Mardi Gras Pancakes!

It’s got a familiar ring to it – feast before the famine. In a sense, that’s a large part of what Mardi Gras – literally, “Fat Tuesday” is all about. But not entirely. Yes, one part of the celebration is the splurge before the fast (which, as any dieter knows, actually makes the faster harder!) But the larger and historical element of the day was to use up all the fat in the house that would not last through Lent to Easter. Hence, the “fat” in Fat Tuesday.

The day is also known as “Faschnaut Day” – faschnauts are potato-based donuts fried in lard (again in the attempt to use up one’s lard) – and “Shrove Tuesday,” which puts the emphasis on preparing to be “shriven” – confess one’s sins – in preparation for Lent.

However you name and recognize the day before Lent, odds are that a little feasting will be part of your tradition. Toward that end, I’m sharing below a favorite breakfast recipe that, while it has plenty of fat, is still relatively healthy. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Pancakes (yields 10-12 pancakes, 3-4” diameter):

1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour*
½ cup ground flax meal**
1 cup plain yogurt
1 egg
¾ cup skim milk (any kind)
¼ cup melted butter or walnut oil
1 tbs. lemon juice
1 tbs. sugar (optional)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt

Pre-heat a non-stick skillet to medium.
Combine the yogurt, milk, and lemon juice, stir gently, and let sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
Mix together all dry ingredients.
Lightly beat one egg and add to milk/yogurt mixture, also adding butter/walnut oil.
Add and mix in dry ingredients.
Spoon onto heated griddle in 3-4” diameter cakes, flip in about 4-5 minutes, or when edges begin to solidify.

You can add almost any tradition fruit to these pancakes. At our house we love adding strawberries (frozen or fresh) for some variety. Blueberries also work well, though if you go with blue berries consider substituting ½ cup of corn meal for the whole wheat pastry flour and use 2 tbs. of lemon. Once in a while, if we need to use up an over-ripe banana, we’ll mash it up and add a ¼ cup of granola (in place of ¼ cup whole wheat flour).

*Regular whole wheat flour will do, but pastry flour is ground finer and yields a slightly lighter pancake.
**Strictly speaking, the flax meal is optional (if you don’t use it, decrease milk by 1/4 cup), but I like the slightly nutty taste it adds and flax supplies so much Omega 3 essential fats, lignans, and fiber that I use it whenever I can.