I Made My Pancakes Healthier… and No One Noticed!

posted by Andrea | 01/16/2018
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Five years ago, I shared my most favorite (super simple) pancake recipe; and since then, so many of you have told me that your family also loves these delicious pancakes!

Seriously, they are almost as easy as using a Bisquick mix… and boy are they yummy!

Over the past 5 years, I’ve made this recipe hundreds and hundreds of times (I make pancakes 3-4 times every week) per the request of Dave, the kids, overnight guests, etc. etc.

We all LOOOOOOOOOOOVE these pancakes!

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My original recipe isn’t necessarily “unhealthy”, especially considering I almost always serve pancakes with eggs + cottage cheese and fruit. However, last year, I decided to try “healthifying” my pancake recipe just a little tiny bit… hoping no one would notice.

I started with an easy one — I used melted butter instead of vegetable oil, and no one said a word.

Next I swapped the 3 Tbs. of sour cream for plain Greek yogurt… still no complaints!

Then I swapped the 1 Tbs. of sugar for maple syrup, and everyone just kept telling me how good the pancakes were!

I swear, these pancakes look the same, taste the same, and have exactly the same texture as they did before — the only difference is a few healthier substitutions in the batter!

I have tried playing with the flour a bit (swapping in some whole wheat) but that definitely changes the taste and texture — not for the better, in my opinion.

So while I know all-purpose flour isn’t the most nutritious flour option around, it’s staying in our pancake recipe for now. I might give whole wheat a try again sometime in the future though! 🙂

Recipe for my “Healthified” Pancakes:

makes 8-10 pancakes

{print recipe}

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 egg
  • 3 T. plain Greek yogurt (in place of sour cream)
  • 1 T. maple syrup (in place of brown sugar)
  • 1 T. melted butter (in place of vegetable oil)
  • 1 t. Vanilla extract (a new addition for this recipe)
  • 1 c. milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • blueberries, chocolate chips, nuts, or your favorite mix-in {optional}

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium bowl, combine egg, yogurt, syrup, butter, vanilla, milk, and salt.

Add in flour and baking powder, mix well.

Pour batter onto a pre-heated griddle or frying pan.

Add berries, chocolate, and/or nuts to the top sides of the pancakes if desired. Wait until you see the pancakes start to bubble up before flipping them.

Store extra pancakes in an air-tight container in the fridge, or freeze the cakes between sheets of parchment paper for easy breakfasts down the road.

**I usually make the batter the night before so I can have fresh, hot pancakes on the table within minutes of the kids waking up 🙂

These 3 tiny substitutions take almost no extra effort from me, and considering how often we eat pancakes, they definitely add up over time!

What are some of your favorite healthier substitutions?

Visit my virtual recipe box for more simple, delicious, family friendly, recipes!

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42 comments

  1. Carolyn

    02/08/2018

    I have been using your pancake recipe for several years now and it is our absolute favorite, everyone who eats them always comments how good they taste. Thanks for sharing your recipe and providing this healthier update!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay! It IS a great recipe! And so simple 🙂

    [Reply]

  2. Maren

    01/23/2018

    For flour, I will sneak in oatmeal–about a quarter up to one half of the flour amount just blended in the blender first, then I add all the other ingredients and use the blender to pour onto the griddle! There is a slight difference, but not enough for my kids to notice UNLESS you try the whole recipe oatmeal. Thanks for your recipe.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I sometimes add oat flour (I make it in my food processor) to cookies, but I never thought about pancakes! Thanks!!

    [Reply]

  3. Pat

    01/22/2018

    Try putting 1 tbsp. of wheat germ in each cup of flour. I do this in white breads that I make and it doesn’t affect the taste at all but it puts a good deal of the nutrition back in the flour. You put the wheat germ in the measuring cup and then fill with flour.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good idea — I’ll add this to my grocery list this week 🙂 Thanks!

    [Reply]

  4. Tricia

    01/21/2018

    Made these for brinner. Consistency was great, but….terrible bitter taste. Any idea why? Is it the baking powder?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    hmmm… no idea! I’ve literally made this exact recipe 3-4 times a week for the last 5 years and never once has it tasted bitter.
    I just went back to check that I typed the recipe correctly and it is correct. The only thought I had was that maybe the baking soda or yogurt was “bad”

    [Reply]

  5. Karen Jeanne

    01/21/2018

    I’ve started using honey instead of sugar in a lot of things, but I’ve never tried it in pancakes before. I’ve also used agave nectar, which is supposed to be good for you, too. It has a milder flavor. I have the white whole wheat flour that others have mentioned, & I agree, it is better tasting but it is still heartier. I have been trying to limit my fat intake recently for health reasons… do you think fat free Greek yogurt will work as well as the whole fat kind?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Karen,
    I’m definitley not a health expert, but everything I’ve heard, read, and been told is that full fat dairy products are MUCH healthier than low fat or fat-free dairy products. The low fait and fat free make up for the loss of fat by adding in sugar and other non-pronounceable ingredients instead. I’m fairly certain you’ll be better off with a little extra fat than a whole bunch of sugar and other “junk”.
    For example, if you buy full fat sour cream and plain yogurt (like I do), the Ingredients list will say: Cultured Cream or Cultured Milk. However, if you buy low fat or fat free, it will list several other ingredients that I have no idea what they are.
    If you’re trying to limit your fat, you’d do a lot better to stay away from fatty meats and “bad fats” like cookie, cakes, etc. Stick with healthier fats like dairy, nuts, avocados, olive oil, etc.
    Again, I’m not a health expert but I have looked into this quite a bit over the past 3-4 years and this is what I’ve learned and been told.

    [Reply]

  6. Jenny

    01/18/2018

    I’d like to see a post explaining why (or if) melted butter is healthier than vegetable oil, and a cost comparison.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’m certain you could find a comparison on many health food blogs — but not on my blog 🙂
    That said, butter is simply fat from milk, so I assume its more nutritious than vegetable oil. I still use vegetable oil, but I’m confident melted butter has more nutrients.
    That said, I’m also confident melted butter is much more costly!

    [Reply]

  7. Cn

    01/17/2018

    I had success changing the oil in my recipe to applesauce. It let me reduce the sugar too!

    [Reply]

  8. Melissa

    01/16/2018

    Have you ever tried “White Whole Wheat”? It’s 100% whole wheat, but made from white wheat berries rather than traditional red berries. This may be a more subtle substitution. I’d try replacing maybe a 1/3 or half and see how it goes until the threshold has been met. 😉
    King Arthur is the brand I usually grab, there may be other brands available in your area.
    I also like to add applesauce for half the milk to get a little more fruit in.

    [Reply]

  9. Luba @ Healthy with Luba

    01/16/2018

    Andrea, great job! It’s interesting how “healthier” can also taste better, isn’t it?

    I use honey in my bread recipe instead of the sugar. Also, we use organic whole wheat bread flour, which is very tasty. Instead of dairy, we’ll use salsa.

    For my husband’s breakfast, I make buckwheat with fruit, honey, peanut butter, hemp seed, and cinnamon. He loves the taste, and it beats any cereal for being filling and healthy.

    [Reply]

  10. Linda

    01/16/2018

    This looks super! I am all about making things healthy.
    Have you ever tried buttermilk? I wonder what it would
    Do to the texture or taste.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    buttermilk would definitely work — I just rarely have it in the house, so regular milk is always easier!

    [Reply]

  11. Irina

    01/16/2018

    Hi Andrea, I’ve been following your blog for several years now, and I love it. However, this post made me raise my eyebrows… I sincerely can’t agree that the changes made are healthier… Sugar vs maple syrup is 54 calories vs 66 cal per Tbsp and at the end of the day sugar is sugar, and the “benefits” of maple syrup are largely overhyped. Same for vegetable oil and butter, you’re swapping out 20 calories per serving for added cholesterol. An all-around healthier way would be reduce either one and have some olive oil in your salad. The less processed, “natural” options (as is the hype these days) aren’t necessarily the healthier ones (I’m looking at you, coconut oil). I’m definitely far from a health nut myself, but I do try to make healthier choices that make sense.

    Please know that I do love your blog and I’ve learned a lot over the years. This post just hit a nerve with me.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Irina,
    I think if I were a health food blogger, I might worry more about calories — but I’m not. I’m a simple-living blogger, so I focus on keeping things SIMPLE 🙂
    I don’t count calories and hopefully never will, but I DO try to think about the types of calories I’m eating. I’d much rather have calories from butter and maple syrup than processed oil and refined sugar.
    And as I mentioned in the post, these are just tiny changes that are super easy for average home cooks to integrate into their everyday lives.
    Thanks for your long-time readership… and yay for your very first comment after all these years!

    [Reply]

  12. JJ

    01/16/2018

    Yummm!!! My dad always added cinnamon and vanilla to his pancake batter, and his pancakes were the best! These look delicious!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    You’re the 3rd person who has suggested adding cinnamon — I always add it to french toast, but I might have to try pancakes now too!

    [Reply]

  13. Sarah

    01/16/2018

    Love it! I’ve started swapping out 25-50% of the flour for almond meal or almond flour. I’m not ready to go super low carb, but find that I feel better when I don’t over do it, so this is a nice balance. The texture is still great, and while the flavor changes a little, we really like the extra flavor it adds.

    I also do quadruple batches on the weekend, and then freeze them. They reheat great in the toaster and my boys loving having “toaster pancakes” on school mornings.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    thanks for the tips and ideas! I also make big batches and have found that “reheating” the pancakes in the toaster works really well for us too (except for the few times when the pancakes wedge down the side of the toaster and are a huge pain to get out!)

    [Reply]

  14. Heidi

    01/16/2018

    Love this! How has your breakfast routine changed now that you have a school age kiddo? Do you still do hot breakfasts everyday?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Good question — others have asked this too so I might write something about it.
    In general, yes, we still have a hot breakfast every single morning. Nora and Dave eat together earlier and then I eat with the other kids later. Usually, what I’ve been doing is making extra pancakes, french toast, bacon, sausage, etc. for Dave and Nora to re-heat the next morning. They don’t seem to mind and this way, everyone gets a hot breakfast even though we don’t all eat at the same time!

    [Reply]

  15. Karen

    01/16/2018

    I almost always start by reducing the sugar incrementally. In the beginning, I used “almost” the sugar called for in a recipe and now for most recipes I start somewhere between half and 2/3 the sugar called for, the first time I make it. Most recipes are sweet enough with half the sugar called for. This does need to be a fairly slow change, but now everyone comments on things that are overly sweetened. And we all like our sweets!

    Pumpkin pie is a huge favorite here. I make it in a souffle dish instead of pastry. I use about 1/2 c sugar and although the recipe I use calls for evaporated milk, I have variously subbed cream, a mixture of milk and yogurt, a slightly reduced amount of regular milk, or coconut milk.

    I sometimes use ground flaxseed instead of one egg in multiple egg recipes to boost omega 3.

    I never reduce the quantity of fats, but always try to improve the quality of them.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’ve also started reducing the sugar in many baked goods — it’s amazing how much I take out without making much difference at all!

    [Reply]

  16. Brittany

    01/16/2018

    I love that you shared about small healthy changes! So simple and doable. I have done the same with my go-to breakfast–chocolate oatmeal. Switched sugar out for raw honey, using unrefined coconut oil instead of other less-healthy fats. Unsweetened cocoa and old fashioned oats rounds out the meal. Every little bit adds up–in finance, health, habits, goals, really all around!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    exactly! Small changes are the way to go — less overwhelming and easier to stick with!

    [Reply]

  17. Meg

    01/16/2018

    White whole wheat flour is so much better than regular whole wheat flour! It’s not a marketing ploy- it’s actually whole wheat flour, but it’s milled from the white wheat berry instead of the red and it’s much closer to a wnite flour taste and texture. Whole wheat pastry flour is also made from the white wheat berry (albeit the soft wheat berries) and is also a lot better! We are super picky about our flour and I had given up on making the switch even partially, u til I discovered the differences in the types of whole wheat flour!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Good to know — I didn’t even know there were different kind of whole wheat flour! I’ve already added “white whole wheat flour” to my grocery list!!

    [Reply]

    Crystal Young Reply:

    I just made some blueberry muffins (Two peas and their pod) and it uses white whole wheat flour. I thought they came out very good! Worth a try. A note though, it isn’t truly white, so you will see a color difference in your pancakes.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good to know — maybe I’ll put food coloring in them to make tie-die pancakes. They love it when I do this and then they won’t notice the color!

    [Reply]

  18. Linda Melloncamp

    01/16/2018

    I substitute white whole wheat flour for all purpose….we like that a lot. That may be something you might try changing for added nutrition. I am definitely trying your other suggestions.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Linda! I’ve added this to my grocery list for this week!

    [Reply]

  19. Alissa

    01/16/2018

    Not related specifically to pancakes, I was wondering how you clean your griddle. I think we may have the same one and we use it all the time. I think I have ruined it by washing it in the sink with soap, but I am not sure what else to do. I am thinking about buying a new one and starting over (ours is 8+ years old). If you have any tips for keeping your griddle in good shape, please share. Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Michelle Reply:

    Hi Alissa,

    If you end up replacing it, consider a ceramic griddle. I bought one and I absolutely love it. No oil necessary to cook the pancakes, they do not stick, and clean up is quick and easy with a swipe of a damp cloth. No sink or soap necessary.

    It doesn’t get any easier than that!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Good to know — Dave and I have had our griddle for 12 years now and we’ve been talking about replacing it soon. I love it… but it’s getting worn out! I’ll have to look into the ceramic option. Thanks Michelle!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good question! Dave and I area actually in the market for a new griddle too as ours is 12 years old now (and we use it several times every week!) Another reader suggested buying ceramic, and that’s what I’m looking into (they are pricier though!)
    As for cleaning ours, I’ve been spraying it with nonstick spray recently so things don’t stick as much. However, to clean it, I usually just use vinegar spray and a damp cloth. It’s not perfect, but I know I can’t put ours in the sink.

    [Reply]

    Michelle Reply:

    I bought mine around Christmas time 2016 and got a great deal.

    I purchased it when it was on sale then applied my mperks rewards at Meijer to get it even cheaper.

    [Reply]

  20. Annette Silveira

    01/16/2018

    That’s so fantastic. It’s those small choices every day that add up over time. I would suggest trying whole wheat pastry flour for part of the white flour. It’s milled finer and I think you may like it.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’ll look into the pastry flour! Thanks Annette!

    [Reply]