Recipe Makeover: Healthier Whole Wheat Waffles

Breakfast and Brunch, Breakfast Breads, Sauces | 29 comments

With the New Year to it’s start, I’ve been thinking about my eating habits. I do pretty well, but I know there are a few areas that I could improve on and breakfast is one of them. I love sweets for breakfast and I think it’s pretty evident here on the blog (see: Breakfast and Brunch recipes).

healthier whole wheat flax waffles

I don’t eat like that every day, but I want to incorporate some every day make ahead breakfast recipes, things like muffins and waffles, that are healthy enough to eat on a regular basis. The first recipe that came to mind was our family’s favorite waffle recipe. I knew I could give them a recipe makeover and still maintain the delicious flavor and texture.

3 Tips to “Healthify” a Breakfast Baked Goodie

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1. Decrease the Sugar

  • In this waffle recipe I was able to cut the sugar down to almost a third of the original amount.
  • To add a little extra flavor to compensate for the sugar loss, I added some orange and cinnamon as well as substituting brown sugar for the original granulated sugar.

2. Swap at least half of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour.

  • This is probably the simplest step you can take to make a recipe a bit healthier.
  • I have a NutriMill Grain Mill to grind my own fresh, whole wheat flour. I grind several cups at once and store it in gallon sized Ziploc bags in the freezer to maintain freshness. See my Nutrimill Review for more info.

3. Decrease the fat (i.e. butter).

  • There are many ways you can do this, ultimately you’ll have to figure out what works best for you. In the waffle recipe, I simply cut out much of the butter completely without replacing it with anything else.
  • In recipes like muffins where you will miss the moisture and tenderness that butter or oil provides, you can substitute part of the fat for lighter ingredients that will provide moisture: yogurt, applesauce, Homemade Pearsauce, pumpkin puree, or other fruit puree.
  • If a recipe calls for butter, consider substituting for a healthier olive oil or canola oil instead.

healthier whole wheat flax waffles

These waffles are not difficult to make. We often make a triple batch so we can have leftover throughout the next week or two. Leftover waffles store easily in the freezer for a quick weekday breakfast. Now that the recipe is healthier for the body, I certainly won’t feel too guilty eating waffles for breakfast on a more regular basis. Paired with some fruit and yogurt – what a meal!

To freeze the waffles, we cool them completely on a wire cookie cooling rack and then place them in gallon sized Ziploc bags to freeze. When you are craving waffles for breakfast, just pop the frozen waffles in the toaster to thaw and reheat.

With half the butter, whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, added flax, and almost a third of the sugar, these waffles are every bit as yummy and much healthier. Cinnamon, orange juice, and zest add a little extra flavor so you don’t even miss all that sugar.

For something extra fun and seasonal, I made cranberry orange maple syrup to top these waffles with, but if you’re concerned about the added natural sugar of the syrup try topping the waffles yogurt and fruit for a lighter option. Or, if you  need a protein kick, smear some almond butter on the waffles and top them with sliced banana.

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Recipe Makeover: Whole Wheat Flax Waffles with Cranberry Orange Maple Syrup

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For the Waffles
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons cold milled flax
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup milk
3 eggs, separated
juice of one orange
zest of half an orange

For the Cranberry Maple Syrup
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt


For the Waffles

Preheat waffle iron.

Sift brown sugar, flour, flax, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together in a bowl. Add egg yolks and milk to dry ingredients and beat together thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Stir 1/2 of the egg whites into the waffle batter, and then fold in the remaining egg whites and stir (do not beat) until mixed. Add butter, orange juice and zest, and mix until smooth.

Grease the waffle iron, if necessary. Pour scant 1/3 c of batter on the heated waffle mold. Makes about 10-16 waffles, depending on the size of your waffle iron.

For the Cranberry Maple Syrup

Combine the cranberries, maple syrup, and orange juice in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat to bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the cornstarch into the water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the syrup and continue to boil for 2-3 minutes more, or until the cranberries are tender.

If the syrup is not thick enough for your liking, add a teaspoon or two more of cornstarch while the syrup is cooking until the desired thickness is reached.

Serve alongside waffles. Syrup will last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Katie Goodman

About the Author:

Katie’s lifelong interest in cooking good food has shown her that part of the goodness in life is enjoying delicious food with friends and family. She is: Mom. Writer. Photographer. Recipe Developer. Website Founder. Lover of all things good in life. A mix of great recipes, family memories, and yummy photography is what Katie serves up each week at GoodLife Eats™. Katie and her family reside in Colorado.

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  • 1
    Amy | She Wears Many Hats - January 05, 2011 @ 8:01 am

    These look yummy! Every little change I can make adds up to a lot over the course of a year. Thanks!


  • 2
    Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies - January 05, 2011 @ 8:05 am

    Katie, these look really spectacular. My mouth watered just looking at them. I love how much healthier they are than standard waffles too!


  • 3
    Estela @ Weekly Bite - January 05, 2011 @ 8:08 am

    These look delicious! We love whole wheat waffles in our house. Great tips too :)

    Happy New Year!


  • 4
    Heather (Heather's Dish) - January 05, 2011 @ 8:15 am

    my hubby loves waffles, so we make them almost every saturday…i can’t wait to use this healthier version!


  • 5
    Lyndsey - January 05, 2011 @ 8:19 am

    This is perfect, I just got a waffle maker for Christmas (I’ve never made them before). I always use less sugar than recipes call for so I think I’ll like your healthy verson.


  • 6
    Rachel - January 05, 2011 @ 8:21 am

    They look awesome. I’d love some wafflfes but that’d be really difficult without a waffle iron to make them in. Someday!


  • 7
    Shaina - January 05, 2011 @ 8:31 am

    These sound fantastic, and I love the cranberry orange maple syrup. Delicious!


  • 8
    Wenderly - January 05, 2011 @ 9:07 am

    Now this is what I call *not* sacrificing taste for health! YUMM-O! can’t wait to give these little beauties a whirl!


  • 9
    Liz @ Blog is the New Black - January 05, 2011 @ 9:24 am

    I love “healthified” recipes when there’s no sacrificing the taste!


  • 10
    Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef - January 05, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

    i love when recipe makeovers are on-par with the original… and i think this one is! thanks- can’t wait to try them :)


  • 11
    Sandy - January 05, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

    I saw your recipe on tastespotting and knew that I had to make it for breakfast today, since I have a bucket of oranges on my back porch and waffles are one of my favorite things in life. These were delicious, they are so light and fluffy for only using whole wheat flour. Thanks for the recipe, it will definitely be a keeper and I am bookmarking your blog!


  • 12
    megan @ whatmegansmaking - January 05, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

    We love waffles in our house! I always fall back on the old betty crocker recipe, which is terrific. I might try these for a “healthy” version though. I could use it!


  • 13
    Tiffany @ Conor & Bella - January 05, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

    Thanks for the tips!


  • 14
    Aimee @ Simple Bites - January 05, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

    We had whole wheat honey waffles today and they were great. They really don’t need all the fat & sugar that recipes usually call for.

    Brilliant post, Katie!


  • 15
    Kristy @momhatescooking - January 05, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

    I use applesauce a lot to decrease the fat. I find it works really well and makes most items more moist!


  • 16
    Meal Makeover Mom Janice - January 06, 2011 @ 5:16 am

    These look great! I prefer my waffles crisp so I like the idea of cooling them on a wire rack. Putting them on a plate seems to almost steam them and make them a bit soggy!


  • 17
    Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} - January 06, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

    Great makeover! Whole grain waffles are delicious and your cranberry maple syrup sounds really interesting.


  • 18
    Queen of the Click - January 06, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

    I’m thinking if I left this recipe out for my sweetie, he might make it for me on the weekend :)


  • 19
    Kristen - January 06, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

    So delicious – love your makeover!


  • 20
    Erin - January 07, 2011 @ 8:50 am

    We made these this morning! Great waffles! I used 2 T. butter and added a couple spoonfuls of organic yogurt. Will be linking to your recipe on my blog later today!



  • 21
    Cathy @ What Would Cathy Eat - January 07, 2011 @ 8:51 am

    I am going to try these with organic canola oil in place of the butter, to make them a little more heart-healthy. Can’t wait!


  • 22
    Jamie | My Baking Addiction - January 08, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

    Great recipe makeover, Katie! These look fantastic and like the perfect way to start the morning!


  • 23
    Jenn - January 08, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

    I often cut the sugar considerably in recipes but never thought about replacing the flavour with something like orange. I think I’ll try this next time and see what the difference is like, thanks!


  • 24
    TidyMom - January 09, 2011 @ 9:27 am

    Thanks for linking up Katie! I featured your post in the wrap up! http://tidymom.net/2011/im-lovin-it-wra-up-1911/


  • 25
    Debbie - January 09, 2011 @ 11:31 am

    A great idea for the kids in the morning.


  • 26
    Erin - January 10, 2011 @ 11:56 am

    NOM! These look so absolutely delish. And with a photo like that, we just had to feature them over on the weekend recap of our fave recipes!



  • 27
    Jenny - January 15, 2011 @ 8:21 am

    VERY Good I made them for breakfast. I used Blueberries instead of cranberries. VERY Tasty. Thanks


  • 28
    mrsblocko - July 22, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

    I made these and wrote about them here. I loved their slightly sweet orange-y taste. They were tasty enough to eat without syrup. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you for sharing your healthy(er) recipe.


  • 29
    Uma - May 24, 2012 @ 6:21 am

    I replaced baking powder(I ran out of it) with 1/4 tsp baking soda and 1/2 cup yoghurt and skipped butter and replaced 1/3rd cup of wholewheat flour for brown rice flour and used unrefined whole cane sugar,they were just awesome.thank you for sharing the recipe


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