Disclaimer: I received a sample package of Kodiak Power Cake mix in the swag bag for the Salt Lake City half marathon. I have no dealings with the company and am reviewing the product for fun.
So, I’ve never really been into specialty foods. And I’ve never jumped on board the protein train. I’ve always eaten a very carb-heavy diet. Since I’ve never had any negative side-effects of eating all the carbs within my field of vision, I’ve never felt the need to seek out low-carb, high-protein versions of particular foods. If I want a pizza, I want a traditional crust, not cauliflower. If I want a brownie, I high-sugar deliciousness, not something filled with black beans for more protein.
Despite this, though, when I saw a sample-size box of Kodiak Power Cakes in my swag bag for the Salt Lake City half marathon, I was pretty excited. And not just because the box was small and therefore adorable. I’ve read enough training/fitness blogs that I’ve seen people eating and discussing Kodiak pancakes, so I was curious if they would live up to the hype. Plus, I love free food.
A couple of days before I ended up making the pancakes, I took the box out of the cupboard and looked at the directions, just to make sure I didn’t need to get anything to make them. While doing this, I actually paid attention to the packaging. Looking at it a bit closer somehow defamiliarized the entire thing. Pancake mix. Called power cakes. With a roaring bear on the front of the box. I looked up at Rob. “Do you think this is supposed to be hipster ironic or did they not even realize how ridiculous they were being when they designed this box?”
“I think they probably didn’t have any idea.”
The packaging seemed like it was created for a strange mix of audiences. On the one hand, the brown cardboard box looked like it was hearkening back to an “olden days” feel—the same way the flannel shirts and big, clunky boots that hipsters love to wear do. The all-natural and non-GMO labels played into this. On the other hand, packing random foods with protein and calling them “power [whatever]” with a roaring bear on the front of the box seemed to play into the super fit gym rat stereotype of the early 2000s. It occurred to me that these two stereotypes have kind of merged in the paleo movement. And I realized how strange it was that the all-natural health movement now has a natural intersection with the health movement that often relies on supplements and additions to food.
This kind of unexpected mix of worlds got me curious and I looked the company up. Apparently, the Power Cakes are a newer addition to their lineup. Their first product was simply a whole-grain, natural pancake/waffle mix that was first sold commercially at the ski resorts in Utah (which explains the folksy packaging and the wildlife on the box). I’m assuming Power Cakes are their attempt to break into the paleo movement, as carb-filled pancakes (even whole-grain ones!) are not necessarily in vogue right now. The packing was much more relatable after I realized how it had (likely) come about.
Anyway, on Sunday, I finally got around to making the pancakes for breakfast. The mix gives three options, depending on how much protein you want. You can make it with just water for 14g of protein a serving, you can replace the water with milk for pancakes that have 18g of protein a serving, or you can use milk and an egg for pancakes with a whopping 21g of protein a serving.
I ended up making them with milk. The batter came together without any issues and looked just like you would expect pancake batter to look. I added a bit more milk than called for because the batter was a little thick for my taste. And then it was time to actually cook the batter. Usually, my first pancake turns out terribly. I try to flip it too early and instead of waiting once I realize I’m prematurely flipping, I just go for it and ruin the whole pancake. However, this time, I nailed the first pancake which is probably more likely due to wisdom and experience (and finally learning after dozens of failed first pancakes) than about the mix.
I did notice that the pancakes bubbled less than typical batter does, so I had to watch the pancakes a little more closely to see when it was time to flip, and I actually had a little bit of trouble overcooking the outside of the pancakes for the first time ever (which was likely an operator error).
I made three pancakes before Rob informed me that he wasn’t going to have any for breakfast. Apparently, he had a headache and thought pancakes might be a little too heavy and make him feel worse. So I had three pancakes to eat!
I sat down to eat them in my typical pancake fashion (no butter because it’s so hard to spread, syrup on the side so I can dip each bite in instead of eating soggy pancakes). And they were… good. They tasted like whole-grain pancakes. On the upside, I couldn’t pick out any different taste that might be attributed to the added protein. But on the downside… they tasted like whole-grain pancakes. I love whole grain bread and rolls and such, but I prefer the foods typically considered “comfort foods” (pancakes, cookies, etc.) to be made with regular white flour. The nutty, more savory flavor of whole-grain is better in a bread than in a pancake (in my opinion). Perhaps I should have put peanut butter on them as I think peanut butter goes really well with the whole-grain flavor.
Still, they were pancakes. I happily ate all three, but I wouldn’t have wanted any more than that (I was getting pancaked out). I had some batter leftover, so I put it in the fridge. But I’m honestly not sure if I will use it or if it will just end up sitting in there until I throw it out. I did notice that I stayed full for quite a while after eating the Kodiak Power Cakes. I went to church and came home where I ate a pretty small lunch before going out on a bike ride.
To be honest, I won’t go out and purchase Kodiak Cakes for myself. Name-brand pancake mixes are much more expensive than simply mixing the ingredients together from scratch, and not all that much easier. I’m not trying to add protein into my diet, and I don’t avoid pancakes when I want them, so finding a healthier substitute isn’t on my radar. But there was nothing wrong with them. They cooked up fine, and they tasted as good as whole-grain pancakes can. Plus, they really do have a mind-boggling amount of protein in them, considering they are pancakes. If you are trying to supplement your diet with more protein or trying to limit your carb intake but really want pancakes, Kodiak Power cakes are a great option. Otherwise, just open up your pantry and whip up some pancakes yourself!