Yet again after a hard 30k this morning Mark and I sat down for the obligatory pancakes and cappuccino before starting on the obligatory conversation about the benefits of said meal. The cafe we are currently frequenting do the most awesome pancakes with a generous topping of fruit and they are buttermilk pancakes, which sounds healthy? I posted a photo last week as we are creatures of habit us runners and ran the same 30k loop as last week, with the same ‘treat’ meal. My question is though, is this a treat or more a requirement to refuel ? I’m hoping the later because as runners we give up so much in life ( I think so far this year I’ve had 4 beers and maybe 3-4 glasses of red wine; which is a pretty good year for me, ‘good’ in the sense of more than normal!!) As I mentioned in an earlier post I have no social life and my Wife just goes out with her friends leaving me to babysit the kids and retreat to my bed for the early night pre-run. Karen, my Wife, even mentioned yesterday that her friends see us a separate people in a relationship i.e. they don’t see us socially together. Harsh, but probably a bit too close to the mark for my liking.
Anyway I digress, back to pancakes. I googled ‘are pancakes good for you’ and surprising enough there was enough evidence, from running sites, that they are, so they should be seen as treats but as compulsory recovery meals. So here is the answer to all runners prayers everywhere. This ,together with carbo-loading pre-marathon, might be just enough to make it all worth while, with extra maple syrup……article by Ted Spiker http://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition/the-ultimate-guide-to-pancakes
On Friday morning, I meet five runners for a four-mile spin through Savannah, Georgia. Lydia DePue leads the running program at the local Fleet Feet Sports shop, which celebrates Fridays with a costume run; hence, her bunny ears. She mapped today’s course, which starts and ends at Clary’s Cafe. We have two items on our agenda: (1) an easy run amid the Southern scenery and (2) a righteous order of pancakes afterward.
As one who often falls into the rut of running by myself on the same flat route on the same nondescript roads, I enjoy every step of this group outing. We run on the cobblestones, under the oaks, and along the river. We run through the historic Colonial Park Cemetery and Forsyth Park. We talk about race strategy and Savannah’s must-eat-there restaurants.
I want to respond, “Some people?”
As runners, we live in this loop: We burn. We earn. We yearn.
Of all the foods that a runner might use to lube the anatomical engine, there’s little doubt about what tops the list—those circular stacks of flour that can be morphed into any flavor, texture, or style you want. Buttery, syrupy, nutty, fruity, mushy, crispy, cakey, creamy, chunky, sugary, chocolaty. Short stacks, high stacks. As big as a catcher’s mitt, as small as a monocle. One, three, five, a dozen, oh sure, I’ll finish yours, too. For a runner, the pancake is to a weekend morning as a turkey is to Thanksgiving, as a hot dog is to a ball game, as a martini is to James Bond.
Soon, we circle back to Clary’s (established 1903), a local landmark featured in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil—an appropriate fact, I think, when discussing the lore and legend of the pancake.
Aah, pancakes. So good. And so evil—if left to the renegade whims of tongue and stomach.
After the run, we sit at an outside table next to the road we ran on. The talk ricochets around all things running—fund-raising, expo locations, Boston, Dean Karnazes, and something called a double-pump, which takes you over the Talmadge Memorial Bridge three times in a back-to-back 5-K and 10-K.
While my mouth talks, my mouth waits.
I order two pancakes. On one side, they’re tree-bark brown. On the other, more doe-colored. But their arrival is announced by their size: They’re so big that I can’t even see the plate—a helicopter could land on them. I add butter, I add syrup. With coffee and a side of bacon, each bite of pancake is firm yet soft, sweet yet substantial, light yet filling. Perfect gustatory balance.
This, I know, is the finish line.
Zoom in to our table at Clary’s, and you’ll see a bunch of sweaty-headed, synthetic-fabric-wearing runners eating a satisfying postrun breakfast. Zoom out and you’ll see that same scene played out every weekend in just about every neighborhood where people run: Athletes of all speeds and sizes talking about runs of past and future over pancakes of all flavors and diameters. A pancake’s beauty, of course, lies in its simplicity. But the endless potential variations are what make them sublime. (I like mine brown. My wife likes them mushy. My kids like Uncle Tim’s.)
Though some might argue that pasta or GU represents the perfect running fuel, others make the case that nothing stacks up to, well, stacks of pancakes. “They’re a dense source of energy, meaning that you don’t have to stuff your face to get a great deal of calories out of them,” says Lisa Dorfman, R.D., director of The University of Miami’s graduate studies program on nutrition for health and human performance.
But for runners, they’re more than that. They’re warm and spongy. Indulgent yet fulfilling. The ideal vehicle to carry berries or nuts (good) or buttery and syrupy (evil) passengers. They can be glammed up with all the flair of the Vegas strip, but hold up wonderfully on their own in their pure nakedness. “Pancakes reflect our sit-down breakfast time, now that we’ve evolved into a ‘shove a bar in your mouth and call it breakfast’ culture,” Dorfman says. “The pancake is a good-feeling kind of food.”
There is evidence of pancake-looking creations from many centuries ago, and perhaps the first English recipe was recorded in the 1588 book called Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchen. “It was just the natural thing you’d do if you had flour and were trying to make something quick,” says food historian Ken Albala, author of Pancake: A Global History.
Different cultures have different recipes and names, Albala points out. The word pancake originates from an ancient Greek flat cake called plakous. Today, the French make them paper-thin and crispy and call them crepes. In Russia, they’re known as blini, slightly thicker than a crepe. And in the U.S. and Canada, we call them pancakes, hotcakes, griddlecakes, or flapjacks and make them thick and fluffy.
Besides being a comfort food to many cultures, pancakes are a staple for athletes. Up until the 1960s, the feeling in sports (bred by football coaches) was that you ate steak and eggs before the big game. But in the late ’60s and early ’70s, a shift took place. As research pointed us to the same conclusions and the numbers of fitness runners grew, we saw a rise in so-called carbo-loading.
“I was doing a book with [football coach] Hank Stram,” says marathon-coaching legend Hal Higdon. “He had his football players having spaghetti the night before the game. We started to figure out that the big lineman who needed to have energy in the fourth quarter was the same as the runner getting past the 20-mile mark in a marathon.”
So began the ritual of the carbo-load: It started in the form of pasta and potatoes the night before a race, but it eventually extended into traditional breakfast foods as well, such as waffles, bagels, and pancakes. Logic (or maybe hunger hormones) would tell us that if we burn carbs during a hard run, one must replenish carbs afterward. And, by gawd, after we run we replenish with pancakes. And syrup that trickles down our ‘cakes like a Colorado stream. And melting butter that, as you decorate your stack with it, makes you feel like you’re living in slow-mo.
The love of pancakes struck U.S. Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall as a baby. He would stand in his crib and wait for his mom in the morning. When he saw her, he spoke: “Pancakes.”
It was one of his first words.
“Yeah, we had a lot of them growing up,” Hall says now.
As Hall got older, he drifted away from them. But when he started running marathons in 2007, he would wake up starving. Cereal wouldn’t cut it. So one day, he threw a scoop of Muscle Milk (for protein) into some pancake mix. And that was that. Now, Hall eats one big pancake a day. On the road, he totes a hot plate and fry pan to make his own gluten-free recipe.
“Sometimes, I throw in sour cream, ricotta cheese, and chocolate chips,” he says. “They sit great in my stomach and fill me up. After workouts, they really hit the spot.”
On July 4, I enter the Killer Dunes Race in Nags Head, North Carolina—a two-mile race over the largest sand dunes in the east. Throughout, my legs and lungs burn, as my 12-year-old twin boys blaze ahead of me. Afterward, my boys, wife, and I make a beeline toward Stack ‘Em High, the local pancake joint.
As I wait in line dripping sweat on the people behind me, I look at the chalkboard menu: Chocolate Crunch, Chocolate Monkey, Chocolate Nutter, Berry Berry, Berry Crunch, Blue Crunch, Blue Monkey, Crunchy Monkey. Some nutty, some decadently sweet, all bleeping beautiful.
I make my choice: a chocolate coconut topping called Coco Loco. A Mounds-bar-flavored pancake, if you will. And oh, I will? I take every bite of that sweet pancake the way I take every step up those dunes. Slo-o-o-o-o-wly.
Between the race and the meal, it feels like bodily equilibrium. Work hard, eat hearty. And that’s what it’s all about, really—that any of us can do the work and enjoy the rewards, whether we’re struggling runners, lifelong age-groupers, or elites.
Like all of us who live in this euphoric loop of burning and earning, Hall knows the power and majesty of our favorite fuel. “If I could eat one thing for the rest of my life,” he says, “it would be pancakes.”
In the October issue of Runner’s World, we featured 10 unique pancake concoctions based on RW contributing chef Pam Anderson’s Multigrain Medallions recipe. But even that wasn’t enough to satisfy our hunger–so we came up with 40 more.
By CAITLYN DIIMIG
Wake-up Call: Mix orange zest and nutmeg into batter.
Big Chipper: Mix chocolate chips into batter and top finished pancakes with whipped cream.
Banana Nut: Mix chopped walnuts and banana slices into batter.
Twice-baked: Mix cooked mashed potato, thyme, and cheddar cheese into batter.
Berry Medley: Top pancakes with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.
Puppy Chow: Mix chocolate chips into batter. When pancakes have cooked, spread peanut butter on top and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
Lemon Zing: Mix lemon zest or lemon juice and poppy seed into batter.
‘Cakesgiving: Mix pumpkin puree and nutmeg into batter.
Pancake S’more: Mix mini marshmallows into batter and top finished pancakes with cocoa powder.
Hawaiian: Cook Canadian bacon/diced ham and add to batter. Top cooked pancakes with diced pineapple.
Vitamin C Booster: Mix fresh raspberries and lemon zest into batter.
Peaches ‘n’ Cream: Top cooked pancakes with fresh peaches and mascarpone.
Down Under: Mix banana slices into batter and spread Nutella onto cooked pancakes.
Pineapple Upside-down Pancake: Mix diced pineapple and brown sugar into batter and top cooked pancakes with fresh sweet cherries.
PB & J: Spread peanut butter and strawberry preserves (or a fresh strawberry puree) on top of cooked pancakes.
Patriot Cakes: Top cooked pancakes with raspberries, blueberries, and plain yogurt (mix in vanilla extract with yogurt).
Café Hotcake: Substitute Chai tea latte concentrate for milk in the original recipe and mix in a pumpkin puree into batter.
Tropical Treat: Mix banana slices into batter and top cooked pancakes with fresh-cut mango and papaya. Use blender to puree fresh-cut pineapple and pour over cooked pancakes.
Cherry Cocoa: Top cooked pancakes with fresh cherries and a sprinkle of cocoa powder.
Caramel Apple: Mix diced apples into batter and top cooked pancakes with caramel drizzle.
Island Style: Mix unsweetened coconut flakes and lime zest into batter and top cooked pancakes with chopped macadamia nuts.
Fiesta ‘Cakes: Mix pureed black beans into batter. Top cooked pancakes with sour cream, chives, and salsa.
Christmas ‘Cakes: Mix peppermint extract into batter and top cooked pancakes with cocoa powder.
Pom-cakes: Top cooked pancakes with fresh pomegranate syrup and finely chopped mint leaves.
Citrus Craze: Substitute orange juice for milk in original recipe, mix lemon zest into batter, and top cooked pancakes with mandarin oranges.
Carrot Pancakes: Mix shredded carrot, fresh ginger, and diced apricot into batter.
Sweet Southerner: Mix sweet potato puree, a splash of bourbon into batter, chopped pecans, and brown sugar into batter.
Crunchy Cakes: Mix cinnamon and granola into batter and top cooked pancakes with plain Greek yogurt, honey, and more granola for an added crunch.
Strawberry Rhubarb: Mix rhubarb into batter. Puree strawberries and pour onto cooked pancakes.
All-American: Top cooked pancakes with apple slices and vanilla ice cream.
Vegan Special: Substitute soy milk for milk in original recipe. Mix silken tofu and cocoa powder into batter. Top cooked pancakes with blackberries.
Ricotta Pear: Mixed diced pears into batter and top cooked pancakes with ricotta cheese and maple syrup.
Curry Coconut ‘Cakes: Substitute coconut milk for milk in the original recipe. Mix curry powder, turmeric, fresh-cut peaches, and mango into batter.
Lumberjack: Cook bacon, chop it, and add to batter. Top cooked pancakes with maple syrup.
Key Lime: Top cooked pancakes with whipped cream cheese and lime zest.
Green Dream: Mix finely chopped pistachios, goat cheese, and lemon zest into batter.
Mediterranean: Mix feta cheese into batter and top cooked pancakes with Kalamata olives.
Speakeasy Special: Mix a splash of Grand Marnier and orange zest into batter. Top cooked pancakes with sliced almonds and honey.
Beer Batter: Substitute a dark, heavy beer or a raspberry beer for milk in the original recipe. Mix orange zest and lemon zest into batter.
Funky Blue: Mix brown sugar into batter and top cooked pancakes with a caramelized onion and blue cheese spread.
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