Happy Pancake Day!
Did you know today is Shrove Tuesday (also known as Pancake Day)?!
In honor of this special day, let's talk pancakes!
Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the Lenten season. This day comes from the old English custom of people saying confessions for the wrongs they’ve done, and then using up their kitchen ingredients so they were ready to fast for Lent. The ingredients most people had on hand were eggs and milk...combine this with one or two other ingredients and of course, you have PANCAKES! In other countries, Shrove Tuesday is known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday – again involving the idea of using up food before Lent.
If someone asked you if pancakes qualify as a "REAL food," what would you say?
Like most foods, not all pancakes are created equal. We all know for kids and adults alike, pancakes are among the top favorite breakfast foods. And, in our world of ultra-processed foods, boxed pancake mixes have become a "go-to" staple. They are just so darn easy...throw some pancake mix, water and a handful of chocolate chips in a bowl, heat up the skillet and - just like magic - chocolate chip pancakes! Add syrup and 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 are the added sugars (this example lists sugar AND dextrose) and artificial colors (Yellow 5 and Red 40)! This is hardly an ideal way to start our day...and our kids' day. Sure, they may be convenient by "just adding water," but at what cost? Our health?! Our performance?!
A world of fluffy white pancakes?
This husband and wife, who were thriving in their REAL food journey, had recently relocated to Florida (near family members) for the winter, and these family members have not yet discovered all the benefits of REAL food. The couple's comment sums it up pretty well:
"How did we go from healthy to white fluffy pancakes, bacon & MAYBE some fruit so fast?!?!"
So, it is true that most of the pancakes out there DO NOT qualify as REAL food!
Now for the good news!
It IS possible to enjoy pancakes loaded with nutritious REAL ingredients, and that are actually good for you and taste delicious. Now, I can honestly say that one of my personal mom struggles during our REAL food journey, especially early on, was healthy pancakes! We experimented with A LOT of recipes. Most of the time healthier versions might have tasted really good, but they often had the consistency of hockey pucks. Not surprisingly, this turned off our kids right from the start!
Through a lot of frustration and trial and error, we are excited to share with you that we have come up with some fantastic options! For example, our Banana Oat Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce are SO easy and don't even include flour or milk! They are perfect for someone with a gluten or dairy sensitivity, and the ideal way to use up bananas before they go bad! The ingredients are simple:
- Blueberries - contain powerful antioxidants, known as anthocyanins, that give foods like blueberries, cranberries, eggplant and red cabbage their deep, vibrant color. They are one of the best foods on the planet when it comes to destroying free radicals. Plus, they contribute to big health benefits such as reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and more.
- Bananas - provide potassium, which helps offset the adverse effects of sodium and does a great job reducing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes!
- Eggs - many consider eggs to be “a perfect food” because there are so many nutrients jam-packed into one small package! They are loaded with nutrients including vitamins B12 and D as well as good fats and antioxidants.
- Oats - cholesterol sponges and a great source of fiber.
- Cinnamon - can help control insulin levels and is an antioxidant powerhouse.
The blueberry topping also includes a small amount of optional maple syrup or honey to add a little sweetness. Of course, you can easily customize them more by adding chopped nuts to the batter or adding other toppings such as bananas, other fruits of your choice, and even a dollop of Greek yogurt!
Welcome to the world of pancakes made from REAL ingredients!
Here are more excellent options to celebrate Pancake Day:
Fruit-Topped Dutch Baby Pancake: this German "pizza pancake" - loaded with your choice of fruit and nuts - bakes up light and fluffy, then falls soon after coming out of the oven. (No flipping required!) Perfect for Sunday brunch!
Power Pancakes: No refined carbs here! This tasty high protein, whole-grain recipe is loved by kids. It can be made into pancakes or waffles and will satisfy until lunchtime!
Apple Peek-a-Boo Pancakes: Cook an apple in the middle of these scrumptious pancakes! The apple adds just the right amount of sweetness to keep it interesting...then drizzled with a little pure maple syrup just before devouring!
Oatmeal Raisin Pancakes: Their delicious flavor is similar to an oatmeal raisin cookie! Feel free to double and freeze the extras so you will have pancakes ready to grab and go!
Spaghetti Squash Pancakes: Believe it or not, you can make pancakes with spaghetti squash and they are delicious! Probably the most versatile pancake you will ever make...you can simply serve with a little maple syrup, or give them a sweet twist (by adding a fruit topping) or a savory twist (by adding fresh herbs and other vegetables). Get creative and mix it up!
Warning: while the consistency of these REAL pancakes is light and moist, they are different from the boxed variety. As you know, different isn’t a bad thing, but it can cause some initial resistance from the kids. 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.
In the morning chaos, it can be so tempting to grab a frozen pancake or waffle, throw a Pop-Tart in the toaster, pour a quick bowl of cereal, throw a breakfast bar in your bag, grab a donut or muffin on the way out the door, or hit the drive-thru on the way to school or work. Unfortunately, many of these highly processed foods quickly turn to sugar and leave your stomach growling by mid-morning.
We have SO MANY IDEAS on how to keep your breakfasts convenient, delicious and healthy. Everything from smoothies to overnight oats to breakfast burritos to granola to mini-frittatas to mug o' eggs to baked oatmeal cups...just to name a few! Check out all of the ideas here!
How are you celebrating Pancake Day?
Do you have a pancake recipe you want to healthify? Please let us know!