Have your (pan) cake and eat it!

Nutrition team

Pancakes come in all shapes and sizes, both sweet and savoury, and every country has their own style of pancake. In America, they are made with buttermilk and served for breakfast with syrup, fruit and yoghurt while in France, crepes Suzette - paper-thin pancakes served with liqueurs and fruit, are a popular dessert. In Russia, blini (buckwheat pancakes) are served with caviar and soured cream. Chinese hot water pancakes are steamed with meat or fish fillings to make dim sum or rolled up with aromatic crispy duck, cucumber, spring onion and plum sauce. In Asia, Gujarati are thin, crispy pancakes stuffed with spicy potatoes and yoghurt.

In Britain, pancakes are traditionally served the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Many moons ago, strict Christian Lenten rules were introduced which banned people from eating all dairy products during the forty days of Lent, so pancakes were made to use up supplies of eggs, milk and butter. Even the church bells that rang early on Shrove Tuesday morning summoning everyone to confession to be "shriven" became known as Pancake Bells. They were also a reminder to use up the all ‘forbidden foods’ before Lent. An old London rhyme says, "Pancakes and fritters, say the bells on St. Peter's."

The tradition to celebrate Shrove Tuesday continues to this day, although the strict rules of observing Lent have been relaxed a little.

But are you wondering if you should skip the pancakes this Shrove Tuesday? Well, no – the good news is you don’t have to miss out on this tradition just because you’re on a diet. Pancakes do not have to be a high fat option - this recipe is low in fat and low in calories. The only thing you really have to watch is the amount of oil you use to cook the pancakes. Instead of pouring oil directly into the pan, keep a little oil handy on a saucer and lightly coat the pan (a non-stick pan, if you have one) with oil using a piece of kitchen paper. Or use a spray filled with oil (or oil and water) and spray the pan between pancakes. This way, you can dramatically reduce the amount of oil you add to the pan and the calorie content of each pancake.

Basic Pancake Recipe
- Sift 125g plain flour into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, crack in an egg and gradually pour in 300ml skimmed milk. Whisk gently, using a balloon whisk, until you have a lump-free batter. Set aside for 20 minutes. Heat a small, non-stick frying pan and wipe with a little sunflower oil. Pour the batter into a jug and add enough mixture to coat the base of the pan. Cook for around one minute on each side, pile onto a plate and keep warm in a low oven until all the pancakes are cooked.

Makes 12 pancakes.
Nutritional information: 54 calories, 1g fat and 9g carbs (½ Unit) per pancake.

Breakfast
• Roll your pancake up with a banana inside
• Top with chopped fruit and natural yoghurt
• Top the pancake with berries such as blueberries - you can add these to the batter in the pan
• Use up to a half wholemeal flour for a heartier brekkie

Dinner
• Use pancakes instead of lasagne or cannelloni and fill with meat, cheese or vegetables and pasta sauce
• Fill with pieces of chicken or duck (drain off excess fat) and top with sliced cucumber, spring onions and plum sauce for an oriental touch
• Fill with spinach, sundried tomatoes, a little feta cheese and flavour with chopped mint
• Use in place of a tortilla wrap for chilli or fajitas

Dessert
• Top with fruit and fromage frais or Greek yoghurt
• Serve with frozen yoghurt or sorbet
• Drizzle over honey or full fruit jam and lemon juice
• Fill with apple sauce and raisins with a sprinkling of cinnamon

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Thanks to tescodiets.com who have provided this article.