Four Simple Substitutions for Healthier Pancakes

Pancakes are often considered an “unhealthy” food choice, but they don’t have to be. Here are four simple substitutions to make your next batch of pancakes healthy!

Whole grain flour versus refined white flour:
One thing about regular old pancakes is people end up overeating them because they’re made with white flour. White flour is refined, stripped of all its fibre and nutrients, so it doesn’t fill you up. It also spikes your blood sugar leaving you hungry again soon after. This also means your body doesn’t use the flour for energy, so it’s quickly stored as fat.

You can make delicious-tasting pancakes using whole grain flours such as spelt, buckwheat, brown rice, whole wheat or oat flour, which are high in fibre and still have all their good-for-you nutrients. The cool thing about fibre is it actually stretches the walls of your intestines, which gives you the feeling of being full. This means you can eat less, but still feel satisfied! Plus, getting enough fibre in your diet is important for proper digestion, and as we all know, digestion is the key to health.

Fill them up with fruit
Fill up your pancakes with fruity goodness from bananas, apples, pears or blueberries. Fruit is a great source of fibre and antioxidants such as vitamin C. The more nutrients you can pack into your pancakes, the better!

Coconut oil versus margarine
Coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils in the world. It is rich in lauric acid, which is also a key ingredient in breast milk. Lauric acid is loaded with nutrients and strengthens the immune system. Due to its molecular structure, coconut oil is easily digested and processed by the body as energy rather than stored as fat. You can substitute coconut oil for margarine or butter in all your cooking and baking. It also makes for an amazing body moisturizer.

Real maple syrup versus fake maple syrup
I’ve written an entire blog post about the goodness of real maple syrup. I consider it a healthy choice when it comes to sweeteners. It’s completely natural, unrefined and full of vitamins and minerals. You can use it in place of refined sugar in most cases. Unpasteurized honey and coconut palm sugar are also healthy substitutes for refined sugars.

Fake maple syrup is not a healthy choice. Here are the ingredients in Aunt Jemima’s original syrup:


Aside from the caramel color, preservatives and ingredients I can’t pronounce, the first ingredients are corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. These are refined sugars with no nutritional value, and will spike your blood sugar. Foods that spike your blood sugar can cause insulin resistance over time, which can lead to hypoglycemia, obesity and diabetes.

Here’s a great recipe for healthy pancakes that I adapted from Living Kitchen. Make a batch this weekend, and feel good about the fact that you’re making a healthy breakfast choice.

Spelt Banana Pancakes 

1 egg
1.5 cups almond milk or rice milk or water
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup spelt or brown rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch sea salt
1 banana, diced

Possible Toppings:
Real maple syrup
Plain yogurt
Frozen wild blueberries (thaw at room temp)


Preheat oven to 170 F (for keeping pancakes warm)

Chop banana into small pieces.

In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk and coconut oil.

In a larger bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sea salt.

Whisk wet and dry ingredients together until combined and smooth.

Fold in the chopped bananas.

Heat a small amount of coconut oil in a frying pan on medium heat.

Depending on the size of your frying pan, ladle 3-4 small spoonfuls of batter into the pan. Cook until you start to see bubbles form on top. Flip, and cook until lightly browned.

Store cooked pancakes in warm oven until ready to serve.

Top with plain yogurt, blueberries and real maple syrup; enjoy!

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