If I ever have a cooking show I want these two cuties, who stayed post-class for pancake thirds, to be guest chefs. They were too busy eating to sit still for a photo, but I love their zeal for these butternut squash pancakes we made together — a huge hit for the whole class!

Before we talk pancakes, don’t forget our fundraiser is happening October 27 thru November 2. It is going to be a lot of delicious fun whether you are in New York City or not, and whether you have children or not. Seriously, everyone can participate. Everything raised goes towards funding more free cooking classes. You can read all about it here.
And… Some very exciting news: Our classes were featured in the NY Daily News!

Enough awesome news– it’s time for some awesome pancakes!

This past weekend I hosted a mega-class (inside a barn) at the lovely, organic Golden Earthworm Farm in Jamesport, Long Island (full disclosure: they are also my CSA vegetable farm and are super generous amazing people). While the class posted was for 20 students, how can one say “no” to kids eager to cook up some vegetables? (I did say ‘no’ to a few adults who wanted to jump in.) In total, about 40 children came to cook up a storm — all ages! We also had the same number of parents and non-parental onlookers ready to taste the final creation. It was pretty amazing. It was pretty crazy. It tested patience (especially my guest-‘chef’ and husband who started to make adults ‘entertain’ him and sing for pancakes.) I promised everyone I would post the recipe, so voila, it’s here.

While the class was crazy and loud and a total circus, my favorite moment came post-class. Not these two lovely ladies, pictured above, chowing down– though they were a huge highlight, it was a comment made to me by a gentleman that really stuck out. I’m unsure if he was a casual onlooker or a parent/ grandparent, but he stopped me in the parking lot as I was loading up to tell me:

“When you gave those kids the eggs I thought your end had arrived.”

You know, because giving a child an egg is obviously the worst thing possible a person can do (exceptions made for teenagers on Halloween). Stand back! A child is holding an egg. It may, it fact, break on the table, the floor, crush in their hand… Banish the image from your mind!

In fairness, his horror could have stemmed from the fact I randomly assigned egg cracking responsibility for our pancakes to some of our youngest chefs. But if you’re never given an opportunity to learn to crack an egg on your own– with no adult hands in the mix– (and possibly fail and try again) when will you learn? When you’re older? (I now teach 6th and 7th graders terrified to crack eggs because they might fail in front of their peers. It might crush in their hands. Some shell might get in the dish.) As an adult? (Cook? No thank you, I can’t even crack an egg!) In fact, the very first lesson for my after-school students this semester: egg cracking. We made scrambled eggs with parsley. Why? Because I think fearlessly cracking an egg is one of the best tools of the kitchen.

Perhaps it wasn’t because these students were trying to crack an egg that this comment was made, but the fear he saw in the parents with their child given the responsibility to crack an egg, or fail to crack an egg. (It’s hard to resist and adult hands swoop in to help a child crack the egg.)

I agree, it is painful to watch a child hold a measuring spoon awkwardly, think a tablespoon a teaspoon, under-measure, over-measure, crack an egg on the table, put fingers into holes they don’t belong… It’s hard to watch a child fail, especially your own. I get it. I too want to jump in sometimes, speed up the class and finish off the recipe with speed. Allowing children to complete an entire recipe turns a 10 minute project, like these pancakes, into a 1 hour patience marathon of corrections, re-tries, and explanations. It takes a great deal of self-restraint to not step in (which is I guess why one parent this weekend remarked that I was “so patient”). But I think it’s one of the most important and rewarding things we can give a child: completing a task. It builds self-confidence. It builds self-reliance. It teaches life-lessons. It makes them proud when they can eat their final accomplishment, think it’s delicious (even if it is under-measured and lumpy) because “I made that by myself.” Egg cracking failure and all.

I made this recipe all week in my after-school class as well (I mentioned my after-school students were my taste- and recipe-testers). I’d say it was met with 98% approval– even without maple syrup (shocker). I also love this recipe because it’s high protein (lots of egg) and high in fiber from the coconut flour. (Coconut flour is the leftover pulp from pressing coconut ‘meat’ when making coconut milk. Because these pancakes use coconut ‘flour’ and egg to bind them together, they are gluten-free and grain-free, if you’re concerned about either. It’s not a heavy carbohydrate fest– and yes, still delicious. (And yes, you can replace coconut flour with regular or whole wheat flour.) My problem with pancakes is I eat them and 2 hours later I’m hungry. It doesn’t do the trick. These pancakes do the trick.

Perhaps better than all the above is what one parent said:

“this is a great way to get them to eat their butternut squash– I love it!” (Just don’t hide it from them!)

My lovely husband drew the day’s recipe board.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH PANCAKES
Makes six 1/4-cup  sized pancakes
4 eggs
2 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup butternut squash, roasted and pureed (can use canned)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
coconut oil, for cooking (or unsalted butter)
topping(s) of choice: maple syrup, butter, coconut oil, honey, jam, etc

1.) Combine eggs, honey, and vanilla in a bowl, using a whisk to beat until slightly frothy. Add butternut squash, coconut flour, cinnamon, baking soda and sea salt. Stir until combined, working out any lumps.

2.) Adult: Heat a dollop of coconut oil on a skillet warmed to medium-high heat. Scoop approximately 1/4-cup of batter on the pan, leaving 1-inch between each pancake. Flatten slightly. Cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes, flip and cook another 2 to 3 minutes more. Continue with remaining batter, adding more coconut oil if needed.

MORE KITCHEN FUN: Replace butternut squash with applesauce and add apple slices for apple pancakes! Or try carrot puree, sweet potato, or other winter squash.

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