Hard To Beet These Pancakes

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - August 11, 2010
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When she’s not rehabilitating patients at the Kaiser Honolulu clinic, physiatrist and electro-diagnostic specialist Won-Yee Cheng-Leever can be found at the beautiful Kenshikan Dojo at the Japanese Cultural Center in Moiliili.

There, in her white gi and black belt, she’s simply known as Sensei, and dozens of men, women, boys and girls ranging in age from toddlers to seniors study the art of karate under her.

“People come for all kinds of reasons,” says Sensei Won-Yee. But in her 35 years of practicing karate, she’s found the ultimate reason: “I love the art of karate, the joy you derive from continuously seeking to improve yourself. I like to instill that joy in others.”


This column is dedicated to Sensei Won-Yee Cheng-Leever. For more, e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Both beet roots and greens have blood-building qualities. Beets are an excellent source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C. The greens have a higher iron content than spinach and are an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, sodium and iron. The sweet root of the beet has some of the minerals in the greens and is also a good source of choline, folic acid, iodine, manganese, organic sodium, potassium, fiber and carbohydrates.

These are great as a side dish with fish or chicken, or a main dish served with a green salad.


* 3 pounds beets, washed, peeled and trimmed
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
* 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
* salt, to taste
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* egg substitute to equal four eggs
* 1/2 cup unbleached flour
* olive oil, for frying, or coat pan with cooking spray

Shred beets on the coarse side of a grater to yield about 8 cups and put into a strainer set over a bowl to drain (about 15 minutes). Press with a paper towel to get water out and put into a large bowl. Stir in the cumin, coriander, cilantro, salt, pepper and baking powder until mixed well. Add egg substitute until combined. Add flour and mix well to combine. Heat oil in large frying pan on medium heat until hot. Drop about 1/3 cup of beet mixture into pan, flattening a bit with a spatula. Fry for about 5 minutes on each side until beets look red and the pancake is browned on each side. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all pancakes are cooked, adding additional oil or cooking spray as needed.

Serve warm with yogurt, applesauce or light sour cream.

Makes about 12 pancakes.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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