Saturday, March 24, 2012

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Pancakes

Sometimes I just wake up nostalgic for college brunch. Since I went to school in the South, this encompasses their signature breakfast delicacies of biscuits, shrimp & grits, and today's post: Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Pancakes. Not the savory latke kind, these breakfast pancakes are perfectly sweet from a combination of sweet potato, nutmeg and cinnamon. Fluffy but filling, you will never guess that there is no butter in this recipe thanks to the organic richness of the sweet potato.  Also, the natural sweetness of its beta-carotene rich flesh eliminates the need to add tons of sugar to the batter- another health benefit; as Nutrition Action just linked increased sugar intake to out-of-control belly fat in their April 2012 cover story, "Sugar Belly."

The original recipe called for half white and half wheat flour, and I substituted ground oats and flax seed for the nutrient-lacking former ingredient. The effect was perfect: I could taste earthy whole grain and nutty undertones in the satisfyingly sweet pancake. I also added a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt because I prefer a heavier pancake; if you like a very light fluffy batter; I would skip this step. The pancake will be plenty hearty on its own from the sweet potatoes.


How Much Sugar is Too Much?
Nutrition Action Health Letter dives into the topic of sugar this month, revealing that the average American now consumes 22 to 28 teaspoons of added sugar a day. That ads up to 350-440 empty calories. The good news is that with change comes fast results: cutting back to 100 calories (6 1/2 teaspoons) a day for women and 150 calories (9 1/2 teaspoons) a day for men can contribute to a slimmer waistline and lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and diabetes.


Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Pancakes (derived from Eat Live Run)
Yield: 3-4 servings

Ingredients:
1/2 large sweet potato, peeled and baked/boiled then mashed with a fork
1/2 cup rolled oats, ground finely in a food processor
1 tablespoon ground flax seed (optional)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup skim milk + 1 tbsp nonfat greek yogurt (if not using yogurt, 1 cup milk)
1 egg, slightly beaten
generous sprinkle of cinnamon & nutmeg
butter or oil to grease skillet
maple syrup for serving

Directions:
1. Grease a large skillet with butter or oil and heat over medium high heat.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing just until combined and drop by quarter cups onto hot skillet. Cook for about two minutes on each side; serve hot with maple syrup.

Sources:
Liebman, Bonnie. "Sugar Belly." Nutrition Action Health Letter 39.3 (2012): 3-7. Print

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