The ancient cereal grain that is subject to this article is sorghum. It originated from Africa and Australia and has been used for more than 5,000 years! The sorghum plant is a member of the grass plant family called Panicoideae and is thought to be the fifth most important cereal crop grown in the world. Due to its multiple uses (it is used both as a human and animal food, as well as a fuel), it is becoming very popular in the USA as well.
One of the most important features of sorghum is the fact that is gluten free. That was the inspiration for me to use it in pancakes. I was on a mission to make pancakes healthier in general. Pancakes are definitely one of the favorite sweet treats in our home and I do make a lot of them. So, I figured I should probably take it easy on sugar and refined flour. I do not intend to become overweight or give my kids bad teeth.
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So, I did some research and decided to experiment with sorghum for the first time. The only concern was if the pancakes would get a “green light” from the kids. They did. The secret is in chocolate chips. Add (dark) chocolate chips to any pancake recipe and it’ll pass with flying colors!
Health Benefits of Sorghum in Pancakes
Sorghum is one of the most nutritive grains. It is rich in protein, B vitamins, iron and dietary fiber, which makes it very good for the hormonal, digestive, and cardiovascular health. It is also a powerful antioxidant and helps reduce the risks of cancer, heart disease, neurological diseases, diabetes, etc.
For me, the most important feature of sorghum is the fact that it is GMO-free. “Unlike corn and some wheat crops, sorghum grains are grown from traditional hybrid seeds that combine several types of sorghum grasses. This is a natural method that has been used for centuries and does not require biotechnology, making it non-transgenic (non-GMO food) that doesn’t come with the same risks. Why is this an important point? Genetically modified foods are now being linked to worsened allergies, learning disabilities, digestive issues, and inflammation.”
How to Use Sorghum in Pancake Recipes
Sorghum can be found in gluten-free flour blends or sold on its own as sorghum flour. If you decide to use plain sorghum flour, make sure you buy 100% unrefined and unbleached sorghum flour. This flour usually has a smooth texture and a very mild taste and is a great gluten-free substitute for whole wheat.
However, using it on its own may probably not be a great idea because it does not tend to rise like other lighter flours. It gives best results when mixed with other types of flours. Sorghum should comprise about 20-30% of the mix. For gluten-free pancake recipe combine it with rice flour or potato starch.
Gluten acts as a natural “binder” in pancake recipes, so when preparing a gluten-free recipe use other binders like xanthan gum or cornstarch (add 1/2 teaspoon of them per cup of sorghum flour). To provide enough moisture and softness, use slightly more oil or eggs in the pancake recipe.
You can also use sweet sorghum, also called “sorghum molasses”. Sweet sorghum is any of the many varieties of the sorghum grass whose stalks have a high sugar content. Use it both as a sweetener in the pancake batter or as a topping.
And finally, sorghum beer, which is widely used in South Africa. As you might know, a cup of beer contributes extra fluffiness to pancakes. Oh, and beer pancakes are also called mancakes. Enjoy!