Sour Cream Pancakes


Apple pancakes

Breakfast is one of the most difficult meals when you go gluten free.  My monkeys absolutely love pancakes — and so do I.  But I won’t buy a box of pancake mix at the grocery store because I made a commitment to my family that I would cut out processed foods.  

I adapted these Sour Cream Pancakes from Edna Mae’s recipe, lowering the sugar, mixing the syrup right into the batter, and switching to oat flour.  Sour cream pancakes are a great transition pancake if you are removing gluten from your diet because they look and taste just like regular pancakes.  They are so light and sweet that they don’t need butter or syrup!  We serve our sour cream pancakes with sautéed apples or a quick berry sauce (see notes below).  They hit the spot during the snowstorm yesterday!



Sour Cream Pancakes
Serves 4
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  1. 2 Large Eggs
  2. 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
  3. 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  4. 1/2 cup Oat Flour
  5. 1 Tablespoon Coconut Sugar
  6. 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  7. 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  8. 1 cup Sour Cream, Greek Yogurt or Creme Fresh
  9. Butter to grease griddle
  1. Heat your griddle or skillet on medium-low. Melt the butter in a small pot.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, syrup, and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the sour cream to the dry ingredients and mix until just barely combined. Whisk in the egg mixture.
  4. Brush the griddle with butter (I paint circles where I plan to drop the batter).
  5. Drop batter by the tablespoon onto the griddle. Cook on the first side until lots of bubbles form on the surface. Flip to the other side and cook for another 45 seconds then remove to a platter. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  1. To keep the flavor and consistency, you can try using other smooth, light, non-gritty flours like rice or wheat (if you can tolerate gluten).
  2. These pancakes spread out when they hit the griddle. I find it easier to flip them when you use a small amount of batter.
  3. Freeze in a single layer; defrost in the toaster for a quick breakfast.
  4. Use organic ingredients whenever possible. I like Kerrygold butter and Celtic Sea Salt.
  5. Oat flour is high in protein and fiber with a great consistency. I like Gluten-Free Prairie Toasted Oat Flour because it’s made with non-GMO oats in Montana from a Celiac owned/operated family business.
  6. Coconut sugar is unrefined with naturally occurring nutrients like magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, B vitamins and amino acids. Try it 1:1 as a replacement for white sugar.
  7. I prefer Grade B maple syrup because it’s produced later in the season and has a darker color, which means more minerals including manganese, riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
  8. I avoid dairy because of my reoccuring sinus infections and dust allergy; however, I can handle this small amount of dairy cooked.
  9. Topping idea: Sauté chopped apples (leave the skin on for extra fiber) before you start making the pancakes. Throw the apples in a pan with a pad of butter and some cinnamon or apple pie seasoning. Let them soften while you make the pancake batter.
  10. For a quick berry sauce, throw any combination of frozen strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and/or raspberries into a small pot. Add about a tablespoon of maple syrup, teaspoon of fresh lemon juice, and a pad of butter. Mash the berries as they defrost. Simmer on low until your pancakes are ready.
Adapted from Edna Mae’s Sour Cream Pancakes
Under the Monkey Bars

Cómelo todo!*

*Translation :: Eat it all!
When I studied abroad in Madrid during college, my Señora Encarna would say, “Cómelo todo!” when she brought dinner to the table.  I sometimes say it to my monkeys at dinnertime with a smile, remembering that incredible experience.  You can expect to see “Cómelo todo!” at the end of my recipe posts as a tribute to the lovely lady who made sure I was well fed all those years ago in Spain.

Love The Library


The Newburyport Public Library is one of my happy places.  I have always loved books, but I’ve become more of a bookworm over the past few years.  And let’s be specific here: it has to be a book with actual pages.  We’re starting yet another home improvement project this week so I’ll be at the library at least a few days a week for the foreseeable future.

Borrowing books from the library used to stress me out when the girls were little.  The books would get mixed into our shelves, never to be seen again.  When we moved into this house, I started a library book basket in our living room.  Now books rarely get misplaced and we go to the library more often than ever.

Library basket

When I pop into the library, it takes me no more than ten minutes to run in and grab two dozen books.  Bean and Sweet Pea are beyond excited when they come home and see the basket overflowing with books.  They like to spread the books out all over the living room rug.  Then they take turns reading to each other, which makes me completely melt.

At least once a month, I make sure we walk to the library together (correction – Sweet Pea scoots, her preferred method of transportation here in Newburyport).  We wear backpacks to fill up with books.  Then we head back home to snuggle on the couch and read.  Yesterday Sweet Pea went to the library with Don to look for books on narwhals for her very first research project.  She’s really excited.  They also stocked up on some books to keep us busy during the snowstorm. 

We are fortunate to live in a city with lots of new books coming into the library several times a month.  When we are looking for specific books that our library doesn’t own, we request them through the system.   Borrowing books is a fantastic way to save money — especially when you’re spending so much on food.  However, we do make point to support local bookstores and continue to build our home library as well.

Here’s what we’re reading…
Me :: Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella
Don :: The Climb: The Autobiography by Chris Froome
Bean :: Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
Sweet Pea :: Miss Fortune (Frankly, Frannie) by A.J. Stern

What book is on your bedside table?


A few resources for you…
–  Tips from Scholastic on how to raise a reader here
–  Great book and toy recommendations for smart, confident girls at A Mighty Girl
–  Parents of little ones should check out Reading with Infants Toddlers and Preschoolers

Super Chili + Cornbread

cooking chili

Chili and cornbread go hand in hand with football.  Check out these killer recipes that are sure to please any Super Bowl crowd.


We have been making this recipe for Turkey Chili with White Beans from Epicurious for years.  The girls call it “Chocolate Chili” and they are always part of the Clean Plate Club when I make it.  The chocolate elevates the flavor, complimented by cinnamon and chili powder.  This chili comes together quickly, especially when you measure the spices into prep bowls.  We decided to make it for the blizzard, but our local farm and grocery stores were out (turkey must be up there with bread and milk!).  Luckily, ground beef was just as tasty.  It’s a versatile recipe and a real crowd pleaser – especially for your gluten free and paleo friends.


When we went gluten free, I couldn’t believe that most cornbread recipes call for wheat flour.  Shouldn’t cornbread be made of corn?  It took a few recipe fails until I found this keeper.  Toss your old cornbread recipes and replace them with Gluten Free on a Shoestring’s recipe for Old Fashioned Gluten Free Cornbread.  It is super moist and reminiscent of what cornbread should taste like.

No matter who you’re cheering for this Super Bowl, you will cheer for this yummy combo.  We will be rooting for the Pates (as Bean called the Patriots when she was three).  GO PATES!

 Here are my notes on the recipes:

Turkey Chili with White Beans

  • Vegetable oil is not good for you.  Try olive oil for this recipe.
  • We absolutely love the flavor of the turkey in this chili.  However, you can substitute beef or whatever ground meat you have on hand.
  • Use raw cacao powder instead of unsweetened cocoa powder.  Raw cacao is a good source of fiber and contains minerals like potassium, iron, and calcium.
  • Chopped tomatoes are easier than whole.
  • Add one yellow or orange pepper after you sauté the onions.
  • Chili freezes great.  Use a Pyrex glass storage container for the family, or mason jars for individual portions.  Please no plastic!
  • For this paleo and gluten free chili recipe, go to Epicurious.

 Old Fashioned Gluten Free Cornbread

  • Local raw honey makes a difference in taste and flavor for this recipe.
  • I use Stonyfield whole milk plain yogurt and Kerrygold butter.
  • Definitely use organic cornmeal because most corn is genetically modified (GMO).  I like Arrowhead Mills.
  • Crisp up leftover cornbread with some butter in a pan.  Serve with eggs, veggies, and meats for breakfast.
  • It’s gluten free, vegetarian, and has no refined sugar.
  • For the cornbread recipe, go to Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

Cómelo todo!*


*Translation :: Eat it all!

When I studied abroad in Madrid during college, my Señora Encarna would say, “Cómelo todo!” when she brought dinner to the table.  I sometimes say it to my monkeys at dinnertime with a smile, remembering that incredible experience.  You can expect to see “Cómelo todo!” at the end of my recipe posts as a tribute to the lovely lady who made sure I was well fed all those years ago in Spain.

Your Test Kitchen

kitchen shelves

My house is my sanctuary.  It is a safe place for my family.  I can let my guard down and allow myself to relax here more than any other place.  There are no fears of allergic reactions.  Nothing in our house has come near a peanut; nothing has been contaminated by gluten.  Bean and Sweet Pea are free to eat whatever they want.

I’m constantly cooking and looking for new recipes for my foodies.  I have three; four if I count myself.  We have tons of go-to recipes that we love: almost 500 stored in Evernote plus many dogeared cookbooks.  Each week I try to incorporate at least one new recipe.  I don’t always meet that goal but everyone is pumped when I do!

Think of my house as your test kitchen.  I’ll post my own recipes that I’ve developed over the years.  However, most of my recipes are from cooks and bloggers across the web.  You can expect to see round ups of the best crock pot recipes, easy weeknight dinners, and favorite snacks.  I promise to share only tried and true recipes that we love, adding in my own spin and shortcuts.  If my kids eat it, maybe yours will too!

I truly believe that food is love.  My grandmothers would be proud.  The way I cook and think about food goes back to their time, when everyone ate real, whole food and there was no junk food.  Cooking for yourself and your family will make everyone healthier and happier.  It’s made all the difference in the world for us.


This is our kitchen.  Someday I hope to show you these photos as “before” shots.  Don and I have visions of making our kitchen almost commercial with no plans of starting a business.  I’m in the kitchen so much that I’m always coming up with ideas to improve efficiency.  We are constantly adding to our idea books on  Until then, here’s your test kitchen.

Cutting Out Processed Foods

Under the Monkey Bars

There’s a lot of talk about eating clean, cutting out processed foods, whole foods diets, eating organic and non-GMO.  We do all of this and more at our house.  When I decided to clean up our diets, I cut out processed foods first.  Why?  It’s the easiest place to start, and will help you feel healthier faster.  Where to start?

First teach.  Take the time to educate your family about the chemicals in processed food.  Read blogs like 100 Days of Real Food and Food Babe; watch documentaries like Food, Inc. and Fat Sick & Nearly Dead.  Involve the whole family.  It will be a smoother transition if you have support.

Then make changes.  You must clean out your pantry!  Download the app Fooducate and let the kids scan everything with a barcode.  It’s a great way to find out what’s really in your food.  Bean loved this app!  We learned that Thomas’ English Muffins have ingredients linked to asthma and most almond milks contain carrageenan, which causes cancer.  Read each and every label and remove all foods with more than 5 ingredients on the package.  Take out anything that has words you can’t pronounce.  If the package is unopened, you can donate it to your local food pantry.

Under the Monkey Bars

Drinks are the hardest part if you love sugary flavored waters, soda, juice, and flavor shots in your coffee.  Removing these processed drinks from your diet will lower your sugar consumption drastically.  In our house, we drink tap water, freshly brewed tea, milk, and home made juice from our juicer.  That’s it.  We don’t buy any drinks in bottles (wait – except for wine!).

Under the Monkey Bars

Snacks are tough as you transition off processed foods.  Most people think of snacks as something that comes in a box or a bag so it’s a big change in your mindset.  At our house, we call these kind of snacks “pantry snacks.”  My girls know they can have only one per day, but typically it’s far less than that.

Don’t fall victim to fancy packages and claims of “natural” because most are not true.  It’s just marketing.  Think of it this way: the company who makes the food wants you to buy it.  They spend a small fortune researching which color packaging would make you more likely to buy it, or what words to include on the box.  “Natural” is not measured by the same guidelines as organic.

Then there’s the breakfast dilemma.  There is no nutrition in cereal.  I won’t buy cereal.  It does not fill you up or sustain you.  Please stop buying cereal.  Just because other people eat cereal for breakfast doesn’t mean that you should.  Great breakfasts include stovetop oatmeal, eggs, meats, fruits, vegetables, chia seed pudding, yogurt with berries and granola, home made muffins or breads.

Find new recipes.  While you are cutting out processed foods, you’ll need to start eating more whole foods by default.  You cannot truly be healthy unless you cook.  Make extra food whenever you have time to cook.  Try carving out 2 hours once or twice a week to cook.  Make muffins (without sugar!), hummus, black bean dip, granola bars, baked potatoes and sweet potatoes, grilled chicken, and whole meals to freeze.

All of the junk in your food is weighing you down.  It’s fighting against you.  It’s making you irritable, giving you headaches, and making you sick.  Maybe it’s why your kids whine or act out.  Maybe it’s why you need that extra cup of caffeine to make it through the day.

Now is the time.  Your family might be angry with you for a few months, but by then they will start to feel healthier and thank you.  It’s the only way to turn those tastebuds around on your picky eaters.  Be strong.  If you don’t buy the food, they can’t eat it.  You are the enabler.

Do it for yourself, your family, your sanity, your health.  Make it the New Year’s Resolution that you actually keep.  Let me know how you feel this Spring.  If you commit to cutting out processed foods, chances are you will be happier and healthier.  Take the chance.  What have you got to lose?