Pancakes aren’t just for Shrove Tuesday, they can be healthy and hearty at any time of the year. I’m not talking about the normal sort. Those full of butter, white flour and milk, smothered in sugar, syrup or chocolate spread. The problems with these are obvious they send blood sugar levels soaring and are laden in saturated fats. As a breakfast option they’re up there with the worst. The average pancake serving can contain 300 calories – you’d have to run about three miles to burn that off.
Healthy pancakes are a different thing. They can be sweet or savoury; for breakfast, lunch or even an afternoon snack. The truth is you can incorporate all manner of fruit and vegetables into them and I’m not just talking about the toppings. You can slip in grated carrot, apple or beetroot, blueberries, raspberries, pineapple or even finely chopped kale – for the really dedicated – although this won’t work if your child refuses to eat ‘green bits’.
As to the milk, why rely on dairy? I’m not a big fan of dairy, for many reasons. I do eat it, but prefer to use coconut, rice or almond milk. There’s also no reason to use white flour. Wholemeal flour works just as well as do other more nutritious flours such as buckwheat, chickpea or coconut. In this recipe I use buckwheat although you can use any wholegrain flour.
Buckwheat is not a cereal grain but a fruit seed and as such is a great source of protein. It’s also rich in nutrients such as magnesium and B vitamins. Its main health benefits relate to its high antioxidant nutrients which are heart protective and support the immune system. The reason these pancakes provide a balanced meal is their protein content – from the buckwheat, ground almonds and chia seeds.
You can add whatever toppings you prefer. I normally serve with warmed berries as these create their own natural syrup, alternatively, drizzle with maple syrup. The kids love them with apple puree and cinnamon; for grown-ups a little sautéed apple or pear and a drizzle of amaretto works well (although not recommended for breakfast, obviously).
For savoury pancakes add more buckwheat flour and leave the almonds out (they can be a little sweet). Try adding in a large handful of very finely chopped kale – you’ll be surprised how delicious this is. Top with smoked salmon and rocket and drizzle with a sauce consisting of crème fraiche, chives, pepper, lemon juice and lemon zest.
If you’re feeling lazy or struggle to find the ingredients, you can buy buckwheat pancake mixes in health food shops and some supermarkets. They are really easy to make and offer an excellent, nutritious breakfast option.