Sick Of Eggs? Try These Low-Carb Keto Pancakes For Breakfast Instead
The words "pancakes" and "diet" don't often go hand in hand—especially if you follow a keto diet. But if you've been looking far and wide for a way to satisfy your carb cravings without knocking yourself out of ketosis (and maybe take a break from your go-to spinach-and-egg scramble), then these keto pancakes are 100 percent what's been missing from your life.
If you're not already an adherent of the keto diet, here's a quick breakdown: The keto diet is a very low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet. In addition to being quite restrictive, it can also be physically grueling at the start (just ask anyone who has ever endured the so-called keto flu—that initial period of insanely intense cravings, fatigue, and irritability). So, what exactly is the appeal? "The idea behind keto is to keep your fat-accumulating hormone, insulin, low by keeping your blood sugar low," explains Vincent M. Pedre, M.D. "In doing so, you turn on fat-burning genes while suppressing the abdominal-fat-amassing machinery."
After that description of keto, your brain is probably conjuring up images of keto-approved foods like avocados, coconut oil, chicken thighs, and salmon. But as crazy as this might sound, you can actually integrate comfort foods into a ketogenic diet (and, in the process, battle the food boredom that many people experience) when you use the right ingredients. This delicious keto pancake recipe featuring cream cheese, eggs, and almond flour proves just that.
The ingredients: What makes a pancake recipe keto-friendly?
The biggest factor that makes traditional pancakes a major no-no on the keto diet is the high carb content, which would prevent you from entering ketosis. Normal pancake batter is made with traditional wheat-based flour, which is chock-full of carbohydrates. One cup of all-purpose flour, for example, contains an average of 95 grams of carbohydrates. These keto pancakes, on the other hand, are made with blanched almond flour, which contains just 22 grams of carbs in 1 cup, in addition to a nice dose of vitamin E and magnesium.
Another very non-keto ingredient in traditional pancakes? Sugar. Instead of granulated sugar, these keto pancakes get a touch of sweetness from vanilla extract and a teaspoon of confectioners-style erythritol, which is a sugar alcohol that serves as a sugar alternative. Unlike calorie-free artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols do contain up to 3 calories per gram. The minuscule number of calories is worth it, though, as zero-calorie artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda), aspartame (Equal and NutraSweet), and saccharin (Sweet N' Low), often come with a slew of unhealthy effects that you definitely want to avoid: "These chemical sweeteners actually change the bacterial makeup of your microbiome. This can be a trigger for autoimmune problems, diabetes, and metabolic disorders," according to William Cole, D.C., IFMCP, functional medicine expert and mbg Collective member.
It's important to note, however, that sugar alcohols aren't a great option for everyone. They are known to have a laxative effect if consumed in high quantities and can cause major flare-ups of digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and SIBO. Since your body does not completely absorb sugar alcohols, they're left to ferment in the large intestine, which can cause gas and bloating. The short version: If you suffer from one of these digestive conditions, simply leave out the small amount of erythritol that's used in this recipe.
Adding to the rich, subtly sweet flavor of these keto pancakes is cream cheese, an ingredient used in quite a few keto and low-carb recipes due to its macronutrient breakdown. A 2-tablespoon serving of cream cheese contains just 1.6 grams of carbohydrates, along with a good dose of fat (10 grams) and a moderate amount of protein (1.8 grams), which is key to its keto-friendly status. Cream cheese also contains small amounts of beneficial nutrients like potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. In addition to being naturally sweet (and a little tart—the best of both worlds), cream cheese helps turn these keto pancakes into thick, fluffy clouds of low-carb goodness.
Keto-friendly pancake toppings.
When it comes to traditional pancakes, granulated sugar and flour aren't even the biggest high-carb culprits. That honor goes to maple syrup, which contains 24 grams of sugar and 26 grams of carbs in just 2 tablespoons (and who uses just 2 tablespoons?!). So, instead of topping your keto pancakes with syrup (even a sugar-free variety, which can be loaded with funky ingredients), consider going with a healthier, more natural option, like fresh berries, which are low-carb, high-fiber, and packed with heart- and brain-healthy antioxidants.
Because the keto diet is so restrictive when it comes to carbohydrate intake (it requires eating fewer than 50 grams of carbs daily), many people falsely assume that all fruits and many vegetables are off limits, but this simply isn't true. "When you restrict your carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams daily, you can still fit in plenty of nonstarchy vegetables, maybe some low-glycemic blueberries and other berries, and a small amount of non-gluten grains like quinoa," explains Dr. Pedre.
In addition to blueberries, consider topping your keto pancakes with other low-glycemic fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or thinly sliced green apple. You can even heat up your berries in a pot with a little butter, then hit them with an immersion blender to create a berry-based "syrup." Other tasty pancake toppers that pair well with keto-friendly fruits include chopped walnuts or pecans and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
How to incorporate these pancakes into your keto diet.
Even though we've just raved about what makes these pancakes keto-friendly, they should still be considered a treat for special occasions, not for daily consumption. Keto pancakes shouldn't take the place of healthier fare like low-carb, fiber-rich vegetables, nuts and seeds, and quality meats, eggs, and seafood. "If you're using ketosis for weight loss, you may see initial results, but eating too many calories from any food can stall fat loss or make you gain weight," explains gut health specialist and best-selling author Vincent M. Pedre, M.D.
Leaning too heavily on keto-approved treats can definitely have this effect and undermine your success (as they tend to be calorie dense and low in fiber), but using them strategically—to help you avoid an all-out sugar binge—might just help keep you on track.
And remember, deciding whether or not the keto diet is right for you is a personal decision and one that you should discuss with your health care provider. The diet brings with it a lot of potential benefits, including the ability to reduce insulin levels, reduce inflammation, and aid in weight loss, but it also has potential drawbacks. If you do decide that trying the keto diet is right for you (or if you're just looking for a healthier alternative to a regular, high-carb pancakes), you'll want to bookmark this drool-worthy cream cheese pancake recipe from keto blogger Suzanne Ryan's cookbook Simply Keto.
Keto Cream Cheese Pancakes
Serves 1 (3 pancakes)
- 2 medium eggs
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup blanched almond flour
- 1 teaspoon confectioners-style erythritol
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- Salted butter, for serving
- Combine the eggs, cream cheese, vanilla, almond flour, sweetener, and baking powder in a blender and blend on medium-high speed until smooth. Use a fork to pop the large bubbles on the top of the batter.
- Coat a medium-size skillet with coconut oil spray or ghee and place over medium heat. Once hot, pour one-third of the batter into the pan. Flip the pancake when the sides are firm and bubbles appear evenly throughout, 1 to 3 minutes, then cook for another 1 to 3 minutes on the second side.
- Repeat with the remaining batter to make a total of 3 pancakes.
- Serve topped with butter and berries.
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