Make Pancake Day a healthy day!


When you mention pancakes, it can easily conjure up a glorious picture in your mind of a huge glistening stack of delight, covered in maple syrup, a fruity sauce, honey or another sweet thing to tempt your taste buds.

So, on Pancake Day, February, will you be a sugar and lemon, chocolate sauce or savoury kind of person?

How you make your pancakes and what you put into them (or on top of them), will ascertain the number of calories, carbohydrate and sugar content that you consume. It will also depend on the thickness of the pancakes, whether you go European style with the thinner ones that you fold over, or American style which are smaller and ‘fatter’, and served in a big stack, smothered in a sweet syrup, such as honey or maple, and even topped with crispy bacon!

Why are pancakes unhealthy?

A pancake is only unhealthy if you don’t think about the way you make them and what you fill or top them with. Most ordinary pancake recipes include refined white flour, sugar, milk and eggs. Refined grains such as those in standard white flour can cause lifestyle diseases such as obesity and insulin resistance, two of the main provocators of an illness such as diabetes. On top of that, the sugar won’t help you either. If you add a high fructose corn syrup to this, it can further aggravate the problem.

So, if you consume a stack of ‘fat’ and unbelievably sweet pancakes, you will raise your blood sugar level without a doubt. As well as this, you can potentially increase the number of triglycerides in your blood, which can be a cause of heart disease. As long as you don’t indulge in pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, there is no need to panic – have them as an occasional treat and be easy on any sweet accompaniments.

Choose an alternative to refined white flour

There are plenty of alternatives to refined white flour to make pancakes, that hopefully will fit your palate. The taste of white flour is quite innocuous, so you may find that a different grain alternative gives a better texture and flavour. By using an alternative flour, you can add to the taste and decrease on the sugary toppings, and most importantly, they are a healthier pancake.

Some alternatives to refined white flour, are:

  • Buckwheat flour
  • Spelt
  • Almond flour
  • Brown rice flour
  • Oat flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Sorghum flour
  • Teff flour

For savoury pancakes, you can also try:

  • Chickpea/gram flour
  • Chestnut flour

Almond flour, buckwheat flour, coconut flour, chickpea flour, brown rice flour, oat flour, teff flour and sorghum flour are all suitable for those that suffer from gluten intolerance or coeliac disease. Refined white flour should certainly not be part of a diet for these illnesses.

You may need to have a practice with these different flours to get the right consistency that you enjoy. When using some of these varieties, you may find the colour of the pancake a little disconcerting, and not what you are used to! They can tend not to have the same brightness of colour and can result in a brownish hue in your pancake. Never fear, with some delicious fresh fruit toppings or a savoury item such as delicious pink prawns, you will not know the difference!

Great fillings and toppings for a pancake

Berries are one of the most popular fruits to share your pancake with and will certainly lift the flavour. Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries will add the sweetness that you require, but just make sure they are fresh and not hidden in syrup or accompanied by a huge spoonful of sugar. If you want more moisture, add a little yoghurt or crème fresh to your pancake.

Apples with a hint of cinnamon, half a banana or a peeled and sliced kiwi fruit are also delicious with any pancake. Sprinkling with some almonds, chopped hazelnuts or walnuts will also add a crunchy and healthy texture.

On the savoury side, there are also plenty of options according to your taste. If you want to have cheese, try something like Greek feta and a few chopped olives, or a little flaked parmesan with slices of roasted red or green pepper.

A mushroom and spinach combination will also be quite tasty or perhaps try a spicy and savoury Indian pancake using chickpea flour.

Experimenting is a fun thing to do – have a go and make your Pancake Day a new experience.

Let alldayDr know what pancakes you are making on the 25th and our qualified GP will tell you if they are healthy or not!

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