5 awesome ways to make guilt-free pancakes

February 03 2016

When you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet it can sometimes feel like the whole world is conspiring against you.

First we had Christmas to negotiate, and now we’re faced with Pancake Day. While everyone else is tucking into starchy desserts that are slathered in sugar, syrup, chocolate sauce and heavily-processed lemon juice, you’re sat there like some kind of chump with a low-fat yoghurt and a few blueberries.

It doesn’t have to be like this, though. It’s easier than you think to celebrate Shrove Tuesday without hindering your health and fitness plans.

What’s the secret to making healthy pancakes?

DW’s resident health and fitness expert and personal trainer, Carly Tierney, has given us some handy pancake-related nutritional advice, as well as a few sweet and savoury recipes for you to try out on February 9th.

She commented: “Pancakes are a favourite breakfast food [ed note – speaking of breakfast foods, have a read of this], and many varieties provide a number of essential nutrients. However, they can be high in calories from sugar and fat, especially if you eat them at a restaurant or top them with a lot of butter and syrup. You can make more nutritious versions of pancakes at home.

“Plain pancakes can be a good source of vitamins and minerals. You can make them even more nutritious by ditching the unhealthy toppings like cream and jam and instead add chopped fruit, nuts and veggies. Savoury items such as sweet potato, carrots and pumpkin can lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and help to strengthen your immune system, and fruits such as bananas, berries and pineapple not only add extra flavour, but are jam packed with vitamins too. You can purée your fruit to create tasty sauces that are perfect to drizzle.

“The way that you cook your pancakes can also make a massive difference to the calorie content and how healthy they are. Try replacing your usual butter or vegetable oil with low-calorie sprays or a small amount of coconut oil and always use oils sparingly.”

Healthy pancake recipes for those with a sweet tooth

They say that if it tastes good, then it’s probably bad for you. We’re here to obliterate this myth with our divine, health-conscious sweet pancake recipes.

Go bananas for pancakes

Healthy banana and coconut pancakes

You’ll need…

• 1 whole egg
• 2 egg whites
• 275ml of skimmed milk
• 110g of plain flour, sifted
• 1 banana
• 25g of shredded coconut
• Fresh pineapple (optional)

Directions

Mash the banana and crack the eggs into it, stirring until the mixture forms a paste. Add the milk and flour gradually until you have a nice smooth batter (there will be a few lumpy bits because of the banana).

Heat a lightly greased griddle or frying pan on medium heat and pour in a 2.5-inch wide portion of batter.

Carefully flip the pancake after about 25 seconds or when it browns. The recipe makes three to four small pancakes.

Not only is this recipe incredibly easy, it’s also extremely tasty. The combination of banana and coconut gives the dish a really refreshing and exotic flavour. Add some pineapple to give your pancake a Pina Colada-esque taste. Who doesn’t like Pina Coladas, right?

The health benefits

Although their natural sugar content is on the high side, bananas bring untold health benefits. A great source of potassium, fibre and protein, bananas are a great addition to your pancake mix. In similar fashion, coconut is also a little high on the sugar scale, but this is balanced out by the favourable iron and protein content. Banana and coconut should only be incorporated into your regular diet sparingly, but as a Pancake Day substitute for chocolate, cream and other assorted fattening toppings, they’re an excellent option.

Also, you’ll have noticed that we used just one full egg alongside two egg whites. This helps to keep the calorie count down (there are around 55 calories in each egg yolk), while at the same time retaining many of the nutritional benefits that eggs bring. You can read more about this in our recent blog post.

Apple pie pancakes

Healthy apple pie pancakes

The next four recipes all use the same basic ingredients to make the pancakes.

• 110g of plain flour, sifted
• Pinch of salt
• 1 whole egg
• 2 egg whites
• 275 ml of skimmed milk

For this dish, you’ll also need…

• 2 apples
• 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
• Half a teaspoon of powdered nutmeg
• Low-fat Greek yoghurt

Directions

To make your topping, you’ll need to slice your apples and stew them in a small amount of boiling water for a couple of minutes. Add your cinnamon and nutmeg and continue to heat through until the apples are nice and soft. Scoop your mixture on to your pancakes and add some Greek yoghurt to the mix. It’ll taste just like rustic American apple pie, but won’t leave you feeling guilty afterwards. You’re welcome!

The health benefits

As the old saying goes; an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apples are crammed with antioxidants and are said to help reduce a person’s risk of developing cancer and heart disease. Certainly worth having on your pancakes, then.

The nutritional benefits of cinnamon are perhaps less renowned. This study showed that Ceylon Cinnamon could have a positive effect on blood sugar control (in rats anyway). The ingredient is also known to fight bacteria, making it a trusty ally against stomach bugs in particular.

Greek yoghurt, meanwhile, contains just 59 calories per 100 grams (depending on the brand) and as such is a fantastic substitute for cream or full-fat yoghurt.

Healthy peanut butter and jelly

Healthy US-style peanut butter and jelly pancakes

Another wondrous comfort food that won’t have a detrimental effect on your waistline.

You’ll need…

• A dollop of natural peanut butter (we love scientific measurements!)
• An assortment of mixed berries
• Teaspoon of Greek yoghurt

Directions

There’s nothing complicated about this pancake topping, but what it lacks in gastronomic guile it more than makes up for in flavour.

Simply combine a tablespoon of peanut butter with a teaspoon of Greek yoghurt and mix together. This makes the peanut butter a little smoother, and once you add the mixture to your warm pancakes you’ll be presented with a mouth-watering melting concoction that gently oozes out on to your plate. Throw your berries on top to finish the job.

The health benefits

Peanut butter is a not-so-secret weapon for those who are looking to build muscle. Full of protein, fibre and so-called “good fats” peanut butter - eaten in moderation - is a great addition to your diet and is the perfect pancake topping. The creaminess of the peanut butter/Greek yoghurt mixture complements the tangy sweetness of the berries very nicely. You’ll have your own berry preferences of course, but if you’re undecided, we’d recommend blueberries, which are high in Vitamins C & K.

Healthy savoury pancake recipes

If you’re already sweet enough, why not have a crack at our savoury pancake recipes? The batter itself is just the same as the dessert version, but the toppings make all the difference.

Give these a try…

Spinach, mushroom and low-fat cottage cheese

Spinach, mushroom & cream cheese pancakes

Directions

Again, there’s nothing fancy about this pancake topping, but the nutritional benefits are vast. Simply sauté your mushrooms in low-fat spray/oil for a few minutes and add your spinach once the mushrooms are starting to feel soft. Spread atop your pancakes with a splodge of low-fat cottage cheese, and you’ve got a tasty savoury treat that is low in calories but high in flavour.

The health benefits

Mushrooms are certainly underrated as a healthy ingredient, as this BuzzFeed post alludes to. A fantastic source of potassium and known to boost our defences against cardiovascular diseases, mushrooms are very much an unsung hero of our cupboards. If you’re feeling daring on Shrove Tuesday, why not switch your standard mushrooms for the Shiitake variety?

At the other end of the scale, the health benefits of spinach are well documented - Popeye knew what he was doing! Good for your skin and bones, spinach is lauded as a “superfood” thanks to the amount of iron, protein and vitamins that are packed into it. Cheese, meanwhile, is a guilty pleasure for many, but rather than sprinkling a load of cheddar on to your pancakes, opt for a low-fat cream cheese instead.

Red peppers & lime/chilli-marinated turkey

Lime & red chilli turkey and red pepper pancakes

Directions

Marinate your turkey in lime and chilli for a few hours in the fridge. In the meantime, slowly roast your chopped red peppers in the oven on a low heat. Once they’re nice and soft, put them in a pan with a tablespoon of tomato passata and warm up.

Grill your turkey until it is thoroughly cooked (15-20 minutes should be long enough) and then chop it into strips. Spoon your tomato/red pepper mix on to your pancakes and place your turkey on top. Grind on some fresh black pepper and you’re ready to go!

The health benefits

As one of the leanest meats around, turkey is criminally under-utilised. A healthier alternative to red meat, turkey is not only low in calories, it’s also rammed full of protein, making it an ideal option for those muscle builders among you. What’s more, it’s said to boost your immune system.

Red peppers are also an underappreciated nutritional marvel. They contain 300% of your recommended daily Vitamin C requirements, which is extremely impressive indeed.

Need more inspiration or advice?

We hope that we’ve demonstrated that the arrival of Shrove Tuesday doesn’t have to derail your health and fitness progress. There’s always a way to take seemingly unhealthy comfort foods and turn them into something that’s delicious and nutritious in equal measure.

For more advice on how to get your diet just right, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the experts at DW Fitness Clubs. We’re always here to help!