize how'd you like 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 (extra antioxdiants, protein and monounsaturated fats!). But you can add maple syrup, fruit, nuts, coconut flakes or whatever you have in the pantry. These can also be made vegan by eliminating the egg and using a vegan substitute.
What!? That sounds delicious, doesn't it? But I know gluten free recipes can be a bit finicky sometimes. Keeping that in mind, I decided to use the gluten free waffle & pancake mix I already had on hand. (If you don't have a mix, you can use 1 cup GF flour, 1 tsp baking soda/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.
First, the added canned pumpkin puree made the pancakes a healthy breakfast on their own, which is packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
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. You won't get your daily recommended value of these vitamins and minerals with a tablespoon of cocoa, but it contributes towards the amounts you need during the course of the day. Plus, it made the house smell like cake!
The two teaspoons of cinnamon I tossed in provide polyphenols and anti-inflammatory properties. These can help fight off pain, inflammation of the arteries, and even help protect against cancer. Cinnamon also can lower your cholesterol and your blood sugar. Believe it or not, cinnamon can fight off fungal and bacterial infections, too, including bad breath and cavities!
I added a few dark chocolate chips to each pancake. Dark chocolate not only provides antioxidants, they're also anti-inflammatory. In moderation (1 oz./day), they 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, I topped them with a bit of peanut butter. By adding a protein to your carbs, it helps slow down the insulin spikes- especially important for people with pre- or Type 2 Diabetes.
The outcome you ask?
These gluten free pumpkin pancakes came out soft, warm and with the coziest of flavors. I didn't feel guilty about eating these at all. 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 waffle mix can be exchanged for another as long as it has xantham gum or is added in. The recipe called for whole milk, but I used almond milk. Ensure the milk has some fat and protein to activate the baking powder in the waffle mix. 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 waffle & pancake mix (I used Arrowhead Mills)
2 Tbsp oil
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 healthy 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, kombucha classes, cooking classes, and grocery tours, as well as more recipes visit www.ZESTNutritionService.com