It is written that one of the best ways to keep mental health when the days blend into one another, is to keep some kind of routine. It is also important to keep traditions as, among other things, it helps to mark the time, a routine in the wider sense of the word. Let’s not forget that festivities are also something to look forward to, which won’t hurt in another year of the pandemic and ubiquitous lockdowns.
Next month’s Carnival season will be different to those most of us have been accustomed to. However, there is one tradition we can still keep alive in the safety of our own homes: Pancake Day. This marks the end of carnival and the last day before a long fast begins, and will fall on Tuesday 16th February in 2021. Or to put it another way, it is an institutionalised “Cheat Day” before a long period of self-imposed food deprivations.
Be that as it may, the tradition of Carnival dates back to a time when food was not as plentiful as today. So, as I have written before (here), I would not throw all caution to the wind and still try to keep it relatively healthy seeing as it also comes so close to the end of the year and other festivities which revolved around food! Remember the secret to maintaining a healthy body and weight is balance (read here).
Traditionally pancakes are made with wheat, however not everyone can tolerate this. In the age of gluten-free and paleo recipes, I thought I would share with you two of my favourite alternative pancakes made with different ingredients depending on your specific dietary requirements, the stocks in your pantry or simply for a change.
Gluten-free: oats and coconut flour
Just remember oats are naturally gluten free. However, depending on how (and where) they are processed this is not always true for the oats you buy from the supermarket. On the up side, it is possible to find oats which are marked gluten-free if you are intolerant to gluten. If you normally have porridge or oat flakes for breakfast, consider this a different way of preparing your daily dose of oats.
Coconut flour is also gluten free. It is a by-product of coconut milk originating from the Philippines. It is made from the dried and ground flesh of the coconut. It is also low carb. For those worried about the taste, those who do not like anything smelling of coconut (guilty as charged – with the exception of fresh coconut), banish the worry, this flour has a very mild taste and doesn’t smell or taste at all like coconut.
Other healthy ingredients
The bananas in the first recipe add sweetness as well as fibre, which alongside the oats will promote a healthy gut and regular bowel movements (something you may be struggling with during your more sedentary lifestyle of recent months).
The walnuts in the second recipe, although generally believed to be nuts, and consumed as such, are technically not nuts at all. Botanically speaking walnuts are seeds. Although high in calories (654kcal/100g) their health benefits far outweigh any consideration of caloric counting. They are rich in manganese as well as B vitamins, are made up of 15% protein, 65% fat (the good stuff) and 14% carbohydrates, 7% of which is dietary fibre. In Traditional Chinese Medicine they are used to support your kidney system. In other words, they will nourish your yin and give you an energy boost (which I suspect a lot of people need during this cold winter!).
Are you a vegan? – Use flax eggs
Replace the eggs as you might do in other recipes. Eggs are used to hold the batter together as well as to bring moisture. The right mixture of water and flax seeds (the so called flax egg) will probably work just as well in these recipes, although you may need to experiment with the proportions of flax egg to dry ingredients given that coconut flour tends to absorb more moisture than regular wheat flour.
To keep these paleo pancakes healthy, you should choose your toppings carefully. The best choice (as a sweetener) would be some raw honey, although some melted dark chocolate might be forgiven during Carnival (but check the sugar content!). Choose fruits that will complement your pancakes such as blueberries, blackberries (one of the Powerhouse Fruits & Vegetables) and pomegranate seeds, or even sliced bananas.
If you are worried about all the fructose remember that the fibre in the fruits themselves (as well as in the walnuts, oats or coconut flour) will help your system to get rid of excess sugar in your blood.
Is your palate salivating for a healthy (and D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S) treat yet?
Oat and Banana Pancakes
#low fat - #low carb - #high in fibre - #low GI
65 grams (gluten-free) oats (flakes, large or small, or instant oats)
2 ripe bananas
½ tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla essence
Olive oil or butter (for the pan) – Note that butter gives it a caramel flavour, but it burns more quickly. A mixture of both might be better.
1. Place the oats, sliced banana, eggs, baking powder, salt and vanilla in a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Allow the batter to rest for 10 to 20 minutes. This will thicken it slightly.
3. Heat some oil in a non-stick ceramic pan, or a little bit of butter, and spoon enough batter into the pan to make a small pancake. Cook until golden and then flip to finish the other side.
4. Set aside and continue doing the same until you finish all the batter. Cooking times and the number of pancakes will depend on how thick/large you make them.
5. Serve drizzled with raw honey and fresh fruit such as blueberries, blackberries, pomegranate and/or raspberries.
I tried the to replace the walnuts in the following recipe with almonds but I had to adjust all the other ingredients as it became too dry. Like coconut flour, almond flour absorbs more moisture than regular wheat or spelt flours. However, it is do-able and tastes just as good.
Walnut and Coconut Flour Pancakes (makes 3-4)
#Gluten free #Paleo #lowcarb
85 g walnuts
1.5 tbsp coconut flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp almond milk (or another vegan milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
a little oil/butter for the frying pan
1. Grind the walnuts in a food processor until you get a fine crumb-like texture.
2. Keep the food processor on a low setting and add the other dry ingredients (coconut flour and baking powder).
3. Next, break in the egg, vanilla essence and honey. Keep blending until you get a sticky batter.
4. Pour in the almond milk to make thin out the batter a little.
5. Heat the oil or butter, or a mixture of both, in a ceramic pan and pour in or spoon in enough batter for one pancake.
6. Cook for approximately 3-4 minutes until golden brown on one side. Then turn over and cook the other side for a further 2-3 minutes.
7. Set aside and repeat with the remaining batter.
8. Serve warm with fresh fruits and a drizzle of honey.
That’s all there is to making healthy finger-licking pancakes.
Happy Pancake day!