Gluten-Free Pancakes for Diabetics

Sunday Brunch for Gluten-Free Diabetics

One in 5 Americans is diabetic or pre-diabetic at a cost of $200 billion per year. An equal amount of Americans die from diabetes related complications as they do from all infectious diseases combined (approximately 250,000 per year for both). Diabetes is the biggest public health threat facing America in the coming decade. Yet, it doesn’t make the national headlines like swine flu or HIV and therefore doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Currently there has been a shift in thinking about the cause of diabetes, from obesity to diet-induced inflammation due to an over stimulated immune system. This shift occurred for two reasons: (1) recent research has shown that obesity without inflammation doesn’t result in insulin resistance; and (2) not everyone with diabetes is overweight (1).

Eating the proper foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein) and not eating foods that spike insulin levels (processed foods, refined wheat, and sugar) are key steps to managing diabetes, even if taking drugs. Many people feel frustrated with what they perceive as limited food choices of a diabetic food plan. But in reality over half of our calories come from two foods, refined wheat and sugar. So when you replace the wheat and sugar in your diet with fresh foods and less common whole grains (such as buckwheat), you will discover a whole delicious world of foods that help you reduce the inflammation in your body that causes insulin resistance. In addition, wheat contains gluten, a protein known to cause inflammation in as many as one out of three people. Therefore, it is important to eat a gluten-free diet.

Sunday morning brunch favorites, such as low glycemic pancakes and waffles, seem to be one of the most sought after recipes by those wishing to manage their diabetes through proper gluten-free eating. The Buckwheat and Oat Pancakes recipe below is a perfect solution- high in soluble fiber and plant proteins that help control both blood sugar and hunger, by keeping us feeling full longer.

Buckwheat is not a cereal grain but a fruit seed related to rhubarb and naturally gluten-free. Not only has buckwheat found to lower blood glucose levels but it is a rich source of magnesium, a mineral involved in the process of glucose and insulin secretion. Similar to oats, it is high in soluble fiber and a natural source of iron. In fact, a quarter cup buckwheat contains 6 grams of fiber, twice the amount found in oats.

Contrary to many resources, oats are also naturally gluten-free but, may become contaminated with wheat in the field or during the manufacturing process. Therefore, if you are gluten intolerant, it is important to buy oats certified gluten-free. Serve the pancakes with sautéed apples or pears, and up the fiber count to 9 grams per serving, 25% of a daily requirement of 35 grams of dietary fiber. Most of the fiber in apples and pears is in the skin, so buy organic seasonal varieties, and don’t peel before using. And apples contain flavonoids; compounds in foods that help neutralize inflammation in the body. An apple a day can keep the doctor away! And just for good measure, there is cinnamon, a spice known for its anti-inflammatory properties, in the sautéed apples. Live long, eat well, and make it gluten-free.


Dr. Claudia Pillow

For more gluten-free, good health recipes visit Dr. Claudia Pillow is coauthor of The Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook: the Delicious Way to Strengthen Your Immune System and Neutralize Inflammation.

Buckwheat and Oat Pancakes (or Waffles)

Makes 8 pancakes or 4 waffles
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour*
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flax seed meal (optional)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cardamom (optional)
1 cup buttermilk or almond milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg, well beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Butter or canola oil to grease skillet
1. Preheat a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat (or follow instructions for waffle maker).
2. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and mix with a whisk. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, canola oil, egg, and vanilla and then add them to the dry ingredients. Mix gently until all ingredients are moist. The batter will be lumpy.
3. Brush the skillet with butter or canola oil. Pour the batter (by 1/4 cupful) into the heated skillet. Turn the pancakes when the bubbles on the top surface of the pancakes start to pop. Cook the pancakes about 1 to 2 minutes longer after turning and then remove them from the pan. (If the edges are flat when you cook them, the pan is too cool. If the pancakes brown before the little bubbles appear on the top and have time to pop, the pan is too hot.) Serve with sautéed apples.

* Oat flour can be made from gluten-free oats by grinding for 1 minute in a food processor.

Sautéed Apples

4 organic medium apples, cored and sliced into 8 sections
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup apple cider (or apple brandy)

1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

2. Add the slices apples and cinnamon and sauté 4 minutes.

3. Pour apple cider over apples and cook until apples are tender and the sauce thickens. Serve warm.

(1) University of California – San Diego (2007, November 7). Type 2 Diabetes: Inflammation, Not Obesity, Cause of Insulin Resistance. Science Daily. Retrieved January 7, 2010, from¬ /releases/2007/11/071106133106.htm