If you are one of those people that associate pancakes to sweet sugary flat discs, you are probably wondering what pancakes are doing in this article. Well, pancakes are much more that unhealthy high-calorie delights; in fact, they can be very healthy (if consumed in moderation, of course).
To lower the calorie count, replace the white refined flour with whole wheat or oatmeal, and the white refined sugar with honey, stevia, or pure maple syrup. It is also a good idea to use olive oil or coconut oil instead of refined vegetable oils. That way, you will produce a healthy base, ready to be taken to another, even healthier level by adding antioxidant ingredients.
Benefits of Antioxidant Pancakes
Most fruits, vegetables, and herbs contain antioxidants like vitamin C, lycopene, flavonoids, and beta-carotene. Antioxidants are substances that help prevent oxidative cell damage. Oxidative damage is caused by certain oxygen molecules allowed to travel freely in our bodies and produce free radicals. The free radicals are harmful to the body and have been connected to various diseases and conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, and dementia, as well as premature aging.
Infusing your favorite sweet treat with antioxidant-rich ingredients can have the following health benefits:
– Lower cancer risk
– Prolonged lifespan
– Slower aging
– Healthier skin
The pancakes listed here use the best antioxidants scored by ORAC (oxygen radical absorption capacity).
Fruit Antioxidant Pancakes
#1 Goji Berries
Prepare fast and easy protein pancakes are made with four ingredients only (mixed in a blender-ready in no time): dried goji berries, flax seed, egg whites, honey, and gluten-free flour.
They are juicy, a bit tangy and slightly bitter but the sweet batter balances their flavor perfectly. Serve with pure maple or lemon syrup and banana slices on top.
#2 Dark Chocolate
Score 21 000
Who doesn’t like chocolate pancakes? Dark chocolate has been praised for its positive influence on the brain functions. It is also known to be responsible for the feelings of happiness, and now we find out about its antioxidant properties. So, what are you waiting for? Use dark chocolate in the form of chocolate chips or as a dark chocolate bar, chopped or melted. Garnish with strawberries and enjoy.
Score 14 000
The second most popular fruit after strawberries in the US is considered to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet. I find blueberries especially delicious when combined with almond flavor. Add a cup of them in a batter that contains either almond meal, almond milk, or almond butter, together with a ½ cup of chopped almonds that will contribute extra crunchiness.
Score 17 000
Besides being a rich source of vitamins, pecans also offer protein, iron, manganese, B vitamins, and dietary fiber. I think they are perfect for wintry pancake recipes, especially those that involve pumpkin, apple, or carrot, as well as spices like ginger, nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon (read below about the antioxidant capacity of these spices that will blow your mind!). They are also great with recipes that include rich, thick cheese or caramel-based sauces.
Score 14 000
If you decide to use these berries, don’t forget to remove the stems because they (and the leaves) contain toxins that can cause nausea. You can also prepare a homemade elderberry syrup (beware of stains!). Put 2 lbs. elderberries in a large pot filled with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook for about 20 minutes, until soft. Pass through a food sieve and discard the skins. Pour the juice back into the pot, add 2 cups of sugar, and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, until thick. Finally, add some lemon juice and let it cool.
There is a pancake recipe made with cranberries I always recommend. It is actually a Dutch baby pancake with cranberry-orange compote. The reason I love this recipe is because it is so easy to make (the pancake is baked in the oven, minimum mess). Plus, it is super delicious. The compote is made with 1 lb. fresh cranberries cooked over medium heat in a heavy saucepan, together with a cup of honey for about 5-10 minutes, until they have broken down. Take off the heat, add vanilla and 2 sliced oranges. Let it cool. Serve on top of the Dutch baby and sift some powdered sugar.
These berries have a significant content of dietary fiber, as well as vitamins C and K. besides adding a cup of fresh blackberries into the batter, you can also make blackberry-maple syrup.
In a medium saucepan, bring 1lb. blackberries, ¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup water, and some lemon juice to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the berries have fallen apart and the sauce has thickened a bit. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve. Add 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup and let it cool.
Antioxidant Herbs and Spices in Pancakes
Besides the above mentioned fruits, there is a wide range of herbs, spices, and essential oils of plants that are very rich in antioxidants that you can include in your pancake recipes.
#8 Clove and Cinnamon
The former has a score of a whopping 314 446, whereas the latter’s score is 267 537, which is more than the content of any other ingredient mentioned in this post! So, feel free to add them individually or combined in any pancake recipe. Read the section about pecans above for ideas. Tip: when buying cinnamon, make sure you choose the Ceylon variation, which is much healthier than the more common Cassia version.
#9 Turmeric and Ginger
Turmeric is considered one of the healthiest foods in the world, believed to treat and prevent numerous conditions and diseases, from depression to cancer. Its antioxidant score is 102 700. It is a close relative to ginger and that is why they are together on this list. Ginger has a score of 28 811. A teaspoon of any of these two will add depth and warmth to your favorite breakfast treat.
Score 80 933
The parent to dark chocolate has the same beneficial properties as its offspring. Add ½ cup into the batter. I like mixing 2 tablespoons into the milk to create some chocolate milk for my pancake recipe. You can also use cocoa nibs to garnish the stack.
Score 67 553
You have probably tried basil in savory variations, but if you decide to give it a try in sweet simple pancake recipes, I promise you won’t be sorry. Combine it with lemon, strawberries, or blueberries. The recipe I use makes use of 1/3 cup dried and packed basil.
Score 27 426
Another herb that gives surprisingly good results when used in pancakes is thyme. Like basil, it pairs wonderfully with the tanginess of lemon, but this time the recipe also involves a ½ cup of creamy ricotta cheese that will make the golden disks extra soft and fluffy. Add a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves and serve with a berry syrup or compote.
Savory Antioxidant Pancakes
Besides the good old classic American sweet pancakes, you can prepare some light savory pancakes that are packed with antioxidants. Here are some suggestions on what to use:
Score 9 400
Try the Artichoke Pancakes with Goat Cheese. Cook the artichokes, place them in a blender with water and egg, season with salt and pepper and blend until creamy. Pour the batter in a large pan and bake in the oven (Dutch baby-style) with some goat cheese-sour cream mixture on top and cook until the cheese melts.
#14 Herbs and spices for savory pancakes
You can use any of your favorite ingredients into the batter, whether veggies (kale is also a powerful antioxidant), meat or fish (salmon). Even if your recipe does not include antioxidant foods, you can always complement it with antioxidant herbs and spices, such as:
– Oregano (score 159,277)
– Cumin (score 76,800)
– Parsley (score 74,349)
– Cilantro (score 5,100)
Serve these delicious savory treats with yet another powerful antioxidant, red wine.