Blood oranges add drama to kid-friendly pancake recipe

Each week, I am challenged to develop a recipe for a cooking enrichment class I teach. There are four criteria: Is it easy enough for kids as young as 4? Does it use seasonal ingredients? Is it healthy-ish? And, the biggie, will they eat it? When I find a recipe that hits all four, I know it's a keeper and one worth sharing. My latest victory was Buttermilk-Blood Orange Pancakes, which use whole grains and fresh oranges. They earned all little thumbs-up in our tally. One kid literally licked his plate.

Blood oranges look like navel oranges but hide a surprise inside. Courtesy of Leslie Meredith

There was evident delight when the first orange was sliced open to reveal its deep ruby interior, followed by squeals about the "bloody" juice dripping from the knife. The season for blood oranges is short, so grab some while you can. They are excellent eating oranges and look gorgeous in a winter salad. Thanks to the blood orange juice, the yogurt sauce turns a lovely shade of pink. There is a reason that cereal and toaster pastries marketed to kids are brightly colored - it makes them more appealing to young eaters. It worked here, too.

Beyond color, the aroma is another draw for kids in the kitchen. The kids were curious about the cinnamon sticks and cardamom seed pods and passed around the ground mix to marvel at the transformation and get a good whiff. We used whole spices and a grinder.

Fresh-squeezed blood orange juice adds flavor, color and vitamin C. Courtesy of Leslie Meredith

We tried a dairy-free version of this recipe, using oat milk with a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice. You let it sit while measuring and mixing the dry ingredients. Compared to the buttermilk batch, I couldn't detect any difference. A neat trick if you or someone in your family is avoiding dairy. Obviously, you skip the yogurt sauce in that case and stick with maple syrup. Either way, they're scrumptious.

The recipe serves four, but you should double it and save some in the freezer. It's easy to pop a few into a toaster or oven for a quick snack or breakfast on the go (plates and forks optional.)

• Leslie Meredith is the winner of the 2019 Cook of the Week Challenge and teaches people how to grow and cook "real" food. She runs Farmhouse School on a historic homestead in Campton Hills. See the school's Facebook or Instagram pages @FarmhouseSchool or contact Leslie at

A little honey, vanilla and orange juice whisked into yogurt makes a special sauce. Courtesy of Leslie Meredith

Buttermilk-Blood Orange Pancakes With Vanilla Orange Yogurt Sauce

2 cups whole-wheat flour

½ cup rolled oats

½ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cardamom

¾ teaspoon salt

2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs

Zest and juice from 2 blood oranges, divided

2 teaspoons + ½ teaspoon vanilla, divided

Cooking spray or oil

1 cup plain yogurt

1½ tablespoons honey

Whisk flour, oats, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium bowl.

Whisk the buttermilk, eggs, half of the zest and juice and 2 teaspoons vanilla in a large bowl.

Stir dry ingredients into the wet, just until no more dry bits are visible.

Oil a nonstick skillet or griddle and heat to 375 degrees or medium. Once hot, ladle batter onto pan and cook until bubbles on the surface burst, then flip and cook until browned, about 2 minutes more.

Mix yogurt with remaining orange zest and juice, vanilla and honey. Use as topping or dip for pancakes.

Serves 4

Leslie Meredith

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