This post is sponsored by Lifeway Kefir. All opinions stated are my own. Thank you for supporting my blog and sharing your delicious kefir products with me!
Pancakes are the epitome of breakfast comfort food. Swirl in some creamy sweet potato and warm spices, and you’ve got yourself… well, just about everything you might need in the morning. These Fluffy Sweet Potato Pecan Kefir Pancakes are simple, nourishing, and sure to satisfy.
Six total upcoming midterms and project deadlines are staring at me right now.. while I dance in the kitchen with excitement because my pancakes are fluffy and sweet and Fall-y and healthy and it’s Saturday. I had a fantastic morning at work - a fantastic week, actually! - and I’m not about to let studying take over my good day. Best believe it.
The first few weeks of waking up at 4 AM threw me off, as I would imagine they might do for any normal human. When I did the math, 9:00 PM ended up being the bedtime to give me my 7 hours of sleep (which I know is not the 8 hours everyone raves about - that’s just not possible over here. I’ve tried). Name one 20-something-year-old who goes to sleep at 9:00 PM. You can’t, unless you choose me, in which case you would technically be correct.
And then when I did more math - maybe the most I’ve done in a long time, considering the nutrition major is mainly chemistry, biology, and anatomy - I calculated that a proper dinner time would be sometime between 5-6:00 PM. Am I a grandma now? I thought I was before, but this… this is a whole new level. I did not expect this, but I was ready for it. Or so I thought.
Turns out falling asleep by 9 PM is quite difficult. Even for someone who normally goes to bed only an hour later, who stays on her feet most of the day, who is sure to always remember to take her melatonin 1-2 hours before bed. So, after my first day, I was exhausted. I woke up to complete darkness, absolute stillness - not even the birds were awake yet. Within just half an hour, I was on my feet, running around a kitchen I didn’t yet know like the back of my hand, stirring up banana bread, slicing scones, and sliding trays of cookies the size of my face into and out of the oven.
By the time 8 AM rolls around, five plates of baked goods sat perched within the glass case at Sally Loo’s and I couldn’t believe it. I had done it. I tackled my fear of “how the heck am I supposed to have five different recipes finished in just two hours? starting at 4:30 AM?” I looked at each of the baked goods with the same amount of love - if not more - that I put into them, and they gave the same back.
When school started, however, that’s when this all got pretty difficult. I’d come home from class, eat a quick dinner, rush over to the café to prep as much as I could so that my life at 4 AM the next morning was a little bit easier, then come home and try to go to sleep almost immediately. HA. That didn’t happen. My first few mornings at work were sluggish, tired, and foggy from a weird tummy-ache. And then I had to rush to class, which started just an hour after I got home from work.
I figured that maybe this was just the way things were going to happen for the next three or four months. Maybe I just need to live with it. But then I snapped out of that hopeless self-pity and got a dang good grip. I listened well enough to my hunger/fullness cues each night for a while to understand the amount of food that feels good. I slowed myself down while prepping to reduce stress, took my melatonin even earlier than usual, came home and created a calming environment that would help me fall asleep. My phone goes on airplane mode 30-60 minutes before bed. My computer slides into my backpack and I either read from my textbooks or my for-fun book. I journal a little and pray a lot.
And I can say I didn’t know it was possible to enjoy so much a job that wakes me up at 4 AM. I mean, think about it, Haley - it’s morning, which is your favorite time of day. It’s just you, which your introverted self just loves. It’s baking, which is your passion. And it’s for a community you adore and a café that inspires you everyday. What’s not to love?
I cannot describe how good that feels. It represents another step in intuitive eating, another step in figuring out my future (or at least the near part of it), and another step in the everlasting journey of self-love.
Makes about 7-8 large pancakes, or 9-10 medium pancakes
3/4 cup Lifeway Organic Whole Milk Kefir
1 cup sweet potato purée
2 tbsp. agave or pure maple syrup, plus more for serving
1 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup crushed pecans
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp filtered water
Coconut oil or butter, for the pan
Butter, for serving (optional)
Whisk together the wet ingredients - the kefir, sweet potato purée, the egg, and the agave - until smooth. Sprinkle in the baking soda and whisk again. You should see bubbles forming throughout the mixture - science!
In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. Pour the wet into the dry and mix until just combined (it will be thick).
At this time, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat with 1-2 teaspoons of oil or butter, or the proper amount needed to coat the surface of your skillet. If you prefer pancakes with crisp edges, use a touch more oil (2 teaspoons). For larger pancakes, I used 1/3 cup to scoop batter onto the pan, and for smaller ones, I used about 1/4 cup.
Cook each pancake for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crisp to your liking. Remove from the pan and let cool slightly on a cookie cooling rack.
The batter will continue to thicken as it sits, so when about half the batter remains, whisk in 1 tablespoon filtered water to thin it out slightly. Continue cooking and cooling the pancakes as before.
Serve with agave or maple syrup and butter (optional). Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week, or the freezer for up to 2 months.
You won’t see many (or any at all) bubbles while the pancake is on the skillet because the batter is quite thick. Flip every 2-3 minutes, once the edges start to tighten up and the bottom is golden (use a spatula to peek at it).