This article was originally published in the New Era/ Lebanon Local newspapers for August 2018.
I used to think of them as a weekend luxury. “That thing” you did with the family when you had the time to cook and leisure to eat all together. However, the original idea of pancakes was that they were simple, assembled with readily on hand ingredients and quick to cook. Neither leisure nor luxury were a part of that equation.
Ever since having my sweet daughter last winter, I have had a “thing” for pancakes. I craved warmth, something gluten free, easy, and chewy (smoothies in the winter? No thank you!). Did I mention it had to be healthy?
That last piece tends to be the sticking point with most pancakes. While they strike the “comfort food” chord they simply aren’t that great for you. The ultra-processed (“refined”) ingredients they contain (as well as the high fructose corn syrup often poured on top) relegate fluffy pancakes into the “treat” category reserved for special occasions.
If you compare some of the top mixes out there, you will find that pancakes tend to be higher in carbohydrates and lower in everything else, including protein. Check out the nutrient comparisons for store-bought pancake mixes below.
Keep in mind as you observe this chart that the values for Biquick are NOT “as prepared” values (so it does not account for the milk and eggs called for in the recipe).
Finding a tasty, healthy pancake shouldn’t be impossible, yet I found it harder than I had bargained for. I tried numerous from scratch, gluten free, “healthy pancakes” that took long to cook, had odd ingredients that weren’t standard or simply didn’t meet my health requirements. The most infamous version I attempted took over 30 minutes to cook. It still remains a joke to this day.
It was a good thing I was in the mood to try a lot of pancakes because that is what it took to create a favorite that I love. And I do love it. For me it meets the requirements of simplicity, versatility, and nutrition. It is simple in that you can make them with four, standard, readily available ingredients. They are versatile in that you can alter the carb/ protein content or texture based off of your flour preferences. They are nutritious because it requires unrefined, whole food ingredients with a lot of room for healthy add-ins (think berries, shredded zucchinis, carrots etc)!
I would hate for you to go through all the angst I did, so below are two of my favorite recipes for pancakes. The first recipe is an original one that I developed while the second is one my mom found years ago (original source unknown).
The oatmeal pancake is gluten free and is closer to the traditional, puffy, bread-like pancake.
The cottage cheese pancake recipe can also be made gluten free and has a flatter, more crepe-like texture. Both types contain a good amount of protein that keeps you satisfied. No more, feeling bloated and hungry an hour after to have gorged on your pancake breakfast.
Say hello to healthy pancakes!
Dietitian Cathryn’s Four Ingrediant Healthy Pancakes
(gluten free, dairy free grain OR nut free)
The basic skeleton. The ingredients are quite simple: ¼ cup flour of choice, 2 eggs, 1/2 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt. You can switch out flours or combine several as you wish. Gluten free rolled oats, oat flour, flaxseed meal, almond flour...all of these individually or combined work incredibly well!(This is why this recipe can be wither grain free or nut free...the choice of flour is up to YOU!)
(A note about coconut flour. Due to its high fiber content, it is best to treat this as a small add-in rather than use it as the main flour.)
Healthy add-ins. ¼ cup berries or shredded zucchini, sliced peaches …the possibilities are endless! Just know that the pancakes may require a longer cook time due to the increased moisture.
Flavor. Enhance flavor and sweetness with spices like vanilla extract, cinnamon and allspice. Sweetener can be added before cooking too. Try 2tsp honey or maple syrup or stevia (to taste) if preferred.
Procedure: Crack eggs into a small bowl or measuring cup. Beat lightly with a fork. Add in all dry ingredients and mix just until no major lumps are present. Fold in “add-ins” if using. Cook on a medium-hot, greased skillet. Once edges appear firm and bubbles in the center of the pancake pop and remain open, flip them over using a spatula (takes roughly 3 minutes). Cook for an additional 2 minutes or less or until desired appearance is reached.
Serving size: Depending on your “add-ins”, this will make 3 or 4 pancakes (roughly 4” in diameter)
Here are some ideas of how to use the recipe:
¼ cup oat flour (or a mix of gluten free rolled oats and oat flour)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of sea salt
Cinnamon as much or as little as you like (I do 2 tsp-ish)
Cook according to the procedure above.
Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Original source unknown
2 Cups Cottage cheese
2/3 Cups Whole Wheat or All Purpose Flour (or gluten-free All Purpose flour. Almond or Rice flour can be substituted if in a pinch)
1/4 cup Oil such as melted Coconut or Avocado (please don’t use Canola)
1/2 – 1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
Cooking Spray or melted butter/coconut oil (for greasing the pan)
Combine Cottage cheese, flour, oil and eggs in a large bowl.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat with the cooking spray or butter/coconut oil. Pour 1/3 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula and cook until browned on the other side.
Serve immediately with sliced bananas or berries. May be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
HINT: These are great pancakes to make at the beginning of the week and eat for breakfast the rest of the week!