I know what you may be thinking. Pancakes? Do I not realize that the word “CAKE” is in the name? Is it really possible to make a pancake recipe that isn’t a total nutritional disaster? Is it possible to see the words “whole wheat pancake recipe from scratch” and think “tasty”?
I absolutely think so! There are so many things that go into the conventional pancake that make the calories, fat, and sugar numbers skyrocket. Many of these things we will be avoiding.
As the name states, we will be replacing refined, white flour with whole-wheat flour, which should give us back the fiber and nutrients found in whole grains. We will also be adding some veggie punch with carrots (worry not, you won’t even know they are there!). Additionally, I like to use low-fat, 1% milk in this recipe in order to cut down on the saturated fat and cholesterol.
Now, for the big one. The hint that can bring a smile to many adult faces (especially as a parent of two young kids). There is absolutely no sugar added! All the sweetness will come from the natural sugars found in bananas.
Now you might again be saying, “Steve, hold the phone! Low-fat, whole grain, vegetable-included, no added sugar pancakes? And how does it not taste like cardboard?”
Well…I don’t honestly want to shun you, but hang in here with me for a second.
I find all the proof I need when my kids sit down to breakfast or dinner (yes, breakfast for dinner is perfectly acceptable and practiced often in my house) and shout excitedly when they see these on the table and give complements that they are delicious!
With a little know-how and some tips and tricks, you can really can have your (pan)cake and eat it too!
Whole Wheat Banana-Carrot Pancakes
- 3 cups whole wheat flour (those with gluten sensitivity can substitute your favorite gluten-free flour)
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 medium bananas
- 2 large carrots, finely grated
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp (or more depending on your taste) vanilla extract
- 4 cups low-fat, 1% milk
The following ingredients are some things you can top these pancakes with. They are optional and will not be included in my initial look at the nutritional facts of the pancakes themselves. However, I will be giving additional nutritional facts for my preferred serving method afterwards.
- Pure Maple Syrup
- Raw Honey
- Any favorite nut (great with almonds, cashews, or pecans)
- Your favorite nut or seed butter…do I dare include Nutella?!
- Fruit spread (or your favorite jam or preserves)
- Fruit (great with cooked apples, applesauce, raisins, or even more bananas!)
- In a large mixing bowl, add the 3 cups of flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and three teaspoons of ground cinnamon. Mix well with a whisk.
- A note for measuring the flour: I advise against scooping it out of the package with the measuring cup. This can actually lead to more dense pancakes as the flour is more densly-packed. Instead, spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level with the flat edge of a knife.
- In a different, large mixing bowl, place your bananas and thoroughly mash them, first with a fork and then with a whisk to make sure they are nice and smooth.
- To the bananas, add the finely grated carrots and whisk.
- Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and whisk again.
- Crack the 4 eggs into the mixture and whisk until very well combined.
Since this is the no sugar added recipe, I have added the eggs whole. You do have the option of separating your yolks and whites and whipping the whites until they form stiff peaks. However, in order to give better structure to the egg whites, about 2 tablespoons of sugar per egg white is required during the whipping process. While it doesn’t translate to cups of sugar per pancake, it still adds some.
- Then, pour in 4 cups of 1% milk and whisk thoroughly.
- Next, carefully add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients. At this point, I would switch from a whisk to either a large wooden spoon or large rubber scaper and stir until everything is combined (some lumps are OK).
- Let the batter rest and come together for at least 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, heat a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium to medium-high heat.
- To test if the pan is hot enough, get your hand wet under the faucet and sprinkle some water on the pan. If it immediately sizzles, you are good to go. At this point, you can decide whether you want the pan to be naked, to use cooking spray, or to melt butter for some extra flavor.
- Ladle a nice heap of batter (maybe about a 1/2 cup) into the pan. It should expand to about a 5-6 inch diameter.
- Allow to cook on the first side until you see bubbles appearing on the top and the outer rim of the pancake has a dryer, glossy look. Check the underside for browning and carefully flip.
- Warning! Whatever you do, DO NOT slap the pancakes or press them down after that first flip. All it will do is drive air out of the pancake and you will lose all the lift your leavening is working so hard to achieve!
- Allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes on the second side before pulling the pancake off the heat.
- You may serve immediately, or if you and the family all want to eat together, then pop them on a baking sheet and place in a warm oven (I usually set it to 170 degrees).
- Top with your favorite accompaniments and enjoy!
- The final texture of these particular pancakes is usually pretty moist when I make them. I don’t like a dry, cakey texture. Preferences may vary, though.
Nutrition At A Glance
Here is where we find out if whether we have a winner or a disaster.
Before we get to the numbers, I wanted to say have always struggled with trying to figure out how to calculate the nutritional facts of a mutli-serving meal. I could do it very easily for a single-serving as shown in my recipe for high protein oatmeal. However, I never wanted to take the time to try and break down each ingredient and divide it by the amount of servings, etc.
I have a wife, two young kids, a full-time job, and other responsibilites, so time is limited. However, I did a little searching and stumbled upon this awesome tool available on verywellfit.com! It’s called the Recipe Calorie and Nutrition Calculator!
You basically list out your ingredients and measurements, as well as how many servings (along with the serving amount), click on the “Analyze Recipe” button, and it spits out a nutrition facts lable for you! You can also click on each ingredient to reveal a drop down menu if you want to get more specific.
For example, for this recipe, I entered “3 cups whole wheat flour”. After analyzing, the calculator had me using white flour. I simply clicked on the edit button (which looks like an orange pencil), clicked on the ingredient, and was presented with a drop down menu where I found an option for “whole wheat flour”!
If you have always wanted to know what your favorite recipes were like from a nutritional standpoint, give the calculator a try by CLICKING HERE!
Now onto our own nutritional information. I have embedded the lable they gave me below. Feel free to check it out:
Now, as for my ideal way of serving these pancakes, I like to add 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and about 2 tablespoons of Polaner All Fruit Spreadable Fruit (it has no added sugar, getting its sweetness only from fruit juice). The nutritional facts for this are listed below. Percentages will be based off of a 2500 calorie diet. To check out each number on your own personal level of calories, there is a helpful chart if you CLICK HERE.
1 Pancake with peanut butter and spreadable fruit:
- Calories: 368 (14.7% of DV)
- Total Fat: 18.8g (23.5% of DV)
- Saturated Fat: 4.6 (18.4% of DV)
- Cholesterol: 66mg (22% of DV)
- Sodium: 431mg (17.9% of DV)
- Total Carbohydrates: 40g (10.6% of DV)
- Dietary Fiber: 4.1g (13.7% of DV)
- Sugars: 24.6g (with only 3g added sugar coming from the peanut butter)
- Protein: 13.2g
As you can see, this pancake recipe isn’t a total belly buster!
I’m a little disappointed in a couple of areas though. The cholesterol is a little high for my liking. It’s by no means horrible and I understand that it comes mostly from the eggs, but it’s still a little higher than I would want.
Additionally, while I am happy about finding this calculator, I was a little surprised that the amount of fiber, as well as the protein, wasn’t higher, especially since I was using whole wheat flour, bananas, and carrots (for the fiber), with the eggs and milk (for the protein). That doesn’t make much sense to me, so I have to wonder if the online calculator is being completely accurate.
I’ll have to do a little more playing around with it on other recipes!
Get Your Fix Without Too Much Guilt
I hope I have given the pancake-lover in each of you some hope. It is possible to have pancakes once in a while! Rejoice! That said, I don’t think I can endorse the normal use of copious amounts of syrup if you want to keep the sugar content down, but it is nice to know that even if you opt for syrup, at least there isn’t a ton of the sweet stuff inside the pancake as well!
I do hope you will give this recipe a try the next time you are craving pancakes! Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below! Feel free to share how you like your pancakes and if you have a go-to recipe! If you have any questions, I’d be glad to hear them.
Until next time, let them eat (pan)cake!