winter blues + blueberry barley and banana pancakes

So much for New Years resolutions. Already this month I've done two truly bad things Ive never done before. First, I knowingly bought blueberries out of season. Naughty. And second, I lied to my sister. It wasnt a lie exactly, but if Im being honest, it was a clear omission of truth. Heres how it happened:  

You can probably relate to this part—we were home for the holidays, my siblings and I, our kids and spouses under Mom and Dads roof, enjoying breaking all our own rules. I twice ate (and enjoyed) the fresh berries my parents graciously buy to keep our fruit-loving family in oatmeal toppings while theyre feeding us by the dozen. And though they weren't anything close to seasonal, if Im being honest again, it was truly freeing. Next, we had pancakes more than twice in one week—first, moms light and lovely whole-wheat buttermilk stacks, and then at Richard Walker Brother’sPancake House, where their endless list of options brought out the utter glutton in me. No matter that they arent even that good. They churn those babies out in every shape, size and flavor.

Heres the thing, I love making pancakes, and developing delicious, surprising combinations people love. But I rarely crave them. I expect a breakfast to be filling, long-lasting, energy inducing--the kind of thing that sticks with you for a long day on snowshoes or skis. Pancakes, delightful as they are, rarely fit that bill. 

But when you want pancakes, only pancakes will do.

Pancakes were on my mind for a good week following our trip home. Still, determined to clean up my act after the New Year, I ordered the Blueprint Cleanse and encouraged my sis to do the same. During our juicing days, I sent supportive texts of good cheer (wait till you taste the cashew milk!), and then, on Friday, another that said: Stock the fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables for the weekend. No pancakes. But when I woke up Saturday morning, I could think of nothing but pancakes. And there on the top shelf of our fridge was the half-pint of organic, boldly out-of-season blueberries Id shamelessly bought for oatmeal, taunting me. Oatmeal? Or blueberry pancakes? 

So heres what I decided: Pancakes we could have, but no white flour, and definitely no butter (okay, just one pat). They should taste like a classic—light, fluffy—but with a lot more heart and good intent. Since this was an utter detour from the cleanse (pancakes are, after all, just cake disguised as breakfast) they had to be worth it. Irresistibly good.

Sometimes good things happen when you allow yourself a sudden detour. This particular good thing was fluffy, hearty, lovable blueberry barley banana pancakes. No white flour. No sugar. No butter (except that harmless pat you see). And though there are a few naughty fresh blueberries sprinkled on top, these pancakes are studded with organic frozen blueberries (Cascadia farms), frozen in peek season when they are best, and just the thing to keep on hand for when youre craving some winter blues. 

Heres to being bad. Love you sis. 


Blueberry Barley and Banana Pancakes

Makes 8 pancakes

3/4 cup whole-wheat white flour
½ cup barley flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 egg
1 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ripe banana, smashed
1 cup organic blueberries, fresh or frozen
Canola oil, for cooking
Pure maple syrup, for serving

Whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and vanilla; stir in the smashed banana.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Heat a large cast-iron or non-stick griddle over medium heat. Brush the pan with a thin layer of oil and drop the pancakes by ¼-cupfuls onto the griddle, leaving plenty of space between them to let them spread. Cook until the pancakes start to bubble around the edge, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle a few blueberries around each pancake and carefully flip. Cook until the pancakes are set and lightly golden brown, 2 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining batter, brushing lightly with oil as needed. Serve warm with maple syrup. 

P.S. I know what youre thinking—barley flour, really? Yes, really. Buy it, and I promise Ill give you more than one way to put it to good use. Its my favorite whole-grain flour, and it marries like a dream with bananas and warm, bursting blueberries. You'll find it in the health-food section of your supermarket, at your local health food store, or easily online

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New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.