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Mood-Changing Meals (Pancakes with Strawberries … for Dinner!)

May 19th, 2010 · 8 Comments

So the boy has developed this charming habit lately of coming to the table when called for dinner, taking a cursory glance at his plate, and then declaring, “I do not like that! I do not even eat that!” Sometimes, this is followed with continued whining and stomping around, other times it’s followed with him eating a few bites while continuing to protest between mouthfuls that “I do not eat this.” (Despite the obvious evidence to the contrary.)

Now, it’s been a stressful couple months in the FoodieTots household. A death in the family, a move to a new house in a new neighborhood, and of course the impending arrival of the newest Foodie Tot. The boy hasn’t been sleeping well (anyone have a cure for toddler insomnia??), and we’re trying our best to maintain some degree of patience. But after the new, longer commute home from work, cooking a meal in our not-yet-entirely-unpacked kitchen and dining room, and getting something on the table to eat, these tantrums are more than a little disheartening.

After a regrettable week (or so) of take-out/eating out during the move, I’m trying to get back on track with home-cooked meals at least five nights a week. So rather than give in to the pizza parlor temptation, Monday night I made pancakes for dinner. And not just any pancakes: big, fluffy pancakes topped with lightly sweetened strawberries and whipped cream. That’s right, whipped cream for dinner. And when the boy came stomping into the kitchen to see what horrible injustice I was preparing to dish up, the sight of the beater whirring in the KitchenAid was an instant mood changer.

(The strawberries came from Westmoreland Berry Farm this week, at the Alexandria West End market.)

Recipe: Our Favorite Pancakes with Fresh Strawberries

Notes: You can make these with half whole wheat flour. I “lightened” them up with olive oil, and sweetened the whipped cream with vanilla but no extra sugar. For the strawberry topping, I sliced a cup of strawberries and sprinkled with a tablespoon of sugar, then let stand while I prepared the pancakes.


  • 1 1/3 cups organic unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon organic cane sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon olive  oil

Instructions: Lightly oil skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the egg. Add milk and oil and mix well. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (some lumps will be left). Pour about 1/3 cup batter per pancake into the skillet, and cook until bubbles begin to form and pop around the edges. Flip and cook another minute. Serve warm, topped with strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy! (Makes about 12 3-inch pancakes.)

I can’t serve whipped cream for dinner every night, so please share — what tricks do you have to fight the dinner-time blues?

Shared with Real Food Wednesday hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Tags: at market · breakfast · cooking with kids · meatless monday · recipes · vegetarian · weeknight meals

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Alicia Ghio // May 19, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Love it. I may not have any tots, but even for adults, pancakes for dinner is good mood inducing!
    .-= Alicia Ghio´s last blog post ..Ramping It Up =-.

  • 2 Louis // May 19, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    I hear chocolate chip pancakes are a real winner…

  • 3 Susie // May 20, 2010 at 6:37 am

    Awww, I remember those days. Kids behave like that when they feel out of control of their lives. With all the changes in your little one’s life, no wonder he’s fussing about dinner.

    You might try giving him more of a sense of control whenever appropriate. Declare one evening a week “Tot Night” and let him choose the meal—pancakes one night a week with whipped cream won’t kill him and will go a long way to helping him feel in control of something.

    If he doesn’t like dinner, have a fall back for him. Make a rule that he has to try one bite of everything, and if he doesn’t like it, he can have a nut butter sandwich, or something else easy and reasonably nutritious. Yogurt and fruit, whatever.

    You just don’t want to get worked up about this or get into a power struggle. It will pass.

    Good luck with all your changes!

  • 4 Nancy // May 21, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Yum! bring on strawberry season!

    BTW, have you heard anything about Farm to Philly about OLS? A friend of mine was asking, and I started to wonder too!
    .-= Nancy´s last blog post ..WIP Wednesday =-.

  • 5 Liz - Meal Makeover Mom // May 23, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I love your post. It really made me smile. I can just picture your son storming into the kitchen only to realize he’d hit the jackpot! My boys are now 15 and 11 so my issues are, shall we say, different!!
    I like Susie’s advice. I’ll piggyback w/ what I used to do when my boys were toddlers. I’d insist they take a “no-thank you bite” of everything I made. After the bite, they were free to say, “no thanks,” or “thanks Mom. I’ll have more, please.” It was fun and it fostered manners at the table (now if I could only convince them to use their napkins)….

  • 6 foodietots
    Twitter: foodietots
    // May 24, 2010 at 12:52 am

    @ Alicia – that’s true!

    @ Louis (aka the husband) – uh huh, nice try.

    @ Susie and Liz – thanks so much for the thoughts and advice! It was a helpful reminder that the tantrums usually have nothing to do with the food. We do have a one-bite rule, which he generally complies with.

    I’ve been trying to give him a little more control. He gets to pick a fruit or vegetable to add to the meal (frozen fruit has been a new favorite), and he was thrilled to resume make-our-own pizza night on Friday night.

    @ Nancy – I haven’t heard anything, will email you!

  • 7 Joy // May 25, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    My little girl is 3 and she is ridiculously picky. The past couple of weeks I have been giving her her meals in a muffin tin (not my idea, and it is amazing how much more peaceful meals have been. She has been much more willing to try things, and the things she is not interested in, she simply says “No thank you” and continues to eat. Good luck- I hope things settle down for you.

  • 8 Stacie Dong // Jun 1, 2010 at 12:46 am

    I love breakfast for dinner and I know my very picky 2.5 year old would love the surprise of having pancakes for dinner. I have fond memories of my mom letting me eat leftover birthday cake for breakfast the day after my birthday. Those unexpected, “just for fun” moments are the best!