Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Baby James' Favorite Chocolate Pancakes (And Mine Too!)


Now that he is all grown up and one years old, Baby James has decided that he no longer needs to eat any kind of food other than white food: cheerios, turkey, string cheese, french fries, noodles, doughnuts, and of course, milk. That's it! Notice anything missing from that list? Anything like, I don't know, fruits or vegetables?

I'm not even going to go into all the things I've done to try and get James to try a bite of juicy peach or a nibble of mango. From the way that kid turns his head away and squinches his mouth and eyes shut, you'd think I was asking him to eat dirt! Which, by the way, he will eat. Yes, that's right: He will eat dirt, but he won't eat a bite of peach.


So I've had to resort to being tricky. There is one non-white edible substance James will deign to eat (other than dirt, which does not count), and that is chocolate. James LOVES chocolate. He's wild about it, and whenever he suspects we have some he will wave his fat little hand for it and cry like there is no tomorrow. So when I found this recipe, it seemed perfect: What better place to hide a few blueberries and some spinach than in a chocolate pancake?


I know what you are thinking: Blueberries and SPINACH in a pancake? Yuck! And that's exactly what I thought too. The first time I made this recipe, I was just hoping they were not too horrible to eat, mainly so I could get some fruits and vegetables into my child. I never expected them to be so absolutely delicious, and I certainly never expected to like them so much I wanted to eat them all myself! And the spinach? It's pureed so fine, you can't even taste that it's there. Really, I promise. What you can taste is how incredibly soft and moist these pancakes are. There's no need to slather them with gobs of butter and syrup, because these pancakes are tender and soft all by themselves. I like to roll them up with some fruit inside, but baby James likes them just the way they are.

This is just photographic proof that my child has at some point eaten something containing spinach and blueberries. Note the cheerios on the tray and the football hold he has on the bottle of milk.

Baby James' Favorite Chocolate Pancakes
adapted from The Sneaky Chef" by Missy Chase Lapine

I was so impressed with this recipe I went out and bought Lapine's book. These pancakes have all kinds of nutritious goodies in them: whole grains, milk, eggs, and antioxidant rich chocolate, spinach, and blueberries. A lot of times recipes call for applesauce to be swapped in for the fat or oil in a recipe, and the spinach/blueberry puree has the same effect: The fat or oil can be reduced because the spinach and blueberries puree bring so much moisture to the cakes. And it tastes maaaeervelous, of course.

Although if you slather these with nutella and powdered sugar, that might negate some of the health benefit, just a little bit. But today is my birthday, so I think I am allowed to have as much nutella on my pancakes as I like!

1 cup pancake mix (I am very pleased with Pamela's gluten free pancake and baking mix, but use whatever healthy mix you like best, gluten-free or not)
1 cup milk
(rice milk, soy milk, or almond all make good alternatives)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup spinach, packed
1/4 cup blueberries
1 large or jumbo egg
1-2 tablespoons healthy fat, such as coconut oil (you can also use butter or vegetable oil, but these are not as good for you)

In the bowl of a food processor, combine 1/4 cup blueberries...

...and 1/4 cup spinach (packed).

Puree until very smooth. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup pancake mix...

...2 tablespoons cocoa powder...

...1 jumbo egg...

...1 cup milk...

...and the blueberry spinach puree.

Whisk batter until smooth.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, pour batter into heated pan.

Heat one one side until little bubbles begin for form on the surface of the pancake.

flip over. Cook on second side until pancake springs back lightly at the touch. Remove from heat. If desired, keep in a warmed over (200 degrees) until the rest of the pancakes are done cooking.


Top with berries, powdered sugar, nutella, nuts, whiipped cream, whatever. Enjoy!


  1. Hero says to me the other day, "Mama, you make good food. But why don't you make food like your friend Rebecca?"

    This is not a made up story.

    We are looking forward to eating these pancakes!

  2. So if I don't want to use a mix, I could just use my regular pancake recipe, add the extras, and leave out most of the oil?

  3. Emily - the original recipe calls for 1/4 cup white flour, 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, and 1/4 cup wheat germ. Obviously, that's no gluten free, so I couldn't try it and tell you how it tastes! And messing with gluten free flours is SO touchy, and there are a million great mixes out there, so yeah. (Her recipe also calls for a little less flour, mostly because I think the wheat germ is SO heavy).

    I've been thinking about maybe adding in 1/3 cup almond flour, or oat bran, just to see how it tastes, but every time I make this I decide not to, just because I love it so much like it is!

  4. These look delicious! Some honey toasted wheat germ would be a great addition as well.

  5. Luv the idea of a chocolate pancake with nutella! I tasted it for the first time over a waffle at a restaurant here in Austin for brunch only recently...(OK, so i don't get out much!) So glad to see another great idea for using it! Lovely pics too!

  6. Mmmm I'm gonna try these on my picky husband! Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Ha ha...my kid won't anything either. He will eat fruits and vegetables, but only sometimes..and mostly just fruit. He is a vegetarian at 2 1/2 and I am not...no one here but him is. He was super picky at one even though I'd fed him everything as a baby, and I made it all myself. But he is gradually growing out of it (thank god!)

    These pancakes look right up his alley though..as I hide spinach in EVERYTHING...:)

  8. Happy Birthday, Becks! Hope you had a great day. Thanks for sharing this great recipe- I will try it for my little guy too!

  9. Ha ha ha, I supect baby James thinks they look like dirt given the chocolate colour & that's why he likes them!

    Sounds & looks delicious to me.

    BTW Happy birthday.

  10. These look so good I want to make them immediately. I don't have a picky baby but I have a picky husband, which sometimes feels like the same thing. A couple weeks ago he ate a pan of brownies, hidden within which was a zucchini the size of my arm. So maybe I'll have good luck with these pancakes, too!

  11. Excellent!! I'm always looking for ways to get healthy things into my guys (11 & 14 now!). Today we did Strawberry Crepes, those were a hit, but when my daughter saw this picture she has decided that these might be even better... Nicely done!

  12. I made these the other day with my favorite pancake recipe and they were delicious! Thanks for a great recipe!

  13. Is it weird that I had a dream and these pancakes were part of it? Cause I did... lol.

  14. Your pancakes look just stunning!! Waw!! Sneaking spinach in these tasty pancakes,...that's a great & cool idea!!

    You just made them much healthier too!

    MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM,..A lovely & fab presentation too!

  15. We just realized that my hubby and one daughter are gluten intolerant, and remembered that you are gluten-free. So blessed to find your blog!! CANNOT wait to try this recipe!

  16. This is simply creative!

  17. I swear you are going to be my hero, I am switching to a gluten free diet and this makes it so much less daunting. Thank you!!!

  18. OMG! this is so yummy.. wanna try this one.=)