How often do your kids ask for pancakes and/or waffles for breakfast? It’s an every-winter-weekend request here, so I’ve gotten into the habit of buying boxed pancake and waffle mix to make mornings more mindless (because at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday, the last thing I want to do is whip up from-scratch pancakes). On a side note, WHY can’t kids sleep until at least 7 a.m. on weekends???
But, since weekend breakfast is usually my kids’ best meal of the day (and the one they eat before junk-filled afternoon birthday parties), I like to take advantage of the opportunity to get good stuff into their little bellies. There are so many recipe-free ways to boost the nutritional value of plain-old pancakes, and I’m so excited to share them with you so you can try this at home too. Again, I repeat: All of the ideas below are recipe-free: Pancake batter is a pretty forgiving food; so you can experiment with a bunch of substitutions and additions without ruining the final product. Feel free to get creative!
First, I always start with a multigrain mix since it contains more protein, fiber, and nutrients than plain pancake mix. My personal favorites are Bobs Red Mill 10 Grain Waffle and Pancake Mix and Hodgson Mill Old Fashioned Buckwheat Pancake Mix. Then, pick and choose from the tips below to take your boxed pancakes to the next level of awesomeness:
Give your pancakes a boost of protein. Use regular milk, oat milk, or pea milk instead of water. Add in an extra egg or 2 tablespoons of nut butter or sunflower butter to the batter.
Boost their brain power. Give your kids a healthy dose of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids (important for brain development!) plus added protein and fiber by stirring in 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed or chia seeds.
Use pancakes as a vehicle to introduce picky kids to new flavors. One of my favorite ways to expand kids’ palates is to take foods they already eat and tweak them a bit (it’s less intimidating that way). Add in a few dashes of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or cacao powder. Or you could add in a drop or two of pure vanilla or almond extract or replace milk or water with coconut or almond milk.
Sweeten pancake batter naturally. Skip the syrup on the final product and blend in a mashed banana, applesauce, or a tablespoon or two of pure maple syrup into the batter. Think of all the fun you’ll have NOT wiping off sticky fingers and sticky plates and sticky countertops.
Turn pancakes their favorite color with the addition of fruit or veggies. When it’s time to add the milk to the mix, I first puree the milk along with a fruit or vegetable in the blender. Here’s the colors you can create:
canned pumpkin puree or frozen squash —> orange
blueberries and/or blackberries (frozen are fine too)—> purple
dragonfruit (frozen is fine) —> hot pink
raspberries and/or strawberries —> light pink
baby spinach (promise it won’t affect the flavor!) — > green pancakes
Want more pancake inspiration? Check out or other pancake recipes here:
Green pancakes (perfect for St. Paddy’s Day, Earth Day, or Christmas!)
The Prettiest Pink Pancakes (perfect for Valentine’s Day or any time you want to give your pink princess something special)
Gingerbread Pancakes (a holiday favorite)