On Saturdays, does the Dad in your house rule the kitchen? If kids have any say about it, pancakes are likely on the menu. Even dads who don’t cook much often make pancakes. It’s almost a requirement.
It can be a great family tradition— and it doesn’t have to be a feast of empty calories. To make pancakes a truly healthy family tradition, experiment with healthier pancakes made with whole grains, added fruits, and nuts. You can even sneak in grated carrots and zucchini and still flip a delicious breakfast that’ll make you even more popular with your kids than you already are.
Here are some simple tips for tasty, nutritious pancakes:
- Nix the mix. They don’t really save you much time. It only takes 5 minutes to mix up your own.
- Include whole wheat flour in your homemade mix. Start by substituting whole wheat flour for half of the white flour in a recipe. Each time you make them, up the whole wheat flour amount a little bit.
- Add 1/4 cup rolled or quick oats, or a few tablespoons of wheat germ or ground flax seeds, to the batter—and leave out 2 tablespoons of the white flour.
- Whole wheat and added oats/wheat germ/flax make chewier pancakes, so be prepared to add a little more liquid to the recipe. Try adding a few tablespoons of applesauce or yogurt to add moisture, too.
- Replace the butter in the batter with mashed sweet potato, pumpkin, or applesauce
- Load the batter with fruit, grated vegetables, and nuts if your children like them. Fruit and grated vegetables add fiber and vitamins and antioxidants, plus a little sweetness. Nuts add protein and healthy fats, which will keep your little ones from getting hungry again too quickly.
- Try some of these combos: sliced strawberries and toasted slivered almonds; sliced bananas and toasted pecans or peanuts; blueberries and walnuts; grated carrots, finely diced pineapple, and pecans
- Top with maple-syrup-mixed-with-yogurt for a less sweet topping with a little extra protein
- Or ditch the syrup entirely and make a fruit sauce: Puree thawed, frozen berries or peaches. If they need sweetness, add a teaspoon or two of agave syrup or sugar.
- When peaches or mangos are in season, cut them up over a bowl to collect the juices, then stir in yogurt to make a topping loaded with antioxidants and protein
Pancakes are a great Saturday tradition. With a little imagination, your special flapjacks can also be a chance to feed your kids a healthier, nutritious, hunger-satisfying breakfast—and an introduction to new tastes.
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