Healthy Winter Breakfast Ideas (Protein Pancakes!) to Fuel Outdoor Activities

Blue skies. Fresh powder. And energy to burn. Sounds like a perfect day to explore the Northern Michigan outdoors. But before you go hiking, skiing or sledding (or another favorite winter activity!), it’s important to fuel your body. Traverse City chef Michelle Rodriguez shares her favorite protein pancakes recipe and more winter breakfast ideas.

“Carbohydrates help give you the energy you need and protein helps you build strength when walking up those giant hills or balancing on uneven ground,” shares chef Michelle Rodriguez of Amor Comida (she’s also an instructor of the culinary class “Cooking for Teens” through NMC’s Extended Education program).

“You want a large enough meal, but not so large that you will need a nap before you can even get your snow pants on!”

So how do you consume a healthy winter breakfast strategically—especially with a picky family? Chef Rodriguez recommends making power pancakes (aka protein pancakes).

Power Protein Pancakes Recipe by Chef Michelle Rodriguez, Amor Comida


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup flax meal*
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon agave, honey or unrefined sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups milk **
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted***


Other Options:
*If you don’t have flax meal you may use 1 tablespoon of protein powder of choice
**May substitute dairy-free milk
***May substitute 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil


  1. Put all dry ingredients in a large bowl, then make a well in the center and pour in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  2. Pour some of the batter onto the hot griddle and cook on medium heat until golden brown on both sides.
  3. If you want even more protein, melt peanut butter and use as a sauce, with chocolate chips, granola and bananas. Otherwise, top with your favorite fruit and syrup.

Not a big breakfast eater? No problem! Healthy snacks make for great breakfast alternatives. You can always ditch the typical morning layout for other filling options.

“Eggs are always a great ingredient to incorporate in the morning, however, if you are plant-based, nuts are a good substitution,” Rodriguez says. ”Make a big batch of trail mix based on your dietary restrictions/preferences.” She suggests adding a variety of foods to get a mixture of healthy fats and different textures. Her trail mix recommendations include dark chocolate, dried apricots, toasted coconut, toasted cashews and almonds.

Now, Hit the Sledding Hills!

Take your well-fed family to these free Northern Michigan sledding hills for a day of play.

  • Leland Lodge (a local favorite in the heart of Leelanau County)
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes Dune Climb in Glen Arbor (Adventure and a workout. Talk about win-win!)
  • Mount McSauba in Charlevoix (featuring lights for night sledding!)
  • Rogers Observatory Hill at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City
  • Kiwanis Hill in Harbor Springs (Feeling daring? This location has jumps!)

Read Next: 7 Sledding Hills and Ski Slopes for Kids (and Adults!)