6 Ways to Take the Guilt out of Eating Pancakes

Medically reviewed in November 2021

If you've been denying yourself pancakes for health and waist reasons, get out the griddle -- they're back.

Play Fast and Loose with the Batter

"Pancake batters are like cookie mixtures: They aren't an exact science. You can throw all kinds of stuff into them and they'll still come out just fine!" says nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of The Food and Mood Cookbook. Here's how to rehab your favorite flapjack recipe:

1. Cut Down the Calories

  • Use half the oil, margarine, shortening, or butter called for in the recipe.
  • Use nonfat milk or nonfat condensed milk -- or low-fat buttermilk or soymilk -- instead of whole milk.
  • Use cooking spray to prepare the griddle.
  • Keep servings to two 4" pancakes.

2. Pump Up the Fiber

  • Replace some of the white or unbleached flour with whole-wheat pastry flour. (It's lighter than regular whole-wheat flour.) Start with 3/4 cup white and 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour for every cup of flour called for. Increase the whole-wheat flour every time you cook until you find the proportion you like best.
  • Toss in a handful of oatmeal to up the protein and fiber. (You may need to add a little extra milk, too.)
  • To make gluten-free pancakes, use buckwheat flour.

3. Skim Off the Cholesterol

  • Replace the eggs with egg substitute, or use two whites per yolk.
  • For fluffier pancakes, whip the whites separately, and then fold them into the batter.

4. Skinny Down the Sugar

  • Replace half the sugar with Splenda.
  • Try adding sweet-tasting flavorings: vanilla, nutmeg, and/or cinnamon, and leave out some of the sugar.

5. Rev Up the Antioxidants

  • Mix a spoonful of canned pumpkin, grated apple, or whole blueberries into the batter.
  • Add some toasted wheat germ or ground flaxseeds, too.

6. Swap Out the Syrup

  • Heap on fresh or thawed berries -- any kind.
  • Top with a tablespoon of all-fruit apricot jam and a sliced banana.
  • Spoon on fat-free sour cream, yogurt, or ricotta cheese mixed with mango chunks or mandarin oranges.

If you still crave syrup, drizzle any of the above with a little agave nectar (sold in health-food stores). It tastes as sweet as syrup, but it's far easier on your blood sugar levels.

Now, Reap the Rewards

Trading pale, wimpy pancakes soaked in butter and syrup for hearty, healthy ones rich in flavor, fruit, fiber, and nutrients will do more than rehab an A.M. favorite and boost your energy for the day. Training your taste buds to love foods that thwart aging can make your RealAge at least 3 years younger.

No time for pancakes? Here are a few quick and easy ways to get a high-energy start to your day.

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