I started playing football my freshman year of high school. I was introduced to weight training the summer before as part of the football program. The first day I walked into the gym, I was 165 lbs and 6′ tall. I benched a ground breaking 115 lbs and squatted an ugly 185 lbs for 2 reps. Looking around at the seniors with full beards, I knew one thing, I needed to get stronger. I figured the easiest way to was to lift weights and try to gain weight.
That afternoon, I came home and told my Mom, I needed to gain weight. She decided I would follow the most basic of weight gain prescriptions, the pancake diet. Every meal from then forward, included pancakes. Breakfast was usually cereal and pancakes. Lunch was 6 PB&J’s and pancakes. Dinner was hamburgers and pancakes. At first she would heat up the griddle and start knocking them out. But as I started getting bigger, I ate faster. As a result her pancakes grew in size. She figured it was easier to make a few big ones than several normal sized pancakes. With in a year, she had to buy new plates because the pancakes where hanging over the sides. We affectionately called the pancakes, “wagon wheels”. It was always pretty amusing to have friends come over and have my mom make pancakes. The look on their faces was always one of shock and awe.
My senior year, I weighed 275 lbs and stood 6’4″ tall. In 4 years, I had gained over 100 lbs and grew 4 inches. I squatted 425 lbs, benched 315 lbs, deadlifted 500 lbs and power cleaned 250 lbs. I was offered around 50 scholarships and went on to play football at Berkeley and then the NFL.
I am not saying the pancakes were the reason I played in college and the NFL. But I saying they were a big part of my 100 lbs weight gain. Without the extra weight, I might not of had the size to get noticed by college scouts. Coupled with lifting weights 2-3 times a day and running, the increased volume of food fueled a massive growth spurt.
Around 2002, I learned the only thing I was more allergic to than soy was gluten. I had always wondered why I got sleepy and bloated after eating pancakes. It wasn’t until I had allergy testing done with my blood work, I found my answer. Upon getting this information, I headed to my cupboard and pulled out the bag of Krusteaz Pancake Mix, the source of my mom’s pancakes. I looked at the package and wheat and soy where listed plainly on the back.
What was I do?
Pancakes had been a staple in my diet for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I set out to discover a new recipe for the wagon wheels. One that was gluten and soy free and could add bulk. I have tried about every pancake you can find in the paleo world. From ones made with almond flour to ones made with apple sauce and nut butter. But nothing would compare the wagon wheels from my youth.
A few months ago, I was contacted by a publisher about doing a diet/recipe book. As I started going through my recipes, I knew pancakes would have a prominent place in the book.
New Wagon Wheels
2 sweet potatoes (yields about 4 cups)
4 whole eggs
1 cup coconut milk
2 scoops of Well Food Company Vanilla Whey Protein
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons almond butter
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Peel and cut the potatoes into small pieces. Boil them until you can easily stick a knife in them. Put the potatoes in the blender with the eggs, whey protein, melted butter, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, baking powder, almond butter. Start adding the coconut milk to reduce the consistency and blending it.
Heat the griddle, slick it with butter and cook till brown on either side. Remember these are more delicate than the pancakes my mom made. Too hot a griddle and they will burn and not cook through the middle. I would say try them on a lower head setting since, I fucked up the first few batches on Sunday and decided I need reinforcements. So, I contacted Paleo Comfort Food rockstars for their help and they delivered.
I want to thank Jules for coming to my rescue and helping me bring pancakes back to the forefront.
*And just to update the TTMJ readers on my diet/cook book, the publisher and I could not agree on my value. Something about me not having enough readership…