Disclosure: I received free samples of POM Wonderful mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by POM Wonderful and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
Intuitive eating is a wonderful thing – I have another example of how it’s helped me and my relationship with food in today’s post. Have you ever been told that juice is a no-go? “It’s too high in sugar” or “Don’t drink your calories” or “Just eat the real fruit” are all things I used to tell myself, even when I got hit with the urge to sip on something cold and fruity. As a result, I’d deny my craving for a forbidden food and instead overdo it during a weekend brunch when I rationalized that having juice was OK because it was part of Bottomless Mimosas at the corner breakfast stop….not a great example of a sane, balanced relationship with juice.
My work with Type 1 diabetes started to change that, as I realized that juice actually did have a time and a place. When you’re trying to fight a stubborn low blood sugar, yeah, juice and all it’s tasty natural sugar can do just that. I continued to embrace intuitive eating on my own journey to start including foods I previously restricted or avoided and juice was always one of them. So I was excited when the opportunity to partner with POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice for a recipe contest came up.
I wanted to showcase how the natural sweetness in pomegranate juice (along with it’s balance of pucker-inducing tartness) can complement a breakfast favorite: pancakes! I felt inspired by the fruit infused maple syrups I was seeing at local breakfast and brunch spots, as well as balsamic glaze that gets featured in a lot of my favorite recipes. Why not take pomegranate juice and reduce it down to syrup form for my hearty pancakes? Done deal, let’s do it.
POM Wonderful 100% Juice is powered by antioxidants. The pomegranate is whole-pressed, meaning a unique blend of polyphenol antioxidants from two whole pomegranates – including its fruit, pith and rind – is found in each 8 oz bottle. I started with out 32 fl. oz (4 cups) of juice for this recipe and reduced it to about 1 cup.
Antioxidants can be affected by heat, so the key to creating this pomegranate syrup is simmering low and slow, not a rapid boil that scorches to your pan (also, if you’ve every cut a pomegranate before, you know how they tend to stain every surface they touch! I have a feeling scorched pomegranate juice would not be much fun to scrub). So I did a little bit of reading on pomegranate molasses, a staple in Middle Eastern and Persian cuisines. I learned that while the antioxidant activity in different brands of pomegranate molasses existed, it really came down to how they were prepared. Rest assured that while it wouldn’t be ideal to overheat all your antioxidants, incorporating this Spiced Pomegranate Syrup into recipes can still offer a means of using POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice in a way that tastes great and compliments the rest of your meal.
Antioxidants aren’t the only beneficial property of pomegranate juice. POM Wonderful 100% Juice is a good source of potassium. Each 8 oz bottle contains as much as a medium banana. This is another reason I’ve wholly embraced the opportunity to add juice back into my diet – as a runner who sweats (like, a LOT) replacing electrolytes like potassium while hydrating at the same time is a pretty good deal.
For athletes, strategically including juice after training has some other potential benefits:
- 100% pomegranate juice is powered by unique polyphenols that early research suggests have promising results for post-workout muscle strength recovery. Certain types of polyphenol antioxidants, like those found in pomegranate juice, may help increase nitric oxide bioavailability by protecting it from breaking down in the body. Nitric oxide helps your body get the oxygen and nutrients in needs during exercise.
*Although the research reported is promising, additional clinical research is needed to establish causation and the potential impact of pomegranate polyphenols and exercise.
- Research that includes POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice uses 8 oz per day in its studies on muscle strength recovery, memory and cognition, microbiome, and more.
These whole grain pancakes offer up some other great things of their own. You’ll be getting fiber from the oat and whole wheat flour, a dose of hemp hearts for some plant-based omega-3s, and fluffy texture that’s oh-so-satisfying. As I was finishing up my long run this weekend the thing I was most looking forward to was not my scalding hot shower (as per usual) but these guys…I just really wanted to refuel and enjoy some pancakes!
So check out the recipe below if you’re the DIY pancake type. If that doesn’t sound like you, you can always opt for a boxed mix or substitute your favorite GF flour to make it allergy friendly. The biggest time-saver comes from prepping the syrup ahead of time but if you’ve got the time, this meal can be yours in an hour or less – assuming the syrup won’t completely cool to room temperature, you’ll just have an extra decadent breakfast on your hands. Who could complain about that?
Spiced Pomegranate Syrup Whole Grain Pancakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
For Pancake Mix:
1 1/4 cup rolled oats
1 1/3 cup whole grain flour (may be wheat or GF whole grain flour)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon ground flax
For Pomegranate Syrup
1/4 cup Balsamic glaze
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
For the Pancakes
1 cup buttermilk or plain kefir
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons hemp hearts
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
To prepare the syrup, add the POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice to a saucepan and heat to a simmer on your stovetop. Add the balsamic glaze, cinnamon, and ginger and stir to combine. Stirring occasionally, simmer uncovered until the juice reduces by more than half (about 40-45 minutes) and creates a sticky, molasses-like consistency. Removed from heat and allow to cool while you prep the pancakes.
*Syrup may be made ahead of time if needed.
To create the pancake mix, add the oats to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until the oats are ground to a flour like texture. Add to a large mixing bowl with the other dry ingredients (whole grain flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and ground flax) and stir to combine.
Add the buttermilk or kefir, milk, eggs, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Scoop the batter only a heated skillet or griddle and cook until the batter rises and begins to bubble (about 2 minutes). Flip and cook about 2 minutes longer or until pancake is golden brown. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Garnish the pancakes with fresh blueberries, pomegranate arils, and hemp hearts. Use up to 1/4 cup of the Spiced Pomegranate Syrup to drizzle over the pancakes. Serve immediately.
If making large pancakes, this recipe should yield 8 pancakes to serve two pancakes per person. If making smaller pancakes, yield will vary.
If storing leftover pancakes, allow to cool completely. Place a sheet of waxed or parchment paper between each pancake and store in an airtight container. Refrigerate three to four days or freeze up to three months.
Be sure to also check out the other pomegranate-inspired recipes from fellow dietitians and food bloggers in this Recipe ReDux link-up. It’s the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians. Enjoy!