Whenever someone learns that I am studying nutrition, I often get a laundry list of questions about what foods are healthy and bad. These questions are honestly much more difficult to answer than you might think. Sure, some foods are more nutritious than others, but calling a food “bad” is unfair. (The caveat to this is that we are referring to real food that is not comprised of chemicals or non-food ingredients.) We can all strive to eat more colorful vegetables and whole grains in lieu of large portions of refined or high-fat foods, but a huge part of healthy is being happy and I doubt that means counting every calorie or missing out on dessert for the rest of your life. Healthy is not an all-or-nothing, one-size-fits-all equation: focus on healthy habits that work for you, and everything else falls into place.
Keeping the idea of balance in mind, I wanted to share with you an amped-up variation of a recipe I learned back when I volunteered with Cooking Matters in Massachusetts. By substituting some of the white flour with whole wheat flour and oats, this recipe for pancakes (yes, pancakes!!!) is higher in fiber as well as the vitamins and minerals that are stripped from wheat during processing than the traditional recipe. Whole grains take longer to digest, so you will find that these won’t cause you to raid the refrigerator an hour later. Also, using the zest and juice of an orange adds a hint of flavor and sweetness without adding any refined sugar.
You can try blending whole wheat and white flours in any of your other recipes as well to give them a nutritional boost. Because whole wheat flour will make a final product that is slightly denser than what you may be used to, try a 50/50 blend first and adjust until you find something that’s just right.
Orange Oatmeal Pancakes
Makes about 4 servings
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup unbleached white flour
½ cup instant or quick oats
½ cup dried cranberries or dark chocolate chips (optional)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup milk
2 Tablespoons canola oil
Cooking spray or butter
*If you don’t have an orange on hand, you can substitute ½ cup of orange juice in place of the fresh stuff.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. Zest orange (about 1 tablespoon) into flour mixture and stir. Halve the orange and squeeze juice into a separate bowl, either by hand or with a lemon squeezer. Whisk in the egg, milk, and canola oil. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until well incorporated. The mix will be just a bit lumpy.
Spray a skillet or griddle with cooking spray and place over medium heat. (You may also melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter instead. Sure, this adds a little fat, but nothing beats that golden-brown finish!) Pour or spoon pancake mix into 3-4 inch circles in the pan. Allow to cook until bubbles form on the top and the bottom of the pancake has reached your desired doneness. Flip gently with a spatula and cook until golden brown.
Serve with desired toppings – some suggestions include fruit, whipped cream, or classic maple syrup. I love sliced fresh berries and bananas alongside a fried egg!
That’s it for this week! Have a great and healthy weekend.
Until next time, remember that… there are no excuses when it comes to your health!