As far as I'm concerned, the best holiday gift is one that's handmade and edible. And if you can make it in big batches on a budget — and have it be healthy — even better.
That's the thinking behind this delicious pancake and waffle mix. Face-to-face with a whiny child on a Sunday morning, too many otherwise accomplished and adventurous home cooks reach for a box of pre-fab pancake mix. That's a shame, not least because it's easy to make your own mix, using ingredients of your choice, and to do so in a jiffy.
The food police love to vilify pancakes and waffles as nothing more than carbs and sugar, but these guilty pleasures can be nobler than that. At their base, pancakes and waffles depend on a few key ingredients: flour, salt, sugar and leavener. If you swap in whole-wheat flour for at least some of the white flour, add a little flaxseed, slash some of the sugar, and top off the finished product with fresh fruit, you're suddenly looking at a very respectable breakfast. Heck, you even could drizzle a little Grade B maple syrup (my favorite) on top, and it still would be a healthy choice.
When you toss in some flaxseed, you really amp the recipe's nutritional value even as you add a subtle but distinctive nuttiness.
Flaxseed is showing up more frequently on supermarket shelves. I often add a tablespoon or two to my breakfast cereal. Just keep in mind that flaxseed isn't properly digested unless it is ground. You can buy it pre-ground or grind it yourself in a spice grinder. After you open the package, keep it in the refrigerator or freezer; it goes rancid quickly.
At holiday time, you can measure the batch into pretty containers, attach a nice hand-written label and recipe with a ribbon, and consider it done. The deluxe version? Add a little package of dried fruit or a tiny bottle of maple syrup.