It was the summer of 2005, and it was on the radio everywhere. Jack Johnson was still swooning over his early successes, with all of us now envisioning him flipping flapjacks in the kitchen with some wind-tossed surfer chick living the dream and getting “Banana Pancakes” in bed. How tropically delightful!

Way back when, even further in the past, when blueberry pancakes were the only truly viable option, that was the ultimate, the means by which a breakfast time favorite seemed to elevate itself into a status of otherworldly. Why would anyone eat plain old pancakes when blueberry pancakes were possible?

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Beyond that, though, it seems the pancake variations fell off a bit. There are occasions of pecan (a personal favorite) or perhaps buckwheat, maybe whipped cream smiley faces for toddlers, but these sorts of culinary diversion are of infrequent occurrence and something to be noted. However, they are just the beginning of what pancakes can do.

 

 The Cake and Eating It, Too

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Realize this first, and if gluten-free is the route ahead, take care to make serious mental note: White flour is not the only thing by which pancakes can be created. Nay, it may not even be the best thing. Of course, white flour works in a classical sense, the way white bread does, but that is not to say whole wheat flour doesn’t get the job done fantastically.

But, also, let us not simply fall into the trap of white and wheat flours, and accept that the world of flour is bigger, brighter and possibly healthier with the likes of other choices, such as the aforementioned buckwheat (not actually wheat but rather a seed).  And, there is chickpea flour to experiment with as well. Hell, there are even pancakes with no flour at all, just raw food goodness.

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We should also not forget that pancakes don’t necessarily have to be so puffy, cake-y if you will, but are actually quite commonly prepared more like crepes, in which the fillings (we are going there next) get folded into the final product rather than incorporated into the batter.

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Beating the Stuffing

So, hey, let’s not pretend that banana and blueberry pancakes are not just wonderful things. They are. But, in the same paragraph, let’s not ignore the fact that the sun doesn’t have to rise and shine on bananas and blueberries alone. In fact, there are lots of things with which we can funk up our batter.

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First of all, there are loads of other sweet fruit and veg that can go into this effort, including fun stuff like sweet potatoes, pumpkins and mangoes. But, the stuffing also doesn’t have to be limited to fruit and veg, as seems to be the case with nuts (try almonds), nut butters and even chocolate (Can that ever be wrong?). And, for the love of breakfast, don’t forget to play with the spices!

The days of having to accept the bare minimum in batters are over.

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Sitting on Top of the World

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So, if we can change what makes our pancake batter and change what goes into our pancake batter, we can certainly change what goes on top of the pancake. Syrup, especially maple syrup (not those sugar-based knockoffs), is timeless and just feels right in so many bad ways, but it’s not the only thing that likes to ride upon hotcake.

In fact, there are lots of possibilities for capping off a cake, including a healthy smear of nut butter and/or some marmalade, jam or jelly. There is whipped cream, which can come from walnuts, coconuts,  bananas, or things much more agreeable than dairy. Fruit of many a variety, but especially juicy stuff like macerated strawberries provides a familiarly appropriate twist, or there’s getting super creative with herb-infused butter.

Sorry Canada and Vermont but maple syrup isn’t the final word here.

A Little On Savory

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All of these ideas are grand for the budding breakfast-eer, the jumpstarting Jack Johnson, but keep in mind that we’ve only just come to touch on the savory selections. There can be classic country dinner flavors like mushroom and rosemary, or things can get really out of the box (and across borders) with something like Chickpea Blinis with Grill Veggies. Can’t decide? We could all-out fusion and have tomato, chive and chickpea pancakes. Get all out savory.

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The point, my dear readers, is to recognize. Recognize in that finger-snapping, giving-respect manner, as well as simply recognize the potential of the pancake, something that goes far, far beyond any pop song or culinary classic. The pancake variations abound, waiting for us to flip, flop, tip and top. Any day is a good day for pancakes. How will you make them?

Lead Image Source: Vegan Pancakes 101