banana chocolate chip flaxseed pancakes

Comfort in pancakes (banana chocolate chip)

11 November 2016

When I’m stressed, I don’t want a beer, I want a bakery. Or to bake something. Science backs me up on this: sugar reduces the stress hormone cortisol in our systems (don’t try to substitute fake sugar, it doesn’t have the same effect). Even before eating, the warm olfactory combination of flour, butter and sugar in the air is deeply comforting.

My friend Nicole texted me, despondent, the morning after the election: “I need to bake.” And I wanted to send her rich, gooey, sugary comfort. Instead, I have pancakes, but they are really good ones – sweet with banana and maple syrup, pocketed with melty chocolate chips. And symbolically I think we all need to start a new day off right, with love and comfort and hope.

Like many of you, I’m still recovering from the shock of election results. The near-balanced popular vote masks the reality that many areas of the country tipped heavily in favor of one candidate or the other. In my home state of California, Hillary Clinton was the clear winner, but after choosing Barack Obama twice, my husband’s home state of Ohio this time chose Donald Trump by a surprisingly comfortable margin.

In my Silicon Valley community, people cannot imagine anyone voting for a poorly qualified candidate who is unabashedly bully, boor and bigot. But it’s simplistic to assume Trump voters support his worst qualities, when polls clearly show that most Americans – even many of Trump’s own voters – don’t like or trust him. Most Americans don’t trust Hillary Clinton either, even many of her voters. This election was murky shades of gray all around.

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit what Buckeyes fondly refer to as the great state of Ohio, I want you to know that the culture of Ohio is extraordinarily warm and welcoming. The people are sensible and pragmatic, there is more diversity than you might expect, and Ohio has a history of freedom and acceptance dating back to its central role in the Underground Railroad.

But economic times have not been great for a long, long while. I know hardworking, talented people that used to make an excellent salary become marginalized in recent years to limited hourly work with no benefits. They are discouraged, demoralized and low on hope.

I think millions of decent people – conflicted citizens who did not want to admit their leanings to pollsters – quietly voted for Donald Trump out of a profound desperation for change. They held their noses and voted for Trump in spite of his rudeness, derisive dismissiveness, and lack of policy knowledge. Because the one thing that was worse than Donald Trump for president was more of the same.

This was a dispiriting, cynical election. I think one thing Americans can agree on is that between two extensively flawed candidates, there were no perfect choices. We all want a better future for ourselves and our families. And every one of us made the best choice we could.

The election is over, at long last. It’s time to set down our fighting words and pointed fingers. It’s time to move ahead with hope.

We make our collective voices heard in elections, but we also speak for and act on what we believe every day. Acts of citizenship don’t just happen once every four years. They happen every day, when we stand up for and support one another with understanding and compassion for our shared human experience.

Ugh politics. Shall we move onto pancakes? Pancakes are cozy weekend mornings with loved ones. Just what we need.

This is really a buttermilk pancake recipe, but I never have buttermilk. I use a mix of plain yogurt and milk, and it’s a perfect substitute. You could also use kefir if you have it.

pancake ingredients

I always make these whole wheat, because no one ever notices the difference. I stock whole wheat pastry flour just for pancakes, because it’s more light-textured than regular whole wheat flour. It’s not in every store, but I do find it at regular chain grocery stores in both Ohio and California. And ground flaxseed is now everywhere.

whole wheat pastry flour and flaxseed meal

I made these for years without banana, but once I started adding banana to the batter it seems incomplete without it.

mashing banana

Wet ingredients get mixed into dry.

wet ingredients into dry

Then fold in the mashed banana.

adding banana

When I’m really on the ball, I’ll have bacon cooking in the oven while I make pancakes on the stovetop. And yes, I totally make two pounds, just for the six of us. Because leftover bacon is better than fighting over bacon.

bacon in the oven

Pop a few chocolate chips in each one. Or blueberries, for my non-chocolate girl.

chocolate chip pancakes

The key to pancakes is tweaking the temperature. Too little heat, and they take forever to cook. Too much heat, and they burn before they cook through. The right temperature is perfectly golden.

flipped pancakes

This is a new day, with new opportunities. The only way forward is together.

flaxseed pancake plate

For more cortisol reduction, other sweets from the archives:

Banana Chocolate Chip Flaxseed Pancakes
Everyone in my family adores these pancakes, with their sweet banana flavor and melty chocolate chips. The only pancakes that don’t give me the lead-belly feeling that other pancakes do.


  • 1 cup flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (can also use kefir, or plain yogurt diluted with milk – also see regular milk variation below)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ripe or overripe banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Regular milk variation

  • 1 1/4 cups milk (instead of buttermilk)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (NO baking soda)


  1. In a bowl mix flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl mix buttermilk, maple syrup, egg and vanilla, if using. (Buttermilk or yogurt/milk makes thicker pancakes than the regular milk variation.)
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Add mashed banana. Stir until combined but do not overmix.
  4. Heat skillet on medium heat and add light coating of butter or oil to pan.
  5. Using small ladle or 1/4 c measuring cup, pour pancake batter to form individual rounds. Turn heat to low. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of pancakes (about 4-5 per pancake works for me).
  6. When bubbles start to appear on the surface of the batter, use spatula to flip pancake.
  7. Cook until golden brown (watch carefully, as the second side cooks more quickly than the first). If you find the pancake gets too dark before it cooks through, turn the heat down a bit.
  8. Serve hot with maple syrup.

Serves 4.


  • Yogurt-milk substitution: depending on the thickness of your yogurt, you might use 1/2 yogurt, 1/2 milk, or more yogurt and less milk if your yogurt is runny to start. The recipe will work just as well either way, but the thicker your liquid, the thicker your pancakes will be.
  • The key to pancakes is tweaking the temperature. Too little heat, and they take forever to cook. Too much heat, and they burn before they cook through. The right temperature is perfectly golden.
  • You can cover and refrigerate leftover batter to use within a day or so. Just give it a good stir before you use it again, in case some liquid separates out.
  • Blueberries are also great with the banana pancakes, instead of chocolate chips.

Here’s the link to a printable version.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen 11 November 2016 at 2:18 pm

THANK YOU for such comforting words – AND for such a comforting recipe!


Heidi Fink 11 November 2016 at 3:46 pm

Those look so good, Lilian! And Yes, they will provide some comfort.


Kim 11 November 2016 at 4:09 pm

So ironic – I have been cooking pancakes for the last two mornings!! Can’t wait to try these. xo


BK 11 November 2016 at 4:15 pm

Chinese Grandma 2020! A pancake in every pan! ??


Ashley 12 November 2016 at 8:53 pm

Thanks for your thoughts and the recipe. I’ve been following your blog for a few years, beginning when the kitchn featured your kitchen and balsamic dressing recipe, it’s my favorite salad dressing! I just wanted to say thank you so much for your thoughts about the election. I’m from a rural area and know many people that voted for Trump that I admire and who are very loving but it seems most of the people I follow online believe that everyone that voted for him is everything that he is and worse.


Lindsey 18 December 2016 at 5:21 pm

Soooo good. Great! Used flaxseed instead of meal, and they were yummy.


cg 19 December 2016 at 1:44 pm

yay lindsey! good tip, thanks for sharing. happy holidays!


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