The Short Answer
It completely depends on the kind of flour used to make the pancakes – some pancakes can be paleo, like the kinds made using coconut or almond meal, while most others are not. When people think of pancakes they are usually referring to the kind made with wheat flour, which is definitely not paleo. In fact no flour that is made of any grain – whether it’s whole wheat flour, rice, oat, etc. – is paleo be use grains themselves aren’t paleo.
Why Are, and Aren’t, Pancakes Paleo?
Most pancake recipes include: refined white flour, cane sugar, eggs, milk and maple syrup. As you can probably tell, some of these aren’t paleo-approved ingredients, with the exception of eggs (if they were pasture-raised and cage-free) and possibly maple syrup (if it was 100% pure, not Aunt Jerimiah).
The main ingredient in pancakes, wheat flour, isn’t paleo first and foremost because it’s a grain. Grains contain “antinutrients” which block a percentage of the minerals and vitamins present within the grains, like magnesium and Vitaminn E for example. these are present even in 100% whole wheat flour and all other whole grains because they’re a natural mechanism for keeping the plant’s protected from predators while there still growing, like insects and strains of bacteria.
The problem is when you eat grains and grain-based flours that contain these antinutrients, like phytate for example, they render nutrients useless in the body and also cause negative digestive reactions in many people. Grains also contain enzymes that disturb digestion, so bloating and other digestive symptoms are common after eating a grain-heavy meal. And when it comes to wheat and wheat flour, of course there’s the gluten too. Gluten – the protein found in wheat, barley and rye grains – is known for causing allergic reactions and sensitives. It can cause “permeability” in the gut lining, which leads to substances leaking out of the stomach and intestines (called “leaky gut syndrome”) and into the blood stream where it triggers inflammatory response.
Gluten-free flours aren’t much better either and most also aren’t paleo. How come? They also contain grains, usually processed white rice, plus other forms of refined starches.
Then of course there’s the highly refined cane sugar used in pancakes too. Although it depends on the kind of sugar you use, most types aren’t paleo. Cane sugar has an extremely high score on the glycemic index and disturbs blood sugar levels which can lead to insulin resistance, the primary cause of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Sugar is an “empty calorie”, it doesn’t contain any nutrients at all and is associated with nearly every chronic disease there is, plus weight gain. As an alternative to cane sugar, use sweeteners like blended fruit, raw honey, organic stevia extract, or pure maple syrup.
If you want to try making pancakes that are paleo, there are some creative ways to do this. Some of the best flours to use are: coconut, almond (either flour or meal) or other nut flours like hazelnut and pecan, if you can find them. Of course you can always make your own nut-based flours by grinding down nuts in a high speed blender – just be careful to stop blending before you turn them into nut butter!
These are all completely natural, high-fiber, grain-free flour substitutes that can make a good batter, although truth be told they won’t come out exactly like the usual highly-processed and fluffy pancakesyou’re used to. So just keep in mind the finish product will be denser than you’re used to, but this is because there isn’t as much starch present, and instead there’s more healthy fats. Top your paleo pancakes with a paleo-approved sweetener, fruit, nuts cocoa powder and any other paleo ingredients that you like; why not even try making “savory pancakes”!
If you don’t want to use flours, you can also make pancakes out of just eggs and either blended bananas, apples, or even pumpkin/squash. Here’s all the info on making paleo pancakes with no flour at all.
Is There Any Confusion When It Comes to Pancakes Being Paleo?
Nope, everyone agrees that pancakes made with wheat or even “gluten free” flours aren’t paleo, but some other types can be paleo if they are made with zero refined sugar or flour and all-natural ingredients.
So Are Pancakes Paleo?
Some pancakes are paleo, some aren’t. It depends on the ingredients you’re using. Paleo pancakes include the kinds made using no flour (just eggs and fruits/veggies) or grain-free, nut-based or coconut-based flours.
How to Know What Is and Isn’t Paleo
Check out Paleo.io, the mobile app that answers the question, “is __ paleo?” Paleo.io comes with the most comprehensive paleo diet food list out there, so no matter which food you’re confused about, you’ll always be able to find out whether or not it’s paleo.
photo credit: Blueberry Pancakes
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