How might one measure the popularity of the waffle?
Well, consider that the Waffle House restaurant chain celebrated its 60th anniversary earlier this month. It’s grown from one diner (now site of the company museum near Decatur, Georgia) to more than 1,700 restaurants in 25 states.
According to its website, Waffle House has served more than 877 million waffles (and about three times that many eggs). Each minute of every day, the chain serves an average of 145 waffles and 341 strips of bacon.
Learning Liftoff’s Healthy Snack of the Week neither advocates nor condemns an occasional stop at your local Waffle House. But, we are suggesting that you forego the bacon and consider some of our healthier alternatives for waffles that you can serve as a study break snack at home.
More than a breakfast food, waffles can be a viable snack any time (hey, all Waffle House restaurants are open 24 hours). Whether you buy frozen waffles or decide to make your own from scratch, you’ll be wise to select a whole grain variety over the more traditional buttermilk waffle for added fiber and nutritional value.
“Whole grain means the outer nutritious coating of the grain has not been removed, thus leaving healthy vitamins and nutrients in the grain,” says Wesley Delbridge, RD, nutrition director for the Chandler (Arizona) Unified School District Food and Nutrition Department. “Some of these nutrients include fiber, B vitamins, iron, and zinc.”
Additionally, there are dozens of recipes for non-traditional waffle batters, some featuring vegetables. Take for example a healthy recipe (technically described as waffle fritters) made with shredded zucchini.
As important as the waffle itself is what you put on top of it.
It makes sense to go easy on the butter (salted, about 36 calories per pat) and maple syrup (52 calories and 13.6 grams of sugar per tablespoon) and gravitate toward healthier toppings that bring fresh fruit into the mix.
“Sure, syrup is the traditional go-to topping for waffles, but you can also make a pretty tasty—and healthier—fruit topping,” says Deborah Dunham of Blisstree.com. “Consider mashing up fresh strawberries or blueberries and using them as your ‘syrup.’ ”
Bananas, peaches, pineapple, and kiwi are among the fruit options that will add color, flavor, and variety to your waffles. In fact, there’s no harm in allowing your child to select a favorite fruit from the fridge.
Dunham offers other suggestions for healthier waffles including adding vegetables such as pumpkin or butternut squash to your batter, using quinoa, sweet potato, and pineapple for a gluten-free waffle (via simplyquinoa.com), and using (low-fat) peanut butter as a topping.
A few more sites with yummy and healthy ideas to dress up your waffles include:
How do you like your waffles? Do you own a waffle iron? Have you ever thought about serving waffles as a snack food? Please share your thoughts, and be sure to look for more Snack of the Week suggestions and information on healthy eating on Learning Liftoff’s food pages.
Featured Image – daniel zimmel / CC by 2.0