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.
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 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.
‘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.
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.
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
–Berry 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. 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.
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.
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
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.