Something Different
Week of October 23, 2006

A Spooky Halloween Breakfast

By Dana Jacobi for the
American Institute for Cancer Research

On Saturday mornings, my family had a tradition.  My father and mother alternated making breakfasts.  My father made the only thing he knew how to make, scrambled eggs with onions and green peppers.  Because he carefully browned the onions and peppers and knew how to keep the eggs soft and moist, they were very good. 

My mother often made pancakes and indulged her creative side, experimenting with ingredients or different approaches.  Once she mixed strawberry jam into the batter to sweeten it instead of adding sugar.  Not a success:  the pancakes came out pinkish inside and kind of sticky.  She had a real hit on her hands, however, when she made buckwheat cakes with wild rice and fresh blueberries added to the batter.

I loved it whenever Mom was feeling artistic and dropped the batter onto the griddle to make fun shapes.  I recall a teapot made from a wide oval with a loopy handle at one end and an s-curved spout at the other.

There was big fat pussycat made of two cakes, one above the other, with two ears on top and a long arc of a tail on one side.

If it was her turn on the Saturday before a holiday, I knew to expect a themed surprise.  One year Mom outdid herself for Halloween with what she called Bewitching Nachos.  These were corn chips topped with melted Cheddar, black bean salsa and chopped hard-cooked eggs.  The Halloween colors looked great, but all that saturated fat packed a hefty caloric punch.  And nachos just never seemed right as a breakfast option; we found ourselves missing her pancakes.  

This year I’m updating to a healthier Halloween breakfast idea with time-tested kid appeal.  We’ll simply take Mom’s trusty pumpkin pancake recipe and griddle up some spooky shapes. For jack o’lanterns, make an oval and add a little stem on top.  For ghosts, spread the batter into a triangle, making it wavy at the bottom.  Don’t worry if the shapes are not precise. To scare up the right effect, use dried cranberries or halved green grapes for eyes and chocolate chips for a jack o’lantern smile.

Ghostly Pumpkin Pancakes

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup canned puréed pumpkin
2 large eggs
1 cup low-fat buttermilk  (see note)
Cooking spray
Dried blueberries and cranberries, raisins,
   halved grapes, chocolate chips (optional) for garnish

Combine the flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in large bowl. Whisk together the pumpkin, eggs and buttermilk in another bowl until well blended. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ones just until blended. The batter will be as thick as cake batter.

Set a heavy skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray.  For each pancake, take 1/4 cup batter and ladle it into the pan to make a pancake that is about 4 inches across. Once the pancakes puff up, and the edges look beige, about 3 minutes, turn pancakes, and brown them on the second side. Transfer the pancakes to a plate, and repeat, making 12 pancakes. Serve immediately, accompanied by maple syrup.

For pumpkin-shaped pancakes, spread the batter into an oval. Using a teaspoon, add some batter at the center of the top to make a stem.  For a ghost, spread the batter asymmetrically, with wavy edges, adding extra batter to form a triangle at the top.  To make a face for either, after turning the pancake, gently push in dried cranberries for eyes and blueberries for a mouth, or use a row of chocolate chips to make the mouth.

Makes twelve 4-inch pancakes. Per pancake: 81 calories, 2 g. total fat (0 g. saturated fat), 13 g. carbohydrate, 4 g. protein, 1 g. dietary fiber, 179 mg. sodium.

 Note: If using fat-free buttermilk, add 1 tsp. canola oil to the batter along with the liquid ingredients.

“Something Different” is written for the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) by Dana Jacobi, author of The Joy of Soy and recipe creator for AICR’s Stopping Cancer Before It Starts.

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AICR’s Nutrition Hotline is a free service that allows you to ask a registered dietitian questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. Access it on-line at or by phone (1-800-843-8114) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday-Friday. AICR is the only major cancer charity focused exclusively on the link between diet, nutrition and cancer. It provides education programs that help Americans learn to make changes for lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers. It has provided more than $78 million for research in diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR’s Web address is

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