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Flat Belly Diet Chicken Piccata

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Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches

diet You may know Cynthia Sass, MPh, RD, as the nutritionist behind and coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Flat Belly Diet. She’s just come out with a new book, Cinch!: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches. After going through her book a few times, I find that it reminds me a little of the Food Lovers Fat Loss System – combine different types of foods in a certain way, eat every three to five hours, and exercise to rev up your metabolism. Both also include a jump start plan to lose weight and reset metabolism right away.

The five piece puzzle

Cinch by Cynthia Sass However, Sass’s approach is unique. Her plan is based on putting together a “five piece puzzle” at every meal – produce (fruit and veggies) whole grain, lean protein, plant-based fat, and SASS (“slimming and satiating seasonings” like spices and vinegar). She shows you what the proper portion and ratios of each puzzle piece should be. Best of all there’s no calorie or POINT counting.

Cynthia also explains how to make smart substitutions and what kind of beverages to include and how much. (She’s very pro water, tea and even allows a cup of coffee a day. However, no diet soda!) Cynthia even works a teeny bit of chocolate into her plan once a day.

The Cinch! plan includes 30 days' worth of quick-fix, satisfying meals and teaches you a simple strategy for creating your own meals, so you know exactly what, how much, and when to eat, whether you're at home, work, eating out or traveling. It also seems flexible enough for vegans or vegetarians or if you have food sensitivities.

I’m considering doing her 5-Day, 5-Food Fast Forward plan. Cinch! that promises that you’ll lose up to seven pounds. While I’m not so sure about that, I find it very appealing to go on a detox diet of raspberries, almonds, organic eggs and yogurt for a few days. (Due to my food sensitivities, I’ll be using coconut yogurt. Otherwise, it’s totally how I love to eat – salads, omelets, and smoothies! I’ve done a detox before and her five day plan seems like it won’t leave you lightheaded or weak. Instead, it looks like it will super charge you to adopt her way of eating – clean and healthy.

Eating better and backing it up

What I especially liked about Cinch! was Cynthia’s emphasis on clean, natural, and organic foods and that she backs up much of her recommendations with scientific findings. For example, she recommends using coconut milk and oil since they contain medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which is metabolized differently than fats from other oils. According to the book, an eight-week study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that medium-chain fatty acids reduced body weight, body fat, and waist circumference in women with high blood triglycerides. Since I had an advance copy with no index, I wasn’t able to tell if she referenced the actual study or not in an index, which I would have liked to see.

Information overload – too much, too fast.

Cinch! is packed with information. First there’s the overview, then the 5-Day, 5-Food Fast Forward, then an explanation of SASS and the Cinch! Core. She fills in the basic plan with information on the “Chocolate Escape” and the five piece puzzle. Then she tackles emotional eating and walking as well as maintenance and a Q&A section – plus all the call out sections on different types of foods and testimonials. It’s too much!

If I were you, concentrate on the eating plan starting with the jump start, if it’s a good fit for you. Then when you feel confident in how you’re adapting to the new way of eating, read the chapters on emotional eating and walking and incorporate those into your daily lifestyle when you feel ready. There are so many changes going on in the way you eat, shop and prepare food that it’s easy to get frustrated if you pile on too many changes at once. Take it slow, learn a few skills, get into the routine of planning ahead and healthy cooking. Then go on an incorporate a few more Cinch! recommendations while you reading – and rereading. All these changes take time and it’s best to take baby steps, in my experience.


I’ll be going back to Cynthia Sass’s book, Cinch!: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches, time and time again for recipes and inspiration. I’m sure you’ll feel the same way, so check it out!

For more information, go to cinchyourself.com and the Cinch Facebook page. You can also find Cynthia on Twitter and Facebook and at her blog at Shape magazine.


Disclosure: I was provided with an uncorrected proof of the book by the One2One Network in order to facilitate this review.

Flat Belly Diet Family Cookbook: Salt and Pepper Oven Fries

Salt and Pepper Oven Fries This recipe from the Flat Belly Diet Family Cookbook is perfect for grilling season. While you’re marinating the fish, chicken or pork chops, you can prepare and get these fries in the oven. When they’re just about done, put your protein on the grill.

For an extra antioxidant boost, try this recipe with sweet potatoes instead of russets.

Salt and Pepper Oven Fries

40 minutes / 4 Servings / MUFA: canola


  • 1 pound russet potatoes, cut into 3 1/2-inch long by 1/2-inch wide sticks
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the potatoes and 2 tablespoons oil in a large bowl, tossing well to coat.
  3. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake in the center of the oven 15 minutes, turn the potatoes and bake 15 minutes longer or until golden brown and crisp. Remove from the oven and transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
    Pour oil and garlic over the potatoes, and add the salt, pepper, and parsley; toss well. Serve immediately.

Nutritional information per serving:

  • 262 calories
  • 4 g protein
  • 32 g carbs
  • 14 g fat
  • 1 g saturated fat
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 150 mg sodium
  • 2 g fiber

Weight Watchers POINTS = 6

More Flat Belly Diet recipes

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the cookbook in order to facilitate this review.

Flat Belly Diet Family Cookbook: Crunchy Crust Mac and Cheese

Crunchy Crust If you have a box of panko bread crumbs in the cupboard, this healthy mac and cheese dish from the Flat Belly Diet Family Cookbook is one way to use them up.

To make this dish even healthier, stir in some steamed or sautéed vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, or diced red and yellow peppers to the pasta before baking.

You can also increase the fiber content by using a pasta like Ronzoni Smart Taste, Dreamfields or Atkins. Atkins and Dreamfields pastas are especially high in both protein and fiber. And as you Weight Watchers people know, the higher the fiber, the lower the POINTS.

Crunchy Crust “Mac and Cheese”

40 minutes + standing time / 4 servings / MUFA:  olive oil


  • 4 ounces multi-grain macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat an 8" x 8" baking dish with vegetable spray.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again. Set aside.
  3. Combine the bread crumbs and 2 teaspoons oil in a small bowl. Stir with a fork to evenly coat the crumbs with oil.
  4. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon oil to a large saucepan. Set over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour, paprika, salt and pepper until smooth.
  5. Add the milk, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking, for about 5 minutes, or until thickened.
  6. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cheese until it melts. Stir in the macaroni. Pour into the baking dish. Top evenly with the crumbs.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, or until bubbling and golden. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Nutritional information

  • 328 calories
  • 14 g protein
  • 31 g carbs
  • 17 g fat
  • 3.5 g saturated fat
  • 15 mg cholesterol
  • 480 mg sodium
  • 2 g fiber

Weight Watchers POINTS = 8

More Flat Belly Diet recipes

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the cookbook in order to facilitate this review.

A Father’s Day recipe from Flat Belly Diet Family Cookbook: Chocolate Stuffed French Toast

Flat Belly Diet Family Cookbook The Flat Belly Diet Family Cookbook is the latest from Liz Vaccariello. Her diet is based on weight-loss science findings that promote incorporating monounsaturdated fatty acids (MUFAs) into every meal to reduce the extra weight around your middle. You can learn more about the diet from her books, Flat Belly Diet!, Flat Belly Diet! Pocket Guide, and the Flat Belly Diet! for Men.

When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s the pits to have to prepare special “diet food” for yourself while the rest of the family eats “regular food.” No longer with Flat Belly Diet Family Cookbook. Now the whole family can eat healthier, real food while the grownups try to lose weight.

The cookbook features 150 new, family-friendly MUFA recipes like Spaghetti and Meatballs, Fish Nuggets with Tartar Sauce, Crunchy Crust Mac and Cheese, and Maple-Pecan Cinnamon Rolls are sure to prove a hit with everyone, no matter their age.

Also, the book has great tips for getting kids to adopt healthy eating habits, including strategies for negotiating with picky eaters, advice for helping children establish a healthy relationship with food, and tips for promoting positive eating habits for all age groups.

Finally, the cookbook is filled with gorgeous, colorful pictures that will not only inspire you to eat healthier, but will hopefully get the whole family cooking together in the kitchen.

Flat Belly Diet Family breakfast

This week at This Mama Cooks! I’ll be featuring some of the more classic, family fare from the Flat Belly Diet Family Cookbook. Today we start with breakfast! This would be perfect to serve on Father’s Day or a lazy weekend morning with lots of seasonally fresh berries and fruit. It’s full of protein and fiber, which should keep the whole family satisfied for hours, too.

Chocolate Stuffed French Toast

25 minutes / 4 servings / 416 calories / MUFA: Chocolate

Chocolate Stuffed French ToastIngredients:

  • 4-ounce semi-sweet chocolate bar, finely chopped
  • 3 ounces Neufchatel cheese (low fat cream cheese), softened
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh orange zest
  • 6 ounces Italian bread, cut on an angle into 8 (1/2" thick) slices
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon transfat-free margarine or spread


  1. Combine the chocolate and cheese in a small bowl; mix well.  Combine the strawberries, sugar, and orange zest in a separate bowl.
  2. Spread ¼ of the chocolate mixture on 4 slices of bread. Top each with remaining bread and press lightly to form a sandwich.
  3. Combine the eggs, egg whites, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Working one a time, dip both sides of each sandwich in the egg mixture and set on a plate.
  4. Melt the margarine in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the foam subsides add the sandwiches and cook until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Divide among 4 plates and top each with some of the strawberries. Serve immediately.

Nutritional information

  • 416 calories
  • 14 g protein
  • 48 g carbs
  • 20 g fat
  • 10 g saturated fat 
  • 120 mg cholesterol 420 mg sodium 5 g fiber

Weight Watchers POINTS = 9

This Mama's tips

  • If the number of POINTS or calories concerns you, halve the portion and add lots of fresh berries and fruits on the side.
  • To reduce calories, substitute stevia for sugar. Usually 1/2 teaspoon stevia equals 1 tablespoon sugar, but check the label on the box of whatever brand you're using.
  • Substitute one egg with the equivalent amount of egg whites (3 whites or 1/3 cup of pasteurized egg white product).
  • Use a whole wheat, high fiber bread instead of Italian bread – more fiber and whole grains always a good thing. If you’re gluten free, a thick gluten free bread should work, too!
  • Try using dark chocolate instead of semi-sweet. I personally love Lindt dark chocolates though any brand will do.

More Flat Belly Diet recipes

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the cookbook in order to facilitate this review.

Flat Belly Diet Recipes: Peanut Butter-Stuffed French Toast

flat belly At 9 Weight Watchers POINTS per serving, I was a little put off by this Flat Belly Diet recipe. Blame the peanut butter adding 21 grams to it. (Nut butters are great MUFA sources.) Then again it has a whopping 17 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber. One serving should keeping you feeling full for awhile.

Peanut Butter-Stuffed French Toast

40 minutes   4 servings     418 calories MUFA : Peanut Butter

  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • ½ cup creamy natural unsalted peanut butter
  • 8 slices light whole wheat bread
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons 1% milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the over to 350°F. Coat in baking sheet with butter-flavored cooking spray.
  2. Place the syrup in a medium glass bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds or until simmering. Add the strawberries and set aside.
  3. Spread 2 tablespoons of the peanut butter on each of 4 bread slices and cover with the remaining 4 slices, making sandwiches.
  4. Beat the eggs, milk and vanilla extract in a 13” X 9” baking dish. Soak the sandwiches in the egg mixture, turning once. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until browned, turning once. Top with the reserved strawberry mixture.

Nutrition per Serving : 418 calories, 17 g protein, 21 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 159 mg cholesterol, 299 mg sodium, 11 g fiber

Weight Watchers POINTS = 9

Flat Belly Diet recipes: Huevos Rancheros

flat belly diet huevos rancheros I’m off to San Diego this week to visit with the folks at Kashi. I grew up in the area and one thing I miss about not living there is good Mexican food. Still, we manage to make decent versions of fish tacos, fatijas, carne asada, and ceviche at home.

Of course, there’s nothing like starting off the morning with huevos rancheros. A recent study found that eating eggs for breakfast at least give days a week can help you lose more weight, especially around your middle. (I’m guess it’s because the fat and protein in the eggs made them them feel fuller.)

If you avoid adding cheese, use corn tortillas and add the MUFA from avocadoes, you have a pretty healthy dish.

Huevos Rancheros

30 minutes     4 servings 331 calories     MUFA : Avocado


  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can (15 ounces) no-salt added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sliced avocado
  • 4 tablespoons fat-free Greek-style yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons salsa
  • 8 (6") corn tortillas, toasted
  • Dash of hot-pepper sauce (optional)


  1. Heat a 10" nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the beans, scallions, bell pepper, broth, and garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the mixture simmers. Cook for 8 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and most of the broth is evaporated. With the back of a large silicone or wooden spoon, smash the beans until they are lumpy.
  2. Use the back of the spoon to make 4 indentations in the beans. Working one at a time, break each egg into a custard cup and pour in each indentation. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to the desired doneness.
  3. Scoop each portion of egg-topped bean mixture onto a plate. Scatter the avocado slices over and around the beans. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon of the yogurt and 1 tablespoon of the salsa. Serve with the tortillas and hot-pepper sauce, if desired.

Nutritional information

  • 331 cal
  • 16 g pro
  • 42 g carb
  • 12 g fat
  • 3 g sat fat
  • 1 mg chol
  • 245 mg sodium
  • 10 g fiber

Weight Watchers POINTS = 6

This Mama's tips

  • To lower POINTS, fat and calories, use 3 egg whites for 1 egg.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this cookbook in order to facilitate this review.

How to poach an egg: Flat Belly Diet Eggs Florentine

First, how to poach an egg. If you’ve seen the movie Julie and Julia, you know how hard it is to poach an egg in boiling water. Here’s a video from Oakland Tribune Food Editor Jenny Slafkosky showing you how:

My mom always used stove top egg poachers. But since I don’t have one, I like to make them in custard cups in the microwave ever since I saw Katie Couric cooking them this way on the Today Show.

I usually coat the inside of the custard cup in PAM, which makes removing the egg much easier. Be forewarned that if you cook them too long or your microwave is powerful, the egg could explode. Been there, done that – what a mess!


Eggs Florentine with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

20 minutes     4 servings       175 calories     MUFA: Pesto

Now that we’ve figured out how to make poached eggs, here’s a Flat Belly Diet recipe that is low in calories, fat and Weight Watchers POINTS.


  • flat belly diet eggs florentine 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 package (9 ounces) prewashed spinach
  • 1/3 cup fat-free Greek-style yogurt
  • ¼ cup sun-tried tomato pesto
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 whole grain English muffins, split and toasted
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high head. Add the spinach and cook until wilted.

2. Combine the yogurt and pesto. Stir ¼ cup into the spinach and remove from the heat. Cover to keep warm.

3. Meanwhile, heat a medium saucepan containing 1” of water to a boil over high heat. Add the vinegar and salt and reduce the heat to low. Break an egg into a custard cup and gently tip the egg into the water. Repeat with the remaining 3 eggs. Cover and simmer, shaking the pan 2 or 3 times, for 3 to 5 minutes for a soft-cooked yolk or until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken.

4. Place an English muffin half on each of 4 warm plates. Spoon ¼ of the spinach onto each muffin. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, and drain over paper towels (still in the spoon), before placing on the spinach.

5. Stir 1 tablespoon of the poaching liquid into the yogurt mixture to make it smoother. Spoon evenly over each egg and grind some pepper over the top.

Nutritional information

  • 175 calories
  • 12 g protein
  • 21 g carbohydrates
  • 6 g fat
  • 2 g saturated fat
  • 212 mg cholesterol
  • 462 mg sodium
  • 5 g fiber

Weight Watchers POINTS = 3

Flat Belly Diet lemon cupcakes

apple or a cupcake?Who says all sweets are unhealthy? The MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acid) for this Flat Belly Diet dessert recipe is safflower oil.

Lemon Cupcakes with Citrus Icing

55 minutes     12 servings       316 calories     MUFA : Safflower Oil


  • 1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup safflower oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. To prepare the cupcakes: Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Combine the oil, eggs, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon extract, and vanilla extract in a separate bowl. Add to the flour mixture and stir until smooth.
  3. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 17 to 19 minutes or until lightly golden and the cupcakes are springy when gently touched. Place pan on a rack and let cook for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan, transfer to the rack, and let cool completely.
  4. To prepare the icing: Combine the confectioners' sugar, orange juice, and orange zest in a bowl and stir until smooth. Spread some of the glaze over each cupcake with a small spatula and let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Nutritional information

316 calories, 3 g protein, 45 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 183 mg sodium, 0.5 g fiber

Weight Watchers POINTS = 7

Eeek, that’s a lotta POINTS! Split a cupcake with a friend, make some mini cupcakes and have one or two, or save up your POINTS for a delicious treat.

Recipes from the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook: banana pancakes

flat belly dietFlat Belly Diet by Liz Vaccariello is a New York Times bestselling book and eating plan based incorporating monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) into every meal to target belly fat. First she has you follow a four-day plan of prescribed foods and drinks to banish belly bloat. Then for four weeks you eat meals packed with monounsaturated fat. You can learn more about it here on Prevention’s website.

I was sent a copy of the the Flat Belly Diet! Pocket Guide, a pocket version of the original book, to review. I find the diet intriguing, but not something I could fit into my life at the moment with all the travel I’m doing. Still, Liz has some interesting ideas and writes in an entertaining way. As the senior vice president and editor-in-chief of Prevention magazine, she’s knowledgeable about her subject and explains everything clearly. This would be a perfect diet to jump start your New Year’s resolutions to eat better and lose weight.

flat belly diet cookbook I did like the eating plan. It contained healthy, easy to cook meals, and contained nothing you couldn’t find at Super WalMart or Super Target. You just have to make sure you have certain things on hand, basically the MUFA foods like nuts, seeds, healthy oils, olives, avocado, and (yay!) dark chocolate.

The best part of the diet is its companion cookbook, the Flat Belly Diet! Cookbook. It’s filled with more than 200 easy, great-tasting new recipes (many ready in 30 minutes or less) that are perfect for anyone trying to lose weight, watch portion size, or eat more healthy. Each recipe comes with nutritional information, so you can figure out Weight Watchers POINTS. And they’re yummy enough that everyone in the family should enjoy them. (Liz is currently writing the Flat Belly Diet! Family Cookbook, which will be released on April 13, 2010. Can’t wait!)

The Flat Belly Diet does breakfast

While I’m on the road this week and next, I’ll be featuring some of Liz’s recipes. Here’s one I know the whole family would enjoy.

Banana Pancakes with Walnut Honey

20 minutes     4 servings (3 pancakes each)       425 calories     MUFA : Walnuts

Honey and walnuts make the perfect sweet and crunchy topping for these healthy pancakes. If you have nut allergies, substitute pumpkin seeds, roasted sunflower seeds or pine nuts. (A pine nut is a seed, not a nut.)

flat belly diet banana pancakes Flat Belly Diet! Easy Pancake Mix

  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 6 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sale


1. Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix well.


  • 1 1/3 cups Flat Belly Diet! Easy Pancake Mix
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup low fat buttermilk
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large banana, halved lengthwise and cut into thin slices
  • ½ cup fresh raspberries

Walnut Honey

  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon water


  1. To prepare the pancakes: Combine the pancake mix and cinnamon in a large bowl. Combine the buttermilk, water, egg, oil and vanilla extract in a separate bowl. Whisk into the pancake mix and stir until smooth. Fold in the banana. Set aside.
  2. To prepare the walnut honey: Combine the walnuts, honey, and water in a small bowl.
  3. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium heat. Add the pancake batter in scant ¼ cupfuls and cook, in batches, for about 2 minutes or until the pancakes have puffed and the undersides are lightly browned. Turn the pancakes and cook for about 2 minutes longer or until lightly browned. Serve with the walnut honey and raspberries.

Nutritional information

  • 425 calories
  • 10 g protein
  • 67 g carbohydrates
  • 15 g fat
  • 2 g saturated fat
  • 55 mg cholesterol
  • 387 mg sodium
  • 5 g fiber

Weight Watchers POINTS = 3 POINTS per pancake

This Mama's tips

  • Double the pancake mix and keep half in tightly sealed jar or container in the cupboard so you can make pancakes anytime.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the books in order to facilitate the review.