How to Build a Holiday Pancake Board

healthy pancake board

If you’re looking for a new holiday tradition that doesn’t require much effort, a festive pancake board is the perfect way to present traditional recipes with nutrient rich colors of the season! Here I showcase the fun in this activity, how to make it work for your training schedule, and of course, the steps of how to build a holiday pancake board.

The Joy of Customizing Your Meal

Everyone loves a good appetizer board because you get to choose what appeals to you. These boards are even better when they’re packed to the brim with options so you can create a balanced snack (or even meal at some holiday gatherings). If we as adults get excited about these eating experiences, it’s sure to be fun for kids, too.

healthy pancake board

As a dietitian, I know that some of the “food fights” put up by selective toddlers and kids really just have to do with control. I’ve seen on my own and via colleagues how family style meals and snack trays can be the key to children trying  – and liking – new foods. By having the choice of what to put on their plate (out of the foods you’ve already chosen to include), they feel more in control and may be more likely to try a new fruit without you verbally encouraging it. Pancakes are a familiar and fun food for kids of any age, so having that as a start allows them to feel comfortable. Since you can decorate your holiday pancake board with festive colored fruit, it may make it more exciting for them to try than on a normal day, too.

Pre-workout Pancake Board

Enjoying this pancake board before the holiday itself when you have a training session planned? If you follow the instructions to build a holiday pancake board below below, you’ll have a fantastic balance of nutrients on your pancakes to energize you without weighing your stomach down during your workout. That is, as long as you’re treating it like a pre-workout meal on the hunger-fullness scale.

To boost protein, be sure you’re using a protein rich non-dairy milk in your pancakes if not dairy milk itself. I like Silk, Whole Foods 365, or Trader Joe’s unsweetened soy milk, Califia Protein Oat Milk, and Silk’s vanilla almond-cashew protein milk. You also want to be sure to include the recommended hemp hearts and a nut butter, such as peanut or cashew, which tend to be slightly higher in protein than others. If you just completed an endurance or moderate training session, that can be enough! If you are in heavy training or completed a strength session, you may want to add a glass of milk or a latte on the side. A single scrambled egg or a little scrambled tofu can also do the trick!

How to Build a Holiday Pancake Board

These instructions help you build a pancake board that won’t leave you, your family, or guests wishing you’d added something else. It’ll also provide a great balance of nutrients and flavors to satisfy both physically and mentally!

  1. Pick a board or tray. You don’t have to have a fancy cheese board and can just use the largest cutting board you have! If you don’t have an over-sized cutting board or serving tray, use your largest option for the pancakes themselves and set up the small ramekins and bowls with ingredients below around it for the same effect.
  2. Pick your pancake recipe. I’m sure you already have a go-to in your home, but my family go-to in the cooler months is my pumpkin buckwheat oat pancakes. They’re a fluffy no-sugar added, gluten-free option that includes produce and my toddler gobbles them up every time. For this board I also made my chocolate protein pancakes, a great option for athletic households. If you’re looking for something even more simple, my easy fluffy pancakes can be made in no time with simple ingredients. Just double or triple the recipe if you’re serving a whole family!
  3. Select colorful produce. For a Christmas feel, I chose a variety of red and green fruits, even if they aren’t all “in season”. We’re lucky to have all access to so many fruits year round, so I take full advantage of it with the red strawberries and raspberries. It’s also fun to have in-season options like Pomegranate arils. My son started enjoying them when I had them out on an afternoon snack board one day, so the same may be true for your kids (or selective adult eaters)! Green from apples and kiwi rounded out the color theme.
  4. Add fats and protein. Nuts and seeds provide better-for-you mono and polyunsaturated fats, protein, and more fiber, which all slow delivery of sugar into the bloodstream. This reduced blood glucose spikes and crashes while helping promote feelings of fullness. On a holiday, this will be great to combat any spike from maple syrup or if you’re using white flour in your pancakes. On a regular basis, we spread peanut or almond butter on pancakes, so I promise those are a great base for kids and adults alike. If you’re looking for texture, cut pistachios or pumpkin seeds for their green color and enjoy the white accent of hemp hearts as delicious options, too. We call hemp hearts “sprinkles” in my house!
  5. Top it off with sweetness. If you still want the syrup soaking into your pancakes, go for it! I recommend using 100% pure maple, but you can also use canned cherries to soak into the pancakes and provide a festive nutrient boost. Apple butter pairs well with almond butter, and a drizzle of honey is a nice options, too.

Other Breakfast Board Ideas

The possibilities really are endless, but my dietitian friends have you covered. If you need a gluten free option, definitely check out this waffle board from Mary Ellen at Milk and Honey Nutrition. Or if you’d rather French toast, this french toast board from Tawnie Graham at Krolls Korner has you covered!

What would you add to your pancake board? Let us know in the comments!

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