Pancakes have long existed as one of the most popular items on the breakfast menus of modern restaurants. The existence of pancakes actually dates back several thousand years, and since their appearance, they have gained world-wide popularity. From thin French-style crepes to the thicker buckwheat variety made in Germany, to the well-known ricotta-filled pancakes of Italy known as cannolis, many countries lay claim to a particular type of pancake.
In the United States and Canada, pancakes are also known as flapjacks, hotcakes and griddlecakes.
Common Ingredients of Pancakes
Not often found on the diet page of a restaurant's menu, the standard pancake served in American restaurants has long been vilified as a breakfast indulgence made with flour, sugar, salt, milk and a great deal of butter.
Standard recipes made from pre-packaged mixes will offer around 300 calories for a serving and will also include saturated fat, which is acknowledged to be on the more unhealthy side of the fat spectrum.
Common ingredients of pancakes will offer a variety of vitamins at minimum levels including vitamin A, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 (among many others), and will also sport a number of minerals including small amounts of riboflavin, phosphorus and selenium. None of the standard ingredients in a pancake will offer significant levels of vitamins and minerals, however, and pancakes will generally offer zero fiber and some cholesterol.
Pay Attention to the Toppings
Despite their lack of healthy ingredients, eating a few pancakes is not often cause to see a higher number on the scale. It is usually the great many toppings offered in conjunction with pancakes that causes a meal to cross into very unhealthy and highly caloric territory.
Restaurants will usually cover pancakes in large amounts of unhealthy toppings such as maple syrup, chocolate syrup, butter or molasses. Far more than a simple garnish of fruit such as bananas or raspberries, the calorie content of the toppings offered at many restaurants will exceed those of the pancakes themselves.
Making Pancakes Healthier
By making pancakes at home, one can control the ingredients used in them and ensure that the calories and contents are appropriate. Healthy recipes will often include whole wheat flour instead of white flour, utilize egg substitute instead of real eggs, and require skim milk instead of whole or 2 percent. The toppings used on pancakes can be a very healthy part of a diet if things like bananas, blueberries, or raspberries are used instead of maple syrup or butter.
It is very possible to include pancakes in a healthy diet with a few simple modifications, but eating them in their original state with the usual heavy ingredients of syrup and butter should be an infrequent treat.