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.

pancakebreakfast

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:

protein pancakes1

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.

vanillacoconutproteinpancakes2

 

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…

peachpureepancakes1

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

Pancakes with Persimmon2

 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.

pancakes2
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?

Advertisements

Healthy Baked Turkey Meatballs

This past weekend was a very Italian weekend for me.  I went to the Getty Villa.

gettyvilla1

If you’re in Southern California and haven’t been to the Getty Villa, you should go.  I grew up here and had never been.  It’s a beautiful museum built to look like a villa you would around Pompeii or Herculanum around 30 AD.  It’s seriously beautiful, not to mention the exhibits are awesome.

To add to the Southern Italian-ness of the weekend, Jesse and I also saw Pompeii.  While I question the historical accuracy, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It’s as if Titanic and Gladiator came together to make one ridiculous film.

If there’s one thing Pompeii taught me, it’s that Jon Snow is hot in a skirt.  After leaving the theatre, the one thing both Jesse and I had to comment on was Jon Snow‘s abs (because Kit Harington will forever be known as Jon Snow to me).

Image source: Torontosun.com

First we thought, those have to be digitally enhanced or airbrushed.  No one can have abs like that.  Of course then the conversation transitioned to: how does one get those abs?

I did some research.  Basically, if you want abs you have to lose fat and build muscle (no surprises here). Vanity Fair confirmed with an interview by the actors of the movie:

The four-hour workout: two hours of fight training with weapons, an hour of weight lifting, an hour of cardio, and an 1,800-calorie diet “designed specifically for our bodies to be attuned to lose fat and pop out muscles,” Akinnuoye-Agbaje told us.

Great.

So for the rest of us that aren’t working out for four hours a day or consuming a diet “designed specifically for our bodies to be attuned to lose fat and pop out muscles,” we should probably just stick to eating clean and maybe increasing our protein.

I’m not really in the market for Jon Snow abs (yep, that’s what I’m calling them now), but getting fit is always a good idea.  So to help you in that direction, I made you dinner:

healthyturkeymeatballs1

Healthy Baked Turkey Meatballs

1 lb lean ground turkey (from 1 package in the meat section)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 tbsp fresh chopped mint
1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Using your hands work together all ingredients and form into golf-ball sized meat balls.  Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cooked through (note: this might vary depending of the size of your meatballs and your oven). healthyturkeymeatballs2

Serve over cauliflower puree, on spaghetti squash or with your vegetable of choice and enjoy!  This recipe will make about 20 meatballs.

This low carb (paleo, gluten-free) meal will get you in the right direction to getting those Jon Snow abs.  Or if you’re like me and you just want to be a little bit healthy, to balance out an enormous piece of cake, this meal is great for that too.

Anyone else see Jon Snow’s abs in Pompeii and have their jaw drop?

Banana Protein Pancakes with Persimmon Topping

I was totally going to start this post apologetically, but then I remembered this article in Huffington Post about the 23 things women should to stop doing.  #sorrynotsorry

So instead I’m going to talk about how much I love pancakes, because all of a sudden I’m obsessed. Ok not really, I made them twice.  Once pumpkin style and now these guys…

Pancakes with Persimmon1smaller

Really what I like about this is how full it keeps me.  For someone who often thinks about eating lunch at 11am, these pancakes made me not even think about food until 1pm.  Crazy, right?  I’m totally pleased.

Pancakes with Persimmon4

You should make these. Just saying…

Banana Protein Pancakes with Persimmon Topping

For Pancakes:
2 tbsp buckwheat flour
2 tbsp almond meal
3 tbsp protein powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of ginger
pinch of cinnamon1/2 banana, mashed (about 3 tbsp)
1 egg
4 tbsp milk (or almond milk)*

For Topping:
1 tsp butter
1 persimmon, diced
2 tbsp rum
pinch of ginger
pinch of cinnamon

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add wet ingredients and stir to combine.  Heat a greased skillet over medium heat.  Spoon 2 tbsp of batter to form each pancakes. Once the top starts to bubble, flip over and cook an additional minute.  Plate and set aside.

Melt 1 tsp butter in a small skillet.  Add persimmon and spices cook a few minutes, tossing occasionally. Add rum and stir.  The liquid will steam and sizzle. Once it’s mostly evaporated, turn off and pour on top of pancakes.  Serve with maple syrup (optional).  This recipe makes 4-5 pancakes for 1 person.

*Note: the amount of milk necessary might vary depending on what type of protein powder you use. I used Spiru-tein which has a thickener in it.  If you use a different protein powder, you might need less liquid.

Pancakes with Persimmon3

Just to throw it out there, this persimmon topping would be totally awesome on the Pumpkin Protein Pancakes I made last week.  Just saying… get your antioxidant on with pumpkins and persimmons.

Pancakes with Persimmon2

Ok so enough about pancakes…

I go to Peru in two days and I’m totally not ready.  So much work has to be done. I haven’t packed. I’m not feeling ready.

This always happens to me.  I have mini anxiety attacks anytime I go anywhere.  Weird right?

How do you prep for a trip? Also, what’s your favorite pancake combo because I’m always looking for new tasty ways to switch up breakfast!

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

Let me just tell you… these pancakes made my day magical.

pumpkinproteinpancakes1

I started the day by running with Ms. Allison from Sweet Potato Bites.  That lady is faster than me (check out her running page!), so it’s awesome to keep up with her!

After the run, I wanted a good breakfast.  For the past few months, I’ve had a smoothie for breakfast pretty much everyday, but today I wanted something warm and Fall-like.  And we all know… Fall = Pumpkin.

All season, I’ve been avoiding pumpkin flavored foods, because honestly most of it just tastes fake.  I’m probably the only person in the world that doesn’t love the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks.

So this morning, in my quest for a warm Fall breakfast, I had a bright idea.  Pumpkin pancakes with REAL pumpkin inside and on top.

pumpkinproteinpancakes4

Pumpkinpalooza in a pancake.

So I started with an amazing stack of pancakes and then topped them with a mixture of pumpkin puree, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon and mace (with some water to thin it out).  Seriously delicious.  Please try it.  But first to make the pancakes…

pumpkinproteinpancakes5

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

2 tbsp buckwheat flour (spelt or all purpose works too)
2 tbsp almond meal
3 tbsp protein powder (I used Spiru-tein Vanilla Protein)
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of ginger
pinch of mace
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 egg
4 tbsp pumpkin puree (plus extra for topping)
2-3 tbsp almond milk**

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl, stir to combine.  Add dry ingredients and mix together.

Heat a large skillet and grease (with butter or non-stick spray).  Scoop 2 tbsp of batter to form each pancake.  Cook until it starts to bubble, then flip and cook an additional minute.

Serve with a mixture of pumpkin, maple syrup and spices or your favorite pancake topping.  This recipe makes 4 pancakes.

**The amount of almond milk might vary.  Spiru-tein protein powder has some sort of thickening agent in it that makes it thicken up, so if you use a different protein powder you might need less liquid.  Try adding a tbsp of liquid first and if you need more to thin out the batter, add more.  If your batter is too thin/runny, you’ll get flat pancakes so you want the batter to be a little thick.

pumpkinproteinpancakes3

I seriously loved these pancakes.  The topping reminded me of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin butter.  Amazing.  But what I really love is that you get all the awesome health benefits of pumpkin, that you definitely don’t get from a Pumpkin Spice Latte (p.s. totally not trying to hate on the PSL! It’s just not for me).

pumpkinproteinpancakes2
I’m seriously considering making a few batches of these and having them the next few mornings, reheated.  If they taste great reheated, I’ll let you know.

So tell me, what’s your favorite way to eat pumpkin this season? 

Aside from this healthy version, I love love love this Creamy Pumpkin Pie, but also Pumpkin Pecan Bundt Cake and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.  One day I won’t want to eat sugary things every.single.day…

P.S. 1 week til Peru!!!!

Mocha Protein Cupcakes

Yesterday, I took Jesse to the airport.  He’s off to New York for almost 3 weeks for a training course.  I hate to be that girl, but I miss him already.  So in the meantime, I plan on baking a lot.  Because baking makes the world a little bit better.

After I did my search for the best protein powder, Garden of Life sent me some more of their flavors to try: Garden of Life RAW Protein Marley Coffee and Raw Fit.

photo-3

I automatically fell in love with the Raw Fit, because it kept me so full for so long, but I had a hard time with the Marley Coffee flavor.

Given that I’m a coffee fiend, I thought I would love the coffee flavor, but I’m going to be honest, I didn’t love the flavor on its own.  So instead of devouring the Marley Coffee flavor like I did the Raw Fit in my usual breakfast smoothies, I’ve been trying to find other delicious ways to use the Marley Coffee Protein and here’s my most recent creation.

mochaproteincupcakestextIt’s no secret I have a ridiculous sweet-tooth, it’s also no secret that I generally try to balance it out with healthy eats.  So I decided to try to combine my love of sweets with a dose of healthiness.  These cupcakes don’t contain any butter or refined sugar and each one has 7g of protein and only 125 calories.  Drizzled with a bit of almond butter, they’re the perfect healthy-ish treat.

mochaproteincupcakes1

 

Mocha Protein Cupcakes

1 medium banana, mashed
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup Garden of Life Marley Coffee Raw Protein
1/2 cup almond meal1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Pre-heat over to 350F.

Mix together mashed banana, almond butter, maple syrup, egg and almond milk.  Add cocoa powder, protein power, almond meal, baking soda, baking power and salt.  Stir to combine.  Pour batter into 11-12 lined cupcake pan.  I got 11 cupcakes out of this.  Bake 15-18 minutes or until cooked through.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

mochaproteincupcakes2You can eat them plain, top them with whipped cream or drizzle them with almond butter.  What I really loved about these cupcakes, other than the awesome nutrition stats:

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 5.56.10 PM

Was the texture.  They’re light and crumbly like a good cupcake should be.  The coffee flavor isn’t ultra strong, honestly these taste more like great chocolate cupcakes.  After all, it’s pretty common to add coffee to chocolate baked goods for flavor.  This protein added that perfect hint of coffee flavor that makes chocolate baked good extra delicious.

mochaproteincupcakes3So if you’re looking for a healthy cupcake, this is the one for you.  Be sure to check back later this week, I have some great things planned for you all!

 

**Note: Garden of Life provided me with the Raw Fit and Marley Coffee RAW Protein, but the opinions are my own.

Vanilla Coconut Protein Pancakes

Brunch is totally mainstream these days, but I don’t think that was always true.  In the past ten years, we’ve become very familiar with brunch, sort of akin to how “googling” something or someone is totally normal.

I love brunch, the wonderful marriage of breakfast and lunch that often involves a tasty libation.  I’m totally on-board.  What I wish would gain great popularity is Brinner.  I have no idea if that’s actually a term, but let’s go with it.

Brinner, the happy marriage of breakfast and dinner.  AKA Breakfast for Dinner.  It should most definitely be a thing.

But you should probably know I have this thing where I think breakfast should be healthy.  It’s the first meal of the day and you should probably start it off on the right foot.  For me, it’s usually a smoothie with banana, mango, spinach, kale and protein powder.  I drink it on my way to work, and it keeps me full for a long time without feeling sluggish.

So if we’re having breakfast for dinner, that doesn’t mean we have to go crazy and eat tons of bacon, pancakes and eggs drenched in maple syrup.  That’s ok sometimes, but for days like today, let’s keep it light and full of protein.

Now, all that aside, what is more beautiful than a stack of pancakes?

pancakestack

Well… a stack of these pancakes…

vanillacoconutproteinpancakes3

Vanilla Coconut Protein Pancakes

2 tbsp spelt flour
2 tbsp almond meal
3 tbsp protein powder (I used Garden of Life Raw Vanilla Protein)
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp chia seeds
1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
1 egg
2-4 tbsp almond milk

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Then add wet ingredients (start with 2 tbsp of almond milk and add more accordingly.  Every protein powder is different so to avoid getting batter that’s too thin, adjust accordingly) and stir together. 

Heat a pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour 2 tbsp of batter to form each pancake.  Cook a few minutes. Once it starts to bubble on top, flip and cook an additional minute or two. 

You’ll get exactly 4 pancakes if you measure (and use a spatula to scrape the bowl). Serve with you toppings of choice. 

I served it with some extra coconut and a maple syrup/yogurt combo (2-3 tbsp greek yogurt + 1 tbsp maple syrup + water to thin it out).  Deeeelish.

vanillacoconutproteinpancakes2

Nutrition-wise, they’re not too bad either.

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 6.04.21 PM

There’s almost 30 grams of protein in there!  Note: these stats are only for the pancakes, not any of the toppings. The fat comes mostly from the almond meal and coconut.  But don’t be scared of fat!  It does a body good.

vanillacoconutproteinpancakes1

Ok so please tell me you’re going to help me make Brinner a thing and tell everyone about these protein pancakes.  Yes!

Do you ever do breakfast for dinner?  What’s your favorite Brinner item?

My Search for the Best Protein Powder

I read a lot of health and fitness blogs.  I’m definitely a fan, but one of the things that sometimes irks me is that their lives don’t seem real to me in the sense that many of my favorite blogs are run by full-time bloggers.  They work from home, and have a schedule where they can work out at a variety of different times and can prepare their meals just before eating them since they’re at home.  In that sense, I can’t really relate.  My breakfasts don’t normally look like this:

pancakebreakfast

Ok so they don’t have breakfasts like that everyday either, but doesn’t it seem like it sometimes?

During the week I don’t really have time to make elaborate breakfasts.  Most days sleep and convincing myself to get my butt to the gym are more important.  Consequently, most mornings are a little bit like this:

Rushing out the door with a smoothie in a jar, my purse and my lunch bag.  A smoothie for breakfast is great, because I can drink it in the car or at my desk when I get to the office.  Lately, I’ve been trying to add protein to my morning smoothies to help keep me fuller longer.  I’ve had a container of protein powder sitting in my cupboard for over a year and honestly, I hated the taste.

I decided to go on a mission: to find the perfect protein powder.

My criteria are pretty limited: calories and taste.  I don’t want something too high in calories or sugar, but I definitely want it to taste good and keep me full til lunch.  So I went to the store and found as many single serving protein packets as possible.  Let me tell you about some of the ones I tried.

As a control, I mixed all of these protein powders with: 1/2 banana, mango chunks, spinach, kale, water, ice.  I figured that’s what I normally would want to have it with, so if it tastes good with that, I’d be pleased.

Just a note: I bought all of these protein powders on my own, I was not compensated for any of this.  This is just my opinion based on my palate.  I’m not a nutritionist or any type of expert on protein powder, I’m just a consumer sharing an opinion.

1. Garden of Life: Raw Protein

gardenoflife

Flavor: Real Raw Vanilla (they also have a chocolate and vanilla chai, I believe)

Taste:  Good.  A little on the sweet side.  It’s sweetened with stevia, which isn’t terrible.  I guess if you just mixed this with water or almond milk it might be the perfect sweetness (since mango and banana I mixed it with are sweet also)

Texture:  A tiny bit gritty, but not too bad.

Price: the small packet I got was $2.79, which is kind of expensive for a single serving.  On Amazon, a 22oz (approx. 28 servings) container costs $25.83.  That comes out to about $0.92/serving.  Not too bad, price wise.

Calories: 90 Calories for 17g of protein.  Keeps the smoothie pretty low cal, which for me is great.

Overall: I really like this one.  The flavor is great.  It was a little grittier than the others but I didn’t mind it.  I definitely like that it’s vegan, raw and plant-based.  I’m considering buying the large container of this one.

2. Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Shake

vegaone

Flavor: French Vanilla

Taste: Super tasty!  It reminded me of a milk shake, but that makes sense.  This isn’t actually protein powder.  It’s like an all-in-one nutrition shake, that said it had 15g of protein so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Texture: Super smooth.  I was definitely a fan of this.

Price: Probably the most expensive one.  Roughly 22 servings for $55.99 on Amazon.  That comes out to about $2.55 per serving.  Priceyyyyy…

Calories: 135 calories for 15g of protein.   BONUS: 6g of fiber! 50% of your daily vitamins and minerals.

Overall:  This was really good.  Loved the flavor and the texture.  It kept me full for a long time, but honestly, the deal breaker for me is the price. Woh woh.

3. 100% Whey Gold Standard

Flavor: Chocolate. I’m not really a fan of chocolate protein powder but I gave it a try anyway. My Co-worker gave me a serving of this to try.

Taste: Ok, not too chocolatey when mixed with the fruit and greens.   My complaint is that it has that whey protein after taste that I’m not a big fan of, but that’s subjective and also sorta just the nature of the beast.  I found myself guzzling this as quickly as possible just to get it over with… womp.

Texture: Very smooth!  Not gritty at all.  Definitely a bonus.  If you like frothy (which I hate), this (like other whey powders) gets frothy in the blender (even just mixed with water).

Price: On Amazon, it costs $53.99 for 73 servings.  That comes out to about $0.73 per serving.  Can’t beat that.

Calories: 120 calories for 24g of protein, pretty darn good.

Overall: Not bad.  Don’t think I’ll get it just because of the after taste but I’d be curious to try the other flavors like banana or vanilla.

4. Designer Whey

Flavor: French Vanilla

Taste: Ok so this is the protein powder that started the search.  I bought this one at Trader Joe’s and at the risk of sound harsh.  I hate the taste of this protein powder.  I don’t like the after taste at all.  It’s really hard for me to even finish a smoothie with it, and I am definitely not a picky eater.  A lot of times I found myself adding scoops of unsweetened cocoa powder to my smoothies to cover up the taste.  No bueno.

Texture: Smooth, frothy, not chalky.

Price: On Amazon, 4lbs for $45.19.  Not bad in terms of price.  Comes out to roughly $0.72 per serving.

Calories: 100 Calories for 18g of protein.  Not bad.  I think I’ll take Garden of Life over this one any day…

Overall:  I just can’t stand this one.  I’m pretty much convince I just don’t like the taste of any whey protein powder.  If you mix it with water and chug it, it’s fine, but if you’re going to sip over the course of half an hour (like I do with my morning smoothies), it’s not pleasant.  This one is a no-go for me.

5. Plant Fusion

Plantfusion

Flavor: Vanilla Bean

Taste: The package says “Amazing Taste.”  It’s good but I’m not sure I’d call it amazing.  It was a little sweet for my taste (sweetened with stevia).  To be honest, the taste was sorta “meh” for me.  Maybe I’m raising my protein powder flavor standards?

Texture: Smooth, not chalky or gritty when blended up.  I was a little concerned because there seemed to be a lot of powder in the packet, but it all smoothed out.

Price: On Amazon, it’s $30.31 for 2lbs, that’s about 30 servings.  So about $1 per serving.  Price isn’t terrible.

Calories: 120 calories for 21g of protein.  That’s pretty good in my opinion.  Up there with the 100% Gold Standard Whey, which probably had the best calorie to protein ratio, but I will say I much prefer the taste of this one.

Overall: This one is not bad.  It’s probably my second choice in terms of protein and price.  This one is a blend of pea protein, artichoke protein, amaranth powder and quinoa powder.  I’m definitely a fan of the fact that it’s plant-based.

I think so far, Garden of Life Raw Protein is the winner for me.  I love that it’s plant-based (we love the Earth, right?) and it tastes pretty darn good.  The fact that it’s low calorie just sort of sweetens the deal.

I’m going to keep trying more to find what I like but this was a good set I tried so far.  I’m really interested to try egg white protein powder.  I think I just need to stay away from whey.

Do you use protein powder? If so, what’s your favorite kind?  Suggest away because the search continues for me (maybe)!