Healthier Pancake Toppings and Options

With my series of overindulgent posts as of recent, I feel the need to balance out the calories and cholesterol with something a little bit healthier: Pancakes.

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That’s not a joke.  I totally think pancakes can be healthy.  You just have to know how to do them. As a kid, I hated pancakes.  I always thought they tasted funny.  Then something magical happened, I tried IHOP’s pancakes and I loved them.   That’s when I realized what I hated was Bisquick pancakes.  That’s all my mom ever made.  Sorry mom, but bisquick is just gross. When I discovered my love of pancakes, I wanted to eat them all the time.   While we all know pancakes aren’t always the healthiest breakfast, there are ways to lighted up your pancakes and especially the toppings so they’re still fun and delicious but won’t undo your workout. Here are a few ways to keep your pancakes a little on the healthier side so you can enjoy them guilt-free. peachpureepancakes2text

Choose a Better Pancake Base

Pancakes can basically be a carb fest (nothing wrong with that), but if you’re looking to balance your meal, adding protein powder is a great start.  I’m a big fan of protein pancakes because the extra protein helps keep you full.

Some of my favorites are:

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Vanilla Coconut Protein Pancakes
Pumpkin Protein Pancakes
Banana Protein Pancakes

The fun part of protein pancakes is you can play with different flours and protein powders and find a mix that you love.

If making your own pancakes from scratch isn’t your thing or you’re really not looking to add some extra protein, there are some pancake mixes that are pretty natural and overall healthy.  I love Kodiak Cakes, because they’re super easy to make (just add water) and the ingredients are all natural.

You could also go the Paleo Pancake route.  It’s not exactly a pancake but still pretty darn tasty.

Lighten Up Your Toppings

When I was younger, I ate the regular old pancake syrup you get at the grocery store.  Nowadays, I try to stick with toppings that don’t have any chemicals or artificial sweeteners.  Straight up maple syrup is a little too intense for me, so generally I like to mix it up to create different types of syrups and sauces and toppings.

My latest obsession is fruit purees mixed with maple syrup.

I like to puree some fresh peaches and mixed it with maple syrup… about 2 tbsp peach puree + 1 tbsp of maple syrup for one person.  You can also just puree the fruit and skip the maple syrup.  I tried that with banana (simmered them in water first, but raw works) and it was awesome:

pancakesbananasyrupMy other favorite combo is plain greek yogurt with maple syrup.

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But in general, fruit is a great topping.  It helps bulk up the volume without adding as many calories as eating extra pancakes.  Berries are always a great addition…

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But you can also get creative, like topping your pancakes with persimmon!

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 Portion Control

I love a big stack of pancakes.  Mostly because it looks pretty, but also because it’s fun to eat.  But eating 4 or 5 full sized pancakes is a lot.  So what I do is I made them smaller!  That way I feel like I’m eating a lot but really I’m not.

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I generally use a tbsp measurer to prepare my pancakes.  Each pancake is composed of 2 tbsp of batter, instead of about 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) which is normal.

In the photo above, the banana slices show how the pancakes are actually pretty small.  Despite the fact that the portion size is smaller, I still feel like I’m getting a good amount of pancakes.

 

I’m all for eating a full stack of pancakes with butter and maple syrup every once a while.  But on a normal day basis, I like to keep it a bit lighter.  Pancakes can still be enjoyed if you’re trying to stay healthy.  It’s just about making sure you make the right choices.

What’s your favorite way to slim down your pancakes?

Green Soup: Broccoli-Spinach Soup with Yogurt

I’m a firm believer in balance.  Not like the yoga type.  I tried yoga, really I tried.  I just can’t do it.  I was thinking balance more in the dietary sense.

This weekend I went to the Taste of OC festival.  To say I ate a lot is probably the biggest understatement ever.  It was amazing.

Ribs. Fried Pig Ear.  Shrimp and Lobster Grinder. Italian Ice. Broken Banana Cream Pie. There were probably other things too.  I can’t remember since I was in food coma the second half of the afternoon.

Sometimes, you can only take so many rich, heavy dishes.  Sometimes you need something green, healthy, tangy and light that includes zero sugar.

Something like this:

Broccoli-Spinach Soup with Yogurt

1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion diced
2 cups broccoli, chopped

2 cups spinach
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste
garbanzo beans, optional

In pot, heat oil and cook onions until translucent.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Add broccoli and spinach and simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Allow to cool a little bit.  Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.  Stir in greek yogurt and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with garbanzo beans if desired.

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side.

Easiest meal ever? Probably.

Tastiest? Pretty close.

I have no doubt in my mind I’ll be ready for an enormous meal soon (even though I think I’ve sworn off food festivals for all of eternity… or maybe just until the end of the month?).

In the meantime, I’ll stick to the green stuff for a bit.