Whether you whip up pancakes during the week or save them for a big family brunch on the weekend, a stack of pancakes covered in maple syrup and melted butter isn't exactly the most nutritious breakfast you can sink your fork into. Usually made with white flour and sugar, traditional pancakes don't offer much in the way of nutrients. If you're a fan of flapjacks, here's how you can make them healthier while also adding bold and unique flavors.
- Make homemade batter: Traditional pancake mixes like Bisquick are made with enriched white flour and partially hydrogenated soybean oil; they may be easy, but they're not exactly good for you. It only takes five minutes to mix up your own pancake recipe, and using whole wheat flour makes for added nutrition. Try this recipe for whole wheat cinnamon pancakes.
- Mash in baked sweet potato: To replace some of the fat and sugar in your recipe, use mashed baked sweet potato. For a recipe that makes 12 pancakes and calls for one and a third cups of buttermilk and one tablespoon of brown sugar, I use about half a cup of mashed sweet potato and half a cup of buttermilk, and omit the sugar altogether. It not only gave my stack a warm, golden hue, but the texture was also more moist and they tasted a tad sweeter.
- Add oats to the batter: Oatmeal pancakes are hearty because they're full of fiber and protein, and as a bonus, the oats also add a soft, chewy texture. You can use rolled or quick oats, and here's a recipe for banana almond oatmeal pancakes.
- Load up the batter with fruit: When bananas or berries are becoming too ripe, I place them in containers in the freezer and use them for pancake batter later. Don't just throw in a few frozen blueberries — load up the batter with tons of fruit. Before serving, add more fresh fruit on top. The fruit adds fiber and natural sweetness so you can go much lighter on the syrup or skip it entirely.
- Replace the egg with a mashed banana: To save on fat and cholesterol, a nifty vegan trick is to replace the egg with a banana. Just mash it with a fork and add it to the rest of the ingredients. This definitely adds a strong banana flavor, so if you're a fan of this fruit, this could be your new favorite tip.
- Replace the fat with applesauce: Another vegan trick, applesauce adds moistness without any fat. If your recipe calls for half a cup of oil, substitute half a cup of applesauce instead.
- Use cooking spray instead of butter: A spray of Pam that lasts one second will run you six calories. That's 30 fewer calories than cooking your pancake in a pat of butter.
- Top with maple Greek yogurt: A quarter-cup serving of real maple syrup contains 200 calories. Instead of drowning your healthy stack of pancakes in liquid sugar, mix three ounces of plain Greek with a teaspoon of syrup and top that on your breakfast for a touch of maple sweetness with added protein.