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Changes to make pancakes healthier

Sweet tooth: if you must have pancakes with syrup, adding a side of scrambled eggs will help balance out the sugar

Earlier this week, Belle and I made pancakes for Shrove Tuesday. Chloe wisely retreated to the sofa and Belle ran back and forth between the kitchen and the TV brandishing a large spatula and yelling: “Just call me when it’s time to flip!”

They were watching two teenage boys on YouTube make an extra-large vat of slime and then dump it over each other — essential viewing, obviously!

What happened to regular TV? There’s been this huge influx of bizarre channels, the most confusing of which involves watching other people opening new toys and playing with them.

The TV rules in our house are usually Netflix only and things that are totally wholesome — The Great British Bake Off, anything involving animal rescue or vets and all things nature-related — but I admit the other stuff creeps in occasionally.

It’s a little like healthy eating and junk food. The kids are happy enough with the healthy stuff, but once they discover the junk, it’s harder to keep them on the straight and narrow!

Anyway, whether it was the glass of wine I was drinking or Belle’s kamikaze approach to flipping, our pancakes were definitely not Bake Off worthy. I’d made them gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free …. I’m not really sure what I was thinking, I mean, what’s left at that stage?!

I’d tried to find the Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free pancake mix which is a godsend, but instead ended up throwing my own ingredients together. Can’t be that hard, I thought …. well apparently, it can.

So, not only did we have decidedly average pancakes, but we had a kitchen that looked like Armageddon too; Belle and I are messy cooks. It was really, really fun though.

While I don’t recommend assembling gluten-free pancake mixes from scratch, regular pancakes are easy enough to make.

Either way, it’s also easy to make them a little healthier with one small change. I usually replace a small amount of the flour (or flour mix) with some of the Linwoods ground seed mix. It’s in the gluten-free section at Supermart and Waitrose have their own version too.

It’s an easy way to step up the fibre, adding good fats (omega 3 from pumpkin seeds and flax) and minerals too (magnesium and zinc, especially). You can do this when you bake muffins or things like banana bread as well.

Another easy change around pancakes (or waffles) is to reduce or swap the sweetener that you use on top. Maple syrup and honey may be more natural forms of sugar, but they are still sugars with a high glycemic index, which means that they elevate blood sugar quickly.

My kids love frozen black cherries (Woodstock or Waitrose brands at Supermart) gently cooked into a compote. They still get a drizzle of maple, but it’s a really small amount.

The antioxidants from the dark cherries pack a really powerful punch, especially if they are cooked gently.

If there’s no way that you will get away with a compote versus syrup, then try switching to Just Date Syrup (also Supermart). It’s a more natural mineral-rich sweetener with a lower glycemic load.

Last note, though — any time you serve pancakes with syrup, I suggest keeping it as low as possible and adding a side of scrambled eggs too. The protein is really helpful for balancing out sugar and delivering a more steady energy release.

For kids heading to school, this means their energy and focus will be more consistent in the classroom. The same applies to adults at work too!

Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. For details: natural.bm, 236-7511 or, on Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda