Who doesn't love pancakes (aka flapjacks, hot cakes, slapjacks, griddle cakes)?
Many of us associate pancakes with "the medium for delivering mounds of butter and loads of syrup". With the majority of restaurant-made pancakes consisting of a refined flour batter base, our metabolic status takes a big hit with a serious blood sugar spike and hard crash. And mind you, it's also WAY easy to overeat this hyperpalatable "meal".
Fortunately, there are so many creative ways to make a "healthier flapjack" these days. [On a side note, the word "healthy" is so convoluted and confusing these days - I try not to abuse the use of this word!] For the busy on-the-go athlete or the individual who simply does not want to prepare a pancake from scratch, we can even make some simple adjustments to a boxed mix to get a nutritionally enhanced pancake.
Which brings me to the reason for writing this piece. An athlete of mine recently asked me whether the products from the Kodiak Cakes company could fit (strategically) within her carbohydrate-controlled nutrition plan. Having not yet tried any of their products, this was a good incentive to do so!
The company offers several different flavor creations, some of which are higher in protein than others. For example, the "Power Cakes" line features a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein (~30 grams carb / 14 grams protein) in a 1/2 cup dry serving (to make three 4" flapjacks). In contrast, the "Energy Cakes" line has a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein for the same serving size (34-37 grams carb / 7-10 grams protein). For those who don't know, the classic pancakes mixes (like Aunt Jemima) have more like an 8:1 carb to protein ratio - not desirable when we are aiming to control carbohydrates in our daily nutrition.
The protein source in the Kodiak flapjacks comes mostly from a mix of whole grains and whey protein, with other protein contributors such as peanut flour or almond flour depending on the flavor selection. For those eating gluten-free, there is only one GF mix available at the time of this writing.
My grocery store didn't have any of the higher protein Power Cake mixes available, so I ended up with a lower protein whole wheat and oats mix. The preparation steps are simple: add water to your dry mix and get 'em goin' on the griddle, gang! However, this particular mix does not have enough "oomph" for it to meet The Mechanic's guidelines for a sustaining flapjack. So, my first batch required some additions, not only to improve the carb to protein ratio, but to boost the OF ("oomph factor"), all while keeping a tasty flavor for the finished product!
Here's what I mixed together in a small bowl, which yielded 9 pancakes:
- 1 cup of pancake mix
- 3/4 cup Califia Toasted Coconut-Almond milk
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tbsp vanilla whey isolate (about 13 grams by weight)
- 1 Tbsp flaxmeal
- 2 Tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/3 cup chopped raw walnuts
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup water (added towards the end to make the batter less thick)
As I got the pancakes on the griddle pan, I added a few blueberries to each one.
Taste-wise, these turned out great for my palate with a fluffy feel and a touch of sweet (from the vanilla protein powder, honey in the mix, and blueberries). Topped with butter and paired with scrambled eggs and veggies, this made for a "filling and energy stable" start to the day.
Per pancake (yield of 9), the basic nutritional info (including the blueberries) is:
10 grams of carbohydrate (2 grams fiber / 1 gram sugar)
7 grams of protein
7 grams of fat
close to 1:1 carb to protein ratio
Of course, there are MANY ways to change the nutritional profile of a pancake mix like this one, but I hope for those who are shy to do so that you will think out of that "pancake box" and get creative. I'll share more trials as they happen in the Mechanic's kitchen.
P.S. An "enhanced" pancake like this can definitely fit in an athlete's plan (with proper nutrition periodization) and is definitely preferred for those who are not as active.