All over the world Christians will be eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday (February 17), the last day before Lent. Historically during the 40 days of Lent, people gave up luxury items including foods such as eggs and butter and this led to the tradition of making pancakes to use up their eggs and butter.
Pancakes are delicious but they are not always made with the healthiest of ingredients. So whether you are eating them on Shrove Tuesday or for Sunday brunch, here are some tips to make them healthier.
- Make your own from scratch. Pre-made pancake mixes often use less than ideal ingredients. By making your own, you have control over the quality of ingredients. But even if you are using a pre-made mix you can still make them healthier with a few additions.
- Use better flour. Try substituting some of your regular flour with whole wheat flour or other whole grain flours. This will add more protein, vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Some suggestions besides whole wheat are buckwheat, kamut, spelt, almond, coconut, quinoa or oat flours.
TIP: Grind some oat flakes in your blender to make oat flour and use this to replace up to 1/3 of your regular flour.
- Ditch the dairy. Choose healthier alternative milks like almond, hemp, cashew or even coconut.
- Add some extras. Adding some healthy ingredients to your batter like chopped pecans, walnuts, almonds or flax, hemp or chia seeds can add healthy oils, minerals, fibre and protein and they taste great too! Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom can add interesting flavours and antioxidants too.
- Fruit is your friend. Adding fruit (and veggies too) either to the batter or as a delicious topping can boost the nutritional value of your pancakes. Try adding some mashed bananas, apple sauce, cooked and mashed pumpkin or sweet potatoes to your batter. You can reduce the amount of liquid, sweeteners and oils you are using and increase the flavour and cancer-fighting antioxidants with these naturally sweet additions.
- It’s all in the topping! Personally, it’s all about the toppings for me. In the summertime my favourite topping is fresh, ripe peach slices with a dollop of yogurt. In the winter it is a warm, vibrant berry sauce we make from our frozen berry stash using blueberries, strawberries and blackberries. This is where you can get really creative using fresh or frozen fruits, sprinkling the tops with lightly toasted nuts or seeds; spreading the tops with nut or seed butters like almond or hazelnut or pumpkin; topping with chunky apple or pear sauce. If you still need more sweetness, a bit of real maple syrup or raw honey would be great options.
- Why not savoury? Who says pancakes need to be sweet. Add some chopped chives or green onions to the batter along with some turmeric and herbs. Serve topped with sautéed mushrooms and/or greens.
Pancakes can be part of a healthy breakfast (or brunch or even dinner) by making some easy additions to your own recipes. Now that you are excited about pancakes, check out this recipe for Sunday Morning Spelt Pancakes on our website.
If you are looking for more breakfast ideas, call to register for our next Breakfast Time! cooking class on March 12.
Happy Pancake Day!
Tamara MacKenzie is a Nutritionist with InspireHealth’s Vancouver Centre. Tamara graduated from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and is dedicated to exploring the healing powers of “real” food.