As you gear up to celebrate National Pancake Day today with your family, consider that pancakes typically provide little in terms of nutrition. Usually made with white flour and topped with lots of butter and syrup, they provide lots of calories with few vitmains, minerals, fiber or other nutrients. Consider taking advantage of these tips to make healthy pancakes at home with your family!
Make your own from scratch. Even by just a few simple changes, you’ll make your pancakes healthier. For example: Did you know that Bisquick, probably the most common homemade pancake mix out there, contains partially hydrogenated soybean oil? That’s right, in each 1/3 cup serving of Bisquick, you’re getting 1.5 grams of unhealthy trans fat. By making your own pancakes from scratch, you avoid the prepackaged detrimental ingredients.
Use whole wheat flour. Most commercial pancake mixes and some common recipes use enriched white flour. But by using this, you miss out on the minerals and fiber in whole wheat flour. If regular whole wheat flour provides pancakes that are too dense for your liking, use a whole wheat pastry flour product designed specifically to be less dense and work better with baked goods, or try a mix of ½ regular whole wheat flour and ½ white flour.
Use fruits (and vegetables), and lots of them! There are tons of ways to incorporate more fruit into a pancake mix. Mash a banana and mix it into the batter, or use applesauce in the batter. Throw some berries in there too. On the vegetable side, pureed pumpkin or a mashed sweet potato can easily be mixed into pancake batter for a unique spin. Or go for a more savory pancake by mixing in grated carrots and zucchini.
Skip the butter. This applies to both the cooking process and the final product. Using a quick bit of cooking spray will save you lots of calories and fat compared to the pats of butter in the pan. Along the same lines, don’t add butter to melt on the final product.
Try new toppings. Most people use a lot of syrup that adds tons of added sugar to their pancake breakfast. Instead, top your pancakes with fruit like blueberries or strawberries. One of my favorite tricks is to freeze fresh picked raspberries from the summer, and pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds to 2 minutes (depending on the amount) when making pancakes. When they’re heated up, they start to release some of their juice and it forms this lovely mixture of berries and a juicy syrup. I pour this on top of my pancakes and it’s just as good as regular maple syrup. You can also try adding some greek yogurt to the top of your pancakes (and you can always mix a tablespoon of maple syrup into the greek yogurt for that sweet maple flavor without overdoing it).
Ooo, are those oats?! Oats add great flavor and nutritional value to any pancake recipe. They create a hearty texture and are full of fiber, essential for the digestive system and your heart health.
Use these tips and your kids will be eating pancakes that are still delicious but contain more fiber, extra antioxidants, and less added sugar!