Who’s excited for Shrove Tuesday? We are!
More lovingly known as Pancake Day, this is the one day of the year where you’re actually encouraged to scoff down as many delicious pancakes as humanly possible.
Whether you’re a fan of light and fluffy American-style pancakes, thin crepes, sweet or savoury, pancakes put a smile on everyone's face. But if you’ve been working hard over the past month to stick to your New Year’s resolution, you might be wondering if there are any healthier alternatives? While everyone deserves a treat from time to time, there is a guilt-free recipe for you to try - protein pancakes!
Take a look at our simple recipe for healthy protein pancakes using just 4 ingredients, with lots of delicious healthy topping ideas to make your mouth water.
Why do we have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday?
Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Day) always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date varies each year. In 2021 we’ll celebrate it on 16th February. Shrove Tuesday is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Lent is the 6 week period leading up to Easter and is one of the most important times of the year for Christians around the world. Lent is a season of reflection, and traditionally a time for fasting or giving something up. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days.
Shrove Tuesday was considered the last opportunity to use up eggs and other ingredients before Lent, and making pancakes was seen as the perfect way to do it. Pancake recipes feature in cookery books as far back as 1439, and while recipes can vary a little, the main ingredients of pancakes can be seen to symbolise 4 points of significance at this time of year:
- Eggs - Creation
- Flour - The staff of life
- Salt - Wholesomeness
- Milk - Purity
Us Brits are so crazy about pancakes that traditional ‘pancake races’ take place every year.
Legend has it that in the 15th century, a woman heard the shriving bell (calling people to church to confess their sins) and rushed to the church. Forgetting she was mid-way through making pancakes, she ran with her pancake and pan. Whether this is true or not, it does make a great story. But of course, rather than running with your pancakes, why not start a new tradition with our healthy and delicious protein powder pancakes?
What are protein pancakes?
Protein pancakes are simply pancakes which contain protein powder. These high protein pancakes taste amazing and they fill you up. They’re low-fat and low-carb, and they make a perfect breakfast, or a healthier alternative for Pancake Day. They can easily fit into your clean eating plan, without the refined sugars and flours that you’re used to. And with just a few simple ingredients, you’ve got yourself a well-balanced, high fibre, protein-packed delicious meal.
Are protein pancakes good for you?
Protein is essential in our diet. It accounts for around 20% of our bodyweight, and it’s found in everything from our organs to our muscles and tissues, to our bones, skin and hair.
Protein is also a critical part of the process that fuels our energy and carries oxygen throughout our body in our blood. It also helps make antibodies that fight off infections to keep as healthy. It’s estimated on average that men should get about 56 grams of protein a day, and women should get 46 grams. And with the right mix, pancakes can provide your body with enough protein, amino acids and healthy carbs to fuel your workouts.
That’s why they make a great breakfast! Or if you’re trying to lose weight, cook your pancakes in coconut oil, as the lauric acid in coconut oil helps to boost your metabolism. Just make sure your toppings are healthy too, as there is little point in making healthy protein pancakes, just to smother them in chocolate or a super-sweet syrup (as delicious as they may be).
How do you make protein powder pancakes?
There are lots of different protein pancake recipes out there, but ours is simple, and just uses 4 ingredients. This recipe will make around 15 pancakes (depending on the size of the pancake).
- 4 scoops of whey protein powder
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 170ml of water or almond milk
These protein stacked pancakes have no oats or bananas, and you don’t need a blender—easy-peasy! They’re also gluten free, keto and low carb too. And you can use any flavour of protein powder really depending on your preference (see Decathlon’s whey protein range).
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a little butter or coconut oil to the pan.
- Mix the eggs, protein powder and baking powder in a large bowl, and add the water or almond milk a little at a time until it’s the right consistency.
- Pour out the required amount of batter into the frying pan (approx. a 1/3 cup measure).
- When bubbles start to form on the top of the pancake, flip it over (you may be able to get 2 or 3 pancakes into a large pan at once).
- Serve with a choice of healthy and delicious toppings, and enjoy!
Simple, right? You can also adapt the recipe to suit you.
Substitute water for low-fat cows milk, or add oats, a banana, peanut butter or shredded coconut to the batter for some added flavour and texture. But you will probably need a blender for this. Then it’s onto the toppings!
What healthy toppings can you put on pancakes?
It’s tempting to cover your pancakes in sugar, syrup or yummy chocolate spread, but there are lots of equally delicious healthier alternatives. Here are a few pancake topping ideas to try:
- Honey & cinnamon: Honey does contain a lot of sugar so it should be enjoyed in moderation, though it also has lots of nutritional benefits. A good-quality honey is rich in antioxidants, which have been linked to reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes and some types of cancer. It can also help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Cinnamon is also rich in antioxidants and may even protect neurons against diseases like Parkinson’s.
- Kefir & mixed berries: Kefir is a healthy, fermented thin yoghurt drink. It’s traditionally made from dairy milk, but there are plenty of non-dairy options available too. It can help to boost your immune system, aid digestion, improve bone health and may even combat cancer. Put a dollop of kefir on top of your pancakes before adding berries, for a host of antioxidants and gut-friendly benefits.
- Almond butter & sliced banana: Almonds are high in calcium, which is good for strong bones and normal blood clotting. They’re a good source of magnesium which helps to regulate blood sugar levels and blood pressure, and the vitamin E in almonds also contains antioxidants. Bananas are also loaded with valuable micronutrients, especially potassium. This helps to regulate heart function and blood pressure, protecting against heart disease and strokes.
- Spinach, tomatoes & goats cheese: If you’re more of a savoury pancake kind of person, you should give this beauty a try. Spinach is a rich source of vitamins A, C, E and K, and tomatoes can help to combat heart disease and they’re also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. Goats cheese is rich in nutrients like calcium and phosphorus which are essential for healthy bones. It also contains iron which is vital to the proper function of hemoglobin, a protein needed to transport oxygen in the blood.
- Smoked salmon, avocado & lime juice: Smoked salmon is relatively low in calories while boasting high quality protein, essential fats and lots of other vitamins and minerals. Eaten in moderation, it can help decrease inflammation, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cancer. And avocados are incredibly nutritious too. They contain even more potassium than bananas, and they’re loaded with fibre which can contribute to weight loss, reduced blood sugar and they can help to lower the risk of many diseases.
Protein pancakes with any of these healthy toppings will make the perfect pancakes for any athlete. (Read more nutrition tips for athletes!) But there are so many other combinations to try, so experiment with different flavours and textures to keep things interesting.
Go savoury or sweet, add fresh herbs and embrace seasonal fruit. Add crunchy nuts and creamy yoghurt, or crumbly cheese and juicy tomatoes - the sky’s the limit!