Grab a cup of coffee and curl up, you’re going to want to read this recipe.
Acorn squash pancakes. Yes, this is my second pancake recipe in three weeks, and my second acorn squash recipe this week, but what’s wrong with that? Pancakes are amazing. They distinguish leisurely Saturday mornings from all the work week mornings. Yes, they do require more time than many work day breakfasts do, but what makes them best for weekends is the indulgence. I mean, they have the word “cake” in them – you can’t just scarf them down on your commute. Pancakes are the chance to indulge in breakfast properly – hot cup of fresh brewed coffee, plate full of pillowy cakes, sweet drizzles of maple syrup, and even some bacon or a gooey dippy egg on the side. You miss part of the pancake experience if you don’t get to enjoy the sweet smell that lingers even after the pancakes are completely polished off.
Oh, Saturday mornings. I sometimes think half my week revolves around Saturday mornings. By Wednesdays I’m already thinking not just about my upcoming long run on Saturday morning but also what I food I can shove in my face afterwards. Well, to be more specific, usually I am really thinking what type of pancakes I want to eat after my long run, and how excited I am for those pancakes, since we almost always have pancakes on Saturday morning.
Just because these are indulgent doesn’t mean I didn’t healthify them up. I can’t help it – I want the best of both worlds. Sweet yet nutritious. Delicious yet not a total calorie bomb. I want to enjoy the taste of pancakes but not the consequent food coma from all the white flour and white sugar. That happened to me on my 25th birthday. Ryan made me these awesome chocolate chip pancakes to celebrate – no whole wheat flour, sugar added, and I am pretty sure I fell asleep in a food coma about an hour later. That’s ok, they were amazing birthday pancakes and I like to take naps.
On a regular basis, however, you want to avoid simple carbs and sugars from a healthy eating standpoint, even if you like to nap in a food coma after you eat. Complex carbs are important for everyone, especially runners, since carbs provide energy for your body. Healthy carbs after a workout help replace your depleted energy stores (glycogen stores) and facilitate quicker recovery -that’s why post-workout drinks later Gatorade have carbs in them. These healthy, complex carbs include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as oats, brown rice, and whole wheat.
One of my favorite ways to healthify pancakes is by adding fruit to the batter, especially pureed fruit. Mashed bananas, pumpkin puree, and applesauce all add volume and fluffiness to the pancakes without adding too many calories, plus they have all those great vitamins and minerals. Since the puree comes from fruit or vegetables, you are still getting those important complex carbohydrates that your body needs. And they add flavor – which is even better. For these acorn squash pancakes, I added (obviously) acorn squash puree – my current favorite healthy add-in for everything.
Don’t get me wrong, I love pumpkin as much as the next twenty-something girl, but sometimes I want something less… pumpkin-y. As great as pumpkin is, sometimes I like to try other similar squashes. I know, I know, food blog heresy. Don’t worry – you’ll see plenty of pumpkin recipes around here – so just hear me out on this acorn squash.
Acorn squash is like pumpkin’s relaxed, mature big sister. It still boasts the same great qualities – that creamy texture, that impossibly perfect autumn-y taste, the ability to go with sweet or savory – but acorn squash is more subtle with almost a slight honey-ed taste. I can’t get over the taste of it – I made both sweet and savory dishes with acorn squash this week, and both tasted amazing. Excuse me while I go buy out my grocery store’s stock of these.
Once you try these pancakes, you’ll want to go buy every single acorn squash in the produce section also. I’m not joking here – so give the little squash a chance.
It’s really not difficult to make acorn squash (or any squash) puree. It’s actually ridiculously simple. You preheat the oven to 375°F, slice the squash in half, remove the seeds, place skin-side down in a roasting pan or baking sheet, and pop in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Slice, scoop, and roast. Let the squash cool a bit, and then remove the skins – which come off easily thanks to the roasting. Put the squash into a food processor and puree. If the puree is too thick or dry, just add a bit of water. It’s seriously that simple, and takes about an hour to do (but not a very hands-on hour). You can store this in the fridge for a week – not that it’s going to last you that long.
If you’re still feeling hesitant about these – acorn squash? in pancakes? – don’t worry. Ryan was a bit nervous about these when I started rambling about them on our way home from church. He was worried they were going to be too savory or taste like baby food. Admittedly, pureed squash seems to be a popular baby food (or at least in my experience, which is from How I Met Your Mother and Scrubs re-runs). But these do not taste like baby food.
These acorn squash pancakes taste like fall. That’s the only way I can describe them – sweet, nutmeg-y, warm little cakes of fall covered in maple syrup. That’s what fall would taste like, right, if seasons had flavors? I guess pumpkin is the official fall flavor, but other squashes and anything nutmeg-y are close runners up.
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teapsoon nutmeg
- 1/2 cup milk (extra if needed - I used an additional tablespoon)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup acorn squash puree
- 1 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- Just enough butter to grease the skillet
- Use a food processor to grind the oatmeal into a course flour.
- Combine the oat flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and spices in a mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl, beat together the milk, egg, and vanilla.
- Add the egg mixture, acorn squash puree, and brown sugar to the dry ingredients, and gently mix together until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.
- Heat a griddle over medium heat. Add a small amount of butter to the pan. Once butter is sizzling, begin to make the pancakes by pouring the batter onto the griddle. A quarter cup measuring cup or an ice cream scoop helps portion the pancakes.
- When bubbles begin to appear and the edges are browned, flip the pancakes and cook for an additional 2-4 minutes. The pancakes are done when they are golden brown on both sides.
- This recipe will make 6-7 pancakes.
- Serve with pure maple syrup, any desired toppings, and a hot cup of coffee.