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Healthy pancakes for kids

I decided to find out what my own children thought of pancakes, made using spelt and wholemeal flours, and with not a sugar bowl in sight.

My kids, like many, are pancake connoisseurs – DH cooks them regularly as a Sunday morning treat in our house. But they’re always made using white flour and topped with the child’s choice of jam, golden syrup or lemon and sugar.pancake day

I had never really thought about giving pancakes a healthier twist. But of course a feast of white flour and sugar isn’t very good for our kids – all that unrefined carbohydrate and sugar provides an instant blood sugar hit, leaving children buzzing. Later on, their blood sugar levels nosedive, with all the cross words and grumpiness that can ensue.

making pancakes

Making the pancakes

To help keep kids feeling fuller for longer, while stabilising their blood sugar levels, nutrition experts recommend we try wholegrain flours like spelt, wholemeal or buckwheat. These release their energy more slowly, and also provide a hefty dose of fibre. 

With this in mind, I made three batches of pancakes:
–   one using spelt flour
–  another made using half spelt and half white flours
–  a third using wholemeal flour
(My supermarket didn’t sell buckwheat flour.)

The milk was semi-skimmed milk, and to reduce saturated fat, I fried them in a little vegetable oil rather than butter.

spelt and wholemeal pancakes

‘Mummy, which one of these pancakes is the one we normally eat?’

That was the comment from my middle one, aged five.  She really couldn’t tell that none of the pancakes in front of her were those that she normally eats.

Wholemeal

We always eat wholemeal bread, and we did enjoy these pancakes.  But while yummy, they were more dense and heavy, and I thought they would probably go perfectly with savoury toppings.

Half spelt and half white

I had expected this to be the most popular pancake, but I found it a bit meh. My middle child liked this one the best though.

Spelt

I thought it would produce grey-looking pancakes, but the pancake colour was the same as one made with white flour. To be honest, you couldn’t tell from their appearance that they were any different.

In terms of taste, there was a very subtle slightly nuttier flavour and my husband found them a smidgen less sweet. But my eldest, aged seven, my husband and I decided that they were the tastiest pancakes out of the three, with the flavour complementing the toppings perfectly.

We agreed that this would be our new go-to pancake flour.

The healthy toppings

healthy pancake toppingsBerry compote. Berries are a fab source of vitamins. Use a bag of frozen mixed berries and reduce them gently down on the hob, without added sugar. If your child wants a sweeter taste, try drizzling maple syrup over the top.

–  Natural yoghurt. A great source of protein and calcium, and really tasty when served with any of the fruit.

–  Tinned peaches in natural juice. Sweet-tasting and rich in vitamins A and C.

pecan nuts glazed in maple syrup, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds–   Pecan nuts glazed in maple syrup, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Protein will help keep your child feeling fuller for longer. To make the pecans, simply dry fry a handful in two to three teaspoons of maple syrup for a few minutes.

–   Blueberries. A good source of vitamin C.

–  Banana mashed with two tablespoons of natural yoghurt. A healthier low-sugar alternative to the classic lemon and sugar.

–  Maple syrup. It’s slightly healthier than sugar because it’s lower on the glycaemic index so releases its energy more slowly.

And the winner is…

As for the toppings, we loved trying them out and each ended up with a different favourite. But the highest scorers were the banana mixed with yoghurt, the tinned peaches served with yoghurt and the pecans glazed in maple syrup.

Least popular topping was probably the berry compote, which surprised me as we all love berries. But it wasn’t quite as sweet as fresh berries.

pancake with pecans glazed in maple syrup and seeds

 

My middle one liked best a mixture of the pecan nuts glazed in maple syrup, with seeds and a drizzle of maple syrup over the top.

 

 

tinned peaches, yoghurt and blueberry pancake

 

My eldest really loved a combination of yoghurt, tinned peaches and blueberries.

 

 

 

As for my youngest, well, he’s a law unto his own in the food stakes, and is very suspicious about anything he’s not seen before. (You might like to read: My child doesn’t eat enough: 8 tips for fussy eating.)

He loved all the pancakes but wasn’t so sure about the toppings. I had to relent and find him the jam. But eventually he did deign to try the maple syrup, and gave it the toddler equivalent of a thumb’s up.

We all loved doing this taste test – it was great entertainment, and a really interesting way to tickle the kids’ taste buds. And it’s definitely helped us overhaul our pancake repertoire.

Recipe for spelt or wholemeal pancakes

Makes 6 to 8

100g spelt or wholemeal flour
225ml semi-skimmed milk
1 medium free-range egg
vegetable oil

In a bowl or jug, whisk together the flour, egg and milk until you have a smooth batter. Let it stand for 20 minutes.

Heat up a frying pan, add a little of the oil and swirl it around the pan. Pour a ladleful of batter into the pan, and swirl it around so it covers the base of the pan.

Cook the pancake for 30 seconds to a minute, then flip it over and cook the other side. Enjoy.

Thanks to nutritional therapist Lauren Gayfer, aka The Fairy Food Mother, and registered dietitian Lindsay Gilbert, joint director of Foodtalk, for their ideas for healthy pancake batter and toppings.


Comments (58)

  • Avatar

    Mummy of Two

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    Thanks for the advice re healthier pancakes! We love them on pancake day but don’t tend to have them at other times through the year as they end up stuffed with unhealthy toppings. Will definitely be trying some of these out.

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Oh good, I’m sure your kids will love them.

      • Avatar

        Charlotte

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        Some lovely ideas here – the eldest LOVES blueberries – will definitely have to give that a go x

        • Avatar

          healthiermummy

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          We’ve just rediscovered them. And blueberries are great with pancakes.

  • Avatar

    Sonya Cisco

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    Mine love american style pancakes with blueberries cooked in! Had never thought of trying different flours, the spelt ones sounds lovely.

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      I’ll have to try your American-style pancakes. They sound scrummy too.

  • Avatar

    Jo Bryan

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    I love wholemeal pancakes with savoury fillings, chicken and mushroom. Great review of all the flours and spelt pancakes, easy to add healthier ingredients when they all look as they should do too. I would choose the blueberries and a dollop of yogurt!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      And that was my favourite too – yoghurt, blueberries and the pecans.

  • Avatar

    leoniiamber

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    Have bookmarked my other half has turned into a little health freak so i like the sound of these wholemeal pancakes!! I will be giving this ago for sure!! x

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Great, thanks.

  • Avatar

    laura redburn

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    for some reason i’ve never liked pancakes ..maybe i should give these a try.

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Hopefully they will make you change your mind.

  • Avatar

    Sophie at Franglaise Cooking

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    We eat pancakes (crêpes) a lot in this house, but I’d never thought of changing flours, the spelt one sounds lovely and it would be good to try the wholemeal flour with savoury toppings as we’re big fans of savoury pancakes too. Thanks for sharing.

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      I think the wholemeal one would be perfect with savoury toppings.

  • Avatar

    Emily (@amummytoo)

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    These look great and you’ve made me hungry. Pinning to my Cooking with kids board now x

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Great, thanks, will look out for it.

  • Avatar

    Actually Mummy...

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    I always do wholemeal stuffed with cheese and veg for pancake day – makes me feel better about all the sweet stuff afterwards. I didn’t know about maple syrup *feels instantly better*

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Mmm, thanks for the tip. Sounds tasty.

  • Avatar

    oana79

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    Yum and healthy, great post, can’t wait for my little ones to be a bit older so we can do similar things too!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      When they’re older, the pressure to make the pancakes really builds up.

  • Avatar

    Angela Spicer

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    I’m not a big pancake fan to be honest, but the toppings look fun

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      You could try them on yoghurt too if you don’t like pancakes.

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Woo hoo!

  • Avatar

    Kirsty

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    We don’t tend to eat pancakes any other time of the year than Shrove Tuesday so once a year I figure it is fine to for the traditional white flour and jam, sugar and lemon. I love the idea of weekend pancakes so I might introduce this here but go with the spelt four and healthy toppings for everyday to keep Shrove Tuesday pancakes extra special and hyperactivity inducing :-)

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Lol, you’re right. It doesn’t matter so much about the hyperactivity if it’s just once a year.

  • Avatar

    Vicky (@aroundandupsidedown)

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    Mmmm…they look really tasty. I have cooked with spelt flour before and really enjoyed it. The fruit toppings look scrummy too.

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Thanks, yes, they were yummy.

  • Avatar

    Kate Thompson

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    Excellent suggestions – we have made spelt pancakes too, they are yummy!

  • Avatar

    MummyNeverSleeps

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    Ooh I’ve just discovered spelt! Have been using it to make risotto type dishes which I love but I didn’t realise you could buy it as a flour *excited face* Some excellent ideas missus, totally giving them a go!!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      So glad you like them. Now how do you make spelt risotto?? *trots off to look it up*

  • Avatar

    Orli D

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    Oh wow. I never thought making pancakes healthier… It is always a sugar fest kind of thing in our house, and as the kids love spreading chocolate on top I am sure it doesn’t help…
    Might have to try those spelt ones, it will ease my conscious comes pancake day soon :)

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Lol, yes, at least if you’ve got the spelt flour, it doesn’t matter so much about the chocolate.

  • Avatar

    Shell Louise

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    We’ve not had pancakes for ages and we’re all looking forward to pancake day next week. I have to wait an extra day thought because I have my slimming world weigh in on Wednesday morning and I don’t think the scales will be kind if I eat pancakes the night before!
    I’m looking forward to my pancake lunch on Wednesday!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Good luck with your weigh-in – I can understand why you want to wait a day. I hope your pancakes are worth the wait.

  • Avatar

    Aly

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    We’re big pancake lovers! This year I’m trying egan ones a s my eldest has an egg allergy.I might give spelt flour a whirl too.

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Vegan ones sound interesting – what do you use instead of the egg? And do try the spelt. Let me know what you think.

  • Healthy pancakes for kids

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    […] Read the rest of the post at it’s original source by clicking here. […]

  • Avatar

    Emma TheMiniMesAndMe

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    I never really eat sweet versions but the Mini Mes are big fans and request them quite often. I prefer mine savoury with ham and cheese – mmm.

    Some fab recipes/variations there!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Your ham and cheese sounds a good one too. Will have to try.

  • Avatar

    Mammasaurus

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    Glazed pecan nuts for a topping sounds like my idea of heaven!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      They were my favourite too.

  • Avatar

    Kizzy

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    My mother in law tends to cook the kids pancakes using wholemeal flour and they still love them. Great ideas!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      They were really tasty with wholemeal flour, I agree. We just preferred the spelt. Good on your mother-in-law.

  • Avatar

    kara

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    Every year I promise to make pancakes and I always forget – this year i really will do it as yours look Fab!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Thank you, they are really tasty.

  • Avatar

    Vicki

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    What a fun experiment! I am forever tweaking our pancake recipe. I now have it perfected and the kids have them every day for breakfast! Mine contain ground almonds, teff flour, egg, flax seeds and dairy free milk and the kids love them best topped with manuka honey. Seems to keep them going pretty much all day! Enjoy pancake day this year!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      I’ve just quickly Googled teff flour, having never heard of it. I love the sound of your gluten-free and dairy-free pancakes. What a treat for your kids to be able to eat them every day.

  • Avatar

    Hannah Clementson

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    I LOVE the idea of a wholemeal pancake. That is something I have never thought about. Thank you for sharing x

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Just served up wholemeal savoury ones tonight for the kids and they loved them.

  • Avatar

    agatapokutycka

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    spelt one might be a winner… I love spelt bread but never had a pancake… I will try it out

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      We think it’s really tasty. And you’re right, spelt bread is yummy too.

  • Avatar

    Lori

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    What a great idea, I’ve never thought of pancakes as unhealthy (not sure why) but we had spelt flour and buckwheat pancakes on holiday and they were delicious. thanks for sharing this recipe, i think we’ll go for the swap on pancake day x

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      I’m desperate to try the buckwheat ones now. Will keep looking for the flour.

  • Avatar

    Paula Ng

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    Great idea to use spelt flour, thank you! And a little idea for little people – try making mini pancakes. The kids love stacking them up like a Scooby snack. And heart-shaped pancakes will always induce a smile, just use a silicone cookie cutter :)

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      I love the sound of the Scooby snacks, Paula. Will try these!

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