Ok, so it’s nearly pancake day (Shrove Tuesday). One of my health coaching clients has already asked me for some options, so I’d thought I’d present a comprehensive guide around the strategies and options available. This is an area that can be a bit tricky, especially if you fondly remember eating a dozen lemon-sugar pancakes in one night (like I used to!).
This year, I’m actually going to be in New York for pancake day (let’s see how I handle that one!). I’m also having a mini celebration at home with some friends a little earlier before I go. I am likely to of course be in charge of the savoury options…
So the first sugar-free strategy I would recommend is to fill up on delicious savoury options as much as you can. There’s an incredible amount of choice out there on the savoury front and you can hike up the nutrition count with the addition of vegetables.
Here’s a round-up of some of my internet faves that I’ve vetted and collected. All are made with good healthy ingredients, many have some form of vegetable included and there are even gluten-free and egg-free options to suit other dietary needs:
- Squash goats cheese and rosemary pancakes
- Creamy chicken, spinach & pancetta
- Cheesy cauliflower pancakes
- Savoury chickpea pancakes with smoky roasted carrots
- Mustard dill pikelets with smoked trout and avocado salad
- Spinach & cheese or cheese & tomato
- Grain-free coconut flour bacon pancakes
- Egg-free savoury pancakes
Sweeter pancakes – your sugar-friendly options
Now, if you’re not full from savoury wonders or you’re just still wanting sweet, you have a few ‘better’ options. Whip up a basic unsweetened wholemeal savoury crepe mix and fill with healthier ‘natural’ or lower sugar options:
- Opt for lower fructose fruit like berries or warm them up in a pan to make a berry compote.
- Swap a maple syrup for a brown rice syrup (lower fructose alternative).
- Melt and drizzle a little dark chocolate (at least 85%) instead of the popular Nutella.
- Make an thicker unsweetened apple sauce-based pancake using your own homemade unsweetened apple sauce (try this recipe).
- Although a banana is higher fructose, a few slices in your pancake with some full fat natural greek yoghurt and chopped hazelnuts could satisfy the sweet spot in a more natural way than say banana ice cream!
- Again, make a sweeter ‘base’ pancake using banana. Here’s a gluten-free almond butter based one.
Lemon and sugar
It’s the classic, I used to eat these every year. Not one, but probably about 12 of them. My mum would keep going until me and my brother could eat no more. I estimate about 10-15 teaspoons of sugar were consumed in one of these pancake evenings…yikes!
If you still really really want your lemon and sugar, start looking at your portion size. Can you stick with just one or two? You could look to try some other more nutritionally charged sugar options like a date sugar or coconut sugar. There are also some more natural brands of stevia out there (like Natvia) that are granulated and can be used 1:1 like sugar if you want to experiment. For my approach on sweeteners in general read why I don’t stand by one single sugar substitute.
My view is that if you’re only having one of these pancakes and you’re not in period of detoxing and feel like you have somewhat got control of sugar, then just try to sprinkle on as little as possible. Half or a quarter teaspoon of refined sugar if you’ve kept things sensible during the rest of the week is a happy moderate amount for an occasion if it’s special to you.
Hopefully there’s an option or recipe for you whatever you’re feeling. As is my general philosophy with annual occasions, if you’re eating less sugar than last year, then you’re making progress. What are you planning on doing this pancake day? Hit me with any other questions in a comment below. Oh and please share it if you think others might find it helpful.