Banana-Oat Pancakes (Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

Growing up, summer Sunday mornings meant my Grandpa was making dozens of pancakes from Bisquick and old milk for his grandchildren. He’d take special requests for blueberry pancakes, or for pancakes shaped like letters, or for simply more – there are pancake eating records next to various water sport records in the family record book. But as much as we love Bisquick, sometimes we crave something marginally healthier or that we can eat with friends who have dietary restrictions. And thus, sometimes we make banana-oat pancakes.

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We first made this recipe when Belle was newly 3, while Buddy hung out in his high chair. At this point, Belle’s speech was still developing slightly behind timeline. One of the targets was to work on the actual speech: counting with one-to-one correspondence, and just chatting about the recipe in a low-stress kind of way.

Peeling bananas, with other ingredients scattered around the counter.
“I don’t want to eat bananas for breakfast, I want pancakes!” “You got it, kid. Keep peeling those three bananas.”

“Belle, the recipe says we need three bananas – can you get us three bananas?”

“One, two, three, four, five,” as she touches four bananas.

“We just need three,” as I guide her hand, grasping each banana and physically moving it to the side, “one, two, three.” (It’s helpful to have the bananas pre-separated.)

“Now we need three eggs.”

“It’s an egg family! I need the egg family!”

“Just three eggs, the mama, papa, and baby. Count with me: one, two, three.”

Counting eggs for banana-oat pancakes
Putting the egg family in their family car (inverted food processor top) on the way to recipe-town.

Validating her concept that the carton of eggs is a “family” (wherever that came from) by using family language helps me deflect back to the counting target without getting sucked into a fight over whether or not it’s a family. Meanwhile, the ability to separately move each object helps us associate each number with a discrete object, as opposed to part of a whole (the bunch, the carton). Having slightly more objects than we need – four or five bananas when the recipe calls for three – helps us practice stopping at the desired number (an executive function skill).

Food processor safe spot
Keep those hands on the safe spot, and out of the way of whirling blades.

The other major target was food processor safety: because there are sharp blades, and because Belle is young, we adapted our stand mixer “safe spot” for the food processor. Hands must go on the front of the food processor while it’s on, no matter what, or it gets turned off. If the top of the processor is off, no hands can go near the chop/grind buttons, but they can grab the handle with a “helping hand.”

Skills worked on:

  • Early math: counting
  • Early math: one to one correspondence
  • Kitchen safety
  • Fine motor: peeling, cracking, scooping, tipping
  • Food prep!

Equipment needed:

  • Food processor (or blender) with at least 4 cups of space
  • Griddle (or large frying pan)
  • Ladle
  • Spatula
  • Bowl for cracking eggs, optional
Tipping dry ingredients into banana pancake mixture
Things are much easier to add when there’s still space in the food processor.

This recipe is adapted from, cutting all the sugar since we find the bananas provide enough sweetness and the cinnamon/vanilla flavoring tricks us into thinking there’s sugar present.

Recipe (15 min prep, 15 min cook, yield: 15-16 3″ pancakes):

  • 3 bananas
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 c rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Oil for pan (vegetable or similar, not olive)
  1. Peel bananas and break into chunks to fit in the food processor. Add eggs and 1 tsp vanilla, then blend.
  2. Add dry ingredients: 2 c oats, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt. Blend til no lumps remain.
  3. Heat the griddle to an even temperature (medium-high) and oil it. Use 1/4-1/3 cup of batter per pancake.
  4. Cook like a normal pancake, about 4 minutes on the first side, then flip for 2-3 minutes of cooking on the second side.
  5. Garnish with extra banana, or serve with syrup.

Note: while oats naturally don’t contain gluten, many are processed in facilities that also process gluten, so look for oats marked “gluten-free” if there are allergies or sensitivities involved.

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