Pancake Day recipes: Healthy sweet and savoury ideas for Shrove Tuesday

Put the chocolate spread back in the cupboard and try these healthy options 

If by some miracle of willpower you have managed to stick to a healthy diet since the start of the year, just the thought of Nutella melting over hot pancakes on Shrove Tuesday may be enough to send you over the edge and abandon your saintly ways. 

But pancakes don't have to be filled with sugar and saturated fat to be enjoyable - and a healthy lifestyle isn't necessarily one void of indulgent treats. 

Below, Carly Tierney, health and fitness expert at DW fitness, offers her best advice for making nutritious pancakes. 

"Pancakes are a favourite breakfast food, 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," she said. 

"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. 

"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."

Go Bananas

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For 3-4 small pancakes you will need:

•    A whole egg

•    Two egg whites 

•    One banana

Mash the banana and crack the eggs in it to it, stirring until the mixture comes together. (Expect lumps because of the banana). 

Heat a greased griddle or frying pan on a medium heat and pour about a 2.5-inch wide portion of batter. Carefully flip the pancake after about 25 seconds or when it browns. Perfectly sweet, these pancakes can be served on their own. The recipe makes 3-4 small pancakes.

The health benefits

Although their natural sugar content is on the high side, bananas are a great source of potassium, fibre and protein. Bananas are an excellent substitute for chocolate, cream and other fattening toppings.

We used just one full egg alongside two egg whites to keep the calorie count down, while retaining the nutritional benefits that eggs bring. 

The basic pancake 

The next five recipes all use the same basic recipe to make the pancakes

For 8 servings you will need:

•    110g of plain flour, sifted

•    Pinch of salt

•    One whole egg

•    Two egg whites

•    275 ml of skimmed milk

Simply whisk the above ingredients until smooth, and pour a ladle full of your mixture onto a heated and greased frying pan. After a couple of minutes carefully flip the pancake and continue to cook for another minute. 

Carefully turn out your finished pancake onto a warm plate, and serve with your topping of choice.

Apple pie pancakes

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You will need

•    Two apples

•    One teaspoon of cinnamon

•    Half a teaspoon of powdered nutmeg

•    Low-fat Greek yoghurt

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 the 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.

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.

The nutritional benefits of cinnamon are perhaps less renowned. One study showed that Ceylon Cinnamon could have a positive effect on blood sugar control in rats.

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

Peanut butter & jelly

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You will need:

•    A dollop of natural peanut butter

•    An assortment of mixed berries

•    A teaspoon of Greek yoghurt

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 "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 and 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 and K.

Piña Colada

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You will need

•    100g chopped Pineapple

•    A tablespoon low fat Greek yoghurt

•    A teaspoon of coconut flakes

This recipe couldn’t be easier, mix your pineapple, yoghurt and coconut together, and serve! 

The combination of pineapple and coconut gives the dish a really refreshing and exotic Piña Colada-esque taste.

The health benefits 

Similar to banana, coconut is also a little high on the sugar scale, but this is balanced out by the favourable iron and protein content.

Greek yogurt, meanwhile, is a fantastic source of potassium, protein, calcium and essential vitamins.

Spinach, mushroom and low-fat cottage cheese

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You will need

•    A handful of spinach

•    Five mushrooms

•    Two tablespoons of low-fat cottage cheese

Simply sauté your mushrooms in low-fat spray or oil for a few minutes and add your spinach once the mushrooms are starting to go 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: a fantastic source of potassium and known to boost our defences against cardiovascular diseases. 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. 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 cottage cheese instead.

Red peppers and lime with chilli-marinated turkey

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You will need

•    One turkey breast

•    Half a lime 

•    Teaspoon of chilli flakes

•    One red pepper

•    Tablespoon of tomata passata

Marinate your turkey in lime and chilli for a few hours in the fridge. 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 to 20 minutes should be long enough) and then chop it into strips. Spoon your tomato and 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.

Red peppers are also an underappreciated nutritional marvel and are high in Vitamin C. 

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