Typically they are known as a "butter" and "syrup" covered breakfast treat but, there are some healthy and tasty pancake options.
A recent discussion/ challenge from my crew resulted in the research and creation of this article. It was a Sunday morning in the firehouse where we typically have a brunch- eggs, bacon, fruit, yogurt (low-sugar), and pancakes. This particular Sunday our driver wanted to make his "special pancakes" for the crew. Three sticks of butter, a pound of sugar, and a gallon of buttermilk (yes, I am exaggerating) later these pancakes were made. Were they delicious, of course! Were they healthy and did they provide us with good fuel for the day, not so much.
It spurred a day-long discussion and research. Is there such a thing as a tasty and healthy pancake? I decided to do some research and testing to find out. Here is a summary of what I found.
First, you want a recipe that has fiber. Fiber can help stave off hunger and help you reach the daily minimum recommendation of 25-38 grams. Mixes with whole grains and/or added seeds like chia and flax tend to have the highest amounts. If you need to choose a grain-free option, opt for blends with almond or coconut flour to get more fiber. Look for a recipe or mix that has at least 3 or more grams per serving.
Next, find a recipe or mix that has 5 or fewer grams of added sugars per serving. This will still allow for some room to add a drizzle of Maple syrup and help you stay under the overall daily intake goal of 25 grams of added sugar (or less) per day.
Lastly, a healthier pancake option needs to have a good source of protein. Most mixes have between 2 and 4 grams per serving. For a little extra oomph look for ingredients like buckwheat, chickpea flour, vital wheat gluten, seeds, and/or whey or pea protein. Opt for a mix or recipe that has at least 5 grams of protein per serving of the dry mix. You can get even more protein by adding eggs and/or milk to the mix.
Numbers to look for (recipe or dry, unprepared mix):
- Fiber: More than 3 grams
- Added Sugars: Less than 5 grams
- Protein: More than 5 grams
Here are some great mixes that meet the above requirements and are tasty enough for the crew to eat. Please note that by preparing with eggs and/or milk you change the calorie and nutrient calculations.
Best Whole-Grain Option
-Made with mild whole-wheat flour and flax.
5 grams fiber
2 grams added sugar
5 grams protein
Best Buttermilk Option
-Made with whole wheat and oat flour. Honey and buttermilk blend for a good taste. Egg whites and wheat protein give this up to 8 grams of protein per serving.
5 grams fiber
1 gram added sugar
8 grams protein
Best Protein Pancake Mix option
-This is my crew's favorite and go-to mix. It tastes great, add some low sugar yogurt and fruit and you have a high protein breakfast option. Whey and wheat add to the protein and the higher sugar is added so you can eat without any syrup.
4 grams fiber
7 gram added sugar (a little high but you do not need syrup they taste so good)
15 grams protein
Best Gluten-Free Pancake Mix option
-Almond and coconut flours puff the pancakes up and make them taste like the real thing. Add some nut butter to the top and increase the protein.
3 grams fiber
5 gram added sugar
5 grams protein
A great way to make pancakes even healthier and more filling is to jazz them up with some healthy toppings. I like to add a mixture of healthy fats, fruit, and something that's high in protein.
Here are the healthiest pancake toppings (in my opinion):
- Coconut yogurt or coconut cream (healthy fat)
- Nut butter (healthy fat + protein)
- Fresh berries (fiber, antioxidants + natural sweetness)
- Sliced banana (fiber, potassium + natural sweetness)
- Chia seeds (healthy fat + protein)
And of course, you can never go wrong with a drizzle of pure maple syrup at the end! I hope you enjoy these fluffy protein pancakes and I can't wait to see them as part of your morning routine.
Now, if you are more of a "pancake purist" I have a from-scratch recipe (see below) that is easy to make and a sure crowd-pleaser. No need for a premade package, this is a great Gluten-Free and high-protein option. I would love to hear your feedback and vote for the best options. Let me know what you think.
Stay safe and Healthy,