We get it. It’s been a while since you last enjoyed pancakes. But, you really don’t have to stay away from them. We have some recipes that could have you enjoying pancakes today.
Think six packs, a healthy diet or anything like that, and we bet one thing that doesn’t come to mind is a pancake.
It’s off limits, right?
Images of the beloved childhood treat, dripping in golden syrup, hardly equate to a ripped physique. But if all you’re picturing is sugar-laden Aunt Jemima’s empty calories and white carbs, then you should know that’s not the only way to enjoy this classic breakfast treat. In fact, with some healthy hacks, pancakes can still have a place on your table, whatever fitness goals you’re working toward.
One of the main ingredients that many of us try to avoid, whether for health and allergy concerns or just due to the less-than-glowing rep its gotten over the years, is basic white flour. Most have realized that healthy, complex carbs with a low glycemic index do deserve their place in a balanced diet. But, simple, refined ingredients like white sugar and flour are typically a no-no for most health-conscious eaters.
White flour is a vehicle for empty calories. It spikes blood sugar, causes energy hikes and crashes. It can also wreak havoc on your goals. Sure, a donut here or there won’t kill you. But if you’re constantly reaching for white breads, pastas and pastries, the effects will catch up with you. You’re likely thinking pancakes would fall under that category. Pretty tricky to serve up a stack of fluffy pancakes for breakfast without flour, right? Think again.
While other dieters and gym rats might be opting for breakfasts of egg whites or protein shakes, we prefer not to give up the meals we know and love. Luckily, the days of extreme deprivation and missing out are becoming things of the past. Creative foodies and fitness nuts are coming up with clever ways to turn classic, unhealthy culinary staples into healthy, meal-plan approved versions.
Whether you’re Paleo, gluten-free or simply trying to cut white carbs from your diet, these healthy tweaks will mean you can bring the classic breakfast treat back into your life. You’re welcome.
Healthy Pancake Staples
It likely is a no-brainer, but if you’re subbing out the traditional flour, something has to take its place. What’s your best bet?
Depending on your dietary needs, there are a host of other flours, all of which are becoming cheaper and easier to find in recent years thanks to the rush of gluten free and Paleo foodies. But going completely flourless requires a little more creativity. Here are a few basic building blocks of meal-plan approved pancakes. Trust us. You won’t be missing plain white flour with these nutrient-packed options in its place.
We’re guessing eggs have had a well-established place in your diet for a while now. Boiled, egg whites added to oats, eaten plain, on top of salads, as an afternoon snack—the options are endless. Eggs are cheap. They’re also convenient. They can be made ahead and pack a wallop of protein. Eggs can also be a key player in flourless pancakes.
Let’s take a brief look at their benefits. If you’re concerned with the macros, a single large egg only has 77 calories. It also has 6 grams of protein and 5 of healthy fats. That’s not all. One egg offers 15% of the RDA for B2, plus it delivers large doses of B12, phosphorous, selenium, folate and vitamins ranging from A, D, E, K and more.
If you’re still on the fence when it comes to the question of egg consumption and cholesterol, let’s set the record straight. Eggs actually boost the body’s good cholesterol levels. This lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health concerns. Plus eating them has no effect on the bad cholesterol levels we worry about. So despite the fact that, yes, eggs do contain natural cholesterol, you can enjoy them without worry, in many of these pancakes recipes.
It’s hard to beat this fruit when it comes to convenience and adaptability. Bananas make the perfect pre-workout food, protein shake add-ins or post workout carb. And they can also be an ideal substitute in traditional pancake recipes.
It’s no surprise bananas are in many healthy diets due to their superfood status in terms of nutrients. One banana is around 105 calories depending on the size and straight carbs. This makes macro tracking simple since they contain hardly any protein or fats. And, that makes them ideal as a pre or post workout carb-up food.
On top of healthy carbs, bananas contain high doses of potassium, B6, vitamin C, copper, and manganese. As we know, not all carbs are created equal. Luckily, bananas contain the best type — carbs low on the glycemic index. That means snacking on one or mixing one into your pancake recipe will help to regular blood sugar levels and control your appetite levels for longer than a simple carb.
Since they’re packed with fiber, you can expect improved digestion. Lastly, powerful antioxidants in bananas can help to fight off free radicals and disease, making them a true superstar food in our book.
Oats are one of the obvious flour substitutes for pancakes. Mixing them into a pancake batter means far more nutrition value plus hearty flavor.
The old-fashioned, rolled oats are far less processed than the instant type. You’ll also notice a heartier taste, not to mention greater nutrients, since it’s less processed and truer to its natural form.
Not only do they help make a perfect pancake, oats are some of the healthiest grains you can put into your body. They’re a heart healthy food and a friend to weight loss. The benefits don’t end there. Half a cup has close to twice the RDA of manganese, 41% of the RDI of phosphorous, plus huge doses of magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate, B1, and B5. They deliver a slow-burning, energizing source of healthy carbs and work double time by also keeping blood pressure low when eaten regularly.
This is thanks to the antioxidants and plant compounds in oats called polyphenols. The specific type is called avenanthramide’s. Oats are one of the only sources of these blood pressure-lowering type. You’ve likely felt the sudden energy crash after tucking into basic white-carb based breakfast foods like pancakes or French toast, but when you’re eating oats, you’ll notice long lasting energy and greater satiety throughout the day.
You didn’t think we’d forget to work protein powder into our pancakes, did you?
It’s a no-brainer that when subbing out flour, protein powder would be one of the ideal choices to take its place.
You already know the importance of getting plenty of protein regardless of your goals. And if you’ve thought of protein pancakes as dry and flavorless, or tried them in the past to less than stellar results, think again. With these recipes, you won’t miss the white flour. You’ll be happy for not only treating yourself to a delicious breakfast but also getting a hefty dose of your protein for the day in a way you might not have thought to try.
A less common ingredient in flourless pancakes, but one that you should definitely add to your diet, is flax seed. One of the original superfoods, flax seeds are just a tiny seed that happen to be packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, B1, manganese and more.
Because of the specific type of water-soluble fiber in flax seeds, adding them to your diet can help prevent your stomach from emptying too quickly. This is vital if you want to increase nutrient absorption. As with any high-fiber food, they’ll help you stay full, hold blood sugar levels and knock out cravings. They will also boost digestive health.
Here Are Some Recipes To Try
Using the superfoods we mentioned, here are a few recipes you can whip up on the weekend, or enjoy anytime during the day for a healthy post-workout treat. There’s really no right or wrong time for pancakes. Sure, they make a decadent breakfast, but you can also pre-cook them and have them stashed in the freezer for anytime you want to carb up without a crash. Even bring them to work and stick them in the toaster to warm up for a quick, healthy breakfast.
Flourless Banana Pancakes
1 1/2 large bananas, mashed
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Instructions: First crack your eggs in a bowl and beat with a fork or whisk. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas until fairly smooth, and then add the beaten egg, baking powder, vanilla and cinnamon to the mashed bananas. Combine all the ingredients until well mixed. Pour about 2 Tablespoons of the batter over the already-heated skillet, on medium heat, and wait until bubbles form. Flip and cook on other side for about 1 minute.
Cinnamon Oat Pancakes
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 medium banana
3 1/2 Tablespoons milk of choice (dairy, almond, silk, coconut, etc)
Pinch of salt and sweetener, if desired
Cinnamon, to taste
Instructions: Make sure to thoroughly grease the skillet you’re using before beginning so these don’t stick when flipping. Combine all the ingredients with a hand blender. If you don’t own one, you can double or triple the recipe and use a regular blender instead. Once you’ve blended the batter, pour onto the skillet and flip as soon as they’re cooked enough to get a spatula underneath without breaking the pancake. Flip over and cook for another minute. A regular batch makes six or seven small pancakes.
Lemon Blueberry Protein Pancakes
1/2 cup of old fashioned oats
1/2 cup of cottage cheese
3 egg whites
3 scoops of vanilla protein powder
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup blueberries
Coconut oil for greasing skillet
For the yogurt topping:
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Instructions: Place your egg whites, vanilla protein powder, oats, cottage cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice and water into a blender. Blend the mix until it’s smooth and combined, making sure to scrape down the sides of your blender. Pour this mixture into a bowl and gently fold in your blueberries. Heat your griddle over medium-high heat with the coconut oil. Pour 1/3 cup at a time of the batter onto the center of the skillet and allow it to cook for about two to four minutes or until edges begin to lift up. Flip and cook for another two to four minutes.
For the topping: Combine the honey, yogurt, lemon zest and juice in a small bowl and drizzle atop the pancakes with some additional blueberries for topping.
Chocolate Protein Pancakes
2 very ripe bananas
3/4 cup uncooked oats
1/4 cup chocolate protein powder
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Powdered sugar (optional)
Diced strawberries (optional)
Instructions: Preheat your griddle or skillet over medium heat and coat with oil or non-stick cooking spray. Combine the eggs, bananas, and oats in a blender. Blend until oats are fully ground and bananas are smooth. Add in the protein powder, cocoa powder, and cinnamon and continue to blend for another 30 to 45 seconds. Scoop 1/4 cup at a time onto the skillet and cook until bubbles begin to form. Flip and cook another two minutes. Serve right away with diced berries and powdered sugar (if using).
Enjoy any of these with a drizzle of maple syrup as a treat. You could also serve with agave syrup, honey or fruit. You don’t have to give up favorite meals just for the sake of your gains. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Any of these pancakes will pack in a dose of healthy carbs, vitamins, nutrients and long-lasting energy. Serve up a stack next time your cravings hit and dig in. There’s nothing better than knowing you are sticking to your macros or meal plan, getting closer to your goals with each meal and still eating like a king along the way.
By Emmy Schneider-Green