The Devil’s Food Cake Wears Prada


To help you avoid derailing your resolutions, CCNY has some tips on how to get your gluttony on without the guilt!  Scroll to the end for our favorite healthy Pancake Day and Lunar New Year recipes.

We begin by dispelling a few myths about healthy eating.  It’s no secret that the US has an obesity problem and that our sugar consumption is far too high.  However, sugar and fat consumption are not consistent indicators of obesity among nations that take in the most fat and sugar.  Germany, for example, ranks second globally in both sugar and fat consumption per capita, but their population is among the thinnest as well.  Other chart-toppers such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, and Sweden also exhibit this negative correlation in consumption and waistline.

How can this be?  For one thing, not all fat is created equal.  There are healthy fats and there are unhealthy fats.  Saturated fat is not the enemy.  You also need fat to absorb nutrients.  A huge part of the problem is empty calories.  Much of popular American food has limited flavor balance and contains still fewer nutrients.  The end result of soil depletion is that we consume more calories because our food is not nutritionally adequate and the average person, unable to afford expensive organic supplementation, gains more weight.

Don’t think that extra exercise will burn it off either.  The calorie deficit matters but consistent physical activity, while good for a whole host of reasons, is actually not ideal for weight loss if that’s your ultimate goal.  Even moderate exercise won’t burn more than 200-500 calories per session— hardly enough to undo a stack of pancakes, even without syrup and ice/ whipped cream.  Instead, eat smart and get plenty of sleep.  Try food pairing to maximize nutrient absorption and avoid post-carb indulgence slump.  Cut back on sugar (which lurks in so many American products) and increase your intake of whole grains and green leafy veggies.  And before you reach for that glass of pulp-free juice, remember that fiber helps regulate blood sugar.

You’ve heard it before but let it sink in: the negative impact of sugar cannot be overestimated.  A longitudinal study just published this January found a strong correlation between a high-sugar diet and cognitive decline.  In fact, Alzheimer’s is increasingly referred to as Type 3 Diabetes.  All is not lost though.  Just three half-cup servings a week of blueberries and strawberries help combat the risk of cardiac failure and Alzheimer’s.

If a healthier lifestyle is truly important to you, as with most things in life, your best bet is to plan ahead.  Make grocery lists and prep meals in advance.  Research restaurants before you go and if you can’t find an online menu or reviews, call or e-mail ahead with your questions.  It never hurts to ask (politely) about replacement options whether you’re at a food pantry or at a restaurant.  The more people make their desire for real food known, the more incentive businesses have to comply.

You don’t have to be Pantagruel to take pleasure in eating.  Indeed, taking the time to appreciate your food is a component of mindfulness practice, which can also be helpful for controlling your weight.  Connecting with the food process, that is, meaningfully considering where your food came from –soil to plate- can also help you make each bite count.  There is enormous food waste in the Western world with Americans in the lead.  In recent years, we’ve had some positive movement on that front.  France banned throwing out and intentionally spoiling good unsold produce while in Ireland, the start-up FoodCloud connects food producers and retailers to local charities to redistribute surplus food.  The slow progress seen in this arena underscores the importance of policy, infrastructure, and community working in tandem.  Take the time to be grateful for what you have and you might just start consuming less.

A note about the following recipes: these have been selected for nutritional value and originality by the author.  Please bear in mind that nominally gluten-free and/ or vegan dishes aren’t always the healthiest choice.  Review ingredient labels and know your daily nutrient requirements.  Don’t give into diet fads.  Listen to your body and understand its unique individual needs.


Guide To Abbreviations:

GF = Gluten-Free

P = Paleo

V = Vegetarian

VG = Vegan

  1. Vegan Appam       GF       VG
  2. Flourless Banana Nut Pancakes       GF       V
  3. Four-Ingredient Paleo Pancakes       P       GF       V
  4. Five-Minute Vegan Pancakes       GF      VG
  5. Carrot Cake Pancakes With “Cream Cheese” Frosting       P       GF       V
  6. Pumpkin Pancakes With Bacon And Pecans       P          GF
  7. Grain-Free Japanese Pancakes With Sticky Mushrooms       V         GF
  8. Paleo Cinnamon Roll Pancakes       P       GF       V
  9. Baked Coconut Nián Gāo       GF       VG
  10. Autoimmune Protocol Nián Gāo       P         GF       VG
  11. Quinoa Pancakes       GF       VG
  12. Lemon Banana “Ricotta” Pancakes With Blueberry Compote       GF       VG
  13. Savory Pancakes With Pine Nut Cream       GF       VG
  14. Chai Oatcakes       GF       VG
  15. Paleo Mocha Chip Pancakes with Espresso Syrup       P       GF       V
  16. Sprouted Spelt Crêpes      V
  17. Coconut Cassava Æbleskiver     P     GF     V
  18. Buckwheat Flaxseed Crêpes     GF     VG
  19. Luó Bo Gāo     GF 
  20. Mashed Potato Pancakes With Spinach, Gruyère, and Bacon    GF


In the spirit of inclusivity, if pancakes aren’t your thing, check this and that out instead.