By Nicole McDermott
Let’s all pause a moment to reflect on the delicious perfection of waffles: doughy, sweet, and crunchy, with deep, golden wells to hold generous amounts of maple syrup and melted butter.
While that sounds great, there are some pretty genius ways to make use of a waffle iron that don’t include making actual waffles. Here are six creative (and healthier!) waffle-inspired foods you can make in your iron.
1. Omelet Waffles
Take your omelets to the next level by cooking them in a waffle iron: Whisk three eggs and your favorite chopped veggies and then carefully pour the mixture over a hot waffle iron that’s been spritzed with nonstick olive oil. Once the eggs stop whistling, remove them. For quick, easy breakfasts, freeze a batch of omelet waffles and thaw in the toaster oven on the lowest setting.
2. Protein Waffles
Steal this whole wheat pancake recipe made with cottage cheese and make protein waffles instead. The protein in the cottage cheese helps produce waffles that’ll keep your stomach full and happy until lunchtime and also make you less likely to poke around in the snack room at work later in the day.
3. Waffled Portobello Mushrooms
If you’re looking for a quick, nutritious meal or snack, try this unique take on grilled mushrooms. Portobello mushrooms are packed with fiber, potassium, and B vitamins riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and pantothenic acid (B5).
To make them: Scoop out the mushroom gills with a spoon and marinate the caps in olive oil, herbs, and freshly ground pepper for 30 minutes. Place the marinated portobello mushrooms on the waffle iron, cap side up, for 5 minutes.
4. Falafel Waffle
These waffles have more going for them than just a cute name. Their star — the unassuming chickpea — has tons of protein and fiber, and fewer carbs than wheat flour; a one-cup serving of chickpea flour has 10 grams of fiber and 16 grams of protein.
Mix a batch of your favorite falafel dough (look for a recipe that gets its flavor from herbs rather than salt). Form the dough into balls or patties, scoop them onto a greased waffle iron, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
5. Waffle-Baked Fruit
Looking for ways to dress up a plain old apple? Cut it into slices, toss them on a waffle iron for a minute, and voila! To add a little protein to the mix, serve with a scoop of Greek yogurt and top with fresh berries. You can try the waffle treatment on slices of pineapple, pears, or peaches too.
6. Nut and Oat Waffles
For a classic waffle experience, try these healthy cashew and oat waffles. By grinding the nuts and oats in a food processor, the waffle batter mimics conventional flour. Before serving, top cooked waffles with maple syrup-sweetened berries; just a tablespoon adds plenty of sweetness and maple yumminess. Each whole-grain waffle provides 12 grams of fat, 6 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein. Not crazy for cashews? Whip up some wholesome whole-wheat waffles.
Technically, you can cook pretty much anything in a waffle iron, so don’t let yours gather dust in the cabinet. Try these out and start experimenting!