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I know it’s the most important meal of the day, but I often skip it. I’m talking about breakfast, breaking the fasting period from the night before. Only on the weekends, I’ll make a homemade mini-feast to start the day, but weekdays I mostly skip breakfast.

See the problem is I don’t drink milk, so cereal is not an option, and many are, of course, full of sugar. I’ve been advised by a nutritionist that bread is not good for digestion. Fruit and dairy are also on the not-to-be-consumed list.

So my options are limited. Having some time off over the holidays, I got looking online to see what alternatives I could make as part of my new year’s resolution to not skip any meals.

An alternative I found is the humble pancake. When I was a kid, we’d have loads on pancake day or ‘Shrove Tuesday’, which comes from the word shrive, meaning ‘absolve’. Pancake day would be at the end of February-March.

I used to love to roll my pancakes, drench them with lemon juice and add spoonfuls of sugar. This was the filling of choice in our house. Part of the cooking process would be to try and flip the pancake, which is an acquired skill — we would all try with different levels of success. Many would end up on the floor; this was all part of the fun. I often wondered why we only ate these once a year.

A very British tradition is the pancake race - yes it is a thing. It’s thought to originate from the town of Olney in Buckinghamshire, where they still host a traditional ladies-only race each year. The Olney pancake race has been run since 1445. The ‘sport’ involves a relay team, running while tossing a pancake; simple as that, but the race is taken very seriously.

There are many different versions of the pancake. The French crepe is thinner, using a thinner batter; the Americans add baking powder to make a thicker fluffy pancake. The possibilities are endless, and it’s a cheap way to feed a crowd.

So I tried many different combinations. I used gluten-free flour, almond and camel milk with free-range eggs. I cooked a batch in coconut oil, which gives the pancakes extra flavour.

I also tried mini ones in a small frying pan, these are great served stacked, try them with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Don’t stick to sweet fillings, a great sharing dish is a stack of mini pancakes served with tomatoes, fried beef bacon and eggs.

When I prepare a batch, I heat the oven on low heat, and as each pancake is cooked, I place them in the oven to keep them warm, so when served they are all piping hot. Another tip is to prepare a batch and freeze them, making even less excuses to skip breakfast.

For a chocolate version, reduce the amount of flour by 20g and replace it with cocoa powder — these are great filled with banana and chocolate spread, dusted with icing sugar. Whatever the filling, I’m going to make these a part of my week’s meal plan. From now on I’ll be flipping not skipping.

RECIPE

GLUTEN & DAIRY-FREE PANCAKES

Serves four, prep time 20 minutes, cooking time 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 120g gluten-free plain flour sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 150ml of dairy-free milk mixed with 90ml water
  • 3 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 8 pineapple rings

TO SERVE

  • Icing sugar to dust
  • Glace cherries
  • Caramel sauce

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 100 degrees. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the flour and break the eggs into it. Then begin whisking the eggs and flour. Next, gradually add small amounts of the milk and water mixture, and keep whisking until the mix is the consistency of thin cream. Melt the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat, and then add 3 tbsp of the batter to the pan. Tip the mixture around to get an even layer. After about half a minute lift the edge with a spatula to see if it’s cooked. Now here comes the tricky bit - flip the pancake over with a spatula and cook for a few minutes. Then slide onto a plate and place in a warm oven. Repeat the process; you should make around eight pancakes. Drain the pineapple and layer the pineapple rings with the pancakes. Dust with some icing sugar, top with a couple of cherries then pour over the caramel sauce and serve.


BACON, EGG & TOMATO STACKED PANCAKES

SAME METHOD FOR THE PANCAKES

FOR THE FILLING

  • Oil for frying
  • 12 rashers of beef bacon
  • 6 free-range eggs
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • Cress to serve
  • Baked beans to serve

METHOD

Fry the bacon and cook the eggs in a shallow frying pan. Next, place the pancakes on a plate, start to layer the bacon, eggs and tomato. Top with some cress and serve with baked beans.