Mmmm…finally an all-natural protein pancake that tastes great and doesn’t contain any weird-tasting protein powders. While I am certainly not against protein powder, and enjoy it in granola bars and smoothies, I am not quite sure if I am ready to cross over into adding it to my pancakes quite yet. Luckily I stumbled upon this fantastic recipe from Running With Spoons, which includes oats, bananas, egg whites and yogurt—no bizarre flavored powders to be found!
Besides the noticeable taste (I liken it to self tanner—no matter how many times companies tell you that their product is unscented or that it has “none of that self-tanner smell,” there is a specific chemically smell common in all self tanning products that is usually unavoidable), I think that part of me still automatically associates protein powders with extreme body builders who are seeking an over-the-top look, à la Arnold Schwarzenegger in his Mr. Olympia days. I know that this is an unfair bias, especially since the use of protein powder is incredibly high among normal, healthy, active individuals. Many food bloggers are including it in pancake batter, which adds a ton of protein to a more carbohydrate-heavy food, making pancakes a more nutritionally balanced meal.
As I brainstormed trying to add a bit more natural, whole-food protein to my pancakes, I couldn’t help thinking of Michelangelo’s muscular figures in the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling fresco. Completed in 1512, Michelangelo’s masterpiece is one of the most well known examples of High Renaissance art. Divided into sections, the ceiling shows the narrative of the Book of Genesis in the center, divided into 10 specific scenes, including perhaps the most famous of the series—Creation of Adam. Surrounding the main action are depictions of ancestors of Christ, mixed together with figures of prophets and sibyls, which are then turn in decorated with swarms of muscular nude youths or ignudi. Throughout the fresco, Michelangelo creates an atmosphere of action with his many figures, all engaged in something rather than sitting calmly among thrones or quietly posing.
It is Michelangelo’s specific rendering of the figures that connects this body of work with the (close!), but not quite as holy protein pancake. The figures are all very similar in body type: broad, muscular and flexible, the result of Michelangelo’s use of live male models. Even the women have large, powerful bodies, the ripples of their muscles are a bit softer, but there nonetheless. This can clearly be seen in his Libyan Sibyl, whose back and shoulders are visible in her strapless, flowy tunic, emphasized by her pose, as she twists to hold the heavy
book behind her.
While I am no fitness or nutrition professional, I like to think that the extra protein in these tasty pancakes will give me the push I need to start my day; whether I am on my way to work, the gym, or any activity, adding a little “oomph” to my breakfast is never a bad thing! Though I don’t see myself becoming Sibyl-like muscular, I do understand the importance of having a breakfast that gives you the energy you need to start your day in an active way, and for me, this is the perfect choice!
Banana Oatmeal Protein Pancakes
¾ cup old fashioned oats
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 banana, mashed
4 egg whites
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
4 tablespoons milk
Add all ingredients to a food processor, and pulse until mixture reaches a uniform consistency. Warm a pan over medium-low heat and spray with a non-stick spray, or swipe with a stick of butter. When the pan is hot enough (when you flick a couple of drops of water on the pan, it should sizzle), use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop out pancake portions, being sure to leave room between the batter to cook properly—I usually cook 2-3 pancakes at a time on a standard-sized frying pan. Let the pancakes cook for a couple minutes on each side; flip the pancakes when the edges of the batter are bubbly, and look set. Divide between two plates and serve warm with real maple syrup and fresh fruit.
Recipe adapted from Running with Spoons, serves 2
Featured art: Michelangelo, Libyan Sibyl, 1508-1512, Sistine Chapel, fresco
Michelangelo, Studies for the Libyan Sibyl, 1510-11, chalk on paper