It’s a common misconception that healthy eating means sacrificing flavor. But that’s simply not true! By making your favorite dishes with clean ingredients and adding fresh fruits and vegetables, your meals can be more satisfying and you’ll be less likely to binge on foods void of nutrients.
My favorite breakfast food to recreate in a healthy way is pancakes. Pancakes are commonly made with bleached wheat flour and include high fat and sugar additions, but over the years, I’ve created several delicious recipes that are nutritious and filling — and you’ll still feel like a kid enjoying a stack on Saturday morning.
One of the most important tips to making healthful pancakes is to nix the bleached flour. Instead, you can use alternatives like almond and coconut flour. Not only do these flours contain fewer carbohydrates, more protein, and far more dietary fiber, research suggests they can help you lower bad cholesterol and maybe even lose a little weight!
What’s more is that for people who manage conditions where inflammation is a common side effect, nut flours may be better options than traditional flours. Traditional flours can cause inflammation, according to one study published in Nutrients.
These recipes are also packed with other super nutritious ingredients, so they make you feel as good as they taste. So, if you’re ready to get cooking, here are four ways you can make super delicious, healthier pancakes for breakfast (or any time!).
BETTER-FOR-YOU BLUEBERRY PANCAKES
Start to finish: 20 minutes
According to a 2010 study published in Nutrition Reviews, berries are a great source of polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, micronutrients, and fiber. They’ve also been shown to improve cardiovascular risk profiles. This recipe also contains high fiber coconut flour and is free of high fat oils and butters. So go ahead — serve up another stack!
1/2 cup egg whites
1/4 cup gluten-free oats
1/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 tbsp. coconut flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. blueberries (for mix)
2 tbsp. blueberries (for topping)
STEP 1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor.
STEP 2. Blend until it reaches a nice batter consistency. Feel free to adjust consistency as desired by adding more almond milk or coconut flour.
STEP 3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook pancakes about 2 minutes, to form. Flip and cook for another minute, until golden.
STEP 4. Serve with maple syrup or Manuka honey and top with blueberries.
ZUCCHINI PANCAKES WITH ZESTY YOGURT
Start to finish: 20 minutes
Who doesn’t love a good latke, right? But the traditional version is packed with bread crumbs, flour, and is usually fried in oil. As an alternative, try these fluffy gluten-free zucchini pancakes that include foods rich in antioxidants, such as spinach. Spinach is high in the antioxidant lutein and has been demonstrated to support eye health, according to a study published in Nutrients.
Cumin is another great spice in this recipe. It’s been shown to reduce serum levels of fasting cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, and to increase HDL cholesterol in obese women, according to one study. An added bonus: You can sneak in your veggies for the day, so they’re perfect for even the pickiest eater.
2 zucchini, grated
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup baby spinach, chopped and sautéed (6 oz. package)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tbsp. flaxseeds
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Greek plain yogurt
juice and zest of 1/2 lime
sea salt and pepper to taste
STEP 1. Grate the zucchini and sprinkle with sea salt. The salt will help draw out water from the zucchini. Squeeze out excess water very well using your hands.
STEP 2. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients (except for olive oil) with the zucchini and mix well.
STEP 3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and add large spoonfuls of the mixture to form a pancake. Cook the pancakes for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden.
STEP 4. To make the zesty yogurt, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
STEP 5. Serve pancakes with yogurt and grated lime zest.
FLOUR-FREE BANANA PANCAKES
Start to finish: 10 minutes
These perfect little pancakes taste just like the ones your grandmother used to make, but are flour-free and packed with vitamins and nutrients. According to the USDA Food Composition Database, 1 cup of mashed bananas contains a whopping 806 mg of potassium and 19.6 mg of vitamin C.
The added almond butter and flaxseeds provide protein and also help support heart health — almonds have been shown by the Journal of the American Heart Association to reduce non‐HDL and LDL cholesterol. Flaxseeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, according to the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.
Finally, a dash of cinnamon doesn’t just add flavor. Cinnamon is also a powerful spice that has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antitumor, and cardiovascular and cholesterol-lowering effects, according to research in Food Science and Nutrition.
1 tbsp. almond butter
1 tsp. ground flaxseeds
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. maple syrup
1/2 cup fresh berries
STEP 1. In a food processor, combine the banana, eggs, almond butter, flaxseeds, and cinnamon. Pulse until smooth.
STEP 2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and lightly grease with coconut oil. Add 2 tbsp. of the mix at a time, cooking each side until golden.
STEP 3. Serve with maple syrup, bee pollen, hemp seeds, and fresh berries.
Start to finish: 20 minutes
Matcha has become quite popular in recent years both on its own and as an ingredient in healthy dishes — and for good reason. Matcha delivers all of the benefits of green tea but with more potency. Matcha is packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. It detoxifies the body, enhances mood, and lowers cholesterol. I promise you, these gluten-free fluffy pancakes will have you coming back for more.
1/4 cup coconut flour
3 tsp. coconut oil, plus more for frying
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. maple syrup, plus more for serving
1/3 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tbsp. matcha powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
STEP 1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
STEP 2. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over low to medium heat.
STEP 3. With a ladle, pour out just enough of the batter to make a small round pancake. The skillet I use fits 3 pancakes at the same time. Cook for 2 minutes, until you see small bubbles appear and the bottom is golden. Flip and cook for about 30 seconds.
STEP 4. Continue cooking until all the batter has been used, adding more coconut oil to skillet as needed.
STEP 5. Serve with maple syrup, raspberries, and coconut flakes.
Food plays an important role in our lives and choosing the right type of foods is crucial. There are so many different ways to make healthier pancakes these days that it can be a really fun and creative way to try out new ingredients. Next time you have a craving for your grandma’s favorite latke or your mom’s famous short-stack, remember that you can still enjoy the best of your childhood and be good to your body. What are your best tips for healthifying your favorite foods? Share them with me in the comments!
Neda Varbanova is a certified health coach, recipe developer, and luxury travel expert. Neda believes that healthy eating, regular exercise, and a positive mindset are the keys to feeling your best. You can find her living this healthy lifestyle all over the world. In 2015, Neda created HealthyWithNedi.com as a place to share her figure-friendly recipes, nutrition and wellness tips, and luxury travel guides. Neda is a certified health coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, has a certificate in culinary nutrition from the Natural Gourmet Institute, and is currently getting her master’s in food studies at NYU Steinhardt.