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Out of the Box: Pancake Edition


Pancake PicA favorite breakfast item for our kids is PANCAKES!  And, the boxed pancake mixes are just so darn easy…throw some pancake mix, water and a handful of chocolate chips in a bowl, turn on the stove and - just like magic - chocolate chip pancakes are up!  Add some syrup and a healthy (or NOT) breakfast is ready!

Unfortunately, these boxed pancake mixes provide a lot of empty calories that don't really nourish us.  The enriched wheat flour quickly converts to sugar in our bodies.  Then there is added sugar (this example lists sugar AND dextrose) and artificial colors (Yellow 5 and Red 40)!  This doesn't include the other questionable ingredients....therefore, one of my personal mom struggles is healthy pancakes!

 

We all know breakfast is challenging as we rush out to work or school.  It is so easy to grab something easy and quick, which a lot of times means pre-packaged and processed.  Remember, we didn't always eat like we do today.  There was a day when breakfasts at our house included sugary cereals, muffins, french toast sticks, mini pancakes and frozen waffles.  We even went through a phase when we thought those Quaker breakfast oatmeal squares were the perfect healthy breakfast!  Besides the fact that processed, quick breakfasts aren't nourishing, they are often loaded with processed carbs and sugars, causing a rise in blood sugar and leaving us feeling hungry again within a couple of hours.  The key is finding options with a balance of good carbs, protein and fiber (to get our brains and bodies working at full potential)!

Over the years, we have kicked these processed breakfast items to the curb and have found some much better alternatives (better nutrition and better taste!).  But we still struggle with finding a healthy homemade pancake our kids will love!  Believe me, we have tried several pancake recipes, and by several, I mean lots!  Most of the time they taste great, but have the consistency of hockey pucks -- which turns our kids off before the pancakes even reach their mouths!  Is it so much to ask for a homemade healthy version that mimics the consistency and look of the boxed pancake mix?  I am less than thrilled that my kids’ brains have been hijacked to think that the boxed version has set the standard.  Sure, they may be convenient by "just adding water," but at what cost?  My kids’ health and performance?

IMG_2116I am confident we will eventually find one that is a grand slam home run…because we recently came really close!

Our latest success is a version that is so simple and doesn't even include flour or milk -- REAL Banana Blueberry Pancakes!

So, it's great for someone with a gluten or dairy sensitivity, and the perfect way to use up bananas before they go bad!  Here is the lowdown on its ingredients:

  • Bananas (provides potassium, which is important to get just the right amount of and does a great job controlling blood pressure!)
  • Eggs (protein and other nutrients)
  • Oats (great source of fiber)
  • Cinnamon (can help control insulin levels)
  • Blueberries (gives us that antioxidant punch)

The blueberry topping also includes a small amount of honey to add some sweetness, although we think this is optional.  Of course, you can easily modify these...add chopped nuts to the batter, add other toppings such as bananas or other fruit, and feel free to top with a dollop of whipped cream or greek yogurt!

These pancakes and super-easy to make and here's how they compare to the boxed variety:

  • Healthfulness:  the REAL pancakes have a great balance of good carbs, fiber and protein.  They provide energy to get the day started and should keep you satisfied through lunch (maybe with a healthy snack mid-morning).  Of course, there are no unrecognizable ingredients like those found in the boxed variety.
  • Taste:  REAL ingredients also create flavor that boxed mixes just don't have!  Especially with the blueberry topping, these pancakes have outstanding flavor!
  • Preparation:  tossing the ingredients in a food processor or blender is simple and doesn't take much more time than just adding water - the end result is totally worth the few added seconds!
  • Cost:  to make 8-10 pancakes, the REAL pancakes (without the blueberry topping) are about $1.60 vs. $.50 for the box version.  But keep in mind, this isn't really a fair comparison because the processed box variety may make you hungry within a couple of hours, not to mention the health consequences and their costs!
  • Happiness:  I am not sure how to best put this one into words, but the REAL pancakes provide satisfaction in knowing you got your day (or your kids’ day) off to a great start -- and no guilt from the processed box variety!  Plus, this often leads to healthier decisions throughout the rest of the day!

ONE WARNING:  while the consistency of the REAL Banana Blueberry Pancakes is light and moist, it is different from the boxed variety.  As you know, different isn’t a bad thing, but it can cause some initial resistance from our kids.  But we have to be strong and stay persistent!  Remember, changing from processed foods to healthier options doesn't happen overnight -- but the important thing is to ACT now!  I can tell you from experience...it can be done...you can gradually remove processed foods from the routine.  (My blog on Picky Eaters might help:  https://eatrealamerica.com/2014/11/dont-believe-every-thing-think/).

It would be impossible for me to write a blog on pancakes without mentioning maple syrup!  Did you know there is no actual maple syrup in Aunt Jemima?  And, not just Aunt Jemima…several others on the store shelves too!  Read that ingredient label and choose the one that is pure maple syrup -- most of them are just a scientific combination of sugars!  If you haven't had a chance to read the blog I did on maple syrup, you can check it out at https://eatrealamerica.com/2013/10/dont-let-aunts-invade-kitchen/.

We have a few breakfast recipe ideas on our site, including muffin cup frittatas, overnight oatmeal and homemade granola, but I would love to hear from you!  Please let me know your ideas on healthy pancakes or other breakfast items that are high in nutrition, taste great and are easy to prepare!

REAL Banana Blueberry Pancakes  

(this recipe can be found at https://eatrealamerica.com/recipes/real-banana-blueberry-pancakes/)

Ingredients:

4 eggs
2 bananas
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup blueberries
1 Tbsp honey (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place the frozen blueberries and 1 Tbsp of honey (if using) in a small pan on medium high to high heat.  When beginning to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer while you make the pancakes.  This will create the blueberry topping.
  2. In a food processor or blender, add the eggs, bananas, oats, and cinnamon.  Blend until smooth.  (You can also whisk these in a bowl but blending will make them somewhat smoother.)
  3. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium high heat.  Add 1/4 cup of the batter to the skillet for each pancake.  When the first side is brown and batter is beginning to bubble, flip and brown the other side.  Continue for all of the pancake batter.
  4. Serve pancakes topped with blueberry topping.  Enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from insidebrucrewlife.com)

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