Flip your pancakes

Simple hacks for healthier stacks

There’s not a huge amount to cram the diary with at the moment - things to look forward to are fairly few and far between. Shrove Tuesday is lurking on the horizon though, promising stacks of tasty excitement and lockdown-friendly fun. Pancake day doesn’t need to spell disaster for your healthy eating habits though. As with many menu options – a few tweaks, and healthy twists, can turn pancakes from a glorified excuse to eat cake for breakfast, to a solid, nutritional choice to fuel your day.

Pancake Day is Tuesday 16th February this year and the beginning of Lent seems especially welcome in 2021 – like a refreshing gateway towards Easter, spring and hopes of normality. So, with its newly prescribed heights of expectation - and without our favourite eateries to fall back on - we’ve taken this quest to find you the best healthy pancake options very seriously. Our top swaps:

Go Whole Grain

‘Higher intake of whole grains has been associated with a lower risk of major chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD)’ according to JAMA Intern Med 2015 study. If you want maximum health improvement, from just one dietary change, choose whole grains whenever you can, says Elaine Magee, MPH, RD known as The Recipe Doctor. Whole grains include the fibre-rich bran part of the grain, which slows the breakdown of starch into glucose, maintaining a steady blood sugar, rather than causing sharp spikes. Whole grains also include the nutrient-packed core called the germ, full of healthy fats, phytochemicals, B vitamins and vitamin E.

You can swap out some of the white flour in any recipe for whole-wheat flour. You could also add oats, polenta or cooked whole grains for extra fibre. Make sure you up the liquid a little to go with the whole-grain flours, as they absorb more. Embrace the brown and say goodbye to the processed, white flour with these Whole Grain Pancakes.

Add fruit

Getting your five-a-day (400g of fruit and veg advised by the WHO), is one of the most important improvements to diet you can make for your health. Fruits are high in antioxidants, packed with vitamins and beneficial in a myriad of ways. They can add natural sweetness, succulent goodness and aesthetic prowess to the top your pancakes. Blueberries and raspberries are particularly high in antioxidants and a firm favourite of ours. For something different, why not try these delicious Raspberry Chia Jam Stuffed Pancakes.

Fruit can also be used within the pancakes: ripe, mashed bananas folded into the mixture are brilliant for either replacing eggs in a vegan recipe or for adding as a primary ingredient for banana pancakes. For a stripped back, super healthy option you could try these 2-ingredient Banana Pancakes. Or add banana to something more conventional, like these Healthier Banana Pancakes.

TOP TIP – buying organic fruit (and veg) where you can, to avoid consuming pesticides, is a great way to eat healthier, but it is usually more expensive. Some fruit and veg are more susceptible to higher levels of pesticides than others though – the EWG’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ is a really handy shopper’s guide to pesticide levels in produce, which helps you to know the most beneficial areas to buy organic.

Add Vegetables

No, we don’t mean on top! No need to switch your raspberries and blueberries for peas and sweetcorn just yet. But just as you can make cakes with zucchini, pumpkin or sweet potato puree (yes really!), you can with pancakes too. Just fold the pureed veg into the batter and find yourself smashing your five-a-day without even noticing (even the kids will love them!). The consistency holds the mix together well and the natural sweetness adds great flavour.

Try these Zucchini Pancakes or perhaps this Sweet Potato variety by Deliciously Ella.

Up the protein

Whilst the health benefits of fats and carbs remain fairly controversial, most agree on the benefits of protein. Protein is the main component of muscles, bones, skin and nails – the building blocks of our body. Studies show that protein helps you to feel more full, with less food, and thus reduces appetite and hunger levels. Protein is essential for blood sugar control, it helps to slow digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes. It’s great for making you feel full and avoid snacking. Most people eat enough protein to not be deficient (around 15% of your calorie intake), yet many could benefit from as much as 25-30%. Eggs and milk are great sources of protein anyway, if you are making traditional pancakes. If you’re not keen on dairy, try keeping the protein, but swapping to a plant-based milk such as almond or coconut. An easy and tasty way to pack additional protein into your pancakes is adding protein powder to the mixture, like in these four ingredient protein pancakes. You could also replace some flour in a mixture with ground almonds to up the protein. Perhaps also consider adding yoghurt, chia seeds or nut butter on top, to boost the protein content even more.

Toppings

This leads us on to the topic of toppings. Don’t forget, it’s not just what goes into your pancakes that makes them good for you; what you pile on top, can make or break their healthy status. Try swapping golden syrup (full of refined sugar), for naturally occurring maple syrup (with no chemicals or preservatives). Or you could use honey for sweetness – heated with pureed berries it can be made into a healthier version of jam. Natural yogurt can stand in for cream or ice cream and dark chocolate chips are preferable to milk, if you need a chocolate hit.

Get Moving

Adding healthy choices to your day, is not just limited to what you put on your plate. Why not find fun ways to incorporate movement into your pancake day rituals, to help ensure you are burning calories as well as consuming them. Olney in Buckinghamshire maintain a tradition which dates back to 1445, hosting a 415 yard race each Pancake Day, run by the ladies of Olney, flipping their pancakes as they go. Perhaps you could start your own family tradition? If you’re struggling for outside space currently to host a race, how about just walking to the shops for all your pancake ingredients, instead of driving.

With our healthier takes on pancakes, there’s no reason to limit them just to Shrove Tuesday. They are a great breakfast power-food you can enjoy anytime; and with so many variations, they never have to get boring. Here at Usay Compare, we believe that prevention is just as important as cure when it comes to health and what you choose to eat, is an important part of that. The health insurance policies we compare, can help you with preventing illness and injury as well as treatment, should you ever require it. Some policies offer incentives for achieving your fitness goals and excellent discounts on healthy food choices. If you would like to be proactive about protecting your health and well being, and find out more about what health insurance can offer you, our expert advisers are on the end of the phone to offer free advice. Just fill out this short form to get started. Or read more about health insurance policies here.

 

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