Whole Grain Waffles and Pancakes

by Louise Ayer

Waffles or pancakes were something my mother would often make on the weekends when we had more time and were not rushing out to meet our school bus. We always looked forward to them. Waffles are crispy and have those little recessed squares that are perfect for collecting butter and maple syrup, warm and sweet and crispy. Yum! Pancakes, on the other hand, are warm and tender, and I love to sprinkle them with my blueberries and/or raspberries that, in July, I have the luxury to have picked moments before I sprinkle them onto a fresh pancake, sizzling on the hot griddle. I love waffles, not Belgian waffles, but classic, crispy waffles.

I think most people, when they are offered pancakes or waffles for breakfast, feel that this is something to look forward to, that it brings joy to their morning, and it makes them feel special.

My mom was making pancakes and waffles for us in the fifties, the epoch when processed food first appeared following World War II. The emphasis was on convenience, not nutrition. The flour she used was not only white flour, it was bleached white flour, snowy white. The sugar was also snowy white cane sugar, tender and delicious but nutritionally completely stripped. But times have changed, and I have learned over the decades that I have played in my kitchen to make yummy pancakes and waffles that are wonderful for you. A lot of excellent nutrition can be hidden in this batter while still having it feel like a party.

Instead of bleached white flour, I now use sprouted whole grain, giving me the extra protein, vitamins, and minerals of whole grain. Now, instead of white cane sugar, I use coconut palm sugar, which does not spike your blood sugar levels like white sugar does. I use buttermilk which is a fermented food, good for your gut, and finally I use ghee, that golden oil made from super clarifying butter and from which all the milk solids have been removed, the part of butter that raises your cholesterol. These waffles have a rich, nutty flavor that does not even require maple syrup.

I also like to make extra waffles to freeze. I am a lot older now and I may not always feel like cooking, or making the extra effort. Sometimes I might feel tired or shaky (Parkinson’s). On those mornings I feel so grateful to have my delicious waffles in the freezer. I take one out and pop it into the toaster oven to toast. Hot and crispy, I plop one onto my plate feeling so grateful that I am starting my day by treating my body to the excellent nutritious start that it deserves.

You can buy a classic, non-Belgian waffle maker for $30 from William Sonoma.


3 cups whole grain sprouted spelt flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flax meal (optional)
2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar (optional)
4 eggs
3 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons melted ghee
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup water

In a medium bowl, measure out the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and coconut palm sugar. In a large bowl, add the buttermilk and melted ghee. Whisk to blend. Add the eggs and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Dump the dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Beat with the whisk or use a handheld mixer to beat until almost smooth. There can still be a few little lumps. If the batter is very thick and you are going to make waffles, you can add ½ cup of water. If you are going to make pancakes, you can add 1 cup of water. Pancake batter is a little thinner than waffle batter. Otherwise, they are identical. Stir to combine.

If you are going to make waffles, heat your waffle iron to the highest setting, and wait until it dings to indicate it has reached temperature. Brush the top and bottom of the waffle iron with ghee or use an aerosol can of spray oil like olive oil. Pour a ladle full of batter onto the waffle iron, close, and wait until it dings to indicate your waffle is ready. If you are going to eat it right away, plate it, butter it, and eat with warmed maple syrup or cut up fruit, or just butter it and eat it like toast.

I make this much batter so I will have some extra waffles to freeze. As each waffle is ready, I put them on wire racks to cool. Don’t stack them on top of each other as you want them to be crispy. When cool, place in one-quart freezer bags, 3 or 4 to a bag, separated with wax paper so they don’t stick together in the freezer. To eat: remove a waffle and toast.

For pancakes, heat your griddle to 350 F, brush the griddle with ghee or spray on olive oil or the oil of your choice and ladle the batter onto the grill. You can sprinkle each pancake with berries if you like.

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